Visa problems, twitter rants and the missing £35 million. With Mike Ashley's chubby finger hovering over the self-destruct button, Newcastle United fans are strapping in for another bumpy ride at St. James Park.
Hopes for the season:
The two S’s: stability and silverware. Obviously the second S is a completely ridiculous suggestion, as is the hope for stability, thinking about it. The cobwebs in our trophy cabinet haven't been disturbed since 1969 so disappointment in that department is nothing new. At this stage, after the pre-season we've had, I'd snap your hand off if you offered me 17th place and six points off the Mackems.
Fears for the season:
Ashley to put up more Sports Direct signs, flog Tioté, rename the stadium, ditch Puma for Donnay, change our home colours to red and white, bring back Joe Kinnear, the list of terrifying possibilities under this porky lunatic is endless. He genuinely has no idea what he’s doing.
Fixture you’re most looking forward to?
The Mackems at home. We've got a great record against them at St. James' Park (I don’t think their players are used to the big crowds and loud noises) and Shola always scores.
Have you got the right manager?
I’m not convinced. Even if he is the right man for the job its a matter of time before Ashley sabotages any good work with a knee jerk dismissal the minute a new manager, willing to be paid in casino chips and Sports Direct vouchers, becomes available. Pardew has at least had the decency to try and establish a dialogue with fans but after the sale of Carroll, Nolan and a pathetic transfer window, that has so far seen us remain in profit with a weaker squad than we started with, we may as well stop listening to the poor guy.
Player you’d most like to sign?
Daniel Sturridge. He looked sharp when he played against us for Bolton last season and smashed in a great goal. We need a new no.9, he's young, English, knows where the net is and would love it down the Bigg Market.
Which player should we look out for?
Three names. Yohan Cabaye, Shane Ferguson and Sammy Ameobi. French international Cabaye pulled the strings in the middle of the park for Lille who did the double in France last season. Intelligent, plays box-to-box and has great vision. He was widely tipped in the French press to sign for a top four club but we made our move as soon as the transfer window opened. Ferguson is a tenacious Northern Irish lad who can operate at left back or left wing, he isn’t scared to get stuck in and has a lovely delivery on him. Of course he was injured by our own keeper in his first pre-season game but he should figure when he regains fitness and Jose Enrique trapdoors. Sammy Ameobi: younger brother of Shola. He's an inch taller, a yard quicker, more Billy Elliott to Shola’s Bambi On Ice.
Which player would you love to ditch?
Nile Ranger. Unbelievably he was handed a five year contract just as Pardew took over last season. He'd done fuck all to earn it. We'd heard good things about him from his performances in the reserves and he his chance in the first team last season but just didn't deliver. A mate of mine got chatting to him in a nightclub last year and Ranger told him, "I'm a gangster first, footballer second." True story, unfortunately.
What won’t happen this season?
We won't see Ashley open a Twitter account. #fatcockneyb*****d
Tell us something we don’t know about your club:
Comedian Alan Carr's dad, Graham, is our chief scout and was instrumental in our signing of Cheik Tioté for £3.5m - easily our best signing of the last decade.
There's only two Ameobi's.
Any other news:
A lot of clubs have their pre-seasons disrupted by injury crises but has a side ever had their preparations disrupted by a Visa crisis? Three of our first team squad were refused entry to the USA for a tour because they weren't granted Visa's. To make matters worse Cheik Tioté wasn't allowed back due to an issue with his! He's currently in Africa trying to sort it out. It'll be a long season for us if he doesn't get that sorted, let me tell you.
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