NUFC Blog 2018/19 end of season awards – From star man to unsung hero

So, our 2018/19 season is over – and what a rollercoaster it’s been, with us recovering superbly after enduring our worst start to a league campaign since 1898.

We didn’t register our first victory until November, with a Ayoze Perez header giving us a much needed 1-0 win over Watford, but we secured safety with several weeks to spare thanks to some gritty away days and superb wins at St James’ Park over the second half of the season.

With that in mind, here’s a few of our end of season awards now the curtain has come down on another campaign following our 4-0 win at Fulham.

  1. Player of the season? – Salomon Rondon.
  2. Young player of the season? – Sean Longstaff
  3. Unsung hero? – Martin Dubravka.
  4. Most improved player? – Isaac Hayden
  5. Disappointment of the season? – Kenedy
  6. Favourite game of the season? – Newcastle 3-2 Everton
  7. Goal of the season? – Schar vs Burnley
  8. Signing of the season? – Almiron / Schar

1. Player of the season – Salomon Rondon

Watching the big Venezuelan lead the line each week has been an absolute joy. Forgetting his goals and assists for a second, we’ve learnt to appreciate what a capable, all-round striker he is. He’s a real handful, a huge physical presence, he battles for every ball, he runs himself into the ground, tracks back, holds the ball up well, links the play and brings the best out of his fellow attackers.

Then to his goals (12) and assists (8). When we signed him from West Brom I knew he had the potential to fit into Rafa’s system well, being a big, hard working striker who was surprisingly mobile and able to fit into a counter-attacking side, but his quality in front of goal has surpassed my expectations. He’s taken his big chances, scored several huge goals, been dominant in the air, a threat from free-kicks and emphatic more often than not when good balls have arrived into him in the box.

He would’ve been my signing of the season had he joined permanently, but the fact he’s heading back to West Brom this week makes his arrival on loan so frustrating.

2. Young player of the season – Sean Longstaff

A knee injury cut his season short, but his emergence onto the scene has been a breath of fresh air, with him not only playing like a local lad who’s giving it his all and living the dream, but an established Premier League player who’s been around for years.

He had a successful loan spell with Blackpool over the 2017/18 season and was known to be one of our brightest U-23 talents, however I don’t think many saw him hitting the ground running the way he did once Rafa gave him his big chance at first-team level.

3. Unsung hero – Martin Dubravka

If I was going for a contender for player of the season alongside Rondon then the likes of Schar, Hayden or Perez may have come closer than the Slovakian, however I believe he’s been a key and consistent figure who hasn’t always been given the credit he’s deserved.

It’s easy to forget after so many players upped their game in the new year, but, during our struggling start to the season, both he and Federico Fernandez were our two stand-out performers. He was making several keys saves per game, commanding his box and being quick off his line to cut out any danger.

He had a two-game blip in February, making errors in our late defeat at Spurs and a last second draw at Wolves, but that doesn’t define what has otherwise been another brilliant one for the big man.

He’s a calming influence from the back, a brilliant organiser and a very competent all round goalkeeper, with his £4m arrival looking more and more like on hell of a bargain.

4. Most improved player? – Isaac Hayden

The character and heart he’s shown in the face of adversity is one thing – with him being unsettled for family reasons for the entire season – but his performance level on the pitch has been outstanding since the turn of the year.

Not only has he become our top tackler, our midfield general and a player who’ll cover every blade of grass most weeks, he’s looked much more confident on the ball, spraying passes, carrying us forward and keeping things moving in the middle.

If this 2019 form is anything to go by, he’s a hugely talented midfielder who’s capable both on and off the ball – and that’s not something we expected to say about him just a few months ago.

5. Disappointment of the season – Kenedy

Muto’s lack of involvement has been frustrating after a £9.5m move and Shelvey has had a stinker, being either injured or rarely selected, but this one has to go to Kenedy.

He was brilliant for us from January onwards last season and so many of us were delighted to see him arrive on loan again over the summer as a result, but he’s been awful this time around.

The Brazilian has skill and flare, however his decisions making and final product has been woeful, with him losing possession on countless occasions, looking desperate and dejected at the best of times and out of Benitez’s plans for the entire second half of the season as a result. A part of me wonders if he failed to fully recover from his shocking performance at Cardiff on the second weekend of the season, with him missing a 90th minute penalty and taking plenty pelters as a result. Then again, I can’t help but feels his head has just not been in it during his second spell at St James’.

