Pre season: Good, bad or ugly? Gruesome.
Joe Kinnear’s shambolic and disruptive entry as Director of Football has been about as helpful as a helicopter ejector seat. He’s made dubious claims about his working history and status, got players names wrong in live interviews, and muddied the waters around what his role actually involves.
Other highlights have included: Papiss Cissé’s hilarious debacle over refusing to wear the Wonga-sponsored shirt on religious grounds, then subsequently being snapped in a casino; newly loaned striker Loic Remy remaining on bail until September after accusations of involvement in a gang rape; and court appearances for Cheick Tiote regarding a range of motoring offences and even fraud.
Hopes for the season: Strikers in form: Cissé returning to his goal-scoring ways, Remy and Bafetimbi Gomis doing some net-busting, and hopefully some consistency at the back following confirmation that man-of-rock Fabricio Coloccini is staying.
Fears for the season: None of the above, coupled with managerial disputes between Kinnear and Pardew which could seen Alain De Pardieu, as the Francophile gaffa has been monikered, doing one.
Absolute bare minimum you’ll accept: Let’s be honest: avoiding relegation.
Fixture you’re most looking forward to? Sunderland. Always Sunderland.
Got the right manager? Pardew had a rough ride when he was first drafted in, in what was rightly seen as an unfair dismissal of Chris Hughton (who it’s great to see having success at Norwich). Then Newcastle’s stonking season in 2011/12 which saw us finish 5th and enter European football was enough to soften the heart of even the toughest Pardew critic. But after last season’s coffin-dodging finale, a repeat performance could see him out the door. That’s if Joe Kinnear doesn’t stick his oar in and drive him out sooner.
By Christmas you’ll be… Wallowing in the blessed mediocrity of mid-table blues – 13th
Player you’d most like to sign? Mario Goetze or Julian Draxler – two exceptional young German talents who can make and score goals.
Which player should we look out for? Loic Remy is a big catch for Newcastle, following missing out on him to QPR back in January, and it will be interesting seeing how he gels with the team this season. Moussa Sissoko also showed moments of brilliance last year, and on form he could be a real game-changer for us.
Which player would you love to ditch? Fortunately, James ‘Perchinho’ Perch has already gone.
Opposition hate figure? Paolo Di Canio. Any Sunderland manager will feel the ire of the Toon Army, but that guy is just loathable.
Tell us something we don’t know about your club? In a fabulous error of judgement, the St. James’s Park bar, previously Shearer’s Bar, has been renamed Nine Bar, in honour of the illustrious number nine shirt. A ‘9bar’ also happens to be common parlance for a 9oz. bar of hash (cannabis resin).
What won’t happen this season? Consistency in our performance or results.
Favourite chant? There’s one about Joe Kinnear which I’m looking forward to hearing.
Where will you finish? Being an NUFC fan breeds eternal pessimism: 15th.
Any other news? On September 11th, ex-NUFC goalkeeper Stevie Harper is playing a testimonial game against AC Milan legends including Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi following his 20 years service to the club. He’ll be joined by Newcastle greats like Alan Shearer and Faustino Asprilla.