What is going wrong at Newcastle United?

Newcastle United slumped to their fourth straight defeat and look a long way off the team that challenged for a place in the Champions League last season.

So, what has went wrong? For me, personally, after watching them a lot both last season and this year there isn’t much of a difference at all, especially going forward. Last year, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse didn’t click as a pairing and it is only in the spotlight now because the team aren’t picking up the points and anyone who points to this, has obviously not been watching the games from last year closely enough.

What has changed then? Defensively they look awful this year and last year Tim Krul kept a lot of clean sheets and this was a massive part of their success. All it required was one piece of magic from one of their main attacking players, whether that be Ba, Cisse, Hatem Ben Arfa or Yohan Cabaye. Last season, if Newcastle kept a clean sheet I was very confident they would nick a goal but this year they can’t keep clean sheets so they need something extra.

Injuries have obviously hampered the team, in particular the two French players, Cabaye and Ben Arfa because without them there is a clear lack of creativity. Just look at the midfield that started against Stoke City, Vurnon Anita, Cheick Tiote, James Perch and Jonas Gutierrez, every one of them gives something to the team, in terms of workrate and commitment but they aren’t going to create many chances for the front two, who can’t seem to link up, so a lot of the long balls which, Mike Williamson loves to play is pointless and is resulting in the opposition getting the ball back and launching an attack.

So, what can manager Alan Pardew really do? He needed to be backed in the summer by Mike Ashley but unfortunately he wasn’t and with the extra games in Europe and the injuries that are adding up, he is fighting a losing battle. He wanted to bring in quite a few players but it just didn’t happen and he actually wanted a goal scoring centre back and one point which turned into nothing and maybe that is part of the reason why the team can’t score from set pieces. Which is another thing that has been awful, both defensively and offensively.

I think the team will sort itself out and anyone that thinks Pardew should be sacked really needs to understand that stability is the way forward. The only worry I can see at the moment is if Newcastle finish midtable, other clubs will be looking to take their better players and with no Europe next season, they will be a lot more likely to leave. He needs to bring in players in January just to convince the rest of the players to stay, but the potential is there and we all seen last season that at times they can be unbeatable and have the players to really hurt the opposition. Finally, I would just like to say fair play to Pardew for not blaming the injury list on the teams form but if he had brought in more players in the summer, where would Newcastle be now?

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Who will be Ipswich Town’s next manager?

Ipswich Town find themselves bottom of the Championship and are now looking for a new manager after Paul Jewell’s departure.

Already, there has been a lot of talk of who will replace Jewell, with George Burley being the latest to say that he will apply to become the next manager of the club. It would be Burley’s second spell in charge and under him the club had some of their best seasons which included a season in Europe. Also, striker Michael Chopra has said that he would like Alan Shearer as the next manager, which would be quite interesting because it would only be his second job in management and maybe more experience is needed at such a crucial time for the club. They have been on such a bad run lately and some people are putting it down to the fact that they have so many loan players in their squad at the minute and they can’t find the right formula for success. Jewell, had a 34.12% win record at the club but even he is telling other managers to apply for the job, so he obviously feels that there is a lot of potential and he wants success for all the loyal fans.

A lot of names have been put forward, but the current favourite is, Alan Curbishley, who has been out of the game since 2008, and this may actually be a good fit for both manager and club because he has a good record, not only in the Championship but also in the Premier League. The only negative with appointing Curbishley is the fact he has been out of the game for quite a while and the new manager needs to hit the ground running, whereas the former Charlton Athletic manager may take a while to get back into the groove.

Obviously, Mick McCarthy is linked with the job like every other going, but I do believe Ipswich have a genuine chance of getting him because they are a big club and just need someone to steer them back in the right direction, which the former Wolves man has done many times before. McCarthy, has a win percentage of 39.29% which is similar to Jewell but the difference between the two is that McCarthy has done it consistently at a higher level. This man needs to choose his next job carefully and if he can keep Ipswich up this year and then have a promotion challenge next season, his CV will look even more impressive.

