What’s in an international break?

St James’ Park once more
It has been 12 long days since the Magpies trooped off following a disappointing 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United.

With hindsight, it felt from the offset that the task would be too great – injuries to players in key areas and poor league form coming in to the game did not assist in our preparations, while there’s something about Sunday afternoon kick-offs that causes a deflated atmosphere around St James’ Park.

The international break which followed probably came at a good time for United after a stuttering start – a chance to recoup, regroup and reassess the squad in preparation for the run up to Christmas. On the pitch, the international break has been fairly uneventful for Newcastle compared to last time out, with first teamer involvement with their countries at a minimum. The African trio of Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba and Chieck Tiote played out three quarters of their AFCON play-off which ended in bizarre and somewhat disturbing circumstances, with violence and unrest on the terraces spilling over onto the pitch.

Elsewhere, the ‘Gallic Xavi’ played out 90 minutes against his Hispanic counterpart, gaining a creditable 1-1 draw in the world cup qualifier between Spain and France. Back on Tyneside meanwhile, the United hierarchy announced their decision to part company with Virgin Money and unveil a new sponsorship agreement representing an “excellent commercial deal for both parties” – enter Wonga.com.

Association with a less than respected company renowned for its ‘legal loan-sharking’ brought about a mixed reaction from fans, councillors and media bodies across the city and beyond. Debates on various radio talk shows commenced, with certain members of the north east press attempting to re-open the issue of southern-media bias, with claims that the club receives too much negative attention.



Whether true or not, this is what happens when clubs at the top of the game hit the news. Less was said of Wonga’s sponsorship deals with Edinburgh based Heart of Midlothian and championship side Blackpool, mainly because less people were interested. Additionally, Wonga are also a broadcast partner of the FA Cup on ESPN – a fact largely omitted from media publications released recently. Whether we like it or not however, for as long as Newcastle are performing in the upper echelons of football in Britain, we will continue to provide headlines.

Now that the media hysteria has settled somewhat, the details of the ‘lucrative’ deal can be scrutinised slightly more objectively. Regardless of the moral issue of being associated with a company who earns profits through dubious means, do the perks of the deal itself outweigh the losses that have been incurred by making the switch?

Reinstating the St James’ Park sign outside of the ground has been a big plus, and has been welcomed by everyone in football (including I suspect, the owner and chairman). £6m a season (or £8m depending on which unofficial source you choose to follow) and an extra £1.5m to be poured into community/academy projects seems to have been a big selling point, a point Derek Llambias has been keen to stress. However, when you compare our deal to the £10m+ a year received by Sunderland, £20m a year by Liverpool, and £51m a year by Man Utd from their respective sponsors, you have to ask the question – was this really the best we could do?

On the pitch, Newcastle have a date with their nearest rivals up next. Despite the nature of arguably England’s most ferocious derby, many Newcastle fans were hoping to see this game as another three points in the bag, and an extension of an already healthy gap in the points table. However, the beginning of the season hasn’t panned out as well as many had hoped, and this derby means more to us than we may have originally hoped. Everything we need to kick-start our season can be taken from this game – we want points, we want confidence, we want to beat our nearest rivals, we want to prove we are top dogs in the north east. This feeling has been exacerbated following a poor start leaving us neck and neck in the points charts, and following an abstinence from bread and butter football during the international break.

In many ways, this game has come at the perfect time for Newcastle fans, and hopefully the team as well. Newcastle’s line up could be healthier than it has been all season if reports are to be believed: Tim Krul, Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini are all pencilled in for a return to action, while Danny Simpson and Davide Santon should make up a back five which performed with promise at times last season. Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote are both fit and have miles on the clock, while Ben Arfa and Jonas Guiterrez – who are likely to make up the midfield – are always ready for action. Up front we have a clean bill of health, including the mackem slayer himself!

From Newcastle’s perspective, the ingredients are all there to make for a memorable afternoon for the supporters. Personally, I’m nervous, terrified, excited and confident all at the same time, a unique feeling we can only experience twice a season – Newcastle v Sunderland!

Howay the lads!

By Martin Gibson

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An article written by a guest blogger! Check out the article itself for the name of the author.