You win some you lose some – looks how influential fellow loanee Rondon has been – but to say we were lucky not to have paid big money to sign him permanently last summer is an understatement if his performances this season are anything to go by.

6. Favourite game of the season – Newcastle 3-2 Everton

It would’ve been easy to say the 2-1 win over Man City given we’re the only side this year to beat the Champions in the Premier League, but the 3-2 win over Everton had it all for me.

At one stage they were 2-0 up, Pickford had saved a penalty and given it the big one just moments after he should’ve seen red and it looked like a damaging home defeat to keep us just 3 points clear of the drop zone, but we turned it around incredibly in the final 25 minutes, with Everton folding like a pack of cards and Pickford being left to look an absolute plonker.

Rondon started the comeback after a brilliant give and go with Perez and Ayoze then scored twice in the final 10 minutes to give us a superb win, which not only created some epic scenes in the Gallowgate end but a 6 point gap between us and the bottom 3.

It’s also worth noting that Almiron caused havoc in this one and looked like an electric talent all afternoon – something that really added to the occasion in a game where we hoped to see some spark from our new £21m man.

7. Goal of the season – Schar vs Burnley

It was a game where Burnley were planning to frustrate us in a bid to come away with a scrappy draw, but this moment of magic eased any early nerves and sent us on to a comfortable 2-0 win.

Schar’s solo run and finish in the 3-0 win over Cardiff was brilliant, as was Ritchie (late volley) and Rondon’s (free kick) goals in the 2-2 draw at Bournemouth, but Fabian’s 30-yard thunderbolt wins it for me.

8. Signing of the season – Schar /Almiron

I’m stuck between the two. I know the whole point of these ‘awards’ is that you come up with a overall winner, but both looks to be superb signings for the club.

Schar looks an incredible piece of business at £3.5m, with Rafa finding his release clause after he was relegated with Deportivo last summer. After all, defenders like him who can do the dirty stuff at the back, spray 60-yard passes up the pitch, step out of defence superbly and score from 30-yards normally cost over 10 times that price in this day and age. Without him this season we may have coped, with Lejeune, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett and Clark giving us several centre-back options, but he’s given us another dimension, with his ball playing ability allowing our change in formation (to 3 at the back) to work so well.

Then to Almiron. He’s yet to score and I’m certain that the best is yet to come as far as he’s concerned, but it took him no time to transform our attack to give us the boost we needed to secure survival at the business end of the season. His pace, movement, energy and enthusiasm (at both ends of the pitch!) has been an absolute joy to watch.

Based on contributions this season the award would have to go to Schar, but I’m already supremely confident that he’ll become a stellar signing for the club from what I’ve seen so far.

Let us know your thoughts folks! Who would you have given the above awards to and why?

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

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

91 thoughts on “NUFC Blog 2018/19 end of season awards – From star man to unsung hero

  1. Nice article mate.

    Schar would be my signing of the season.

    Unsung hero – Ritchie for me mate. The way he has adapted to LWB and put in consistently good performances. It’s that formation that has been the success for us and it wouldn’t have worked as well without him – so he deserves a mention.

    Most improved – Hayden or Perez. Almiron seemed to shake Perez into playing to his potential I think, coz he’s been a different player in the 2nd half of the season – arguably our best player in 2019.

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  2. Agree with most of these selections – I’d have to go for Perez as unsung though. Dubravka has been quite rightly praised regularly, definitely one of the better keepers in the league. Two games he got some totally uncalled for abuse, everyone makes mistakes (and honestly I still don’t think vs Wolves it was a mistake, poor reffing and poor team effort for that one in general). He had a super season. Perez though has had far more critics, as he has had every season, and he has had some real inconsistent performances, but literally every single one of our players has had those. Fact is he is our top scorer again when we don’t even seem to know what position to put him in, he strikes up a decent understanding with anyone we put around him and when he plays well, we play well. Scores important goals too, he got us off to our first win of the season and now that we have a bit more width and creativity in the team he’s been able to show what a fox in the box he can be. Who knows what will happen with the manager and with Rondon, but I think he will be important for us once again (because seriously, if we make signings on the level of Joselu then he will need to score most of our goals once again).