Finally, quite a strange one to me is, Gary Megson. In his last job, some people believe he was harshly sacked by Sheffield Wednesday and should still be in charge there but these things happen in football and it wouldn’t be the first time someone got sacked in League 1 and got a job in a higher division, just look at what Alan Pardew is doing at Newcastle United. Megson, has gained promotion from the Championship before and he kept Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League so he wouldn’t be a terrible choice, but I just feel the fans may not be too excited by this appointment.

Others linked with the job are, Owen Coyle, Andy Thorn, Paulo Sousa and Paul Tisdale. So who would do the best job for Ipswich Town?

Will Clint Dempsey leave Fulham this summer?

The Clint Dempsey transfer saga could run and run for the whole of the summer and come down to the last day.

Dempsey has scored 50 Premier League goals

Fulham will definitely not want to lose one of their main players and it seems like the player is very happy at the club but money talks in football and I am sure he is a very ambitious man and will want to have a better chance of challenging for trophies. Also, he seemed to thrive under the pressure of playing in Europe so he will want to have another go in the Europa League as well seen as though he got so close to winning it a few years ago. Dempsey scored 23 goals in 46 appearances last year and this has made him hot property with a number of clubs keeping tabs on the situation. With 17 goals in the Premier League he has just proved his quality finally as I believe he has been one of the most underrated players in the league for a number of years now. If he was slightly younger then he would go for a much bigger price but he is 29 and can be a star for a while to come.

Liverpool have been the team chasing his signature all summer so far with manager Brendan Rodgers confirming the club have had contact with Fulham over the player and they have been reported several times to be close to signing him. However, not everything you read in the papers is true and they may not have bid for him as they may not want to pay the price Fulham want for him. He is a very good player and can fit into many different systems which is obviously very beneficial to any side and he will provide a goal scoring threat from either one of the front three or even one of the three midfielders.

The American international would be a very good fit in my opinion at Arsenal as they seem to lack a goal scoring midfielder these days and with the expected departure of Robin Van Persie they need to try and replace his goals with someone experienced in the Premier League. For too long Arsene Wenger has tried to bring players through or sign younger players but now they could be dropping out of the top four and something needs to change if they want to keep up with the top teams. If they could get him for £10 million then it would be an absolute steal.

Finally and a little surprisingly Newcastle United are linked with him and as much as this would be a good move for all parties, I just cannot see it happening with Newcastle seemingly focused on other players and them targeting younger players so they have a better resale value in years to come. It is a possibility as he would add a lot of quality to the squad and take a bit of the goal scoring pressure off Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, plus they are playing in Europe this year so he probably would be willing to join. But I really just don’t see it happening at all.

Who will Junior Hoilett sign for?

Junior Hoilett is looking for a new club this summer after leaving relegated Blackburn Rovers and has plenty of options.

Hoilett scored 14 goals in 92 games for Blackburn Rovers

The wide man enjoyed a very good season last year in a struggling Rovers side and was one of their bright spots in a poor season. In his 34 league games he scored seven goals and got seven assists which is impressive for a lot of wingers, however, it is just not good enough for a team in the Champions League in my opinion. Chelsea would be the most likely as they are heavily linked with Victor Moses and I think Hoilett is slightly better than him. There are rumours that he could still sign a new contract at the Ewood Park club but I don’t think he wants to play in the Championship and he is better than that. He served the club well playing almost 100 games and I’m sure the fans were happy with his commitment and his performances over the last few seasons.

QPR are currently the favourites to sign him and he does seem to be a Mark Hughes type of player and that is someone that likes to play wide but cut in and get shots away. They are in need of wingers too as Shaun Wright-Phillips has struggled and never really made a positive impact since moving to the club and Jamie Mackie who had an ok season in my opinion is just not good enough if QPR want to move forward. I’m sure Bobby Zamora, Andy Johnson and Djibril Cisse would much prefer to see Hoilett on the ball out wide than their current players as he just has that unpredictability that is needed at times.

Another club that could be interested is Newcastle United as he would fit into the style of football manager Alan Pardew wants them to play. If he did sign then they would have a frightening attacking line up in Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Junior Hoilett on the left. The only problem that this would lead to is their fullbacks wouldn’t get much protection and it would be very harsh just to drop Jonas Gutierrez after everything he has done for the club. I think this could be a good move for both club and player but I don’t see it happening because Hoilett may want too high a wage.