64 thoughts on “What’s in an international break?

  1. Bring on the mackem bastards!!!!! 😈 Howay the Lads!!
    Good article, think too much attention has been payed to of the field stuff, soon we can focus on what football is about, the 22 men on the field (likely to be 19 by the end of it), the packed stadium and the roaring crowd.

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  2. Dave on the last article
    I won’t bother you at the moment, not entirely sure I’m getting one. Cheers though 😉

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  3. would like to see this team start against the scum. krul, back three of taylor colo santon, midfield of anita cabaye tiote jonas, ben arfa in the hole and shola and ba up front. Think if we can stop their wingers were half way there.thats why iv put anita on the right and jonas on the left.lets get in their face from the off and keep them on the back foot.SMB

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  4. Nice one Martin, your article really highlites how much we have missed the footy 🙂 Can’t wait for the game 🙂

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  5. Bazza
    Like this then
    ————————-Krul————————
    ——–Taylor—-Colocinni—-Santon——–
    Anita———————————–Gutierrez
    —————–Tiote—–Cabaye—————
    ———————–Ben Arfa——————–
    —————Shola————Ba—————-

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  6. Pardz will play a back four without any doubt.. being away from will almost guarantee that we will have a defensive set up. I just hope we come out of the blocks fast and put them under pressure from the first whistle..

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  7. Think a win on Sunday could well ignite our season , I think we will nick it by a goal , maybe 1-0 or 2-1. For me The Mackem Slayer must start. Its important we match them physically for first 20 mins and then impose our game on them. I cant wait for it , the wife is taken to kids over to her mams for the day , I have 20 bottles of Heinken and my Jersey washed and ready to go! Roll on Sunday 130!

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  8. You would have to think Shola will start for thsi game although I have a feeling Pards will partner the two Dembas for the first 60 – 70 before bringing on Strolla for the last 30 – 20 mins

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  9. With the way we’ve played this season, we need Shola to start over Cisse just so that we can link the midfield better. Cisse really doesn’t offer anything unless he’s in the box. Shola can help us hold onto the ball way better!

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  10. Afternoon all ,Nice article Martin ,well written. Bazza ,I like that line up too but Pards won’t do that away from home ,he’ll defo go with the back four. Really hope we can get the win to get us up and running again but think it’s gonna be a real test of skill and character on sunday . As long as we get 100% commitment to the shirt and a nice quick start we’ll be fine,don’t wanna see no fannying around for the first hour like we been doing. 😉

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  11. SteveP … I think you’re right, he’ll start with Shola on the bench, with the two Demba’s up front. If things aren’t going to plan he’ll bring Shola on with 30 mins to go.

    However, if we come out of the blocks as slowly as so far this season we’ll be in big trouble…

    Here’s my team…

    Krul,
    Simmo, Taylor, Collocini, Santone
    Tiote, Cabaye, Jonas, Ben Arfa
    Cisse, Demba

    Interesting….4 of our back 5 coming back from injury … 🙄

    Cannot see the game ending with 11 against 11…….

    Howay the lads…

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  12. Ooops…sorry Andymag….Jonas and HBA on the wings….Tiote and Cabaye in the middle of midfield …..

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  13. Yeah interesting read Martin…personally I think we went for the Wonga deal in order to secure some money for apparently renaming it SJP. It “validates” Mashley’s original idea, even if it isn’t 10mil, but also luckily gives us the name back. Good news was desparately needed as the grumbles were setting in amongst the fans, although I doubt they counted on the backlash for signing a deal with Wonga, they don’t think like normal folk after all 😆

    Shame we couldn’t get a load of dosh, but Sunderland somehow fluked that money, and Manchester United and Liverpool are global brands in their own right, we can’t match that appeal. Still, it is a little surprising by how little it is, no doubt Ashley has a cancel option should we perform well again and attract bigger interest…maybe.

