Newcastle 1-0 West Ham: Muto stars & several impress in much improved display

A promising start to Steve Bruce’s reign at Newcastle United, as Yoshinori Muto’s goal helped us come out on top in our 3rd/4th place play-off game against West Ham today.

Bruce wasn’t in the dugout for this one, with him yet to gain a working visa in China, however he’s believed to have picked the team – and they started very brightly and controlled the game throughout.

You could immediately tell the team were much more focused and ‘up for it’ in this one. You’d expect that, with many being keen to impress new ‘head coach’ Steve Bruce – who watched from the stands with Agnew and Clemence – but it was good to see after what was a dreadful display in the 4-0 defeat to Wolves just a few days ago.

Sorensen missed a golden opportunity early on after a world class pass from Jonjo Shelvey set Isaac Hayden away down the right. It was a bad miss from the Dane and one to forget for him, but he didn’t look out of place, with him looking a handful and a willing runner who comes alive in the box.

All that was missing from our first-half dominance was a goal, but that arrived 33 minutes in, with Yoshinori Muto prodding home well after Jamie Sterry whipped in an inch perfect cross from the right.

It was a tidy finish and a goal that he thoroughly deserved after a bright first-half display from the Japanese forward.

He was very impressive and looked a totally different player to the one we saw struggle against Wolves on Wednesday.

His movement was excellent and his touch looked much sharper, with him linking up nicely and stretching the West Ham defence. He played in more of a ‘Perez role’ and had a striker partner in Sorensen, giving him something to work with and leaving him far less isolated.

Shelvey also looked much sharper in that deep-lying central midfield role, playing several cutting passes and pulling the strings all game, while Sterry also played his part, seeing a lot of the ball down the right and whipping in several dangerous crosses.

Hayden seemed to play a little higher up the pitch than we’ve been used to seeing him, with him making some decent runs forward and putting in a good shift.

Colback actually broke things up well at times and did the simple stuff pretty well, but he’s very limited, both offensively and defensively, and tends to give away too many needless free-kicks.

Ritchie was more like his usual self after reverting back to a left wing-back role and Schar gave us that extra bit of quality and composure from the back.

Lascelles and Clark were solid, although the latter was VERY lucky to escape a red card after a wild and reckless challenge that could have quite easily broken Yarmalenko’s leg!

Federico Fernández, Manquillo, Murphy and Ki replaced Clark, Sterry, Sørensen and Hayden in the second half – which proved to be fairly uneventful from a NUFC perspective, but there were still plenty positives to take.

Murphy showed a real burst of pace on more than one occasion, ghosting past Ogbonna with ease on several occasions – although his cut-backs just evaded those in black and white shirts on both occasions. That said, he looked bright and was at the heart of all our attacks in the second half.

Sean Longstaff came on for the final 30 minutes, with him gaining his first minutes of pre-season and first return to football since he suffered that season-ending knee injury against West Ham in March. He got about the pitch well and had a goal disallowed after some great counter-attacking play from Murphy, Muto and Shelvey, although he was offside as he prodded home from six yards.

With just under 15 minutes left, Matty Longstaff, Lazaar and Aarons came on for Shelvey, Muto and Colback – a substitution that saw the two Longstaff brothers playing alongside each other in the senior side for the vert first time.

We had another goal narrowly disallowed late on, with Lazzar slipping in Matty Longstaff with a lovely first time pass on the volley, however a cut-back lashed home by Aarons was all in vein after the Moroccan was adjudged to have been offside.

Aarons then went on a brilliant run on the counter attack moments later, using his pace to skip past a few West Ham defenders – although his final effort was poor, with him scuffing a weak shot wide.

West Ham put on a bit of pressure late on, but we defended well and fully deserved the victory.

New signings are badly needed, but there were several positives to take from this one, with it being a welcome win in a summer that’s been filled with bad news and bad decisions up until this point.

(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.

166 thoughts on “Newcastle 1-0 West Ham: Muto stars & several impress in much improved display

  1. Kimtoon: you never believed the takeover story from the start. You are on here most weeks so you must know that I am not an Ashley supporter and I have really never said much negative about Rafa until he took the Chinese lucre.

    I don’t think that this takeover was nonsense though. I think that there was some interest but BZG didn’t want to fund it with their own money and wanted other investors. The same as the 2 before – Kenyon and Stavely.

    I am sure Fatman moved the goalposts as well. I don’t think the BS was all on one side. I think it took two to tango. Or not to tango, as it seems to have turned out.

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  2. On the boycott. The first thing I will say is that BOYCOTTS DON”T WORK. They never force out a dictator owner. They create a negative atmosphere that sometimes results in a death spiral like at Blackburn. Some fools seem to want that, but would you really want the value of our whole club to be what we are just about to spend on Joelinton. That’s what the Mackems are valued at now after some financial shenanigans.

