An Inside Look at Newcastle United’s Jamaal Lascelles

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

Barring any new signings or transfers at center back, Fabricio Coloccini, Steve Taylor, Mike Williamson and Jamaal Lascelles will be battling for first team spots on the pitch this upcoming season. The first 3 names are quite familiar, as a matter of fact, they are the same center backs that Newcastle United has had since their Championship season in 2009-2010. However, the last name is a little bit of an unknown. Jamaal Lascelles is a 21-year-old center back that Newcastle signed in August of 2014 from Nottingham Forest on a 4-year transfer. He was then loaned back to Nottingham Forest for the 2014-2015 campaign, playing a total of 24 matches and had 1 goal.

Most Nottingham Forest fans will claim that Lascelles started the season slow and did not get first team starts, but the second half was a completely different player. His slow start could have been due to the extra curricular activities that were surrounding Jamaal. In December, he appeared in court over an alleged bar assault in Derby. The charges were dropped but you can sense that it impacted his on field performance. However, as the season went on, his play got stronger and stronger. Forest fans will tell you that you were finally able to start seeing his potential and prospective.

The England U-21 international still has a bright future and raw ability with time to round out his game. He also has experience with Steve McClaren while at Continue reading An Inside Look at Newcastle United’s Jamaal Lascelles

Newcastle United’s 5 Statistically Worst Managers of All-Time

Words by Newcastle Stats – follow them on Twitter @NewcastleStats and visit their website for all the facts and figures on Tyneside.

Directors, Managers, Players – the good, the bad & the ugly. One thing withstands – Newcastle United Football Club. Looking back at greats to grace the NUFC dugout we reminisce the likes of Sir Bobby Robson, Kevin Keegan & Joe Harvey. But who are the forgotten men? Those whose tenure was filled with sorrow and regret.

Here are the 5 statistically worst NUFC managers of all time.

#5. Kevin Keegan (16/1/08 – 4/9/08 only)

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Kevin Keegan unveiled to the St. James' Park faithful
Kevin Keegan greets SJP on his return to management

Our first choice may come as a surprise to many. King Kev was an unprecedented success at NUFC as both a player and manager, bringing us back from the brink and revitalizing a club on the decline on more than one occasion. Rightly so when Ashley brought him back in 2008 he was greeted with open arms and mass hysteria, little did we know we’d be relegated in just over 12 month time. Kevin’s second spell as NUFC boss was – to put it bluntly – uninspiring. He registered just a 28.57% win rate in 21 games at the helm before walking out on us in protest to the board over a ludicrous transfer regime headed Continue reading Newcastle United’s 5 Statistically Worst Managers of All-Time

Ian Cathro has Newcastle fans feeling optimistic

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

Some positivity from Newcastle fans in a rather dark transfer window? Say it ain’t so! St. James Park hadn’t been this electric in months, maybe years, on May 24th, 2015, the day NUFC defeated West Ham. Anything less than 3 points and the Magpies could have been relegated for the 2nd time in 6 seasons. With a startling 2-0 victory and goals by Moussa Sissoko and Jonas Gutierrez, Newcastle was safe and assured themselves a spot in the English Premier League for the next season. Before the match, owner Mike Ashley had promised that he would invest in the team in the upcoming transfer window if Newcastle won the match and avoided relegation. Everyone expected that the 2-0 victory against West Ham was nothing but a stepping-stone in the right direction and with a progressive transfer window, there would be a sense of optimism.

Fans figured that once Steve McClaren would be appointed manager, transfers would start rolling in. July is around the corner and Newcastle have done absolutely nothing but be linked with half of Europe. My assumption - as you can read here - was that ownership and McClaren wanted to settle the backroom staff before beginning with their transfer signings. A few days ago, rumours began to swirl that a 28-year-old by the name of Ian Cathro was set to be appointed as Steve McClaren’s #2. 28 years old? Really? Is that the best thing for this team? What makes Ian Cathro so special? Continue reading Ian Cathro has Newcastle fans feeling optimistic

Steve McClaren – Dawn Of A New Era Or More Of The Same?