Finally, a little surprisingly to me Everton have been linked with him as just said he will probably want a high wage and Everton don’t usually give out that big a wage. But, if they could convince him to sign then he would certainly create chances for Nikica Jelavic and with the team already having a lot of good passers in their midfield, he would just add something different and if he could get crosses in then it would probably help Tim Cahill rediscover his goal scoring touch.

I think he will sign for QPR as they could be a surprise team this year and challenge for the top half of the table and with a bit of luck maybe a European place through a cup competition. Plus, they have the finances to give him a very good wage.

Who will Dimitar Berbatov play for next season?

Dimitar Berbatov’s time at Manchester United looks like it is coming to an end this summer with him not featuring as much as he would like in the season just gone.

Berbatov has also scored 48 goals in 77 appearances

But is his time in England coming to an end? He has a really good record in England and has performed quite well for both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. When he signed for Spurs he was well known in Germany after scoring 91 goals in 201 appearances at Bayer Leverkusen and after his first season in England he was one of the most feared strikers in the country. He scored 23 goals in both his seasons at Tottenham and formed a very good partnership with Robbie Keane. He was often criticised by fans because he was seen as lazy and not very interested but his quality was never in doubt and he showed amazing composure at times and deserved his move to a team challenging for the title in my opinion.

At Manchester United, he won two Premier League titles and even finished up as the league’s top scorer in the 2010-11 season after hitting 20 goals in 32 games. Apart from that season though he didn’t quite hit the heights and only got 56 goals in all competitions for the club. However last season it was really surprising that he wasn’t used more as he got 7 goals in 12 Premier League games, when they needed a goal in a game I don’t understand why he wasn’t given more of a chance.

It is more than likely that he will leave England and go back abroad but if he doesn’t, who would have him in the Premier League? The first team that may be interested in his services could be Liverpool as they have struggled to put away their chances these years, and he would surely add more than what Andy Carroll has. A problem could be whether Sir Alex Ferguson will sell a player to Liverpool, he basically refused to sell Gabriel Heinze to them a few years ago. Another problem could be whether the new manager would want him and also how he would get him to play alongside Luis Suarez as they are both quite similar and like to drop deep.

Newcastle United could also be interested in Berbatov and I think he would be interested in joining the Magpies as his idol was Alan Shearer and he used to sleep in a Toon shirt so I’m sure he would like to play for them at some point. They are in Europe and they may have to replace Demba Ba this summer if he leaves as all the rumours are saying. The price tag could put the club off and the fact that he is getting towards the end of his career will put Alan Pardew off. I think it would be a good signing but not likely to happen.

A return to Tottenham could be on the cards as they will be in need of a striker as they may not be able to keep hold of Emmanuel Adebayor. I don’t think his wages would be as high as the Manchester City striker either so he could be a very good option but I’m not sure he would fit into their style of play anymore as they like their main striker to be a bit more of target man.

Berbatov can still do a good job in the Premier League but he will probably go abroad to a team like PSG or even be included in a swap deal for a Borussia Dortmund as Manchester United have been linked with a few of their players like Shinji Kagawa and Robert Lewandowski so that could be very good deal for both clubs.

Who will be the Premier League manager of the year?

As the season is nearing its conclusion it is going to be a very exciting time in the Premier League with the title yet to be decided, European places still up for grabs and the battle to avoid the drop going down to the wire. But now is also is the time of the year when awards are handed out and there are many contenders for manager of the year.

Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson both deserve a shout as they have done very well and are obviously the front runners for the England job because of the job they have done at club level but in my opinion Tottenham have done exactly as expected, challenged for the title for a while and then inevitably fell away and are now looking to finish in the Champions League places. West Brom have done slightly better than I expected but mid table is about right for them, however, they were pushing for a top 10 place before their recent slump.

So here are my five nominations for manager of the year.

