Have Newcastle already replaced their midfield general?

Cabaye showing promise?

Cabaye - A direct replacement for Nolan?
Ever since we sold Kevin Nolan a number of questions have been asked: Why did we let him go? Was he pushed out? Where are the goals he scored going to come from? That kind of thing.

A lot of people have looked at Hatem Ben Arfa as Nolan’s replacement but I personally think it’s Yohan Cabaye.

Kevin played centre mid in a 4-4-2 for over half the season, scored 12 goals, and got 1 assist in the process. This will surprise some fans… Only one assist? People focus too much on the goals he scored rather than his actual performances overall, in every aspect of the game needed from a central midfielder. This is where Nolan has lost a yard, and his worth to the team in my opinion.

Now that argument aside for the moment, obviously given the option to still have him, why not? This is where the misconception that he was pushed out comes into play. Nolan wanted a four year contract and around £60k per week. The club didn’t agree that this is what he should be offered and what was offered was a twelve month extension on a current two year, £40k a week contract which was heavily incentivised based on performance related bonuses which if met would have given him his £60k with an option of a year extension

Nolan did not want to sign this deal. Why not? He gets two more years at the club he supposedly loved, maybe three if he earns it! He gets £40k a week which isn’t a bad wage at all for a mid-table side and if he performs gets the £60k he wanted. Is it that Kevin himself knew that he couldn’t perform to that level for the next three years? Is it that with recent injury problems and the most recent operation he knew he wasn’t a 40 game a season player any more? Is it that, for all the talk, he cared more about the money than the club? Maybe it was simply an ego conflict?

Look there is absolutely no question that Kevin Nolan done very well for us over the course of the last two seasons. He was a good man to have around in the dressing room and a vocal style leader on the pitch. The fact is that over the past two seasons this has been needed at the club – we needed Kevin more than he needed us and he knew it.

As much as we all loved Chris Hughton I believe that he was too passive, too nice a guy for cut-throat Premier League football and the media attention that comes with it. Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton were pivotal in that dressing room under Chris, but going forward the dynamic has changed and personally I don’t think Nolan liked it.

Alan Pardew is a much stronger character than Chris Hughton in my opinion. Whether fans rate him or not as a manager is still up for debate but in terms of ‘the man’ he is very hands on. He is the boss and the players fall in line.

This may have rubbed Kevin up the wrong way to an extent. The realization that a large aspect of his value for the club was not necessarily required any more followed by the realisation that with the signings of Yohan Cabaye and impending recovery of Hatem Ben Arfa would impact on his value to the club on the pitch. It was now a scenario where maybe Nolan needed the club more than we needed him.

Look all this is speculation on my part, providing an alternative insight to the one generally portrayed by mainstream media as well as the one of Kevin Nolan who came out the other day slamming the club. While his side of the story may hold a certain amount of truth in it, it has to be said that it held a certain amount of bitterness too.

Maybe the club watched Kevin the second half of last season and realized that offering him a five year contract at £60k would be a big mistake? That we could end up with another Alan Smith on our hands in half that time yet have to pay him and watch him see out the contract without playing. End of the day players like Smith are taking up wages that could be allocated elsewhere which indirectly impacts the ability to offer good contracts to new players. We can’t have too many players like that on the books – we already have enough!

Player power is a dangerous aspect creeping ever more into the game. It has changed the playing field. Honesty and integrity are not a given any more and money and agents have more power than they should. With large wages and price inflation comes greed, and the tabloid media is the weasel thrown into the chicken coop to stir it up and facilitate their own greed and desire to sell papers regardless of the pure truth, with clubs being held to ransom by players that might not even play every week.

Newcastle are a club that have experienced this in the past all too often. We experience it today in players like Smith and Xisco and with Enrique putting us in a very difficult position with only a year left on his deal. Maybe the cerebral approach void of emotion was the right thing to do in this case?

Anyway as I said, speculating on speculation, but food for thought all the same. Whatever the truth may be in its purest form we will never know. What we do know is that Nolan is gone and we have technically replaced him. Is that replacement good enough? Or better? Let’s see…

As I said earlier although most see Hatem Ben Arfa as the replacement for Nolan I believe it to be Yohan Cabaye. This lad looks the part on first impressions but the jury is still out with a lot of fans and
that is understandable considering many wouldn’t have seen too much of Cabaye up until now. To start off the comparison I checked out the stats over the past two seasons between the two.