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  3. Sharpy17:
    Nice article mate.

    Schar would be my signing of the season.

    Unsung hero – Ritchie for me mate.The way he has adapted to LWB and put in consistently good performances.It’s that formation that has been the success for us and it wouldn’t have worked as well without him – so he deserves a mention.

    Most improved – Hayden or Perez.Almiron seemed to shake Perez into playing to his potential I think, coz he’s been a different player in the 2nd half of the season – arguably our best player in 2019.

    Thanks mate.

    I agree re. Ritchie – he’s a great shout. I mainly went for Dubravka based on the fact he’s been a mainstay this season, got 11 clean sheets, was brilliant over first half of season and hasn’t really been praised enough in 2019 because of those two mistakes.

    Perez a very fair mention for most improved too. His form since the turn of the year has been on another level. Hayden’s turnaround even more surprising for me though, especially when Perez was our top scorer on 10 last season & the fact Hayden had family issues to contend with.

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  4. Newkie:
    Agree with most of these selections – I’d have to go for Perez as unsung though. Dubravka has been quite rightly praised regularly, definitely one of the better keepers in the league.Two games he got some totally uncalled for abuse, everyone makes mistakes (and honestly I still don’t think vs Wolves it was a mistake, poor reffing and poor team effort for that one in general). He had a super season. Perez though has had far more critics, as he has had every season, and he has had some real inconsistent performances, but literally every single one of our players has had those. Fact is he is our top scorer again when we don’t even seem to know what position to put him in, he strikes up a decent understanding with anyone we put around him and when he plays well, we play well. Scores important goals too, he got us off to our first win of the season and now that we have a bit more width and creativity in the team he’s been able to show what a fox in the box he can be. Who knows what will happen with the manager and with Rondon, but I think he will be important for us once again (because seriously, if we make signings on the level of Joselu then he will need to score most of our goals once again).

    That’s very true re. Perez’s critics. He’s been praised in 2019 but the fact he’s gone from scape-goat to top goalscorer says everything about his turnaround.

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  5. Since Ritchie moved to wing back he’s been fantastic. Really good. Rondon for me is the best signing. Where would we have been without him?

    I see WBA aren’t taking Gayle. So we take him back after giving him a new contract and a wage rise last summer to persuade him to go to WBA so we could loan Rondon instead of buying him. Unbelievable!

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  6. Good read Olly,
    my player of the season is Dubravka, he’s been class and saved us many times.
    Signing of the season isn’t actually a signing for me but break through player in young Sean who was a bloomin revelation alongside Hayden and with the signing of Miggy set us off on a good run of form but more importantly a better attacking threat.
    Game of the season v man city , that win felt amazing .
    Agree on the goal of the season, i really like Schar, just hope a few less yellows next season though .

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  7. Eric shouldn’t enjoy it, Kim. If we live in a society where politicians can have milkshake thrown over them with people openly enjoying it and in some cases condoning it we are
    Fucked!

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  8. I don’t agree with the milkshake. There is a history over here of people being shot when others don’t agree with their politics – Kennedys MLK.

    I have no idea what is happening with UK politics now. It seems a total mess. I do know that when there is a large protest vote you can end up with Trump,

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  9. Stu, it’s funny as &%*£ mate, blokes a horrible get, i’d of thrown worse given half the chance.

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  10. KIMTOON:
    Stu, it’s funny as &%*£ mate, blokes a horrible get, i’d of thrown worse given half the chance.

    So when you say something in Asda that someone doesn’t agree with, will you be ok if they throw milkshake over you?

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  11. Chronic have run out of ideas so they are interviewing themselves. I am surprised that they didn’t bill this as an exclusive. Waugh interviews Ryder at The Strawberry FFS.

    Some would classify this as a rehash of what they have repeated a thousand times. But there isn’t any news and they have no insight and no contacts. Better call Nobby Solano in Peru and see what he thinks!!!

    https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/rafa-benitez-newcastle-contract-future-16302350

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  12. Or maybe get an exclusive from Mick “the Legend” Quinn. Master of stating the obvious and interjecting a story about his own playing days. If Rafa leaves there will be hell on and it reminds me of the time I was at Bolton and the Chairman said to me……

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  13. Stuart79
    May 20, 2019 at 17:05
    KIMTOON:
    Stu, it’s funny as &%*£ mate, blokes a horrible get, i’d of thrown worse given half the chance.

