FARO, PORTUGAL - JULY 27: Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew looks on prior to the pre-Season friendly match between Newcastle United and Olympiacos on July 27, 2012 in Faro, Portugal. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Well, NBC's bizarre decision to quadruple tape-delay the Opening Ceremonies (or whatever they did) hasn't harmed me too badly, so I guess that's good news. It did occur to me that among those who could view the ceremonies, I was among the very last people on the planet to see it. It made me feel special.
Speaking of special, the lads will continue their pre-season in a handful of hours in the interestingly-ruled Trofeu Guadiana. In yesterday's installment, the Toon tied Olympiacos 1-1 (I didn't get to see the second half, but believe me, I would have complained just as loudly about Krul's "should have saved" concession as I have about Elliot... thing is, Krul has proven that he can do better...) and went into penalties which are obviously capped at 5, so a 1-1 match went to penalties and still ended up a draw. However that works.
A short handful of links is waiting for you after the jump, and then we'll of course have the live thread coming up as well. Watch some Olympics (USWNT coming on in the next 90 minutes give or take if you don't have anything else to do...) and read some news.
Harper’s choice of the No37 squad number this season raised eyebrows, as it was the jersey handed to Robert Lee when he was banished to the reserves by Ruud Gullit. "It’s Rob Lee’s old number too, but it’s my age," said Harper. "I spoke to the kit man the first morning, and he said there were a few available. "I said seeing as I’m 37 I’ll have that – whether they’ll let me change it in mid-March to 38, I don’t know!"
Numbers in football are an extremely interesting study. Many of the traditional roles of numbers were established during time when your top XI players were numbered 1-11 by law. Individual clubs have, over time, established their own special meanings for numbers. Obviously, for Newcastle United, this mainly concerns the no. 9. For Manchester United, it is the no. 7. Other clubs have the no. 10 as their ultimate reward number. Other numbers become famous for other reasons, and the no. 37 is one of those at Newcastle. I don't know Stevie Harper personally, but I know if it were me and I was 37, not playing and being frozen out to an inferior quality 'keeper, I would take the ready-made excuse and opportunity to make a statement in this manner. Plausible deniability. Well played, Steve, well played.
Pardew told the Chronicle: "I might give Yohan 10 minutes. It depends on the mood of the game. If it’s a calm game, I’ll stick him out there, but he doesn’t really need it. "It’s just about letting him have a little taste." Pardew is well stocked in the midfield area, with both Mehdi Abeid and Gael Bigirimana both emerging with credit last night. Bigirimana was nominated man of the match after a vote among journalists. Pardew said: "Gael and Mehdi were good tonight, and Haris. "In that midfield area, we gave as good as we got against a top European side. They can be very proud of themselves."
I'm not really concerned about Yohan Cabaye. He seems like a motivated, committed fellow who will be ready for the season. I expect that we'll see a full-strength squad against Den Haag, so if he's not in that lineup, I might start rubbing my jade worry stone... but not until then. Until that time, I'm going to sit in my happy place and think about Gael.
"I thought Obertan last night was probably pick of the bunch – he made some real good thrusts – and there were a lot of positives. We’ll take that into the Braga game."
Ok. Who had money on these words being spoken and printed. Like ever. Anyone?
"Last year was a really important year in the history of the club," he said. "The team was so together. Whether it was an important save, a good goal or an important tackle, we all celebrated together. We were a united team and a united party. "I think that is the main ingredient of our success – that togetherness. The team is together and willing to fight for each other and we can go a long way.
Team spirit. It's back, although not in buzz word status this year, it doesn't seem. Honestly, though, the team spirit and camaraderie that was established last year is important to our transfer policy. It is important in weighing which (if any) players are shifted and very important on what players are brought in. So far, it looks like the players in are unsurprisingly slotting in easily. It may be frustrating for us to sit and watch the speculation wheel and not get any solid information for our "effort", but ultimately, the players that come in are going to fit in tactically and will fit in socially. Now, if we fail to address known needs yet again... I may not be so conciliatory.
"I don’t care what is being said. I think it’s part of the game," Ba told the Journal from Newcastle’s training base in Portugal. "However, I have never said anything other than I love being at Newcastle. "If they hear something from me about my future, that is the truth. Otherwise, everything that is said is not true. "The newspapers and I are not very friendly at the moment. For months and months and months, people have been talking about me, but there is nothing happening.
This is my first time linking to a Malaysian newspaper. In honor of the Olympics and the fact that I know there is a good spot of Toon support in Malaysia, they get a small spot in the links. We are 8 hours from being down to 2 on the "release clause countdown" and then we can resume normal breathing service.