First of all this doesn’t include overall game, mobility, pass completion etc etc. It’s simply end product
related since that is where people think we were stupid to sell Nolan. So, including goals and assists Nolan is directly responsible every 2.05 games with Cabaye every 2.06. Absolutely nothing between them.

So it comes down to their game outside of end product…

The argument is that this is where Nolan is also going to be a big loss because of his leadership. Fact is we are not one of these clubs with one leader, or no true leader. Fabricio Coloccini is more than capable along with Steven Taylor who bleeds black and white and Steve Harper and Alan Smith who will both play a part in steadying the dressing room at least.

My final point on this aspect is what Alan Pardew said regarding the Kevin Nolan situation. Personally I have to agree with Pardew when he said that although Nolan was a very good captain he couldn’t see him being in the first team week in and week out over the next few years, so it’s very hard to be a leader when you don’t play.

The other argument, as mentioned earlier, is that it was off the pitch too that this was needed, and it is, but not by players. Instead it should be by management, by staff, and then by players chipping in when necessary.

It was vital that we had that when Hughton was in charge. As much as I liked the guy and there was dressing room harmony it was because he was so soft spoken and passive that it was essential the likes of a Nolan or Barton took on that responsibility. However Pardew is a strong character and love him or hate him the one thing everyone he has worked for or has worked under him has said is that he has presence, and very good man management skills.

Another argument if we stick to simply the Cabaye vs Nolan argument on leadership alone is this. Cabaye may well be one of those players that is similar to David Beckham in that he is not the type to go shouting and instructing players but rather to lead by example, to pull the strings and be a subtle but huge influence on games. I don’t know for sure but from everything the Lille manager has said about him or has been written about his game, this is exactly the type of player he is – very good on the ball, technically sound, and player who likes to dictate play and get the best out of team-mates. Hopefully that’s the leadership argument put to bed..

So now it comes down to engine, mobility, versatility, overall game…

Look Nolan served us well and I think he will do extremely well in the Championship but lets be honest, anyone who watched Newcastle in the second half of the season could clearly see that Nolan hadn’t got the legs anymore. There is no question that he would try his best, but it just wasn’t in the tank. This is where I think its a no-brainer between the two.

Cabaye is a younger, fitter, box to box midfielder who has the versatility to play in a defensive or attacking role, including behind a striker. He will get on the ball more and off the ball be able to chip in defensively without it affecting his ability to get up and support attacks too. He showed this at Leeds.

So in conclusion I think statistically there is nothing between them, but overall game and for the future, personally I think it was a very astute move and we have replaced Kevin with a younger better player.

As much as its hard to eliminate emotion and look at it objectively, all things considered I think the club made some very good decisions for the club in this situation. Immediate reaction will always be harsh to selling your captain, but I think over the course of the season many fans against this decision may rethink their stance and realize that for a change we put emotion aside and made a very clever business and footballing decision.

Now to try and replace Barton…

185 thoughts on “Have Newcastle already replaced their midfield general?

  1. The bed sheet brigade. Got to love them.

    There are times when I’d have been all for a protest, but over sacking Barton? Of all the shitty, deceitful, stupid stuff we’ve seen the club do, you get up in arms over sacking a player who:

    – has been paid in excess of £12m
    – has delivered ONE good season, and precisely NONE without causing trouble
    – spent almost an entire season in jail but still got paid
    – had huge, public bust-ups with several players and at least one manager
    – reneged on an agreement for a new contract
    – has been slagging off his bosses in the public domain
    – spat his dummy when he wasn’t given the captaincy and someone else was given set pieces (and did a better job by all accounts)

    I’d have happily paid his taxi fare. “Losing our best players”?? Really??

    Being a good player includes what you do off the pitch, and that makes Joey a f**cking liability.

    Protest if you like, but for gods sake do it the next time they do something genuinely bad (you won’t have to wait long), as opposed to going mental for the board doing the only sensible thing and kicking that gobshite out of the club.

    Do you not realise how stupid you’d look to the outside world, all of whom see Joey for the waste of space he is?


