Three areas Newcastle MUST strengthen over the coming weeks

With four signings secured some momentum is finally arriving to Newcastle’s summer recruitment drive. Although none have been the big name signings fans crave, they may prove to be useful additions. That being said, Rafa and the club will be aware our biggest moves are yet to come and the spine of the side still clearly needs work. Which areas should be a priority to strengthen until the window slams shut at the end of August?

 

Centre midfield

After wearing the armband against Preston and Bradford, Shelvey’s influence at Newcastle on the rise after an impressive season in the Championship. One problem we had last year was replacing him when he was missing, mainly due to his ill-discipline. We don’t have a player like him, with other options like Hayden, Colback and Saivet being far more defensively minded – as does the seemingly imminent arrival of Mikel Merino.

Isaac Hayden had a promising first season at Newcastle and at 22, has time to further improve. Newcastle are clearly in the market for a holding midfielder (Merino) as well as backup to Shelvey, just to take the pressure off Hayden. James McCarthy has been linked but a £25m price-tag is far from tempting. Gvien Benitez’s fondness to dip into the Spanish market, Gabriel Pires may be a considered as a creative option, but we certainly need reinforcements here. Colback and Diame could yet be axed this summer, along with Saivet, so bodies are needed along with some quality.

 

Number 10

This is arguably Newcastle’s biggest dilemma and problem position at the moment. With Rafa favouring a 4-2-3-1 formation, it is central to his plans and success on the pitch next season. Last year, Diame and Perez mainly played there with neither really making the position their own. Diame just did not score enough goals to justify sacrificing the extra firepower of a 4-4-2 and he was just as effective in the deeper central midfield role. Ayoze again flattered to deceive, despite finishing the season strongly.

We do have De Jong coming back from a loan spell but his abysmal fitness record suggests we can’t hang our hopes on him next year. I think Rafa may use Perez as a backup striker and Diame as a backup centre midfielder, leaving De Jong as a rotation option for the number 10 role. Whether his thoughts, Rafa will want a quality addition brought in here. Match winners like Sigurdsson appear to be out our reach as the market spirals out of control but we could do with someone who can link the play and provide ammunition for Gayle, who needs service to be effective.

Striker

As the old saying goes, goals win games. Newly promoted sides find scoring enough goals to win games as the biggest challenge to acclimatising to the top flight. Gayle carried us over the line last year with 23 goals but doubts remain if he replicate anywhere near this total in the Premier League. There are countless examples of strikers scoring in the Championship to then not deliver against better opposition.

Gayle showed some promise of scoring in the top flight with Palace but was never really trusted to be their first choice striker. He is certainly someone we need to keep and is our most potent attacking option but we need a proven striker too.  Rafa will know this and even looking at our downfall in the 2015/6 season, Mitrovic and Cisse didn’t score regularly enough to keep us up.

We need to break our transfer record to get that top level 15+ goal striker needed to help us compete next year. A marquee striker is always a massive boost to the fans too and even the loan signing of someone like Batshuayi would do the trick, if we can pull it off. We may actually need two strikers with Murphy leaving and Mitrovic seemingly heading for the exit door.

Which areas do you want to see NUFC strengthen? And you would be your ideal signings?

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

About Simon Riddlesden

Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.

217 thoughts on “Three areas Newcastle MUST strengthen over the coming weeks

  1. Agree Eric but my point is that until Rafa turned up, Ashley had just had failure after failure in his appointments. We’re still suffering

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  2. All this talk prompted by young Gibson’s move to Everton. What he said was clear – there’s a much clearer pathway for kids to the first team at Goodison. Like Tom Davies last season as an example. He’ll have watched how Arma and Callum have hit a brick wall at the Toon. Things would be a lot easier if we ever had a good team that could support the odd kid coming through instead of the desperation struggle of the last few years.

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  3. Stuart79:
    Agree Eric but my point is that until Rafa turned up, Ashley had just had failure after failure in his appointments. We’re still suffering

    Stu – I believe the problem with regards to development from youth to first team stems back to the Keegan era.
    I honestly think the decision to do away with that set up to focus all monies into recruitment of first team players set us back years – and we are still playing catch up.

