Who do you back for the World Cup?

Who do you fancy?
Who do you fancy?
As bad as our season has been, I’ll still miss the football which is why it’s a good job there is a World Cup just around the corner.

Why? Firstly because it gives us something to talk about and secondly because it gives me something to carry on writing about as I have a sneaking suspicion that the summer will be very quiet at St James’ Park.

I can’t wait till the competition starts if I’m being honest. That’s why I’ve previewed some of the favourites for the competition. At this current moment in time the host nation are the favourites. If you check http://static.williamhill.com/world-cup-2014/betting/winner-odds/, odds for Brazil are currently 10/3 to win the whole thing.

Germany and Argentina are joint second favourites at 9/2 with defending champions Spain ranked at 11/2. Belgium are 14/1, Holland 16/1, England are 18/1 with Italy placed at 20/1. I personally think the winners will come any of those mentioned so let’s take a look at what they are about.

Brazil

The hype started when they beat Spain 3-0 in the Confederations Cup and with a squad packed with quality playing on home soil you can see why they are being tagged as favourites. A lot of their key players ply their trade in Europe so there is an understanding of how the stronger teams from Europe are likely to play and they face the physical side of things more often than perhaps they have done previously.

Neymar has the potential to be one of the best players on the planet but things haven’t got off to a good start for him at Barcelona and he looks a little bit lightweight for the European game. However his Brazil record speaks for itself with 30 goals in 47 appearances so he’s likely to be the guy they rely on for the bulk of their goals.

Argentina

The Argies are always in with a shout at major tournaments and they have one of the best players in the world at their disposal. Lionel Messi has been outstanding over the years for Barcelona but he has never hit those heights for Argentina scoring 37 times in his 83 caps. Not too shabby from the Captain but still a far cry from the 243 goals in 275 appearances he’s managed for Barca.

Spain

The strength of Spain is in the team itself and the way they play although being blessed with superb talent always helps. The defending champions have been a dominant force in recent years although there is a feeling that their star is on the wane. Their midfield engine room of Xavi and Iniesta isn’t getting any younger but they do still have some sublime options in the middle of the park like Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas to name just two.

Up front they may struggle. Fernando Torres has been named in their provisional 30-man squad which is a surprise while their record scorer, David Villa, will probably make his last appearance at a World Cup if he impresses enough. The other options are Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Llorente and Chelsea-bound Diego Costa, none of whom have been prolific at international level.

Belgium

They could go far in this tournament given the players at their disposal. In goal they have a choice of Simon Mingolet or Thibaut Cortois, both of who have had excellent seasons. In defence they have high quality with the likes of Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderwiereld, a strong midfield with the strength of Marouane Fellaini mixed with the flair and pace of Eden Hazard and Kevin Mirallas and power up front with Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke. If Marc Wilmots gets it right they could be a feature in the later rounds of the competition.

Holland

Runners up last time out, if Holland are to go anywhere near emulating that feat they’ll need big performances from their big players. Robin van Persie, as Captain and top scorer at international level, will need to find his shooting boots while Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder will need to be at the top of their game. However at the back they look weak.

England

First things first are getting out of the group. Roy Hodgson raised a few eyebrows with his decision not to take Ashley Cole to Brazil but Leighton Baines has had the better season. However, should anything happen to Baines then it will be up to Luke Shaw to deputise at a very young age.

Up front Wayne Rooney has rarely produced at a World Cup and is yet to register a goal in the competition which ratchets up the pressure on Daniel Sturridge, who has had a great season to be fair. I can’t see the Three Lions going much further than the Quarter Final with either Ivory Coast, Greece, Japan or Colombia lined up as second round opponents should they progress.

Italy

The Azzurri are in the same group as England and indeed eliminated them in the last European Championships. A spine made up of Buffon, Chiellini, Pirlo and Balotelli is not too shabby but it’s the gaps around them than should concern the Italians. Marco Verratti has been excellent for PSG this term allaying some fears about taking a player so young to such a big tournament but it will once again be how that domestic form can translate on the international stage.

So that is my quick round up of the favourites for the World Cup. There will always be a surprise package or two thrown in (anyone remember Greece, or Croatia?) so it’s important to remember that, but it’s also worth remembering that these sides are ranked more favourably for a reason.