  2. Joey7Barton Joseph Barton
    I also have too much respect for my teammates and the fans, to get in a tit for tat war with them. I have too much self-worth and dignity
    14 minutes ago


  3. aye, waste of space, since we didn’t win 1 game when he wasn’t in the team, proper waste of space.. 😆


  4. Whumpıe – I dısagree. Should Lıverpool let Carroll go for free as he’s a bad person off the fıeld?


  5. I think he should sign for Hercules, Spanish 2nd div, then I can still watch him…..come on Joey ya know it makes sense 😎


  6. Fair enough from Barton then, serves em right if they’re lying. Still, would hope that he could give it a rest soon.

    As for Ashley, don’t buy any merchandise, but go to the matches to support the toon imo. I rarely get to any as I’m poor and so far away anyway 😕


  7. Excellent article. I have argued since early last season as many have that Nolan was not a box to box midfielder and only ever effective as a goal poacher. The presence of Tiote as DM cover and Carroll as powerful striker allowed him to get most of those goals. Once Carroll was gone and no suitable replacement came in at striker and the arrival of Cabaye meant the end of Nolan. All well and good but the club can’t afford to be at war with senior players. Rooney spouted off about ManU but did their management immediately decide to get rid on a free? Of course not. He is a different kettle of fish than Barton but they know how to handle players. We have the same sort of thing going on with Jose, and Ranger is spouting off too as well as Routledge. The club should announce a Twitter ban with heavy fines for non-compliance. But the club should also be telling the truth for a change. They are not going to spend reasonable amounts of money, they have no football plan other than to make money and they will never be respected until they start showing some respect.


  8. Too much respect Joey to say they won’t improve the team and will lead to relegation? You’ve been having a tit for tat war for a couple months now


  9. “I have too much self-worth and dignity”

    DIGNITY?? Honestly, it’s like hearing Katie Price saying “class”. No idea what it means.

    With every tweet he sinks lower in my opinion. Is he back on the booze, perhaps? That’d be a real shame. (Seriously – no sarcasm)


  10. Dignity? LOL. Surely he’s lost it.

    So now he dosn’t want to have a tit for tat? I thought he couldn’t wait to get things off his chest?


  11. Here’s a thought:

    Given that Joey has shown that he’s guaranteed to be a massive thorn in the side of any employer…

    Who’s going to sign him?

    And if they don’t… then what?


  12. And what is happening with Tiote? Surely his visa situation should be sorted by the club asap? This sounds more and more like club incompetence. They couldn’t even sort out a visa for Cabaye, that well known French criminal? This is ridiculous. Get rid of Del boy Ashley you fool before the club implodes. Incompetence at the top is a disaster. We have had nothing but trouble ever since the chimp arrived as managing director. He couldn’t even prevent his lease car from being repo’d. What a clown.


  13. Cabaye is a great player.

    My concern is not the players ability, my concern is how long he will take to settle in the Premier League. Ie. Tiote (immediately) or Colo or Enrique (a year or so).
    We cannot afford a year, because then we will be in trouble.

    As for the Barton comments,

    Agree with his opinions, but he is being extremely insolent now, and he it is causing havoc for morale at the club. Thought he was bigger than this.

    He is being very selfish.


  14. My prediction for the near future is the club will be sold by ashley, he is trying to balance the books and sort the clubs finances out whilst also taking what money he can before he sells


  15. God I hope you are right TOONDAVE. All I ask is we keep Del the chimp as club mascot and as a memento of the good old days. On a more serious note why didn’t the club just suspend Barton and at least try to sell him until the end of the transfer window? The approach they have taken just doesn’t make any sense. More incompetence I suspect. They are their own worst enemies.


  16. why dont they just ban twitter, are they that incompetent
    lets face it it’s not just JB slating them, we’ve had Keegan, Shearer, Jose, Joey, Nolan,Routledge and even Ranger having a dig – something is seriously wrong at the club
    Pardew is obviously just happy to have a job which is a shame as he might actually do alright if he was actually allowed to manage the team rather than Llambias picking the team – it’s all to depressing, am of to drown myself in vodka


  17. Of course we can live without Barton and Nolan/Carroll/Enrique for that matter. But I am extremely sad about loosing Barton as he is one of my favorit players.
    Gotta say neither of the sides Barton or the board has conducted themselves gracefully in this shamble and we, the fans, stand yet again on the side being fed lies and strange statements and what not. Wish he would’ve stayed but players come and go, but Newcastle United will still stand. And Joey, thanks for everything, still think you’re top player.