    So when you say something in Asda that someone doesn’t agree with, will you be ok if they throw milkshake over you?

    Yeah, food fight, great idea .
    Seriously, he puts himself out there in the spot light, stuff like this happens, Ask John Prescott and Ed Miliband who got egged. Were you as outraged when they got hit .

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  14. Why would Salomon Rondon be make or break in any Rafa contract negotiations? He is almost 30 and scored 11 goals. Glenn Murray got 13 goals this year and 12 last year. There are also other clubs interested who will offer him a longer and more lucrative deal with the downside being he probably would not be first choice but would get plenty of playing time.

    He would probably mess up the NUFC pay structure given the other clubs that are interested and that his agent could point to players on their books getting paid a lot more than Rondon is now. Whatever we think of the Fatman, he is right not to want an internal wages war where players get jealous of others and make excessive demand. Look at Man U and Sanchez.

    This will be Rondon’s last contract so he is likely to want all he can get. Can you really see Ashley getting into a bidding war about wages for a 30 year old. Rafa is right question our wage structure but he is ultra naïve if he want to pick this fight with Ashley over Rondon. I really feel this is a player he will not budge on.

    We probably need to be realistic and start paying more the going rate, but Rondon is not the player to break the bank on. There are alternatives.

    He had a good season but he is still just a 10 goal a year striker. Or that is what he has been in 4 years in the premier league.

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  15. Rondon wasn’t even Rafa’s first choice. Wasn’t that Plea but we wouldn’t pay the extra few million? Stupid on the part of Ashley and Charnley but they were still of the mindset that they wanted to get NUFCs fiscal house in order and that Rafa would find a way to keep us up regardless.

    I think now, with the other clubs that are interested, that Rondon is the wrong player to go to war on.

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  16. I also thought Shelvey had an excellent game last week. He showed he is still capable and his speed of thought for a pass is up there with the best in the PL. I also think that he laid the ball off a bit more, probably because he thought the other players could do something with it whereas he saw Diame strictly as a destroyer.

    I still think Rafa, if he stays, will sell Jonjo.

    Mainly because he has the bases covered with other players. Schar, Lejeune and Longstaff to start with. But also now with Ritchie as a left wing back who is also much more able to pick a pass than out on the right wing protecting Yedlin. Finally, Almiron has not shown all his ability yet. When I watched him in MLS he was a master at playing the through ball and they just haven’t quite come off for NUFC yet, but they will.

    The last thing about Jonjo are his stats. For a player of his ability he should be scoring and assisting much more than he is. After a while, you start to think that that will not change. He is 27 now, so it is no longer about potential, it is about delivering and part of that is stats driven.

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  17. I am sure that this has been pointed out in the UK but from far off I find it ironic that the party that championed Brexit in the first place will probably implode at these elections BECAUSE of Brexit. And even more so that the man who sowed the seeds of this mess for personal gain, Flouncy Boris, will put himself forth as their savior.

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  18. Ice: it is because there is a vacuum of information and even speculation at NUFC that will not change until Rafa is sorted one way or the other. I made a few points about Shelvey and Rondon but I am a bit stuck for what to say as well because it all depends on Rafa. The Farage incident took place in Newcastle and the election is a few days away so is news. When I lived in England I am not sure if I even knew there was a Euro election going on it got so little coverage.

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  19. Ice: it is also the internet, social media and the 24 hour news cycle. I don’t think I am as old as you but it is all in your face all of the time now. It was different when you had 4 channels and actually had to buy a paper to get information.

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  20. Eric Sykes:
    Ice: it is also the internet, social media and the 24 hour news cycle. I don’t think I am as old as you but it is all in your face all of the time now. It was different when you had 4 channels and actually had to buy a paper to get information.

    So true on all points. mate

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  21. So, Gayle has returned because West Brom couldn’t afford him. NUFC.com are saying he is on 55k a week and that is after he demanded an increase to move to West Brom. I don’t think that would be a problem for Fulham or Leeds if we want to sell.

