Preview: Newcastle Utd vs Aston Villa – 28/02/15

Click here to go to the discussion thread by TJR

Tim Sherwood brings his gilet and Aston Villa side to St James’ Park looking for his first victory as manager of the club. John Carver is also after for his first win at St James’ Park since being appointed Newcastle United head coach. Both sides come into the game on the back of horrendous form, if you can call it that, sitting at 17th and 20th in the form table, the home side taking five points from their last six games, the visitors none. The reality of the situation is that both teams have been awful for a couple of seasons now.

Despite this the game looks set to be a sell out with only a few hundred tickets left on sale at the time of writing. No thanks to Villa though, who once again have been unable to sell their allocation and have had to return tickets so they can be sold to home fans.

On the topic of attendances and Aston Villa, it has this been confirmed that Aston Villa are the worst supported club in the league, at least in terms of filling their stadium. Villa Park is on average only 77.5% full, considerably lower than the second worst offenders, Sunderland, who can only get the Stadium of Light 87.5% full. Newcastle meanwhile get St James’ Park 97.1%, although far better than the likes of Aston Villa and Sunderland it is still disappointing if understandable given the events at the club this season.

This next paragraph is about our enthralling campaign for mid-table mediocrity. You will need to make sure you are sitting down for this bit as your excitement levels are about to go through the roof. We will finish this weekend in 11th place if we win. We will finish this weekend in 11th place if we draw. And guess what, we will finish this weekend in 11th place if we lose. Now isn’t that the stuff dreams are made of?

Getting knocked out of both cups has paid off, we have now solidified the magnificent position of mediocrity. If come the end of the season we top the balance sheets league, this could go down as the greatest season in the history of the club. I can only bow down to his excellency Mike Ashley. Continue reading

Aston Villa Fans’ Thoughts on the Match

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Yacob

I headed over to the Villa forum Heroes and Villains to ask the questions. Check out the thread as well, it gets quite tasty after one of them visits TF and sees some of the questions suggested. This week’s questions were:

1 – Where do you think you’ll finish this season? What about Newcastle?
2 – What are your thoughts on Tim Sherwood?
3 – Is your lack of goals due to not creating chances? Or just from being poor in front of goal?
4 – Do you think the club should have kept Darren Bent?
5 – If you could have one football player, past or present, live in your spare room who would it be and why?
6 – Who do you think will be the three clubs to get relegated? And who will make up the top four?
7 – If your club was a biscuit, what biscuit would it be? And why would it be that biscuit?
8 – What is the general mood among Villa fans? Has it contributed to falling home attendances?
9 – Have Newcastle made a mistake by waiting until the summer to appoint a permanent manager?
10 – Scoreline prediction?

Monty

1 – Where do you think you’ll finish this season? What about Newcastle?
I fear this could be our year for the drop. Feel free to laugh at us if so, as we did at you lot (some of your fans do hold a grudge for a joke, don’t they? Oh well, idiots everywhere). As for your team, non-descript mid-table for you this season, which looks pretty great from where we’re sat.

2 – What are your thoughts on Tim Sherwood?
Underwhelmed by Sherwood. He might keep us up, but I have very very grave doubts long-term, and I also think there’s a good chance he will take us down, but that’s hardly all his fault. Overall, seems like just another English coach who thinks tactics are mints, but let’s see.

3 – Is your lack of goals due to not creating chances? Or just from being poor in front of goal?
Not creating chances. We’re unbelievably jittery in the final third, as well as clueless, static, devoid of confidence and unimaginative. Woohoo!

4 – Do you think the club should have kept Darren Bent?
No. Done at the top level. Might get a few tap-ins in the Championship, but you can’t afford to have a player in the top flight who just hangs around near the goal, not contributing, then touches the ball in from a yard and wheels away with his shirt over his head.

5 – If you could have one football player, past or present, live in your spare room who would it be and why?
Juan Pablo Angel. I bet he’d look after the place neatly.

6 – Who do you think will be the three clubs to get relegated? And who will make up the top four?
Leicester, QPR and, I hate to say it, Villa to go down. Top four? Chelsea, City, Arsenal aaaand…someone.

7 – If your club was a biscuit, what biscuit would it be? And why would it be that biscuit?
A rich tea that’s been left in the cuppa for too long. Eventually the heat tells on us, and we fall apart into nondescript, undigestible mush.

8 – What is the general mood among Villa fans? Has it contributed to falling home attendances?
It is gloomy, and I imagine that it must have had an impact on attendances. Last season really did it, I think, almost more than this.

9 – Have Newcastle made a mistake by waiting until the summer to appoint a permanent manager?
I don’t think so. You’re not really in any danger, so you can afford the luxury of waiting until you have a chance of getting someone really good. The pickings are slim mid-season – look who we got!

10 – Scoreline prediction?
Ach, I dunno. 2-1 Newcastle? We might score, but that might be it.