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  4. Stuart79:
    Agree Eric but my point is that until Rafa turned up, Ashley had just had failure after failure in his appointments. We’re still suffering

    I totally agree with you on the appointments. It was a scattershot approach. he would fire Fat Sam then undermine Keegan with Wise. And many other examples, firing Hughton and hiring Pardew being prime.

    I have no idea how Ashley has been so successful using an approach that makes no sense.

    Now he seems to have stepped back and is letting Rafa do it all. And that is why I think Rafa thought NUFC was attractive. That he could finally convince Ashley to focus on retail and leave football to a football man.

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  5. Plus, after 5 minutes with Carr and Charnley, Rafa would immediately sense who would be the boss. C’mon, Charnley on 300k a year is going to be a threat to the man he is hiring at 6 million a year?

    It is not ALL about money. But money tells you a lot.

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  6. georgio:
    All this talk prompted by young Gibson’s move to Everton. What he said was clear – there’s a much clearer pathway for kids to the first team at Goodison. Like Tom Davies last season as an example. He’ll have watched how Arma and Callum have hit a brick wall at the Toon. Things would be a lot easier if we ever had a good team that could support the odd kid coming through instead of the desperation struggle of the last few years.

    Georgio – at 16yrs he’s never gonna be near the first team for another probably 3 yrs at least.
    Other than Davies though, who else have Everton brought through into the first team – and Davies was only last season. We have brought Krul, Taylor, Dummett, Shola, Sammi, Carroll through our ranks – who have Everton brought through in that time – other than Rooney?

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  7. Sharpy – it’s what the lad himself said, it’s not an argument I instigated. But I can see him looking at Adam and Cal Roberts and thinking why aren’t they getting a chance when Riviere and De Jong and other bozos are?

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  8. georgio:
    Sharpy – it’s what the lad himself said, it’s not an argument I instigated. But I can see him looking at Adam and Cal Roberts and thinking why aren’t they getting a chance when Riviere and De Jong and other bozos are?

    fair point mate

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  9.  Taylor & Besty Retweeted

    Andrew Musgrove‏Verified account @ADMusgrove · 2h2 hours ago

     More

    Portuguese press reporting that #NUFC and Benfica have held ‘positive’ talks over Andreas Samaris. Benfica would settle for €15m + bonuses.

    Won’t go away this rumour will it

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  10. georgio:
    Sharpy – it’s what the lad himself said, it’s not an argument I instigated. But I can see him looking at Adam and Cal Roberts and thinking why aren’t they getting a chance when Riviere and De Jong and other bozos are?

    Rivière and De Jong?!?!?!! Who have they kept out the team like?.
    I’m not sure either have played a competitive game under Rafa.

    But again, the lad was U18s at Newcastle – his focus at 16/17yrs should be U23s and playing consistently well at that level.

    Sorry mate, but I ain’t listening to the lad coz he’s not even at the stage of breaking into the first team. But the irony isn’t lost – he’s a LB and where did our current LB come from?!.

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  11. Ten years is long enough to improve our youth system, Sharpy. KK was 20 odd years ago, so blaming him is absolving everyone else of any blame when they’ve had a chance to fix it.

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  12. funrafa:
    If Samaris come, I would be much happier with this transfer window. Please let it happen!

    Rafa – agree mate. I like the look of this lad a lot.

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  13. georgio:
    All this talk prompted by young Gibson’s move to Everton. What he said was clear – there’s a much clearer pathway for kids to the first team at Goodison. Like Tom Davies last season as an example. He’ll have watched how Arma and Callum have hit a brick wall at the Toon. Things would be a lot easier if we ever had a good team that could support the odd kid coming through instead of the desperation struggle of the last few years.

    Georgio. I agree that we have not provided the encouragement we should have done. Personally I am not certain Atsu who we spent 6 million on is all that much better than Roberts who has potential given the right encouragement.

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  14. I still wonder if we should of kept Arma and not loaned him out. If we get the right service to him I still think he could do well.

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  15. Stuart79:
    Ten years is long enough to improve our youth system, Sharpy. KK was 20 odd years ago, so blaming him is absolving everyone else of any blame when they’ve had a chance to fix it.

    Stu – I’m not absolving anyone mate. I’ve said for a long time now that our failure to make it work better is one of my biggest frustrations – I’ve had many a conversation with Sham about it on this very site.
    What I’m saying is it set us back big time.