    But Rafa didn’t want to let him go in the first place. It was the only way he could get Rondon to NUFC and remember it was coming down to wire to get that deal done and was essentially Rondon or Bust. Our only other centre forward was Joselu FFS so Rafa’s hand was well and truly forced.

    I would be happy to keep Dwight and wouldn’t sell for less than 15 million.

    55k a week sounds like a lot but that is probably average for all players outside the top 6. High for us at the moment but Rafa is arguing with Ashley that we cannot compete partly because we pay like a bottom 3 team. I think that we were 4th bottom in pay last year.

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  22. Lets get Rafa signed up first, then worry about who comes or goes. He’s our most important signing, without him it will turn to **** pretty quickly, on and off the pitch .

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  23. KIMTOON:
    Stuart79
    May 20, 2019 at 17:05
    KIMTOON:
    Stu, it’s funny as &%*£ mate, blokes a horrible get, i’d of thrown worse given half the chance.

    So when you say something in Asda that someone doesn’t agree with, will you be ok if they throw milkshake over you?

    Yeah, food fight, great idea .
    Seriously, he puts himself out there in the spot light, stuff like this happens, Ask John Prescott and Ed Miliband who got egged.Were you as outraged when they got hit .

    I don’t remember Milliband getting egged but remember Prescott. Thought it was ridiculous and actually thought the guy got what he deserved when he got a punch.

    The wider point is, Kim, if you’re happy that our politicians are now fair game for having things thrown at them then what does that say about our society? Or is it only ok to throw things at people you don’t agree with?

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  24. Stu, Miliband was egged in 2013.
    Stu, i think the milk throwing has been totally blown out of proportion to be honest, it won’t lead to more extreme acts because that would elicit sympathy for the person on the receiving end of it, and rightly so. It was done to cause embarrassment that’s all .
    I don’t think it’s a sign that society is going to **** or anything like that, folk been pelting politicians they dislike with eggs, flour and stuff for years ,it’s nothing new. Prescotts egging was way back in 2001 i think, way before Brexit .

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  25. I personally wouldn’t throw anything at someone i disliked, it’s just not who i am. It did make me laugh though cause he was proper steaming and reacted exactly how the perpetrator would of wanted, should of laughed it off like Ed did.
    Years ago I had a drink thrown over me by a boyfriends jealous ex , my reaction was to laugh in her face, she was removed by club security and i carried on partying .

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  26. Kim, it’s not actually about what happened in the past. It’s about the media and liberal elite basking in the glory of what happened. Making light of it and also celebrating it. That’s normalising it and condoning it. Today there would be blanket condemnation if it happened to a mainstream party – especially Lab, LD or Change UK. They were frothing at the mouth when Corbyn got egged a couple of months ago. Just to prove the whole hypocrisy- Corbyn’s egger got 28 days in prison. What did the guy who threw milkshake at Tommy Robinson get? A lift to the train station… He might be a tool but surely people should be treated the same?

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  27. Tommy Robinson
    Less said the better by me on that one.
    For the record i can’t stand Corbyn and will not be voting for Labour while he is leader. It’s not double standards from me.
    I always thought that the bbc, sky et al hated all things Labour and always favor the right .

    Regarding Brexit , we just need to go now, get it over and done with, i’m sick of it .

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  28. I suspect the reason it’s taking so long with Rafa is because he’s been given the terms by Jabba and he has to go away and thing about whether he can accept them. If that’s the case it’s not wholly positive but not totally negative either. If it was so bad he’d have said no already.

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  29. I wish some of these reporters would think logically. West Brom say they cannot afford Gayle and one of the reasons is his wages of 55k, but I would suggest that the fee of around 15 million is more the stumbling block and there is no way that NUFC would loan him again because that was only done to facilitate the Rondon deal.

    So, if a club like Fulham can afford the fee why would they baulk at his wages? The difference between 35k and 55k a week is 1 million a year. Why would that be a deal breaker if you think he is the final piece to get you promoted when the estimated windfall for that is 170 million?

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  30. Rafa will be going over that contract offer again and again to make sure that what was agreed verbally is in there watertight. Today or Friday makes no difference to him. He’ll sign.

    Stuart – they’re basking in the glory of seeing a total tosser getting done like that.

