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Carver – ‘Til The End Of The Season

So there we have it. A four week “search” for a new head coach, where apparently the club had to field eighty applications for the role, has ended with John Carver being handed the reigns until the end of the season for the very least.

An uninspiring and yet completely predictable decision once again sees Newcastle United write off a season for the second year running in January. The pressure is now on Lee Charnley and head scout Graham Carr to deliver a credible head coach before the summer transfer window opens at the beginning of July but it would not surprise me if Carver remained in charge beyond the end of the 14/15.

Carver and the rest of the previous manager’s coaching staff, Andy Woodman and Steve Stone are all contracted to the club until 2020. This could be a sticking point for any external appointment should the club not be prepared to pay off the contracts of these three and they will no doubt dig in their heels to remain employed by NUFC, as seen with Woodman turning down the chance to return to London with Crystal Palace.

If a head coach does not want to work with the current coaches left behind by Alan Pardew then it could cause a problem with any future appointment.

It would be the cheap option to continue with Carver for the start of the 2015/16 season but he has the chance to earn it over the remaining 16 games. The fear is that the club could be sleepwalking towards a relegation battle especially with the future of Moussa Sissoko’s time on Tyneside in doubt.

Carver’s record certainly does not fill me with any confidence but you would like to think that with eight of the nine clubs below us still to play we should get the points needed to remain in the Premier League especially with the added bonus of players returning from injury. Should Carver achieve the required top ten finish for the bonuses to be paid out it would not be a shock if he was in charge next season.

If the club are waiting for the right man to become available in the summer then it is important that this is sorted now, even if there is no official announcement until the end of the season, as there will probably better jobs available than trying to achieve a top ten finish with Newcastle United. Should we arrive at the opening of the next transfer window still in limbo then the fans have once again be let down by the club.

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Cissé – A Wanted Man

The No9 striker’s future on Tyneside seems to be uncertain during the January transfer window.

Cissé who’s NUFC contract ends in June 2017 has not ruled out a move away from the North East with his recent comments,

“I focus on the Africa Cup of Nations, then we will see about my future with Newcastle”

“We talk about a lot of clubs, Swansea & others.”

The Senegal striker signed for Newcastle for £9.5million in January 2012, teaming up with fellow countryman Demba Ba.
Cissé hit the ground running scoring on his home debut in a 2-1 win over Aston Villa, he finished the season scoring an impressive 13 goals in 14 games.

Cissé has been a glimmer of hope for Newcastle’s this season once he made his return from injury ( broken kneecap ) scoring 9 goals in 14 appearances including a brace v Hull City, Swansea City and Chelsea.

The Senegalese front man has been linked with a switch to Crystal Palace to link up with ex Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, which will come as a shock as Cissé spent a lot of game time playing out of position on the left wing under Pardew whilst Demba Ba was still on Tyneside. This amongst many “apparent” fallouts between the striker and manager will only add doubt to Cissé’s switch to London.

Papiss has also been linked with a switch to Swansea, West Ham, Besiktas and even a multi-million pound deal taking him to Shanghai.

The search

Head Coach – The Wait Continues

Why are we waiting?

It has now been over two weeks since word first got out that Alan Pardew would be leaving Newcastle United for Crystal Palace yet the Tyneside club still remain manager-less (or should that be head coach-less?). The question on nearly every United supporter’s lips over the last fortnight is who would be filling the current vacancy at St James’ Park?

John Carver has overseen first team matters for the previous three matches and is, once again, expected to be on the touchline for Saturday’s visit of high flying Southampton.   Carver, himself, has applied for the position but would not be an inspiring appointment for the majority of fans.

So why are we still waiting for the head coach position to be decided? I have come up with a number of theories as to why:

 1. The club did not have a plan for Pardew leaving-
This is quite possible. Having “rid out” the storm gathering from supporter protests and being contracted to the club until 2020 there was no need to have a contingency plan. The majority of appointments in football seem fast paced, especially after a sacking, as the replacement had been lined up well before the manager had been dismissed. Ashley had no intention of sacking his manager so why have a replacement in the pipeline?

2. Nobody wants the job-
I do not think this is true. Sky Sports reported on Sunday that three or four candidates were being interviewed for the vacancy, whilst the local and national newspapers have claimed that bookies favourite Remi Garde has expressed an interest in the job.

3. There is a decision to be made on whether to wait until the summer for a new head coach or get someone in now-
This is true. Many of the names linked with the post have said in the press that they would not be prepared to walk out on their current club midway through the season. There have been reports that Garde may prefer to wait until next season to begin work if offered the job. Deciding on whether Carver is capable of getting the 13 points needed to get to the “magic” 40 points mark needs to be considered when weighing up the options.