    20yrs seems like a long time ago, but it’s Michael Carricks professional career. I use him as the example coz he was on our books at the time – is 35 now and has just been named Man Utd’s club captain.

    I’m not saying we had an academy for players at the quality of Carrick, but before that time we were bringing players through – Elliott, Howey, Watson, Clark and had players in the system like Carrick – then pulled the plug.

    It set us back, but in 20yrs we should operate better than we are. For me we don’t take advantage of the local feeder clubs – the Wallsend Boys or Redheugh Boys clubs around the area.

    How and why did the Murphy twins end up at Norwich when they grew up under the shadow or the Angel of the North?!.

    We need to get into these clubs. Invest money into the facilities and get young kids into these clubs & develop them early.

    But let me tell you mate. As a father of an 8yr old lad who is currently on 6wks school hols, there aren’t many footy camps on around the place – and ones that are aren’t free.

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  16. Groucho: Georgio.I agree that we have not provided the encouragement we should have done. Personally I am not certain Atsu who we spent 6 million on is all that much better than Roberts who has potential given the right encouragement.

    Fernandez will be the next one through mate, mark my words.

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  17. I think the Murphy twins were born in London and brought up in Norwich so I can’t blame the club for that.

    Setting up a few free soccer schools in the holidays can’t cost too much considering the cash in the game and that’s at least something the club should be doing. How is that Middlesbrough seem to have a conveyor belt but we have Chubby Browns belt?!

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  18. KIMTOON:
    I still wonder if we should of kept Arma and not loaned him out. If we get the right service to him I still think he could do well.

    Kim – I think the loan is only 6mths this time, so Rafa may have plans to bring him back.
    It may count for nothing, but Armaz & Murphy were at Coventry together and formed a good attacking partnership – so that could be a plan for the not too distant future.

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  19. Sharpy17: Fernandez will be the next one through mate, mark my words.

    Sharpy I didn’t see him play at Gateshead as you did but from all the reports Fernandez looks an excellent prospect.

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  20. Stuart79:
    I think the Murphy twins were born in London and brought up in Norwich so I can’t blame the club for that.

    Setting up a few free soccer schools in the holidays can’t cost too much considering the cash in the game and that’s at least something the club should be doing. How is that Middlesbrough seem to have a conveyor belt but we have Chubby Browns belt?!

    Stu – I agree, a soccer school can’t cost much at all – especially if the potential is to find future stars.
    I live less than a mile away for Durham County Cricket Ground – where I used to watch our first team train – so the facilities are certainly there to run a number of soccer schools for various age ranges.

    I’m slap bang in the middle of Newcastle or Sunderland running one – but neither club are doing it.
    In fact there is nowt that isn’t going to hit parents in the pocket.

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  21. Groucho: SharpyI didn’t see him play at Gateshead as you did but from all the reports Fernandez looks an excellent prospect.

    I think he’s the reason we have followed through on the Ojo interest mate. I think if Aarons stays fit he gets a long overdue chance at the first team. But if he goes sick again, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Fernandez promoted.
    They brought Perez in as a development player and he was quickly good enough to go straight in – Fernandez will be the same I reckon.

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  22. What other clubs are going to take the likes of De Jong, Saivet, Colback, etc even on loan?. We can only etc etc our net outlay has b have 25 players in our PL squad and I am not sure how we can add more without shifting the deadwood. Darlow for Adrian?. Is Elliot good enough to be No 1?. The sale of Gibson covers the purchase of Atsu, Murphy went for 2 million plus, our net outlay has been less than when we fell into the championship!. We are now running out of time you cannot just throw all these players together , even good ones, and expect the team to be brilliant. Is our squad any better than the one that got relegated?. I am now having my doubts, but as a fan I will remain optimistic, Rafa knows his stuff and will get 100% Toon support, just hope we are not bottom after 4 games…..

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  23. Ivor, I think Villa are interested in Colback, Rivi going to Turkey , Saivet will get loaned back to a French club again and I want us to hang on to De Jong if possible. As for Darlow, I wouldn’t want to ditch him for Adrian, don’t see the point in that. We do need a couple of stellar signings up front and in mf to really pose a threat imo .

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  24. I personally would rather have Elliott as #1, Darlow #2 and no Adrian. We should only shift Darlow if we are making a marquee signing such as Reina. I dont think Darlow is great, but he is not bad either and capable of being a #2 for us. We need to focus on othwr positions such as DM, playmaker, striker and full back.