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  31. And Perez is talking up his partnership with Rondon. Sounds like his Agent was angling for more money rather than a move with the reports that Ayoze wants to move to Spain to further his international career. Always sounded like shyte anyway as we know that at best Ayoze would be picked 22 or 23 in a 23 man squad. Certainly never a starter and I think they know it.

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  32. In the past, it was always Ashley’s policy to reward players who had had a good season with an improved contract to ward off other teams wanting them on the cheap. I would say for last season that means – Longstaff, Perez, Hayden, Schar and Ritchie. They already improved Lascelles’ deal last year.

    If we can tie these players down along with the likes of Dubravka, Dummett and Almiron we have a decent base to work on. 50 million is not enough though, so Rafa may be forced to sell Shelvey, Gayle and Yedlin and maybe Atsu.

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  33. Where is Troy Stavers when you need him? Should get him to send e-mails to Rafa and Ashley – “tick, tock. Woo hoo, I am waiting for an answer. Tick, tock”.

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  34. Not really a Brexit comment, more of an observation. If ever someone’s face fit their personality it is Nigel Ferage. He just looks like a tw@t.

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  35. How does anything ever get done at NUFC? It seems everything is last minute and drags on. No wonder we miss out on transfer targets.

    They have had 3 years to decide on their positions and decide what is most important. We know they are both stubborn fckers so they should also know that there would be compromises that would have to be made.

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  36. There’s a music festival coming up this weekend in Newcastle and advertised on the NUFC.com website. It is called “This is Tomorrow” and some headliners are Noel Gallagher, Stereophonics and Jonny Marr. Surely it should be called “This is Yesterday”?

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  37. Since there is nothing going on I will rant. Well over half Premier League teams play a form of the high press now. Even Fulham were doing it against us. We overcame it with fast breaks which is how you defeat it. But a lot of teams do strategic fouls when they lose the ball. Especially Man City. This is cheating and just as worthy of a yellow card as a player pulling a player back or deliberately tripping a player. These fouls are just as deliberate but the players have gotten very good at disguising them as just a normal part of the game. They are not. They are cheating and deliberately designed to stop quick counter attacks. The Refs should be told to stamp this out and give yellow cards even for 1st offences because the really smart managers share these fouls amongst their players to pull the wool over the Ref’s eyes. They have these Ref’s meetings where they discuss God knows what, but they should be talking about this.

    I doubt it would make that much difference. I have seen Pep’s teams accused of this but it is not just him now, it is all the high press teams. Of course Pep denies that this is a deliberate tactic but he is lying. They have enough advantages already without being allowed to cheat by naïve and stupid referees.

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  38. City are the masters of this disguised deliberate foul but others do it. I love James Milner but he is a master of this now as he is a very clever player. Same with Henderson. They have enough advantages without the Refs ignoring this deliberate tactic from teams who have all of their players camped in your half with the knowledge that if they do give the ball away they will just foul the player, get their defenders back in their own half, and there will be no consequences from the Refs.

    You could say that it doesn’t matter because Liverpool and Man City blow teams away anyway. Not always true! In the run in there were quite a few close games for both sides. They get enough help with deliberate dives not being yellow carded and every 50-50 decision going their way so please FA/PL inform these stupid Refs what is going on here. They are to stupid to work it out for themselves.

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  39. Olly: If Rafa stays, my gut feeling is that we have to offer Rondon 3 years at 90k a week. He will probably get better offers from West Ham and Wolves but he knows he is Rafa’s first choice. My guess, just from looking at where things stand for upper mid-table teams with money, is that he could get 120k for 4 years. I boils down to what is important to him – playing football every week or padding his bank account which will be full either way.

    And there is always China when he is 33.

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  40. The gegen/high press deliberate fouling is not 3-D chess. It is checkers or tic-tac-toe (noughts and crosses) but the Refs are too stupid to see it. And it leads to boring games.

    A team camped out in the other team’s half passing it amongst themselves with a few touches of brilliance breaking the monotony of the metronome. May as well go and watch that boring freestyle football with all the tricks that are ultimately boring after you have seen them a few times. Or rhythmic gymnastics because those girls are amazing with what they can do with a ball!

    Allowing teams to strategically foul is ruining the game.