    And please for god sake, stop saying Cabaye is untested and such, the lad has played Ligue 1 and in europe nearly every season for Lille, plus international youth for france and now a full france international. Come on, its not like he from the kashastan league two………


  18. Quite an imagination you have. The stuff of dream team i would say.
    All this talk of Hughton’s weakness amounts to revisionist conjecture IMO. CH helped to foster a positive atmosphere and got the best out of some “difficult” players. Pardew did well to maintain things after Carroll’s departure but clearly the wheels have now come off (much of which is not his fault). Player unrest seems to be high again and the positive atmosphere is gone as the players who helped to foster it alongside CH are now leaving. In my mind why tinker with a working watch.
    We don’t know what Nolan has left, he has never been the fastest and as this season proves never needed to be. He got results. HBA had a good 2 games but is hardly a rock to build a team around. I am optimistic about him but his injuries and mercurial nature give me pause. Cabaye will likely do well, but is far from a KN replacement. If we kept our best players from last season and improved the squad with the likes of Ba and Marveaux, while culling excess like Xisco and Smith, our future would be bright. As it stands we have replaced our best with injury prone and unproven players while the dead wood remains.
    Why not get rid of actual dead wood before alienating key players who you feel might become dead wood in 2-3 years. I would think it better to take the risk on your top performers and show some faith.


  19. are half of you writers pardew ashley and lambias in disguise. without henrique barton and possibly others this is the worst squad in the premiership with the worst manager in the league


  20. Who the fuck is “Henrique”?

    If your going to have bash at the writers….. Glass houses….. Stones…….. Throwing…..


  21. @Jaydee

    Revisionist conjecture is the only option when discussing events of the past at a club like Newcastle given the regularity of impending fan revolution and subsequent change to reform and evolve in the hope of avoiding said revolution, that combined with so many versions of “the truth” that nothing you read can be wholy trusted.

    Also given the fact that unless you are in the board room, in the dressing room, on the training ground, a key part of the day to day set up or were around the time of CH tenure as manager, which I personally wasnt, then the only option available is to divulge what information is available be it truth or fabrication, study characters, circumstances and specific situations that have occured in as an objective and analytical manner as possible.

    When you refer to CH helping to foster a positive atmosphere, there is no doubt he did so during a turbulent time post relegation, but also no denying that this was greatly aided by two things.. a number of “difficult players” or big names leaving the club at this time, in fact 13 players in all, but mainly, the difficult players I presume you are making reference to being Barton and Nolan did not sit quiet during this time, in fact is it common knowledge that these two players had more say and control in the club and dressing room than at any player at any other club you could mention.

    This is all good and well in the Championship and in the short term because it will not affect a squad of obvious superiority to the rest of the league to perform, and true it worked for a time post promotion, but long term this dynamic has massive potential to turn sour, and we have witnessed this over the past couple of months.

    There is one reason for this which transends well beyond football, and that is the ego. It is in my opinion beyond question that if you give an individual power and then challenge that ego once built by taking away the power which is not generally bestowed upon them in the first place as players there is only one end result, discontent, especially with personalities such as Joey or Kevin, and with that comes a multitude of potential problems dependant on the individual in question.

    For one who speaks of conjecture and imagination you seem all but willing to use it yourself in reference to the wheels coming off, player unrest being high, and the postive atmosphere being gone.. this is pure speculation based on what? isolated cases which have the potential to happen at any mid table club with “difficult players”.

    Look youre second last paragraph lets down the fact that you are obviously a well educated bloke.. but from what you have said in this I have to presume you are not as well educated as regards players. As I said in the article, nobody who watched Kevin Nolan play the second half of last season can deny that he hadnt got the legs, its not a matter of being fast, its a matter of stamina, mobility, being able to get up and down the park for 90 minutes. This season Nolans role wouldnt have been to sit behind a striker, it would have been in centre mid due to HBA being assigned to the “in the hole” position, reason being we are looking to inject more pace and counter attacking football into the side this year, Nolan is not capable of doing what Ben Arfa can do in this role, hence the comparison to Cabaye.