Brendan Rodgers – Swansea City

Swansea have performed better than anyone could have imagined with an impressive home record and an improving away record, they have took to the Premier League like a duck to water. It is not only the results Swansea have picked up, it is the way they have done it and Rodgers deserves a lot of praise for this as he gives his players the confidence to go out and play. The play arguably the best passing game in the country and are never fazed by anyone and will continue to play their way no matter the opposition and Rodgers deserves credit for this. He has done it with a shoestring budget also and he is now linked with a move away from the Liberty Stadium because of how impressive he has been

Alan Pardew – Newcastle United

Newcastle yet again are another team that has performed a lot better than expected. After losing key players in the summer, they were expected to struggle but the players Pardew has brought in have been fantastic signings. Demba Ba, scored goals for fun in the first half of the Premier League and even though the goals have dried up, he is still playing very well. Yohan Cabaye, has dictated a lot of games from the centre of midfield and, although he would have liked more goals, has formed a very good partnership with Cheick Tiote. Finally Papiss Cisse has set the Premier League on fire with seven goals in his first seven games. Pardew hasn’t been given a lot of money but has spent it wisely and now Newcastle are back where they belong challenging for a place in Europe.

Paul Lambert- Norwich City

Yet another overachiever in Paul Lambert, Norwich have shown everyone why they deserve their place in the Premier League. Lambert went for determined players instead of experienced players for this campaign and it has worked out magnificently with Grant Holt being the second highest English scorer in the league even though it is his first season. The players clearly love Lambert for giving them this chance and they are repaying him for that. Maybe an outside shot for manager of the year but definitely deserves a lot of praise for the job he has done.

Sir Alex Ferguson – Manchester United

Fergie needs no introduction and it seems like he has masterminded yet another league title. Their rivals may have splashed the cash but this still has not been enough for them to wrestle the title away from the Red Devils, however, this could all change if United slip up in the coming weeks. Do we really see this happening though? This may be one of Ferguson’s greatest title wins because of the pressure they were under from the noisy neighbours but there is no sign that he is about to slow down and will be wanting even more success in the years to come.

David Moyes – Everton

Still the most underrated manager in the Premier League in my opinion because year after year he gets Everton into the top half of the table even when he loses his best players and is not given a lot of money to replace them. With his team currently in the semi final of the FA Cup and above Liverpool in the table, it has been yet another fantastic year. If he can add a trophy then he will surely go down as one of Everton’s greatest managers ever. Also, I think he is the man to replace Alex Ferguson at Manchester United so the Everton fans will need to enjoy this success while it lasts because I do not believe anyone else can do as good a job as he has done in the past 10 years.

Here are the five managers that I think deserve to be manager of the year and they are difficult to separate but I think Brendan Rogers should win the award and English teams should try and replicate what Swansea have done. So, who do you think should be manager of the year?

Newcastle United’s front three the best in the Premier League?

Newcastle United’s first half display against West Brom was one of the best performances of this season as there three attacking players tore open Albion’s defence time and time again.

Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse all played a part in making it a torrid afternoon for their opposition and most teams in the country would have struggled against the pace and the movement of Newcastle’s front three. Hatem Ben Arfa had been criticised for his defensive work this season and this is why he struggled to get into Alan Pardew’s first 11 for a large part of the season but today proved why you cannot leave him out. He just gives the team something different, there are very few players in the world that can pick up the ball from inside their own half and beat three or four players before shooting or laying it off to someone else. He was simply unplayable in the first half and even in the second he managed to get on the ball and relieve some of the pressure that was being put on the defence.

The first goal was pretty simple but still required some craft as Jonas Gutierrez (he had a very good game and will not get the credit he deserves for his performance as the front three stole the limelight, any other game and he would have been close to man of the match) had to play through Ben Arfa who was not being tracked by a defender. His part in the goal was simple as all he had to do was put the ball across the six yard box which doesn’t seem that hard however we see it week after week that wingers struggle to put it in the right spot and the chance is missed. Demba Ba slid in and missed the ball but Papiss Cisse was on hand to finish first time, this does show natural strikers instinct from both of them as they were both onside but unchallenged. So it was fantastic movement from them both and very good concentration from Cisse as he had to watch the ball onto his foot and steer expertly into the net.

