All posts by LaFraise92

Preview: Gillingham vs Newcastle Utd – 26/08/14

Click here to go to the discussion thread by LaFraise92

Newcastle’s often-hopeless forays into the League Cup, or the Capital One Cup as it’s technically known, recommence this evening as they travel to the south-east corner of England to take on a Gillingham side who will be looking to cause an upset in the way that Brighton and Peterborough have done in the past.

Newcastle have only played Gillingham once, when, funnily enough, Newcastle travelled to Priestfield for a League Cup second round match on 1 September 1976 during the former’s campaign that would eventually see them defeated by Manchester City in the final. The two sides have never met in the same league, Gillingham having flirted with the second tier of English football in the late 1990s but never having reached the top flight. In any case, Newcastle triumphed 2-1 on the night, and Alan Pardew’s men will presumably be aiming to nick a similar tight victory against a side that has found itself established in the lower half of League 1.

The match will be played at Priestfield, Gillingham’s stadium since their foundation as New Brompton in 1893, a 11,582-all seater, with Newcastle’s allocation being around 2,000 and a sizeable number of the club’s London following expected to turn up for what should be a noisy encounter for home and away fans alike. Most recently, it saw the Gills hoist the League Two trophy as champions in June 2013. Interestingly it has also seen the tightest defence in Football League history, with Gillingham having conceded only 20 goals in 46 games in 1995/96, with club legend Jim Stannard keeping 29 clean sheets as they guaranteed promotion from Division Three. Continue reading

Preview: Stoke City vs Newcastle Utd – 12/04/14

Match preview by LaFraise92, click here to go the our match discussion thread

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
– Shakespeare, Richard III

Newcastle find themselves firmly within the winter (decade?) of their discontent, heading into a near-enough dead rubber “clash” with their neighbours in tenth place, a Stoke City side who have passed the magical forty-point barrier with some great results under Mark Hughes and can now count on Premier League football next season.

Whether the stern alarums borne in the Gallowgate last week will indeed change to merry meetings is yet to be seen; the Toon come into this match having gained only 13 points since Boxing Day, when Stoke capitulated early with two sendings off to allow a 5-1 romp with goals from Messrs Rémy, Gouffran, Cabaye and Cissé. Gouffran hasn’t scored since, Cissé has registered one league goal and Rémy has managed 3 in the intermittent three and a half months.

Our hosts come in with decidedly indifferent form, having gained 19 points since we last met, including a sneaky win over Man United (sound familiar?) and have won three of their last five. Their main goal threats come in Peter Crouch (8 league goals), Charlie Adam (6), Peter Odemwingie (4) and Jonathan Walters (4), all of whom will be fit to start against us – pending medical approval of Adam’s nose guard after a head injury sustained earlier in the week. Continue reading

Preview: Newcastle Utd vs Sunderland – 01/02/14

Match preview by LaFraise92, click here to go the our match discussion thread

So, we grimace our faces at the picture of our dreamboat sailing free from the tempestuous waters of Tyneside for sunnier and richer shores; we get back into a very British mentality after three years of Continental dreaming, and we face our oldest, most bitter rivals just as it seems our season is all but done for.

Newcastle and Sunderland first met in 1883, with the first competitive cup match coming in 1888, when Jack the Ripper was roaming the streets, and Newcastle wasn’t “united” yet. Since then, the teams have met a total of 143 times – in League, both Cups and in play-offs (never in Europe, thanks to one side letting us down) – ending up with this, the 144th edition of one of the fiercest derbies in British football.

Despite Sunderland’s triumph in the first derby in 1888, which ended 2-0 to the unwashed, Newcastle have quite considerably taken the lion’s share over the past 121 years; in terms of wins, Newcastle have 53 (including 11 league doubles) to Sunderland’s 45. However, the last five years have seen possibly the most flammable and fierce derbies in a generation with the emergence of TV coverage and removal of restrictions on away fans as were seen in the 1990s.