    Now if you arnt of the opinion that Ben Arfa has the potential to be an iconic player given the central free role, that all goes well could easily be the player to build a team around you either havnt seen enough of him or just dont know how modern football works in my opinion.

    As far as Cabaye not being a replacement for Nolan, I gave enough logical argument in the original article to nullify that point. He is a younger, more versatile, better all round player, and just for the sake of argument which I did leave out originally, one of the seasons taken into account in Nolans stats was the Championship season, his season before in the premiership, albeit his first at the club during a bad time, was horrific!.. To add weight to it even more, Cabaye when playing in an advanced role such as Nolan did, got 13 goals and 8 assists in 30 games.

    The injury prone argument is even beyond conjecture, it is simply false… Ben Arfa, leg break from scumbag De Jong.. in pre season got a very bad challenge that would have been a straight red in any league game and injured most players.. apart from them two he has absolutely no history of injuries.. in fact in three seasons previous to signing for Newcastle played 39, 31 and 49 games..

    Marveaux, another who got a very bad injury last season, was affected by the poor pitch in the US as were many, Tiote, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, these all injury prone now too? Fact is like HBA he has no real injury record worth mentioning previous to his serious one.. Dan Gosling, exact same scenario, and if you have seen him in pre season you would know he is probably the fittest member of the squad at the minute.. Ba I will give you, jury is out, but seemed to get through pre season just fine, and with West Ham, mountain out of a molehill scenario this one I think.. as for Abeid and Cabaye, just not injury prone at all, simple as that.

    Finally the agument of getting rid of current dead wood instead of potential dead wood in 2-3 years… that is not why they are being got rid of… I agree the likes of Xisco, Smith, Perch, Lovenkrands and Routledge need to go but Nolan was sold based on a contract dispute and the opportunity to cash in while we could.. would you rather we give him a 5 year deal and had another Alan Smith on our hands in two years?..

    As for Joey, look more than enough has been said over the past couple of days between media in general and in other articles on this site about him, opinion sways and that is fair enough but I dont think there is one person in existence that thinks we are getting rid of him because he is dead wood or potentially.. It has similarities to the Nolan situation and contract disputes but that is not the reason behind why the club wants rid…

    As regards Andy Carroll, look he is a very good talent, would have been nice to keep him, but Newcastle are not in a position to turn down 35 million for anyone!.. that is around the 8th biggest transfer fee ever paid for a player.. too good an offer to refuse… Enrique, he wants CL football, he wants to win things, and also wants to become a regular in the Spanish national team.. thats fair enough, but how he has handled himself recently has I think surprised and let most fans down who would have expected a lot more from him.. better off gone than being here and throwing the dummy out.. Same rule for all Newcastle and beyond.. No player is bigger than the club.


  22. ‘the tabloid media is the weasel thrown into the chicken coop to stir it up and facilitate their own greed and desire to sell papers’

    To dispense with the Americanism, Luke Edwards is just a Stoat in a Hen cree. 🙂


  23. Jaydee 173

    Top post that. Would’ve been a very easy route to take, with minimum disruption to the team, and building on the foundations already laid.

    That Xisco is still poncing around on his ridiculous wage is just laughable.


  24. ” in fact is it common knowledge that these two players had more say and control in the club and dressing room than at any player at any other club you could mention.”

    Writing an essay doesn’t mean stuff like this is anything more than pure conjecture and hyperbole on your part.

    If the Nolan and Barton were so powerful and so disruptive it seems odd that Pardew frequently expressed such a keeness to sign both of them to longer contracts right up until the point where Nolan was sold and Barton was told he wasn’t being offered a contract at all.

    It would appear to be the case that the manager, who would actually deal with them in the dressing room on a day to day basis, was more than happy to keep them at the club. Makes the ‘hugely disruptive/powerful influence’ argument seem weak.
    It was the men who negotiate the contracts, the men who seek cheap fees and lower wages, which made the decisions which ultimately decided whether Barton and Nolan would remain at the club.


  25. “And please for god sake, stop saying Cabaye is untested and such, the lad has played Ligue 1 and in europe nearly every season for Lille, plus international youth for france and now a full france international.”

    I dont think anyone is suggesting he is a bad player.
    Everyone expects him to be somewhere between a good and a very good player.
    What we cant know for sure is how long it will take him to adapt to playing in the PL.
    Some players take to it like a fish to water, some take time and some never really adapt.