About toonsy

A lifelong Newcastle fan and current webmaster of this very 'blog who has the sole aim of creating a place by Newcastle United fans, for Newcastle United fans.

693 thoughts on “Who do you back for the World Cup?

  1. JJ – he had 8 games to achieve survival. My point is that had he achieved that then the masses would have seen him as a hero. As I say, success wise and wins wise his record would still be poor, but the fact he kept us up is all that people would remember. He would have walked away at that point a managerial hero because that’s how the history books would have had it written – or that’s what I believe anyway.

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  2. In Shearers 8 matches we played Liverpool, Chelsea, Villa and Fulham who all qualified for europe. Stoke (Who lost once at home all season) and Tottenham away. Boro and Portsmouth were the matches we had to win and we came up a point short.

    Kinnear and Hughton still deserve more blame; Hull home and away 1 point/Mackems home and away = 1 point/Blackburn home and away = 0 points. 2 points from a possible 18 against the teams directly above us.

    He didnt help himself with Dowie and the constant chopping and changing but the damage was done before he arrived

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  3. Newkie – I don’t think Al ever wanted to be a permanent manager. I think he looked at it and thought – if I keep Newcastle up then it would raise his legendary status to greater heights. It was perfectly achievable, and even going into the last game, all he had to do was not get beat! – we didnt even have to win it thanks to Hull having conceded around 15 goals more than us over the season.
    In only 8 games I don’t even think you can judge him as a manager – motivator maybe be but he wasnt really a manager as such. What he was, he failed miserably though πŸ˜†

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  4. Personally think Shearer was facing mission impossible, and anything to keep us up would have been an incredible achievement. The team & morale had been obliterated by ******s Allardyce, Kinnear, Ashley & Owen. I feel sorry for shearer, but he doesnt cover himself in glory on MOTD and if hes not willing to cut his teeth at the lower levels then he doesn’t deserve a decent crack.

    Re: his comments on AP. Fair enough but I think giving Pardew funds to spend is a frightening prospect. The first time we will have money to spend in years. If Pardew has a significant influence over transfers, then we will end up wasting the money on over rated english cloggers. If he doesn’t have a say then we will end up sign talented/players with potential, of which a good number will be destroyed ala Mbiwa/HBA amongst others. Very little to get excited or even hopeful about.

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  5. CC-Exactly. Hoots had more “experience” by then even if he wasn’t a manager and he hardly covered himself in glory. Still, I was certain we’d stay up. That last game was terrible, but I don’t really blame Al.

    Sharpy-maybe mate, I’m not so sure. He would have been in a really strong position if he had saved us – the board would have been crucified if they’d sacked him after he saved us. It would have been a direct route for him to manage one of the biggest clubs in the Prem without needing to pick up any experience along the way. I think he would have tried to stick it out, not sure he’d have been much good though.

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  6. Buddy – I wouldn’t say mission impossible mate. He was sunk only by a Duff OG. But I agree that the bulk of the damage was done way before him. I would even say that the rot set in pre Ashley personally.

    As for Pardew. For me personally it’s a similar situation with Pullis at Stoke. Pardew isn’t a bad manager and will probably regularly have us 9th – 12th.
    But for me, with a board in at the moment that has no ambition at all and will be more than happy with 10th each season and leaving the cups alone – then as a football fan, I want to be watching more entertaining football than Pardew has us playing. Are Stoke better off with Hughes?, you’d have to ask them, but they were twisting at the end of last season the way they were at the end of Pullis last season there.
    Will the football improve under Pardew if he spends in the summer?, time will time – and I bloody hope so as we now know that Pardew will be staying put. But what I honestly believe is that Pardew should have done better with the group of players he had last season.

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  7. Buddy@605 – that’s the big fear. Pardew gets his say and we sign very ordinary english players. I’m not impressed with Colback but he ticks the free box. Now we’re linked with Noble cause Pardew knows him well. Fantastic. What will the bugger do to Cabella if he comes. It’s no win in all directions.