The derby of Hallowe’en 2010 saw Newcastle trounce their Wearside counterparts 5-1, with Kevin Nolan getting a hat-trick. However, the Black Cats struck back with the so-called Dirty Knees Derby, under short-term disgrace Paulo di Canio, in which Newcastle folded to a 3-0 loss. The Toon are looking for their first derby win since mid-2011 when Ryan Taylor put the ball over the wall and into the mackems’ net for what is, so far, Pardew’s only derby win in 6 attempts. Continue reading

Over the Wall, Over the Hill? A Future for Ryan Taylor

Originally a forum post by LaFraise92, click here to go the thread

Ryan Taylor joined Newcastle from Wigan in February 2009, having previously been part of a Tranmere Rovers team that reached the League 1 playoffs in 2004. His signing for an undisclosed fee in the throes of our relegation season seems somewhat symbolic of the club’s transition from the old ways; the only thing we know about the deal is that it was a part-exchange for Charles N’Zogbia. Taylor’s first season on Tyneside saw him set up Steven Taylor for a goal on his debut against West Brom, and make a total of ten appearances before we were relegated to the Championship.

Since then, he has arguably played two full seasons – the 2009/10 Championship, when he scored 4 from 36 appearances, and the 2011/12 Premier League, when he got 3 from 34, including the fondly-remembered “Oh Ryan” free kick which curled softly and alluringly into the mackems’ net. He had been mostly used as a substitute in our first season back, with James Perch and Sol Campbell taking up his usual position at right-back.

Towards the end of the 2011/12 season, Taylor was proving himself an invaluable squad player, providing cover for Danny Simpson, as well as a lethal set-piece specialist. He was also a fan favourite due to his mackem-bothering antics and a seemingly humble, focused nature, à la Leighton Baines at Everton. He had proven himself a decent, if not first-choice, right-back in the Premier League and distinguished himself with game-winning set pieces and assists.

As his 28th birthday came around in August 2012, it seemed that Taylor would be invaluable for our Europa League campaign. To that end, he started against Atromitos in our first group game on 23 August and it seemed to be business as usual with him bagging a free kick goal – but in the return leg on 30 August he would suffer a potentially career-ending injury as he tore the cruciate ligament in his right knee. He was stretchered off the pitch and is yet to appear either as a starter or on the bench, for either the senior team or reserve outfits. To add insult to injury, his misery was further compounded when, upon returning to training at the end of last season, he tore his knee ligament once again.

Alan Pardew has stated that Taylor will definitely miss the entirety of this season – giving him a potential return-to-availability date of August 2014, almost two years since he last competitively donned a Toon shirt. But this begs the question – will we ever see Ryan Taylor play another game for the Toon?

Mathieu Debuchy is well-entrenched at right-back, and as a regular member of the French national team is arguably of a much higher quality than Taylor. It’s hard to see Taylor pushing him out of contention, especially considering Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon and Anita are all capable of playing in that position as well. By the time he returns, Taylor will be touching 30 years old and in the final year of his contract, which expires in June 2015. By contrast, the oldest of our other available right backs is again Debuchy, who is a full year and two months younger than Taylor. Their styles also match quite closely – attacking, pressing wing backs – so it is a stretch to imagine that we would ever prefer to select Taylor over the Mighty Buche.

Surely it can’t hurt to have a free kick specialist around then? Well, Gallic huff-taker and all round dreamboat Yohan Cabaye has established his status as set-piece specialist at the Gallowgate, and Sylvain Marveaux has shown an eye for goal in similar situations, despite the fact that he seems to be confined to the reserve team these days. It would be hard to justify including a player just for free kicks, as much as we’d like to have that liberty.

Then there’s the question of whether Taylor will even be half the player he was before his injury. We see it time and time again – the slow, gradual erosion of a player’s abilities by age and injury: Marco van Basten, Steve Coppell, Paul Lake. Taylor is perhaps not of the calibre of van Basten but that does not make his drastic fall from grace any less sad. It seems more and more unlikely that Ryan Taylor will play again in a Newcastle shirt in anything other than a bit-part role. It’s a real shame to see a guy who seems genuine, fair and more than adequately skilled leave, but at this stage in his career it seems inevitable.

What do you think? Have your say in the discussion thread.