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  14. Yeah, even though I love him I’d start Shola on the bench. Probably because I still want the Dembas to click, and whilst Shola is on the bench he is always ready to step onto the field and instill pure terror into the scum, he can make an impact on both their and our players 😛

    If we’re playing like shite at half time but still at least drawing then wait a bit longer…if we’re getting hammered, get him on ❗ ❗

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  15. Nice work Martin. I dread evey International break now though, asides from the lack of toon football – the board always seem to use it as a fortnight to drop a bombshell on the fans.
    I can’t wait for Sunday now like but the nervous energy has kicked in already.
    My line up for Sunday would be:

    ————— Krul ———–
    Simmo-Saylor-Colo-Santoon
    ——— Tiote — Perch ——-
    —– Benny-Cabaye-Ba ——
    THE MACKEM SLAYER

    I’d encourage Tiote and Perch to get across and help the full backs out when Johnson and McLean are on the ball.
    But the big thing I want to see from us is being in the game from the kick off. We started far too slow against Manure and we can’t afford to do that at the Stade de Shite.
    Also we have to keep our discipline, which will be made easier with Clattermole being suspended and not trying to end someone career!.
    If we can keep the ball it will unsettle the fans, and if we get an early goal or 2 that would be superb. It would great to hear the echoes of boos at half time 😆

    2-1 the toon for me – but being a derby game, out could happen!! HWTLs. 😈 😈 😈

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  16. Yeah I too would start the 2 Demba’s, I can’t really understand the fans calling for Strolla to start ahead of Cisse, Cisse need’s to play to get back to the way he was, and it won’t help him being dropped while he is going through a bit of a drought

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  17. Dave-I can see the point, because Shola will create far more chances for Ba than Cisse will…it just depends whether we want to chance carrying Cisse again if we play 4-4-2 or not really..

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  18. Newkie I think to drop him now would be a big mistake and could prolong his agony to get back to the player we know he is, imo Pards has to show him faith as all strikers go through it.
    If he doesn’t do that well then bring him off for Strolla, because if we drop him for Strolla he is going to need to come on at some stage because we’ll not get 90 mins outta Strolla 😉

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  19. Dave-Yeah I completely agree, Shola is better used as an impact player anyway, if we started him then subbed Cisse on I’m not sure it would have the same effect…

    Thing is, Pards has shown Cisse faith in every match really, at times more faith than Ba who has been better in almost every match imo. He should still do it, but there comes a time when an unfiring striker who creates little for anyone else place in the first team gets questioned..

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  20. Dave-Perhaps the performances have convinced Pards/Ashley that willo is not PL standard, I thought you’d be happy 😀

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  21. Dave – I’d like to see us go with my formation and players, but if he started with Cisse instead of Shola I wouldn’t mind that like.

    Also mate, interesting in ya link that he says ‘about seven names for Centre Back’ rather than just saying defence. May be reading too much into it, but that would suggest Debuchy has dropped down the priority list.

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  22. I wish pards would just say “i’m not willing to discuss transfers”
    if he honestly has 7 names in mind then surely as fans we can expect 1 to definitely materialise and sign?
    Would much prefer not hearing about transfer targets tbh.
    yeah i think shola off the bench would see a fired up mackem slayer, cisse off the bench would see a striker even more drained of confidence. Would love to see the 4-2-3-1 again. we were great against bordeaux when we used it and i can’t understand why we wouldn’t use it regularly.

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  23. Strange set of announcements really. We’re looking at 7 CB’s yet Llambias insists Willo and Perch have been fabulous filling in at CB. Pards says Ashley is willing to make a big buy but also has from time to time said could we have paid less for that player? Llambias controls the purse strings but Ashley sometimes says go out and get that player. Hmmm. Not sure I believe all of this. According to Llambias we have a brilliant side with 11 purples already so why would we need a new CB? And also we have a tremendous set of subs according to Llambias. To me it sounds like Pardew tries to bend Ashley’s ear whenever he can going over Llambias’s head. Can’t say I blame him after last summer. All in all it sounds like Llambias is more of a hindrance than anything else.

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  24. By the way Derek were we or were we not paid 10M pounds a year by Virgin? If we are being paid that amount has it been spent on improving the side? I can’t really see any sign that it has. And how is 6 or 8M pounds a year from Wonga a great deal? It just looks like another mistake by the owner who is using it partly to put the name back to what it should always have remained, St. James’ Park. We seem to stumble from one mistake to the next and until we have a new managing director I suspect nothing will change.