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  8. Newkie – I don’t think the board would have sacked him mate, I think he would have walked. Al would have walked and left Dowie in charge had we survived – that’s my opinion anyway. I don’t think Shearer has any desire to be a manager at all, and saw the 8 games as an opportunity to raise his profile as a Newcastle hero rather than a footy manager.
    I think he’d only ever have done it for us, Bburn and maybe Saints. If he wanted to be a manager he probably would have went to a lower league club first – championship side with money to spend – long before his appointment with us. If he really cared about being a manager, he would have got straight back into it after us rather than leaving the record books only showing his Newcastle stats.
    Let’s be honest, the mess Bburn have been in recently, he could have easily walked into the job there since Steve Kean left.
    I think he’s more than happy being a pundit and avoiding that world of grief and hassle.

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  9. Georgio – I know what you’re saying mate, but you need work horses like Colback or Noble to allow players Cabella to play.
    I think Pardew asking the likes of Benny and Marv to play more defensively is because we lack players like Colback and Noble. Anita hasn’t done it this season unfortunately and when Benny was playing well 2 seasons ago, it was coz he had a 3 man midfield behind him with players like Jonas doing all the ugly stuff.
    Cabella will only be a good signing, if we have players like Colback to allow him to concentrate solely on the attacking side of the game – IMO

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  10. Sharpy – I prefer the midfielders we already have. Would you swap Sissoko (in his best position) and Tiote for Colback and Noble. Not me mate!

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  11. Sharpy-maybe mate. Hindsight now suggests maybe he was never bothered but I think at the time he would have quite fancied sticking with us in the job. In the year or two after he constantly said how he would think about a job – if it was “the right job” – he wasn’t fussed about managing lower league, I think he wanted a fairly stable prem job, which despite his playing success is too big an ask for any owner. I don’t think he would have wanted to go to the madhosue that is blackburn, Venky’s are some of the only owners who make Ashley seem sane.

    I agree in that he’s nice and comfy on his sofa now and so there doesn’t seem to be that *drive* to be a manager. It might have just been something to pay the bills for him if he had ended up doing it.

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  12. @Georgio

    Personally I think Noble is one of the most underrated players in the premiership. He gives his all in every game. He can pass, tackle and most of all he plays with passion.

    I think since we lost the likes of Barton, Nolan and Smith we are lacking players who play with passion. Because of that once we go a goal down our heads drop and a lot of the time the game is gone from that moment on.

    In my opinion we apart from the obvious need for wingers, strikers and creativity in midfield we are also lacking passion and leadership on the pitch.

    I think if we could bring in players like Noble and maybe Caulker it would be a good move.

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  13. I also think getting a cheap deal for Lewis Holtby would be a master stroke. Not going to happen.

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  14. Oblong-agree we are lacking leadership. Colo may have been captain but most of our players looked to Cabaye to get things going. Also know what you mean about the passion side of things. We had one of the greatest come backs in PL history against Arsenal with a very limited but passionate side, now we can barely come back form a goal down, and nobody looks bothered.

    Sissoko and Colo are both very talented players, but the shrugs of the shoulder they give when we concede does my ****in head in. I’ve seen more passion in someone playing pool.

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  15. Pretty sure Shearer wanted to stay on with us in the Fizzy pop but Ashley gave him the elbow so I don’t think walking away was in his thoughts.

    Will have a look but also think he interviewed for a couple of managerial jobs but failed to get them.

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  16. Georgio – personally I’d go back to a 3 man midfield and have Colback left of centre, Tiote centre and Sissoko right of centre. Sissoko and Colback are both box to box midfielders so could cope with the running. That would then allow either 2 attacking midfielders ahead of them with 1 CF or 1 AMF and 2 CFs, or if Pardew was feeling particularly daring, maybe even 3 CFs.
    3 in midfield would be my preferred option mate coz it encourages width from our attack minded full backs as well.

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  17. Does Shearer have his coaching badges to manage a PL club permanently?.

    Georgio – re Cabella v Benny, I don’t know mate. Maybe mentally he is, as in doing the work on the training ground. I think they are both clearly gifted players, but I think Benny may have burnt too many bridges now. Like I say, alot of reports you hear is that he’s lazy and didnt his own team mates say it this season. I think at this level you have to be consistent – like Hazard or Silva has been. As I’ve said before, if Benny was as good as we think he is there would have been a club out there somewhere who would have saved him from our reserve team – likewise with Marv.

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  18. Maybe I am reading way tooo much into this but Freddie Sheppard seems to be speaking an awful lot about us lately……..surely he doesnt have the cash to buy us?