Words by Simon Reece – follow him on Twitter @SimonR83. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

On June 10th 2015, Newcastle United (finally) appointed their replacement for the departed Alan Pardew. I should say long departed seeing as Pardew left us for Crystal Palace in January and left us in the (in)capable hands of John Carver & the other coachasaurus’ on the backroom team.

But let’s not dwell on the past which includes the 2nd half of last season under John ‘’best in the world’’ Carver.  On with the future under Steve McClaren. When his appointment was mooted in the press earlier in the year, and then again towards the end of last season when the club soiled themselves and tried to get him in for 3 games, I think it is safe to say the reaction of fans was mixed. I am included in that as I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I have since had chance to sit back, think, listen & learn about the man who is taking our club forward for at least 3 years.

McClaren, I feel comes from good coaching stock. He has been Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant & if you cannot learn anything from arguably the best manager the Premier League has ever seen then you shouldn’t be in the game. His time at Middlesbrough was fruitful and he gained valuable premier management experience there. He has tasted coaching on the continent with FC Twente and Wolfsburg  with mixed results in fairness but nevertheless will have taught him more to take forward in his career. He had a brief, less fruitful stint as England manager where I feel he simply bit off way more than he could chew. But who is going to turn down the opportunity to manage their country?

Then, after a brief spell back in Holland with Twente, he returned to England with Derby County who had just sacked Nigel Clough and were 15th in the championship. He not only steadied the ship, he got his team playing neat, tidy, quick attacking football with real purpose. He utilised the skills of players such as Will Hughes,  Jordan Ibe & striker Chris Martin who bagged Derby 40 goals in 2 seasons under McClaren. They were also quite hard to beat losing just 22 out of the 94 games he was there. A win percentage of just over 54%. Not to be sniffed at. Things turned sour for McClaren at Derby but there were many contributing factors to that, injury to top scorer Martin being the main one in my opinion.

So what can we expect from McClaren at Newcastle?

More of what we saw the first 18 months of his reign at Derby I think. He plays neat, tidy football with pace going forward. Hopefully he can sort our porous defence out & with a couple of decent centre backs and the right coaching that will happen. I think he can get the best out of our current better players such as Cabella, Sissoko, Janmaat, Colback & Perez . With the right coaching team backing him up, and obviously the big issue of sufficient investment which we know could go either way, I think Steve McClaren can bring an attractive brand of attacking, quick yet defensively tight football to Newcastle.

He has a wealth of experience from managing both on these shores and abroad and one thing I have noticed about McClaren over his career is how he reacts to setbacks. There are no excuses (take note Pardew & Carver) he simply gets up, wipes his nose and gets on with it. After the England debacle he could have disappeared into obscurity but he didn’t. He went abroad, he got his head down and came back stronger than before. That must be a benefit to both him and the players he know has as character in some of our squad has been questioned for some time.

So, in closing, I think I can say that in McClaren we have a solid yet unspectacular man in charge. But that being said the football will be better and I firmly believe he can change the club and the squad mentality for the better.

Onwards And Upwards.

The Curious Case of Jack Colback as my Candidate to Become NUFC’s Next Captain

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

The Ginger Pirlo. A Geordie-born captain; the first since Alan Shearer. How does that sound? This is no knock on Fabricio Coloccini, who has been nothing but utter class and trustworthy since he was first handed the armband in 2011. As the longest tenured NUFC captain since Alan Shearer, Coloccini has established a great reputation around the league and in the locker room but at 33 years old, it may be time to unfortunately move on. With the appointment of a new manager and infrastructure within the organization, what better time to select a new captain?

The way that fans and others reacted to Coloccini’s end of season open letter in May, whilst in relegation battle, may have been his last straw. People thought it was nothing but a PR stunt by the football club because the Toon Army were threatening to boycott upcoming matches. His production has unquestionably dipped as each season passed by, and having the likes of Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor and Paul Dummett next to him has certainly never helped. Coloccini was always a “lead by example” type of captain rather than a vocal leader. After all, he did stick with Newcastle through their Championship campaign but it’s also difficult to forget that he had a move lined up to San Lorenzo two years ago that was blocked by Newcastle.