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  41. There’s a reason that Liverpool and Man City are winning almost all of their games and it is not just because of money and that they have the best players. The points totals prove they are gaming the system. Pep and Jurgen have figured out that when you play in the other team’s half even if you give the ball away the Refs won’t punish you properly for fouling so there is no downside to doing it.

    Other teams are trying to follow their lead but are out-resourced by Man City and Liverpool. Pep is a genius, but he is being helped by the Refs.

    The worst thing that can happen is Man City winning the Champions League because then we are doomed not to watch football matches but that freestyle football rubbish that holds your interest for about 10 seconds. Like watching a juggler – interesting for a while and you admire the skill. But you wouldn’t go to watch the juggler every week! Perhaps that’s why City fans are not that enthusiastic about winning everything. OR MAYBE THEY ARE JUST C@NTS?

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  42. No it’s not 🙂

    I have been trying to think of a metaphor for the metronomic Man City games and why they are unfulfilling sometimes. Freestyle football and rhythmic gymnastics is close. Maybe synchronized swimming? Nah.

    Better is 90 minutes of keepy uppy with every 10 minutes smashing a volley towards goal and 3 or 4 going in. After a while that would be boring, no matter what skills were required to do the keepy uppy and to score.

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  43. You know when you see the training sessions when you see the players in circles keeping the ball up and passing it around? That’s what a Man City game is getting to be like. They have no one to challenge them in this little game because the Refs won’t let the other team get the ball, or at least allow City to foul them if they do get the ball.

    It takes helluva lot of individual brilliance to make up for the monotony of the rest of it for 90 minutes. Every game becomes a training session!

    Only team to take points off Man City in the League in 2019 – NUFC.

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  44. Maybe I will write an article:

    The Death of Real Football.

    Doing it the New Pep Way:

    A merger of Keepy Uppy, Synchronized Swimming, Freestyle Football, Rhythmic Gymnastics and Strategic Fouling.

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  45. Man Utd bidding for Longstaff this week. What would it take to sell him? We can’t afford to sell him As I don’t think we’d have midfielders left if as expected Shelvey, Diame and Hayden go.

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  46. Stuart79:
    Man Utd bidding for Longstaff this week. What would it take to sell him? We can’t afford to sell him As I don’t think we’d have midfielders left if as expected Shelvey, Diame and Hayden go.

    Using their financial clout to disrupt us as they know we will take their 6th place title away from them next year with Rafa : )

    OGS/GBC – (Gone By Christmas) will fck it up and Longstaff would be mad to get himself into that mess.

    EAWCFTN- Even A Worse Cluster Fck Than Newcastle

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  47. I don’t see Hayden leaving unless Rafa leaves. I see him doubling his wages and growing a pair of balls – off the pitch!

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  48. Eric Given your list of Dubravka, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden, Longstaff, Almiron, and Perez staying You think we only need Rondon and Yedlins positions sorting + some better squad players. If so thats not £50m

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  49. Prem: they will extend some of the contracts. Then in Charnley/Ashley maths that will mean there is less to spend up front for other players.

    Let’s say Longstaff gets a pay-raise of 1 million a year on a 5 year deal. That means there will be 5 million less to spend up front this year – in the Charnley/Ashley maths.

    I think that is part of what Rafa is trying to talk to them about. You only lose in this game if you are relegated and you will not be relegated this time if Rafa gets the full year and doesn’t have to pick up the pieces of Scheve McClaren who has been shown to be useless in all of his subsequent jobs.?

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  50. I would sign Mata if we could. He might be like Beardsley to Keegan for Rafa.

    But only AFTER tying Longstaff, Schar, Dubravka, Lejeune, Hayden, Perez, Ritchie and Dummett to long term deals.

    You don’t want to get into a situation where Agents are using Mata’s salary as leverage for more money like they have with Ozil at Arse and Sanchez at Man U.

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  51. Eric you are right with the Maths, however, the existing contracts offset that to a degree. If a player is on say £40k pw for two years and signs a eal at £60k pw for 5 years then that is a new £15.6m contract offset by the old £4m contract costing £11.6m As you say a few of them eats up £50m quite quickly.

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  52. We all know Ashley likes a bargain. Would he see Mata as a bargain or someone who would break the wage structure? He is only 31 so you could make a case that a 2 year deal at 100k a week would be somewhat of a bargain. That is 10 million and his Dad/Agent would want a fee, let’s say 3 million.