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  19. MDS – it was his most successful formation IMO when he had Cabs/Toots/Jonas in there and Benny looked happy and was playing well, Cisse was scoring, but Ba was unhappy on the left side – though was getting chances to score.
    I think right of centre is probably Sissokos most nature position and Colback played that system well with Scum at the end of this season gone.
    He, Clattermole and Lars in that midfield allowed Borini, Johnson and Whickham to focus on getting the goals to keep them up – and it worked.
    I for one would be happy to see us set up that way next season. Pardew would be right to try and go back to the system that got him 5th and manager of the season – though I’m not saying he’s achieve that again by the way

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  20. I would like that as well. As was discussed on here the other day that formation Ben Arfa a bit defensively and allows him to play his game

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  21. Shepherd’s always been full of it. He’s saying now we need to spend Β£40m this summer cos ManU will spend Β£60m. Still living in the nineties!

    Sharpy – 433 for me too but NOTHING will work with Pardew in charge. The 433 of his was an accident anyway.

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  22. So WHU have met with fat Sam and told him they want more entertaining football & top 10 finish – he’s agreed to appoint a new attacking coach.
    Wow, so it’s not ridiculous for a PL manager to improve his coaching staff then?!.

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  23. Manure Β£60m transfer pot 😯 What’s Freddie smoking, it’s gonna be a lot more than that me thinks.

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  24. Sharpy, our lot will be saying the same to Pards but without the additional coaching staff or players required πŸ™„

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  25. Sharpy-Sam’s bosses back him with the funds for players and coaches it seems. We paid for a two week fitness regime with Faye Downey πŸ˜†

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  26. Carver said

    “First it’s important Pardew has a good break because there has been a lot of pressure on us and he has had to deal with it.

    No mention that the self inflicted 7 match ban wouldn’t of helped him. πŸ˜‰

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  27. Sharpy

    Pardew did a phone in after we finished 5th and talked about bringing in a development coach to help integrate young players and a specialist set piece coach for blatantly obvious reason.

    Two years on; Stagnant academy players are being punted left, right and centre and we still score a handful of goals from hundreds of set pieces a season. For the sake of a couple of of grand a week weve probably lost millions on potential first teamers and prize money…

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  28. I know the name Kim but I’ve not seen enough of him to back up that article. I get the feeling that this summer, like most, we’ll be happy to get anyone we can through the door πŸ™‚

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  29. CC-Exactly. Why are we spending millions on new facilities if we aren’t going to appoint the staff, or good enough staff, to get the most out of them? My theory is that the training facilities are a proper stone and mortar “asset” and will therefore provide value to the club(Ashley) whereas more coaches may not guarantee a return on investment.

    Completely stupid, but it sounds about right for this place.

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  30. CC – it isn’t rocket science is it mate?!. That’s one of the things that annoy me most about Ashley. I accept his hands are tied a bit when it comes to playing staff (FFP) – but things like coaching staff and commercial staff, there is nothing stopping him spending some of those billions on the cream of the crop to try and grow the club that way.

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  31. There was talk Ashley laid off some of the match preparation lads to cut costs at the end of last season, Then appointed Kinnear later in the same summer πŸ˜†

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  32. CC – the thing with Ashley is that, like the 2 Daves at WH, he goes to watch quite a few of the matches – surely he can’t be enjoying what he’s watching either?!.
    The corporate box lot who are pumping 60k a season into the club through having those boxes can’t be happy with what they are watching either.

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  33. Ashley’s problem is that he doesn’t have a knowledgable football person advising him. If he hadn’t of flubbed the JK hire and got himself a top notch DOF who would speak his mind things would be far different I reckon

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  34. West hams squad has been assembled with Sams “style” in mind: Carroll, Nolan, Noble, Cole are all one paced. Downing and Jarvis play inverted hanging the ball up to the back stick and their one remaining creative midfield player Morrison looks likely to be off now Allardyces staying.

    Cant see his Β£20m budget improving matters greatly myself, They might go wide more instead of going back to front straight away but it wont change much the players technically cant be much more stylish than they are imho.