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  25. Big Dave you’ve been right about Willo all along and I think everyone can see that Perch is not a CB and never will be but is a decent DCM. I still think Llambias will be looking for a steal from some club for an outstanding CB and will insist that our lowball offers are more than reasonable. It is probably going to be another month of suffering for the supporters watching this man operate when the window opens again. 🙁

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  26. well if pardew is going to go with two up front go back to Ba playing on the left stuff trying to keep Ba happy its about the team,either way no way would i start with shola, cissie can only get back to scoreing by playing games,yes shola seems to to score against the scum but as a impact sub please we cannot carry anybody on sunday

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  27. Dave 😉

    Perhaps Debby has fallen down because the club see Fergie as a left back and Santon as a right back?

    Have I got you angry again? 😆

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  28. GEORDIETWO ” Big Dave you’ve been right about Willo all along”
    Why thank you kind sir 😉 I agree with all you say @ 35

    Ice @ 36 spot on old bean and if Ba is going to leave because he doesn’t get what he wants, well then pack his fuking bags because there’s no I in team 😉 see I knew you weren’t as thick as Richie says 😆

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  29. Newkie i’m not a betting man but I don’t think Fergie will become a prem LB, thats just my gut instinct, and it has served me well up to now 😉
    Reet may go pick the wee Lad up from his fri night club as there has been pervs driving about our way trying to get kids into their car 😈

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  30. The trouble with playing Ba and Cisse together is that they both want to receive the final ball and neither is a natural goal creator like Cabaye or even Ben Arfa. A successful parnership in my mind will require Ba to play a little deeper and realize that the team comes first. I would play 4-5-1 sway at Sunderland which can quickly become 4-3-3 on attack. Put Cisse up front for the first half with Ba in behind but swap them around if it isn’t working and give Shola 20 minutes at the end if necessary with Cisse coming off.

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  31. Dave-Didn’t you want him on the wing though? I do think he has the potential to play either position well enough though, his crossing from deep is superb so he could still prove to be almost as effective an outlet at left back than on the wing…

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  32. Georidetwo-I think if you look at average positions, Ba has played behind Cisse for the most part. He still comes back to link up play, the exception was Manure (I think? it’s been so long…) where Cisse was out wide…

    I agree both want to score the goals, the difference is Ba is better at dribbling, passing and generally creating chances, but he’s also the one in form. It’s a toughie… 😕 😕

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  33. Dave – If it is the case, and Debuchy is down or off the list, I won’t be overly disappointed. Personally I do see CB as a more important area for strengthening, and I’d rather see us sign a LB over RB – I still dont think we have a naturally left footed full back at the club (as well as Santon has done).

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  34. Newkie @ 41 yeah mate I see him as a LW he is good at coming back and covering for the LB but he is far better at getting forward without the chains of a fullback

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  35. Sharpy I too see CB as No1 priority but I do think it was shit that Cabaye and Debuchy came out with a cry for help from the Toon and we let them down, because there is noway they would have done that unless the Toon basically told them that they would take the player, so it could damage our reputation.
    I also have a feeling that we will end up loosing Simmo because we won’t pay him decent 1st 11 (Prem) wages.

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  36. Agree with you Newkie, it’s very tough to decide how best to play them based on performances so far this season. I also agree Ba is a better link up player and pretty much has to play behind Cisse unless we play Ba out wide. Still not sure that can’t work unless Ba decides he simply won’t play out there. Shola always seems to find a way to link with either of them but he can’t and shouldn’t play 90 minutes. A real problem with no real third striker who could start. Campbell isn’t ready and Shola is past it. Again I would ask what we will do if we get serious injuries at the striker position? We’re sitting with 2 useless clods as strikers in the club (Ranger and Xisco of course). Pardew started talking about Vuckic as a striker but now he is gone for the season. Surely we need to bring in a striker as well as a CB in the window?

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  37. Dave-Yeah I see what you mean. I guess it depends who we have playing where….I mean, he provides more attacking threat than Jonas imo…but maybe him and Santon would be a little light against strong wingers, like McClean, though they seem to be a dying breed these days.

