NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - APRIL 09: Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 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 Friday to you all, and a happy start to the 2012 European Championships campaign! The links are a little light today, and I'm not going to embellish too much so that I can jump to a (rapidly) forthcoming Live Thread for today's action, but there is a little bit in the news, so let's get too it!
Worst XI Strikers
There is a long list of nominees for the worst strikers to have donned the Black and Whites... It's hard to argue with most of them, and not surprisingly, Xisco is leading the voting as of the point when I read the piece. Shefki Kuqi made the list, and while he did not score in his 6 appearances for the Toon, I feel it's a little harsh on him. As a free agent brought in last minute after the flogging off of The Benign Ponytail, he did exactly what he was supposed to do: fill a roster spot.
Graham Carr: Super Genius
...he insists that while he will keep scouring the continent for new players – with the Magpies in need of strengthening their squad ahead of a busy season combining the demands of European football and the Premier League – Newcastle won’t be signing players just for the sake of it. "If we couldn’t get who we wanted this summer, we wouldn’t sign anybody," insists Northumberland-born Carr. "That’s because we want to get things right here. "We would not just bring a body in to fill a hole. "That has always been the policy. "It has to be the right age, right criteria and right attitude."
There are players out there that fit all of the criteria, and Graham will find them... but can you imagine the hell that would be raised if Newcastle signed exactly 0 players this summer??
Carr also feels stars like Cabaye and Tiote did not appreciate just how big United were when they signed for Newcastle. He added: "A lot of these people do not realise just how big this club is. "They think we are just a little club stuck away in the North East of England. "They do not know anything about it or how much the fans love it. "It is a cathedral for the fans and once the players come here they learn to love it very quickly. "They appreciate the crowd and the support they get."
The identity crisis of the Newcastle United fan... are we a big club or are we not? It seems that on most counts, we qualify... we certainly qualify through St. James' Park... through support. Perhaps the only way we don't qualify is through opposing fan recognition and name brand on the continent. There is a very clear way to fix that... win trophies.
"I've never felt as settled at a club as I do at Newcastle. I feel like I'm somebody important there, it's a magnificent feeling," Ben Arfa told L'Equipe. "I haven't forgotten the coach made me sign, even though I was only on loan from Marseille and I was injured. "If I do not have a really, really serious proposal, I'll stay. If a big club comes, but does not propose something interesting - that is to say, the coach really wants me - I'll stay. "If I do not feel the confidence of the [interested club's] coach 100 per cent, I will not leave. Newcastle is a big club, even if there are bigger. I still have a three-year contract."
This is from (basically) a block-quote press release... If you are the type to be comforted by words of athletes, these are for you. I think that the best thing read into this is that HBA is not going to leave for a "bigger club" just for the name... it's going to take a LOT of assurances to prise him out of St. James' Park.
In The News: Newcastle's Squad To Be Tested By Europa Schedule
"We want to be strong in the Premier League and look at our Euro campaign. "If you look at it nobody who has played in the Europa League has been able to manage to do well in both. "Stoke found that out last season and Fulham the season before ended up with a poor finish."
It is important to stay relevant in the league. It truly is. For my money, however, a piece of silverware is going to go a long long way in showing the world what Newcastle United is about. The spectacle that would accompany such a triumph would be tremendously influential to a player looking at the club, I'd think. I'd be tickled pink with a run of top 5 league finishes, don't get me wrong... I just think there's benefit to sacrificing a league position or two (unless we somehow are challenging the Mancs for top spot in the second half of the season) for a trophy.