Jack Colback isn’t the sexiest pick or the most talented player on the books, far from it. However, he does bring several traits to the table that deems him captain worthy, in my opinion. The Geordie turned Mackem returned to his boyhood club last season and has been an unsung hero ever since. To go from Sunderland to Newcastle in itself takes a lot of nerve and audacity, which speaks volume of Colback’s personality. He is extremely reliable and durable (played 35 out of 38 EPL games last season) and also received his first England senior call-up in August of 2014. Colback has always been known for his high work rate, passion, commitment and motivation to put his club ahead of his personal needs. Continue reading The Curious Case of Jack Colback as my Candidate to Become NUFC’s Next Captain

What is it with Newcastle United and slow moving transfer deals?

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC 360 – a base for all things Newcastle United, and a place where you won’t see shameful advertising on everything NUFC-related.

After a dreadful season, the last thing Newcastle United supporters wanted to see was a struggling off-season. We are now midway through June, almost in July, and NUFC have yet to sign a single player. With holes at the centre back position, left back (Dummett is not a starting player in the English Premier League, in my opinion), a centre midfielder and a number 9 striker; nothing has yet to materialize. Patience is running thin and it is definitely time for Mike Ashley to pull through with his promises.

Names like Charlie Austin, Andy Carroll, Joel Matip, Florian Thauvin, Bas Dost, Saido Berahino, Ashley Cole and even a Yohan Cabaye return are being linked to NUFC. Two weeks ago, Simon Bird from the Mirror reported that Charlie Austin to Newcastle was a done deal, yet nothing has emerged. After all, it is “silly season” but when someone like Simon Bird reports a signing, people will tend to believe him.

What is the hold up and why haven’t Newcastle ponied up to get their transfer window rolling, you ask? Well, there could be a few reasons. After NUFC parted ways with John Carver and Steve Stone, there are now voids to fill in the coaching staff. Steve McClaren might want to appoint a coach and a backroom staff before starting with the transfer signings. With Paul Simpson, Steve Round, Bolo Zenden, Ian Cathro and Steve Black (amongst others) all being linked to Newcastle United, it is clear that McClaren would love to fill that void as soon as possible. Secondly, teams may simply be asking too much for their players. Lee Charnley and Steve McClaren may have a different value on specific players than what these teams are asking for or what the market is dictating.

For example, Saido Berahino being valued at a whopping £30 million might not exactly be where NUFC rate him. Sources also say Charlie Austin will cost £15 million, which is very reasonable, especially for an English striker who has EPL experience (unlike Bas Dost or Juanmi). Thirdly, management and scouts are now targeting the Bundesliga (as reported here by Mark Douglas); this is somewhat of a drastic change from previous targets, Ligue 1 in France and Eredivisie Dutch league.

The value and market, which also ties into the second reasoning, differentiates from league to league. English players are higher rated than others (see: Carroll, Andy). Newcastle United’s loyal and passionate fan base has always been an enticing aspect for players, but with the season they had last year and the ownership problems, could players now think twice before signing in the Northeast? With that being said, I think that once NUFC appoints a coach, which could happen as early as this week, the transfer window will (hopefully) get rolling.

At the end of the day, it is simply inexcusable to have the same centre backs as the ones that NUFC had in their Championship season.
No offence to Mike Williamson and Steven Taylor, but it is time for this team to turn over a new leaf. Being linked to Joel Matip and Aymen Abdennour is a good start, but these rumours need to come to fruition.

Newcastle fans do have a lot of faith in head scout Graham Carr and know he will pull through. Maybe Alan Pardew did not rate the CB position the way McClaren does, but it has become a much more pressing need than striker, in my honest opinion. On a positive note, Newcastle only signed 2 players before July 1st last season (Ayoze Perez and Jack Colback), one of which was on a free transfer.

As each day passes, tolerance becomes much more slim. Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley must act quickly and follow through with their end of season promises or else things may turn sour. Does that not sound familiar? It sure does. Welcome to the life of a Newcastle United Football Club supporter, where your team has one of the biggest fan bases in all of England, but spends like a mid-table club.