    As a package that doesn’t seem outrageous, especially as any similar player would want wages of 60k and up. The difference would be they may have some sell-on value whereas at Mata’s age he wouldn’t.

    I think the key is not getting into a Sanchez situation where other players use a wage that was structured based on a low transfer fee as a benchmark for their own wages.

    I saw Mata interviewed at his flat in London when he was at Chelsea and he came across as very likable and speaks great English.

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  53. It is hard to decide where Mata fits in a PL team because he is doesn’t seem to have the physical skills but he does have the ball skills. I think he was Chelsea’s player of the year at least once. Then Mourinho sold him, I think for 44 million. He had to fit in a Van Gaal team and I had no idea what the Dutchman was doing – passing sideways? Although he did win an FA Cup. Then Mourinho is back as his Manager and it didn’t seem like he knew what to do with Mata.

    He is a very talented player, so if Rafa has a plan for how to use him I would definitely give it a go. I doubt there will be much tracking back so that would be kissing goodbye to Yedlin. I know Kimtoon would be sad to see him go 🙂

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  54. Messi is also 31. If we could get him on a free would we take him 🙂

    Older players are difficult to figure out. As I said before, Beardsley was a masterstroke but we also signed Sol Cambell and Kluivert who didn’t work out so well. Going back further, Ian Rush and John Barnes. Mata doesn’t rely on pace though so that makes him different.

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  55. I know they are totally different types of player but if you are going to sign an older player Mata makes more sense than Rondon. A 2 year deal including an Agent fee would probably only cost about as much as Rondon’s buyout clause of 16.5 million. Then you would probably have to pay Rondon 100k a week on top of that AND give him at least a 3 year deal.

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  56. So this Harry Wilson has 18 goals and 6 assists. A good return in The Championship – responsible for 24 goals in total. I wonder if I can think of somebody on NUFC’s books who actually scored 24 goals in The Championship last year? Give me a minute I have to look up West Brom on Wikipedia.

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  57. The Chronic say we should have an answer by Friday. Louise (Mackem) Taylor in the Guardian says it might drag on until next week. Others say Rafa and Ashley are stuck on age limitations.

    They are all just guessing. They know no more than us. Nobody is leaking so it is all just to keep their copy quota up. They are all saying there is remote dialogue. Who is telling them that? Again it is just guessing. They say Rafa and Ashley will meet again to finalize everything if there is a deal. Again, where do they get this from? Making it up as they go along to make it appear that they know something and justify their job.

    Does anybody have any direct quotes from anybody? They don’t even say they heard what they are saying “off the record” from an NUFC insider.

    No, they are just making sh!t up.

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  58. How do you value Longstaff? I have no idea.

    Last week the papers were saying Jadon Sancho was worth 80 million. This week it is 100 million. Nothing happened between then and now. No big bids for other players and no transfers.

    Declan Rice 50 million after 1 season?

    Zaha 80 million?

    Pogba went to Man U for 90 million and the papers are saying they would want 130 million. Where does that come from?

    Again, how do you value a player who has only 9 PL games? He would be mad to go to Man U, the most dysfunctional club in the world at the moment who have appointed a failed Cardiff manager, are talking about Directors of Football with no experience and their main qualification is they once played for Man U and talk shyte on the telly now.

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  59. You know these exit value clauses that you see in Spain and Portugal. Why do we never see that in England? Is there some legal ban on them in England? Sean Longstaff just signed a new contract but given the interest there seems to be in him (unless it is completely made up, which is entirely possible) why not rewrite his deal again and put in a 50 million exit clause just to shut the journos up?

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  60. I have figured out a way to pay Juan Mata without busting open our salary structure. He’s a free agent so you pay him a big bonus up front and then have him basically match Shelvey’s weekly wage after that. Everyone will know what happened but all Charnley would have to say is that the existing players are not free agents and the rules are different for free agents. Same with players we BUY in the transfer window they get a regular salary just like the rest of them.

    We will probably have to break the salary threshold anyway since we are currently 2nd bottom with Cardiff and Huddersfield having been relegated – they had a lower average salary than us.

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  61. Because I want to post something from the Mail that NUFC fans should read for when the Mackem get uppity.

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