The second goal showed everyone what a quick counter attack is with Ben Arfa picking up the ball inside his own half and playing a few neat little passes with his teammates and then placing the ball past the diving Ben Foster. Cisse yet again played a part in the goal but the Frenchman will take all the credit as he ran a long way and there was no chance he was going to be stopped by the defence. His finish was pretty good too which any striker would have been proud of.

The third goal was pretty similar to the second as it was on the counter attack. Ben Arfa yet again picked up the ball deep and ran with it before sliding it to Ba who cleverly flicked it round the corner for Ben Arfa to put the ball into the danger area. It was slightly fortuitous as he was looking for Ba but he was bundled over and may have been awarded a penalty, and the ball rolled to Cisse who yet again produced a very good finish with his left foot.

A fantastic display from the Newcastle attackers but what I want to know is, why when Newcastle are performing well and have good attacking players do the defence look so weak and vulnerable to any attack? Mike Williamson had a shocker for the goal and he struggles when dealing with pace and movement. Danny Simpson is quite consistent but he does occasionally get beaten too easily and the winger has a clear cross or shot at goal. Davide Santon always looks more interested in attacking and taking players on. James Perch has actually proved he is quite good and was the best defender in the second half although he sometimes struggles too. When Coloccini went off injured the alarm bells must have been ringing in the Toon fans heads as he is a very good defender and is arguably one of the most in from defenders in the Premier League.

If they could sort out the defence Newcastle would certainly be a top 6 side consistently. This summer is massive for the Toon and if they can keep their best players and add to their defence they will have a very good chance of winning trophies which the fans desperately crave.

Shola Ameobi slays Sunderland yet again

Shola Ameobi has done it again against Sunderland and secured a vital point for Newcastle in a game that seemed to be drifting away from them.

He has not always been the most liked player and has been slated by many fans over the years but when it comes to the Tyne Wear Derby you know exactly what you are going to get from him. This was his seventh goal against Sunderland in only 12 games and this is why he will always be a cult hero. Only Jackie Milburn has scored more league goals in the derby than him. He may have got a bit lucky with his goal as Mignolet should never have been beaten at his near post with such a weak effort but at least he was in the position and connected with the ball.

It was a blood and thunder derby especially in the first half with many bookings and eventually early in the second half a red card which meant that recent signing Papiss Cisse could not really get into the game and makes you wonder if Pardew made the wrong choice. Everyone knows that Sunderland are sacred of Ameobi and he should have started. He didn’t have the greatest of days, Pardew, as Davide Santon was not looking very weak at the back and maybe Ryan Taylor should have started over at left back because when Hatem Ben Arfa came on he changed the game and put Newcastle on the front foot. He has at least given himself a good chance to start in the next game just like Ameobi has.

This day is about Shola and even though his record overall isn’t the best he does add something to the team whenever he plays, it was only a few weeks ago that he was a very important player in the game against Manchester United and although he didn’t score he should have been given a lot of praise for his performance. He has been at Newcastle his whole career (apart from a short loan spell at Stoke City) and you can see how much he loves the club and will do anything for it and anything to secure points for the team.

Shola now has 7 goals against Sunderland

He has never been a prolific goal scorer with him never getting to double figures in the Premier League and this is quite remarkable as he has played a lot of games and should have a higher scoring ratio but there is no doubt that he was a vital part of the team that won the Championship and got the team back to where they belong.

I hope he enjoys his goal and it lives long in the memory of the Toon fans because it has allowed them to have the bragging rights this season and if you are from the North East you understand how important not losing this game is. Sunderland will be devastated and they should feel a little ashamed of themselves especially club captain, Lee Cattermole who got himself sent off after the final whistle for verbally abusing the referee. You had your chance Sunderland and you blew it.

Coloccini and Krul sign new contracts at Newcastle United

Newcastle United fans will be delighted with the news that Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul have both signed new contracts at the club.