    Coloccini is a perfect example of this. He came in widely lauded as being a quality defender.
    He played well below the level of expectation in his first season though.
    After that season he began to show his true level and is now the first name on the team sheet.

    The concern people are expressing is that if some of the foreign players do begin to look like they will take some time to adapt we appear to have no contingency plan as we have little strength in depth.


  26. @Pootle

    The length of the post is irrelevant. Not as if its all based on that one point, simply thought the effort made on Jaydees part deserved proper explanation on my part, as I will do with you.

    On the “influence” point look mate, some people may see it as hyperbole, others will see it as the way it was. Do you not agree that Nolan and Barton had more sway than your average player? Name me another top half club that has that…

    Pardew only expressed his desire for them both to get contracts, not 5 year ones, and it wasnt a major issue to have either player once they got their own way, or presumed they were, once they wernt it became a problem, very quickly as you can see.

    Where was the loyalty then on their part? Where was their concern for keeping a positive harmonious unit at the club they supposedly love then? Do you hear Evertons main men coming out every week slating their club for not investing in players? No, they simply shut up and do what theyre paid to do regardless of personal opinion, play football..

    Pardew also stated that he couldnt see Nolan being in the first team regularly in the long term, also showed in actions that although he may have wanted Joey to stay he didnt see him as the major influence or linchpin figure that Joey himself thought he was, he is a member of the squad like everyone else, they both didnt like this so in my opinion out came the dummies. Sad to see, of course it would be nice to have both in the squad but I would rather see them gone than be there pissing and moaning all season.

    Yes the men above on high make the decision on whether they stay or not, but do you honestly think they would get rid of any player, disruptive or not, if it meant we would be realistically risking relegation? Have you any idea how much money that cost MA? How sustaining and increasing the value of a club or business works? Not love the man or absolutely hate him, he is not stupid, why would he actively attempt to lower the value, or on a more ludacris standpoint, destroy the club, get us relegated, whether he wanted to keep or sell the club, especially if he wanted to sell it!

    As far as the adapting to the premiership argument goes, imo its about as redundant as the injury prone one.. its based on watching french players play in the premier league for well over a decade.. It is clear to me, and apparently most managers and clubs, that french players adapt very easily to English football. It is because they generally have key attributes which allow them to, sound technical ability, strength and pace. They also come from a league where including French you get a lot of African players playing, who also adapt very well to England generally, and also have a number of key attributes needed, namely strength, hard tackling and also pace.

    Coloccini is far from a perfect example, he is Argentinian. Now they and the Spanish, again based on many many cases, do in fact take time to adapt to English football. The Spanish I can see why, the reason Argentinians do is still lost on me i`m afraid.

    Look i`ll leave it there lad, I understand where this viewpoint and the concerns come from, I just think theyre blown out of proportion to a large extent. I also think many fans seem to have more loyalty towards players than the club. And also are so imbedded in ten odd years of a bad run club that they jump at the chance to be doom and gloom merchants than look at the positives and potential. Understandable, just not how I personally choose to support and look at the club.


  27. Tonnsy: Whilst he might go on a free, wont there be a saving on wages and loyalty bonus? .. wages @ 60k per week = approx £3.5mill and loyalty bonus xxx … how much more would we get in a transfer fee and hes off the books to go a cause trouble and spout about how much he loves a team but cannit accept just 3 years instead of 4 despite not playing for long periods and being a b ell causing Shearer problems in the relegaton season


  28. My worries for this season are not about barton nolan etc, are we a stronger side than at this point last season ,I dont think so . Are we playing better football Again I dont think so. As somone else has already mentioned problems may arise if new players dont settle quickly . Im pretty sure that Cabaye can manage as long as he dosent meet an animal similar to the assasin who did ben arfa I dont know enough about Ba to comment but Iknow enough to realise that ameobi and best are just plain good enough to lead the line But my absolute biggest concern is Pardew he is just not good enough to manage/coach a premiership side his tactical awareness is very poor , his substitutions are incomprehensible and I am sure that his ability to motivate the current crop of players is limited to say the least I have read all This allied to the fact that ashley is unlikely to splash his cash on any player who could really improve the team gives me huge worries about the current season I


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