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  25. shamrock:
    I personally would rather have Elliott as #1, Darlow #2 and no Adrian. We should only shift Darlow if we are making a marquee signing such as Reina. I dont think Darlow is great, but he is not bad either and capable of being a #2 for us. We need to focus on othwr positions such as DM, playmaker, striker and full back.

    totally agree Sham

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  26. Sham – It looks like this Merino is DM. So we need a striker and creative midfielder. The two hardest and costliest.

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  27. Agree about the keepers. I quite like Darlow, but Elliott would be no.1 for me.
    Merino is a DM and Samaris is a creative midfielder – and that’s looking as good as done too.

    FB and forward after that and I’d be pretty happy I reckon.

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  28. Happy to see that it seems Rivière is on his way out.. what a waste that was… looks positive for Samaris and Merino… Batshuayi next for me please… ??

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  29. Armstrong looks like he might be suffering from the next big thing syndrome. He has been hyped a lot because he plays for England U20s. I will try not to be too negative, but he did not exactly set the world on fire at Barnsley last year. He scored 6 times in 34 appearances and he is paid to score goals. I think the Management expected more and that is why he is out on loan again, to prove himself.

    As a comparison, Tammy Abraham was also loaned to a Championship club and scored 23 goals. Tammy Abraham played for the England U21s, a step up from the U20’s. Tammy Abraham is 6 months younger than Adam Armstrong.

    Armstrong has also played 15 times for NUFC and has scored zero goals. Most of these were as a sub but still, he hasn’t exactly grasped his opportunities either at Barnsley or NUFC. He did well for Cov but they were in the third division.

    I hope the lad pushes on but fear he might be the next Michael Chopra.

    Maybe Everton will give us 6 million for him?

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  30. Dubai Toon:
    Happy to see that it seems Rivière is on his way out.. what a waste that was… looks positive for Samaris and Merino… Batshuayi next for me please…

    Where is this Batshuayi rumour coming from? Why would Chelsea loan us him when they paid 36 million a year ago and only really have Morata as an out and out striker since Conte has fallen out with Costa.

    It would be nice, but where is there anything to suggest we could get him? Ryder !? 🙂

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  31. Another thing on Armstrong. Maybe him being loaned so early means that Rafa has his sights set on a new striker?

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  32. Rafa is talking at a talk in at Number Nine bar. He says we missed some first choices and sometimes it’s not our fault. There’s agents, mums and dads ect… He says he can’t get the players he wants – “the prices are crazy”

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  33. “We have to move players out, that means we’re losing targets, we’ve lost our first targets, it’s not easy”

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  34. “To stay in the Premier League in a city where they love the club is crucial, cos for me I could be learning Chinese” – MASSIVE LAUGHS

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  35. Thanks Stuart. Shows what we all thought is true; that it is more the state of the market in general than Rafa (and Charnley) not wanting to do deals.

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  36. Whenever I read quotes from Rafa it is always in my head with a Spanish accent. Is that just me?

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  37. Tweet
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    Micky Welch
    Micky Welch @m1cvv
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    Seriously, Rafa is hilarious, it’s clear he could talk football and #NUFC for hours.

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    Micky Welch
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    “When you have big names sometimes they don’t need to run too much and make no difference”

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    Micky Welch
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    The first 6 games “every year is the same, how important etc etc, the answers are the same, it’s everyone is right, then it’s all ok”

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    Micky Welch
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    “We have to stay calm, if we win the first 3 games we will not win the league”

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    Micky Welch
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    “Last year I was saying we”ll be strong at the end of the season, imagine we have to go (sic) to the end, we have to be strong”

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    NUFC 360 Retweeted
    Micky Welch
    Micky Welch @m1cvv
    Replying to @m1cvv and @ninesportsbar
    “I wasn’t happy at the start of this window, I’m happy NOW, you have to analyse things propley, we weren’t doing things the way I wanted”
    8:39 pm · 27 Jul 2017
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    Micky Welch
    Micky Welch @m1cvv
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    Replying to @m1cvv and @ninesportsbar
    “My commitment now is (sic) 100% I had massive offers with China, we need to try our best, i had conversations with Lee (Charnley)”

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    Micky Welch
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    “Now we are singing players who’re happy to come here, maybe we (sic) improve players, if you can understand that WE are fine”

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    Micky Welch
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    “The August transfer window is KILLING us, it has to be shorter”

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    “In May we were ready to sing 4 players but it didn’t happen, (sic) due to completion”

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    Micky Welch
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    “We are ready for Tottenham. Our main problem is we have TOO many players, we need to be sure we can move and being players in”

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  38. Rafa always comes off as knowledgeable and in control. Even the so-called “facts” rant at Liverpool he was calm and correct in everything he said.