Continue reading

TFI – Player Ratings vs Everton – 28 Dec 14

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Cal

After a fortnight of misery manifested in four straight losses, Pardew’s parting gift for Newcastle was one last win, our first to close out the year since 2002, before he departed to Palace, followed by interrupting Carver’s pie eating with press duties.

A return to the usual shape, and it looked like a repeat performance of pretty much any match in December as within five minutes we were a goal down thanks to Arouna Koné’s first in an Everton shirt. For a change we took this as our cue to attack, rather than accepting defeat, and eventually made the breakthrough thanks to a short corner routine that eventually resulted in a cross to the back post, where Williamson was waiting to tee up Cissé for his fifth goal in six games.

Five minutes into the second half and in the wake of a prolonged attack after Everton failed to escape their own third following another Newcastle corner, Pérez was found on the edge of the box, where he twisted, turned, and fired into the bottom corner through a crowd of five defenders that had assembled in front of him. With a quarter of the game to go our lead was doubled as Janmaat found Colback exploiting an opening in the Everton defence, and despite the defender getting a touch he managed to place it past the onrushing keeper to score his first goal in his hometown club’s shirt.

Late on Everton would look to keep the game interesting after an incisive through ball from Baines cut through a sleeping Newcastle defence to allow Mirallas to reduce the deficit to one. Rather than sitting back to defend this slim lead, Newcastle continued to attack and really should have made it 4-2 as Cabella slinked through the Everton defence and passed to Sissoko, who set up Pérez to hit the post, with the offside Rivière failing to react. Continue reading

TFI – Player Ratings vs Manchester Utd – 26 Dec 14

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Cal

A return to normality as a shadow of the side that took an impressive victory away from Old Trafford the previous December put in a paltry performance and were rightly punished. Newcastle started off on the front foot, but hopes were quickly quashed as in the 23rd minute the hosts broke on the counter and Rooney scored with ease, in part thanks to an innovative defensive tactic employed whereby we mark the spaces in between the players, making no attempt to challenge them or the ball.

The second soon followed, as Coloccini attempted to play it out from the back and made a run to the left wing hoping for a return ball, Gouffran kindly played an under-hit ball to double-marked Pérez, Falcao intervened and the ball made its way via Mata to Rooney in acres of space behind our backline to make it a brace.

Early in the second half Rooney would turn provider after being given all the time and space in the world in the middle third, he strolled towards the box and played a beautiful dinked ball over our defence to the waiting Robin van Persie, who nodded home unchallenged.

Consolation came late on when Colback was brought down in the box to earn us our first Premier League penalty in a year to the day, which, as he did against Stoke City to make it 5-1 in that rare Boxing Day win, Cissé coolly converted. Continue reading

TFI – Player Ratings vs Sunderland – 21 Dec 14

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Cal

A fixture that brought little but misery to Newcastle fans during the reign of Alan Pardew, on the day would be a close and exciting encounter that ultimately ended in the fourth straight Newcastle loss in the Tyne-Wear derby, the first time such a streak has happened over the 151 meetings between the clubs. In the eight derbies of the Pardew era Newcastle emerged victorious just once, a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light in 2011, thanks to a Ryan “over the wall” Taylor free-kick.

A fiery first half opened with Cattermole clattering Janmaat after nine seconds, soon after Coloccini replied by hitting Fletcher with a flying knee. The first notable chance of the game came when Sissoko played a one-two with Sammy Ameobi, drove into the box and shot straight at Pantilimon from eight yards. A number of quick-fire chances would follow. A free-kick from the by-line found Wickham in acres of space at the back post, but he failed to nod it on target. Larsson delivered a beautiful looping ball to Fletcher, whose first time shot hit the bar. A wicked long-range strike from Wickham was palmed to the post by Alnwick. After this barrage, Pérez would reply with a curling effort that drifted just wide.

Early in the second half Taylor put his body on the line, as always, and flung himself head first into the post to deny Fletcher a certain goal. While Taylor was off the pitch receiving treatment, a lazy ball from Tioté prompted a Sunderland counter and somehow Gómez was unable to find the target with the goal gaping.

Around the hour mark Gouffran was replaced by Armstrong, making it six Geordies on the pitch at once for Newcastle, as in a rare move Pardew opted for two up top (at a combined age of 38) to try to take the game. It immediately made an impact as defenders were drawn to an intelligent run by Armstrong, allowing Sissoko to find Pérez in space, although Pantilimon denied the Spaniard with an excellent save. A few minutes later Sissoko created another great chance, playing in Armstrong who opted for the shot, rather than returning the ball to Sissoko who was in position for an open goal.

Continuing to chase the win, Tioté was subbed off for Cissé. Pérez would have another good chance come to nothing, and with minutes to go Sissoko opted for a long range stinger, destined for the top corner, but again denied by the indomitable Romanian keeper.

Despite creating a number of good chances in the closing half hour, ultimately Newcastle would be caught out by a well worked counter attack following a poor corner delivery and excellent run by Adam Johnson, who managed to stay on his feet despite the best efforts of Sissoko and Dummett, and would find himself unmarked in the box to finish the move and win the game. Continue reading