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  38. G2-Yeah, it’s a tough situation. I do think we could revert back to the 4-3-3 with Ba out wide and it would probably help Cisse-in that it would give him more chances….but I’m not sure if we can be that risky by taking our in form striker further from the goal, he’s saved us with some magic so far this season….if their form switches though he’d have to be plonked on the left, or played behind Cisse more centrally, because neither of them can compete well enough in the air compared to the standard PL Cbs..

    This is why I wanted a wing/forward-and why I hoped Marv would show his class, get him and Benny either side of Cisse or Ba and we could make chance after chance, but it seems Marv’s heart isn’t in it, or he’s still struggling for fitness (which would be understandable)

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  39. Solanostrumpet I think this talk coming out of the club about targets is because they can see the supporters are pretty fed up with the lack of transfer activity last summer. When everyone can see we have needed another CB for at least 2 seasons now and that we seem to have no intention to offer Simpson a decent contract they shouldn’t be surprised that we are fed up. The start to the season has been poor and it’s mainly due to the fact that we are not deep enough despite what Llambias keeps spouting. And I don’t think we are giving ourselves a reasonable chance of remaining in the top 6 which would bring us extra income. There is no way around that except to spend a reasonable amount of money and bring in several new players to make us a stronger side. Will Llambias do that? Time will tell but the season could well be ruined by his endless whining and refusing to pay reasonable amounts for excellent players.

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  40. Agreed Newkie. If Marveaux had really stepped up this season it would have given us another clear option but now he is really struggling and will not get into the starting 11. Similar to Obertan who just doesn’t offer enough threat going forward. We have a number of players now who just aren’t playing well enough including Marveaux, Obertan, Simpson can be dodgy or decent from game to game, Cabaye has been somewhat out of form, Tiote has given the ball away too much and can’t maintain his composure, Willo isn’t good enough. No wonder we sit 10th. Really only Ba and Ben Arfa have been on form in attack. I’ve liked the progress of Santon and Ferguson as well but it’s just not enough with the injuries we’ve had. Maybe we will see last season’s team against Sunderland playing some inspired football.Let’s hope so mate. 😀

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  41. Dave – I agree we should have signed Debuchy, but because we needed him rather than to keep a promise to him and Cabaye.
    If I was being honest, I don’t fully believe that deal is completely dead yet like. I think you are right about Simpson though, I don’t see either side backing down and therefore Danny will leave. Debuchys age and likely wage could rule him out now tho.
    I don’t see Douglas coming in Jan if he’s one of the 7 tho, Twente are top I think and playing well so he will probs think if he stays there there’s a winners medal in it for him.
    Pieters may well still be on the list though.

    Can you imagine how many CBs the media are going to link us with between now and Jan tho.

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  42. Newkie I hate to say it because Jonas is one of my fav’s and is a total workhorse which I admire in a player, but I think Fergie would offer more now going forward as a LW, because to me a LW primary role is to provide balls to the strikers.
    I do think Fergie could become a top Prem LW but I don’t think he would make an out and out LB 😕

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  43. SHARPY17 @ 51 I think you could be on to something with Pieters as I think the regime will see him as the cheapest option and being injuried or cheap seem to fit with the deals we like 😆

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  44. Cisse has to start ,I think it would do untold damage to his confidence to drop him now.Pards has to keep faith with him as he did with Ba the back end of last season. I would put Ba back on the left and give Cisse more chances to score ,bugger the 90% promise, that’s crap ,he has to do what’s right for team spirit ,if he sidelines Cisse and Ba does go in Jan where does that leave us.

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  45. ice 😳 missed that post 🙄 .Up and down like a weston donkey tonight , doorbell ,phone, Lewis ,Hazel ,I get no piggin peace 👿 .

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  46. Hello everyone , long time no speak!! Really lookin forward to the game sunday but just hope we are well up for it and keep there crowd quiet!! Hope big shola gets a start and the mackems will be shittn themselves haha!

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  47. Full time dad mate never get the chance much but will be on alot more now!! How you doing bud? This bliddy international break is terrible , 12 days with no newcastle is heartbreaking haha

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  48. Army-Good to see you back mate, I hope your young son is on his way to fulfilling his footballing potential 😉

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