NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - APRIL 09: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers at the Sports Direct Arena on April 9, 2012 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
A happy Thursday to you! Day Three of the long break, and it's time for the news. Predictably, Hatem Ben Arfa is still the magic word with no shortage of HBA inspired pieces. I would be willing to wager that if the internet had a "trending worldwide" box on the side like Twitter, HBA would still be trending worldwide with the number of mentions he's still receiving.
Also, InjuryDome makes it's inaugural appearance, mostly because I just thought of it as I was typing so there it is. Fortunately, InjuryDome looks to be kind to Newcastle for the upcoming match with Stoke-- 1 man enters, 2 men leave. Also in today's links... contracts, calls for help this weekend, Hatem Ben Arfa, Everyone Loves Newcastle™ and more. Jump and check it out.
ZOMG HATEM BEN ARFA!!!11!!!111!
The Toon playmaker grew up in an environment not too dissimilar to many of us, on a council estate with a football pitch at the end of his street which he frequented most days and nights. He said: "I had a great childhood. My mother worked hard for us, my dad played football but is now a victim of disability. "It was a really happy time. They gave me everything I needed. "I know I have a temper but I am a cooler figure now. "I used to fight with people when I was younger and didn’t know when to stop." His working class values still shine through.
Hatem Ben Arfa is the perfect "tempest in a teacup" if you will for Newcastle United. By his French birthright and innate, astounding skill on the ball and in attacking movement, he automatically calls David Ginola to mind for Newcastle fans. As if that weren't enough, that this talent comes in a package that thanks to his upbringing (see emphasis in the quote above) nearly every Toon fan can relate to, he stands ready to be firmly ensconced with the biggest names in the history of the club... if he stays with the club and can build on his most recent form. I'm talking HUGE names... number 9s and Ginola and Gazza and Peter Beardsley type names.
"They were watching him, and they didn’t feel that he was any better than what we had, in all honesty. "We still had Pavlyuchenko here, and Defoe, but (Sessegnon) is a talent, there’s no doubt about that – a really good player in behind the striker. "The boy at Newcastle’s a good player as well. He’s a talent, Ben Arfa. He’s similar, another good little dribbler. "We probably could have had him as well, but you can’t take everyone, can you?
Well well well. Are you sad? Disappointed with your current run of form in the League? Watching your name drift farther and farther away from consideration for the England job? Whatever shall you do? Try Not-really-new "Talk About A Toon Player" to try to raise your spirits!
However, it seems Vuckic’s knee problem is more serious than first thought. "I can confirm that Vukic is out for the season – he injured his knee," said Kavcic, who has been forced to rule him out of an international next month. "What can we do? Nothing, we will have to find a replacement for him. But of course it won’t be easy, he is a great player, and a leader of our team."
I'm a little sad at this injury... I know he would have played a limited role in this year's midfield... but I can't wait for him to get his spot in the starting XI. I get giddy thinking about his talents combined with the current front three.
Negotiations over a new deal have been put on hold until the end of the season. However, the decision will be as much a footballing as a financial one, with Guthrie, signed in the summer of 2008, having found his opportunities in central midfield limited by the form of Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye. Meanwhile, Guthrie’s fellow midfielder Cheik Tiote also hopes to be back for the Stoke game, having suffered a recurrence of a hamstring problem in Good Friday’s 2-0 win over Swansea City.
One Vuckic enter, Two Guthrie/Tiote leave. I know this InjuryDome thing works maybe this once, but it's amusing me, so just go with it.
Some Players Stay, Some Players Go
A source close to Simpson said today: "Danny loves it in Newcastle and is excited about next season. "He wants to stay at Newcastle next year and then see what happens." However, the 25-year-old defender is now heading into the final season of his current contract with his long-term future uncertain. Yet Simpson is keen to be a part of it at Newcastle at least until the end of next season. He said recently: "It would be massive for me to part of a Newcastle team playing in Europe."
I like Danny Simpson- he does the job at right back and seems to genuinely enjoy Newcastle and playing for United. I hope he stays. I reject (since Lee Ryder dipped back to the Performance Index) that he is the best RB in the league. This is one of those situations where numbers can mislead you. It's tremendously similar to the Swansea v. Newcastle match. If you look at the numbers and hide the scoreline, you perhaps see a Swansea victory. Other things factor in, and Newcastle wins 2-0. Same with Danny. The numbers might look great, but other factors (say not tracking back after getting dispossessed on the attack) must enter in. These type of mistakes have cost us dearly this year.
"They have the semi-final of the FA Cup," Gutierrez told the Gazette. "They have to think about that, and be ready for the next season. There’s nothing they can do this season (in the league). There are a lot of teams taking good results. "It’s hard, but I speak with him. I said ‘you have to focus on the semi-final’. That can help us. "If I was a Liverpool player, I would think the semi-final is more important than the league."
I want nothing more than to play in Europe next season. Liverplol should count themselves fortunate for that... as they will have my considerable sway in their corner for the Everton match this Saturday. It looks pretty dim for us as Liverpool are on very very bad form while Everton are on quite good form. Liverpool have shown an ability to tear up the form book in the cup competitions, however, so here's hoping. Also: WE'RE IN THE TOP FIIIIIIIVE! WE'RE IN THE TOP FIIII-IIII-IIIIIIVE! JOSE ENRIQUE! WE'RE IN THE TOP FIIIIIIIVE!
Everyone's Second Club
In truth though, there's something amusingly off-the-cuff about Newcastle's renaissance. Between recruiting their "playa-manager" during a night at the casino, to unearthing some of the best buys in the Premier League thanks to a scouting operation masterminded by comedian Alan Carr's dad, even Newcastle's successes have a glaze of madness. Despite being effectively a mid-table club -- if you average out league positions since the EPL began -- Newcastle (as befits the shirt) isn't accustomed to grey areas. And so, after suffering the ultimate low, the club has enjoyed an entirely unpredicted and rapid rise to former heights.
Another column based on preconceived notion of Newcastle fans (in part) but also providing a view as to why Newcastle is getting the reputation this season as "Everyone's Second Club". I think this one is worth the read.
Speaking of qualifying for Europe, if you haven't read Robert's comprehensive breakdown of our European chances, you should do so.