4. It is a ploy not to spend money in the January transfer window- Again, this could be true. The club desperately need a centre back and striker this month but with full focus on the head coach hunt it does not seem possible that there will be any incomings in the market despite one of the specifics for the job being that new man would have no say on transfers.

5. Graham Carr and Lee Charnley have never appointed someone before-
Charnley is relatively new to the role in Managing Director so they are taking their time and hopefully learning from the mistakes of the past which led to the likes of Kinnear being appointed.

 

Hopefully the limbo the club currently finds itself in will be resolved as soon as possible and the right candidate is tasked with improving what we saw on the pitch over the last two seasons (that part should not be too difficult). Ideally, I would like someone named as head coach prior to the Southampton match to give the fans a boost and also the players may up their performance if they are trying to impress someone in the stands. We then have a two week break before our trip to Hull City which would give the new coach time to begin to implement new ideas.

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HBA – Contract Terminated

The news of Hatem Ben Arfa’s contract termination seemed inevitable. After tailing off into the Newcastle reserves, losing his squad number and moving to Hull City on loan to see out his contract you would be hard pressed to find a fan that genuinely expected to see the Frenchman back in a Newcastle United shirt. Now, after his disappointing loan spell at Hull was cut short, Ben Arfa is officially off the Newcastle United books, a decision that makes sense.

 
The Ben Arfa decline hurt many fans, myself included. Ben Arfa on his day really was a world beater and was a country mile ahead of most players in the league in terms of raw talent. His goals against Bolton and Blackburn will be many fans most fond memories of him, as well as THAT performance against West Brom in 2012 when everything clicked for the whole team. His ability to beat a man the way he did whilst hardly touching the ball always got you off your seat.

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However this was a side of Ben Arfa that was all too rare. Fast forward to now and he’s allegedly fallen out with Alan Pardew, caused a rift in the dressing room and hasn’t delivered on a consistent basis for a long time after a severe lack of match fitness. Steve Bruce suggested similar problems at Hull, although no fall out he echoed the frustrations we had harboured for years.

 
“His views of the game are different to mine. At any club you need to have a certain work ethic to get in the team. That’s the frustrating thing.”


“I hope Hatem takes in what I’ve had to say to him because his talent is there for all to see. But talent without hard work means you won’t live up to your potential.”


“Unfortunately, to play for me you have to know you are playing for the team. To be a great you have to be a team player.”

 
It is beyond frustrating that one born with so much talent just can’t seem to get his head right, when us fans would kill to be on that pitch. Initially I put a lot blame on Pardew for sacrificing flair for work ethic, but after a while you have to hold your hands up and see that Ben Arfa was master of his own downfall at Newcastle. You could clearly see that he had put on weight and even when he did play his decision making and general sharpness just wasn’t there. Talent is no excuse for lacking effort and although another manager could still find the best in him, his future isn’t here even with Pardew gone.

 
Offering Ben Arfa a new deal would have been a risk not worth taking. It would mean special treatment that you’d normally give a young player; easing them into the team and hoping it will come good in the end. But at 27 the time for that has passed, It’s not about potential it’s about what we can get right now, and that is too unpredictable. We have some great young talent coming through which require the level of attention Ben Arfa would need, with Rolando Aarons and Ayoze Perez looking especially promising this should be the priority. Relieving him from the wage bill will also free up some capital to bring in new players or secure what’s already at the club.

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Of course we’d all love to have seen another trade mark mazy run in the black and white shirt, and my heart would have gave him another chance, but what it comes down to is what is best for the team. Ben Arfa’s negatives outweigh his positives massively if his past is anything to go by, and his return to the French league with Nice after 5 years signifies he has not progressed as a professional at all.

 

Au Revior Hatem. A shame it never worked out.

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Abeid – Out of ACON

Algeria earlier confirmed that Newcastle’s 22 year old midfielder; Mehdi Abeid would not be competing in this years African Cup Of Nations. Abeid misses the tournament due to a toe injury that he picked up during an ACON qualifier v Ethiopia back in November.

Abeid who spend last season on loan at Greek side Panathinaikos, scoring 7 goals in 28 appearances. He helped his side reach third place in the league and win the Greek Cup.

Since the Algerian’s return to Tyneside the youngster has featured in 6 games ( League and League Cup ). Winning 5 and drawing 1 in all games he’s featured.

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So the recent news that Abeid will not be spending January / February away on international duty can only be a boost for Newcastle United, especially with out of form Ivorian Cheik Tiote leaving to compete in the same tournament.