    You contrast that with:

    Pardew: who always seemed arrogant. Up his own arse. Exemplified later by his infamous dance at Wembley.

    Carver: a bit of a Charles Manson. He came across most of the time as calm but you had the feeling he could explode at any second.

    McClaren: He sort of knew his stuff but you got the feeling that as soon as something went against him he would panic. You could see it in the doe eyed looks he would sometimes give.

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  39. Eric Sykes:
    Thanks Stuart. Shows what we all thought is true; that it is more the state of the market in general than Rafa (and Charnley) not wanting to do deals.

    Eric – or most blaming Ashley

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  40. “I wasn’t happy at the start of this window, I’m happy NOW, you have to analyse things propley, we weren’t doing things the way I wanted”

    What has changed during that time ? … oh yeah, Mr Carr was shown the door ??
    Fair to assume he was complicating deals. Rafa ‘I like that Jacob Murphy’ Carr ‘right, or there’s this YouTube clip of a French winger’…. OUT!!!!!

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  41. Sharpy: Very insightful.

    Rafa knew that Carr had made a power grab and McClaren was his choice. It took a while for Benitez to undermine Carr enough to get rid but I think it was obvious that he wanted control from the start. It was Rafa who contacted Charnley about the job and Charnley must have realized he had backed the wrong horse when he got into bed with Carr (not literally, as I doubt a $5 hooker would even do that).

    Charnley had to save his own skin because he would not likely get another MD job anywhere else. In fact he is way underpaid if you look at other clubs. Sunderland even are paying about 3 times as much for their MD. Charnley is now the financial controller, the accountant. He has the title but not the authority.

    This is all supposition on my part because I have no inside information at all. I know how to connect dots though.

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  42. sorry lads didn’t see stu had posted that already, and how the hell has Eric come up next to my pic 😯

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  43. kimtoon:
    sorry lads didn’t see stu had posted that already, and how the hell has Eric come up next to my pic

    you also changed your name to Eric for a while, and now back 🙂

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  44. It is getting more interesting now with Rafa explaining what went on and seeing Lejeune and Murphy play, even if it was against a third division team. And Mitro as captain, who would have thought that? I am going to say again that we will break our transfer record for a striker. I don’t know who.

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  45. Apparently a deal for Samaris is close according to Portuguese reports. No idea who he is but we’ve been linked for a while. Might be more rubbish of course…

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  46. Eric Sykes:
    It is getting more interesting now with Rafa explaining what went on and seeing Lejeune and Murphy play, even if it was against a third division team. And Mitro as captain, who would have thought that? I am going to say again that we will break our transfer record for a striker. I don’t know who.

    Here’s a stat for you on strikers,big Al at age 22 had scored 65 goals,Mitro age 22 scored 84 goals,diff lge like

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  47. Well we all seem confident that Rafa is in charge now Carr has gone, so these signings are his & we have to trust what he’s doing.

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  48. He said it himself, Sharpy. “If we sign bad players blame me at the end of the season.” Can’t say fairer than that.

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  49. I truly believe Ashley has stepped back and Rafa is running the show. Carr was the last link to the old way. I don’t really count Charnley as he is now the accountant again and realizes what a big mistake it was to be taken in by Carr, who was a big con anyway as all he ever did was recommend and buy players from Mondial Sports Agency, well about 90% anyway.

    It was really no contest. Carr got lucky for a while but he was a failed Manager at Nuneaton, Kettering and Maidstone. Compare that to a Champions League, Europa League and 2 time La Liga winner.

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  50. Mind, I haven’t elevated Rafa to God-like status yet. I will leave that to Uncle Ed Harrison.

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  51. Chronicle seem to be saying we need to sell to buy now. Would kind of fit with what Rafa was saying too. I just wonder if there’s going to have to be a bid sacrifice? Shelvey? Lascelles?

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