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  35. Unlike us of course, We did play some nice stuff away at Villa, Cardiff, Palace, Man utd, West ham and Hull. We were dogged against Chelsea, Liverpool with 10 men and spurs at SJP.

    It went pear shaped but if we recruit well theres no reason why we cant kick on. The majority of players we are being strongly linked with are technically sound, Pacey and/or creative attacking players so it looks like that penny has finally dropped…

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  36. We all know that wor Mike pays careful attention to what Freddy Shephard says. Freddy says we need to spend 40M this summer, so Mike will get right on it won’t you Mike? It’s good to have influential friends at the club isn’t it? πŸ™‚

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  37. CC – the trouble is though mate, who we are linked with and who we end up signing – or not as the case has been – are 2 very different things.

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  38. Just watching SSN and apparently Yaya Toure wants to leave Man City coz he doesn’t feel respected coz the owners didnt make an effort for his birthday! 😯
    The huffy ****er only gets paid something like 250k p/w of them like!.

    Unbelievable!!!!

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  39. Did we ever finish our discussion about how many prongs we need in wor attack lads? I know Alan is fully confident that a 1 prong attack is the way to go. I favour an attacking trio but that’s a lot of prongs for wor Alan to count and keep track of. Should the club hire a prong counter for Alan?

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  40. Just looking at Alan’s plan of attack next season sent to me by another Blog Hobbit. It looks very interesting. Alan plans to use the isolated single striker method. Shola by himself, waiting for hoofballs from Willo. If we trail at the half we will immediately go more defensive to try to keep the score from getting embarrassing. Beautiful.

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  41. G2 We can’t afford 40 million. Mike Ashley needs a noob job remember. We can’t have an unhappy owner now can we ? Freddy’s not here anymore and Ashley know’s cheap and tacky is the way forward.

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  42. I know a lot of you are concerned about next season. But according to John Carver things are really looking up mates! We hope to possibly even sign someone! Yes that’s right, you heard it hear first. We are going to try to sign someone! This is so exciting. Does that special someone play football I wonder? Are they lacking any limbs, in particular legs? Will we get a discount if they are missing something important? I’m getting anxious to hear more from wor Carver.

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  43. Ashley can’t afford players like Remy. 6 million is the final over. Take it or leave it QPR. Some clubs might be willing to over more than 10 million for him. QPR might be stupid enough to accept the 6 million instead of 12 million for him ? At least we tried to sign him.

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  44. I know STEM mate. It’s a worry. It’s the price we’re going to have to pay for Mike to have nice moobs though. In the long run we will realize it was worth it. πŸ˜•

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  45. Ashley won’t attend games next season because we are going down into the championship. The fans will be mad for the lack of signing’s and money spent but none of it will be Ashley’s fault.

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  46. Ashley and Alan will sale of into the sunset and live happily ever after if the club gets relegated next season.

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  47. Now getting back to the important business. Wor attack. Do we really need a Plan B? Could it involve Ashley streaking across the pitch to show off his new moobs?

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  48. Is Van Gaal going to be able to compete with the tactical genius known as Alain Perdue? He is probably trembling with fear already! πŸ˜†

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  49. G2 That would excite the fans to much 😐 Mike isn’t going to do that mate. He hates the fans remember ? Now if the fans start changing there attitude’s i.e
    1 It’s not about winning cups or europe, it’s about staying in the league be happy.
    2 It’s about making money and spending nothing be happy
    3 Get excited about Pardew’s style of football. Even if we lose 8-0 it makes the 1-0 win against the lowest team in the league more enjoyable.
    4 Get excited about director’s of football like Wise and Kinnear because Mike has so much football sense.

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  50. Sing to The Ballad of the Green Berets:
    Put big new moobs on Mikey’s chest
    Make sure he has the biggest breasts
    He’ll be a man again one day
    So have him wear a French Beret
    Have him wear a French Beret

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  51. Just because Kezmen isn’t in the first team yet doesn’t mean Joe Kinnear was a bad director of football. He might be a world beater in years to come ? We spent less than half a million for him.

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  52. Kim – I’ve just read that back – it was meant to say please DON’T feel disrespected 😳 πŸ˜‰

    Oblong – he’s better than Obertan, but no better than an occassional squad player IMO mate. If he was on low wages then he’d be a no risk improvement on what we have already. He’d probably get used more than Oba.

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