It is yet another step in the right direction, with the team battling for a European place this season and an outside chance of qualifying for the Champions League. The team will be delighted at their progress this season after losing several key players of their squad in the summer and pundits expecting them to battle against relegation. Kevin Nolan was captain last season and when he left for West Ham, the team needed a new leader and Coloccini was the man to take up the armband and his performances this season have justified Alan Pardew’s decision. He has been a rock at the back, and has arguably been one of the best centre backs in the division, which is a far cry from his first season at the club when he was ridiculed by opposition supporters not only for his hair but his horrific decision making and his inevitable mistakes at key moments in games.

The season in the Championship has made him improve as a defender as it helped him adapt to the physical side of the English game and now you will hardly ever see him getting bullied by strikers. But you can still tell he is from Argentina because he is not afraid to pass the ball out of the defence and try to set up an attack. He has already stated he wants to lift a trophy with the Magpies and it will not be this season but if he can help his team get into the Europa League then it will have been a fantastic season.

Krul and Coloccini celebrate

Not forgetting Tim Krul as he has been sensational between the sticks for the Toon this season and this has been an even more impressive achievement as in pre season it was unclear whether he will be the number 1 with both Steve Harper and Fraser Forster battling for the position. In all honesty I thought Harper would be first choice because of his experience but Pardew took a gamble and it is paying off. He has performed heroics in many games this season and gained valuable points this season for Newcastle and whenever he has been called upon he has never let anyone down. It is worth remembering that he is still young and can make the odd mistake when dealing with crosses as he is unsure whether to come for them or not but the more he plays the better he will get. Krul must now be considered as one of the best in the league and if he keeps progressing the way he is, then surely he will be one of the best in the world.

At the moment it is looking bright for Newcastle but with Mike Ashley in charge there will always be that fear that something will go wrong and there will be some fans saying he has only given them new contracts so he can demand a higher transfer fee from potential buyers. Newcastle are a huge club and deserve to be in Europe and if they keep the core of the squad together this summer then being a United fan will be very exciting next season. But that is definitely a big if.

Newcastle’s surprise player of the season

Danny Guthrie is the most underrated player in the Premier League as he keeps completely controlling games with his great range of passing. He likes to play the game simply most of the time, just playing the way he is facing, so if he is facing towards his own goal he will just drop it off to the centre back and make another move to pick up the ball. On the other hand though, he sometimes delivers perfect 50 to 60 yard cross field passes which if they were done by Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard would be praised no end by commentators and pundits alike.

He just gets about his job effectively and another thing I like about him is that he is clearly a very quiet man which is very rare especially for a football player. He just lets his football do the talking and yet again against Aston Villa he played fantastically and was a candidate for man of the match. Every time he put the ball in the box it caused confusion in the Villa defence and led to many chances, the best of them falling to Papiss Demba Cisse who should have scored with a header on his debut. In fairness to the striker, he did score a wonder goal which won the game so he shouldn’t be criticised too much.

The former Liverpool youngster has been very impressive this season even though he can’t have expected much playing time with Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote in such great form at the start of the season. But everyone knows it is a long season and the whole squad is needed so when he came in to cover for injuries, the Toon fans must not have been expecting too much. He proved them wrong and possibly even Alan Pardew, as he had not been offered a contract extension even though his was up at the end of the season. He proved in the games especially against Stoke, Everton and Qpr that he is more than just an average squad player.

Yes at times he does seem to lack fitness and he does make rash challenges but when he has the ball his pass completion must be up there with some of the best in the country, yet he will never be mentioned as a possible England player. Although this could be because Fabio Capello does not come to watch any Newcastle games and therefore he will never get looked at.

To fully appreciate the way Guthrie plays football, you have to watch a full 90 minutes because he will not exactly stand out in the highlights because he won’t get many goals and he does a lot of the boring stuff leaving the more adventurous and skilful side of the game to other players. But he is vital at the minute to Newcastle and on current form I cannot see both Cabaye and Tiote starting ahead of him but yet again those two have been linked to moves away to Chelsea and Manchester United.

Well done to the player himself because he has never really complained about being on the bench and is now repaying the manager and the fans with his performances. He is most certainly having a better season than a certain Joey Barton.