AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - FEBRUARY 15: Jan Vertonghen (R) of Ajax stands next to head coach Frank De Boer during a training session ahead of the Europa League match between Ajax and Manchester United at De Toekomst training ground on February 15, 2012 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
It has been quite a while since there have been this many topics to discuss this late in a season. It's been a tremendous year already, and it's all right there in front of the team to achieve exponentially more, starting with the match this weekend v. Stoke. Even still, there is enough time for some fluff in today's links.
Today: Making use of the early part of Stoke week, readjusting transfer targets relative to league reality, surprises, trials, "bulletin board material" and more. Let's get to it!
Non-pitch related stories
Newcastle United took a little time out of training to join Newcastle Eagles for some charity basketball... some of the images from the Chronicle's collection are pretty funny. I saw on the Twitters yesterday that there was a bit of a return from Newcastle Eagles v. Newcastle United on the pitch, but that didn't seem to make the papers... must've been off the record. I did see a report on the Twitter that read something like: Peter Beardsley pings a 30-yard cross-pitch pass right to the manager's foot #StillGotIt .. so that's fun. I forget sometimes that Peter Beardsley is still on the coaching staff... certainly has got to be a great resource for Hatem Ben Arfa.
Papiss said: "The welcome I have received in Newcastle has been incredible and I thank everyone who has helped me settle in. "From those at the club to the thousands of supporters who I think are simply fantastic, I am deeply touched. "Going to see Sam and his family was just my way of saying a special thank you to a young fan who showed genuine kindness in welcoming me to a new country and new club. "I must thank them also for the Easter bunny they gave me, it was very nice."
A nice story from the "never hurts to try" department that will likely end similar visits in the future... I sense that the club are soon to be inundated with cards from young fans hoping for a visit. Love to see these kinds of stories, though.
In a letter to the Labour MP, Government mapping boss Vanessa Lawrence said they will defer to local opinion when deciding on when to use the Sports Direct Arena name favoured by Mike Ashley. It follows a previous Ordnance Survey ruling that St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton was not renamed The Friends Provident St Mary’s Stadium as the move was linked to a finite period of time. Unless Newcastle Council starts to put up new road signs pointing to a renamed ground, a move already ruled out, Ordnance Survey will be siding with fans who oppose the move.
Current Player News
The 24-year-old Holland international told the Journal: "What an opportunity we have got. Things are going great at the moment. "I have been saying for years that I think Newcastle are a top-six side and maybe people didn't see it. But now we are there, and hopefully we can stay there. "Liverpool's win was great news for us and it is huge for the club to be back in Europe. "We are up there, but if you don't win against Stoke and Wigan, you don't deserve to be up there. We will look at the next two games and hope that we get the results that we need. "Our attitude is that if we can't beat Stoke, we don't deserve to get into the Champions League.
I don't hear a lot of talk about "bulletin board material" in coverage of the Premier League, but if it is indeed a thing in the PL, this is it. I get what Tim is saying, and quite frankly it is true, but I always get a little nervous inside when a player gives another team a reason (real or imagined) to get that much more fired up to play.
But his rehabilitation is progressing well, and former United midfielder Mick Martin, on Trappatoni’s staff, has had a conversation with Best about his fitness. "I spoke to Leon a few weeks ago, I bumped into him at the training ground," Martin told the Gazette. "He said his injury’s coming along nicely, and he asked me about Ireland. "He’s been unlucky with injuries. He was doing well and scoring goals, and the manager had him in his sights for the Euros. "I don’t know how this leaves him in relation to the squad, as there’s a bit of competition there.
Here is another instance where the headline overstates the body of the article by a step or six... Leon Best has returned to training, and did meet with Mick Martin, but everything Martin is quoted as saying in this article pretty much falls into the "Leon is a great player and he should try hard- he may still make it if he can pass these 5 other players that we currently have in front of him" category. I wish Leon luck... it'd be amazing for him on a personal level. However... whose spot do you give him in order to provide him the platform to try to convince Trappatoni?
Not Currently Newcastle United players
In a move that indicates a growing confidence that they can steal a Champions League qualification berth away from Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, Newcastle are keeping their options open in the transfer market in the event that they qualify for European football’s money-spinner. Vertonghen, who is valued at £10 million, has already said a move to Arsenal to play alongside his fellow Belgian international, Thomas Vermaelen, would interest him.
It will be interesting to see where this goes. Vertonghen would rather play at Arsenal, but has also said that Newcastle would not be out of the question. Arsenal is apparently looking other directions currently. If we manage to qualify for the CL, we'll see the establishment of The Vertonghen Test. Would be a great get if all the chips (and they're a LOT of chips) fall in the right order and right place.
Good, 19, will spend just over a week with Newcastle, where he is due to train with the first team, giving coach Alan Pardew the chance of a first-hand look at the defender. Good is a junior Australian international who joined Heart from the AIS. Tall, strong and good in the air, the left-sided Good is versatile and able to play as a left stopper or at left back.
Mr. Good has apparently come on like wildfire at Melbourne Heart in the A-League...It's possible that we could be looking at him as a left back, but it seems more likely (especially with the purging of the current reserves setup) that we'd view him as a long-term centre-half project. He could certainly learn a thing or two sitting back behind Captain Colo for a little while.