    I know there wasn’t an official boycott in their case but they stayed away in droves anyway and closed off the top tier so it was a boycott in all but name.

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  3. Eric, yep i never believed it but many did and really the club should of said if it was a non starter. To let it go on and on as it has was needless given it’s not and was likely never happening. Point is though that it suited them to let it run and run for reasons i stated in my previous post.
    Next window there will likely be another ” attempted ” purchase and the whole circus will start again no doubt. It’s tiresome and cruel to watch fans get their hopes up, they still haven’t addressed where this supposed takeover is now even. Reason being is it never was and they know it, now the wider fan base know it too, hence talk of boycotts and ST sales being lower than before.
    Sooner or later fans will wake up, hopefully that’s now. I will never pour water on any form of action as at least fans are trying to get him to sell up.
    I know you are not an Ash apologist, i never said you were, but you are quick to jump on any attempt by fans to oust him and i don’t get why that’s all.
    As for Rafa and the China move, good luck to him i say, 3 seasons of being mucked about by Jabba, i reckon he’s earned it.

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  4. From the pictures Joelinton is taller than 6 foot 1. Bruce is 6 foot and Joelinton is at least 2 inches taller, closer to 3.

    I know people shrink as they get older but Bruce is only 58.

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  5. Kimtoon: I am against boycotts because they never work to oust a bad owner. What sometimes works is that the boycott creates a toxic atmosphere to send a club FURTHER into a death spiral and then the owners leave. The fans get the worst of all worlds with a sh!t playing squad in the 3rd division.

    But they can rejoice that a new bunch of chancers even worse that the original lot will now rip them off.

    That’s why I am against boycotts, because I have seen it so many times before.

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  6. I would not say it was a boycott Eric , more a case of their fans not going to watch them get beat every other week.
    Their average attendance 2016/17 Premiership 41,287.
    2017/18 average attendance in championship 27,653.
    2018/19 average attendance in league one 32,157.
    The attendance went up last season because they were winning.
    NUFC fans might not be renewing season tickets but if we are playing well and winning games , especially home games , then the ground will be full.

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  7. If the Joelinton figures are true we just absolutely smashed our transfer record in addition to the Almiron deal in January. But I am afraid to even mention that as the social media keyboard warriors would slaughter me for it.

    Not you Kimtoon, I don’t think of you in that way and think we can disagree without getting mad at each other.

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  8. but I have been reading some of the bullies, boors and bores on social media and even spent a few days on Ed’s getting berated by them. With the boycott crowd you are either with them or against them. They pretend otherwise, but their words speak to truth. Mainly self absorbed, self important whining little b!tches. On Eds, The Mag, The Chronic comments and on twitter.

    Does that sound bitter? Have a read of what they say. I dare you. You will be depressed for the rest of the day that people can be such tw@ts to each other.

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  9. Eric, i read the other day that we actually paid £16m for Miggy, it will rise to the reported £21m after a certain amount of appearances , wonder if it’s the same with Joelinton.

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  10. Well, I think in terms of players we are not behind last year now. I would say Gayle is as good as Perez. Judging by the fee Joelinton is probably as good as Rondon.

    We did well in the 2nd half of last season and that was not all down to Rafa. Some players like Schar had settled in. Dummett and Lejuene were back. Hayden and Longstaff broke through. Ritchie was switched to the left and Almiron arrived.

    IT WAS NOT ALL RAFA.

    I am hopeful as long as the boycotters don’t fck it up.

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  11. I’m not bothered how much we spent on either personally – they are quality players – and that’s all that matters.

    This is a big signing and on a 6yr deal.

    We need another 4/5 ideally before the window closes, but this is a good start – and hopefully encourage others.

    Other news – Hayden staying is also great news and I think it’s very doubtful that Longstaff, Dubravka or Schar leaves now either.

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  12. Finally managed to sign Joelinton then. Brucie bonus did a good job of waxing lyrical about him. Must have spoken to Charnley about his skills…

    We need a winger, a left back and another striker as a mimimum now. We’ve only needed a left back for the past 8 years so who knows…

    As for Hayden I am glad he’s staying. He was on the driving range this afternoon next to me and he looked pretty relaxed. Not bad drive on him too!

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  13. Stuart79:
    Finally managed to sign Joelinton then. Brucie bonus did a good job of waxing lyrical about him. Must have spoken to Charnley about his skills…

    We need a winger, a left back and another striker as a mimimum now. We’ve only needed a left back for the past 8 years so who knows…

    As for Hayden I am glad he’s staying. He was on the driving range this afternoon next to me and he looked pretty relaxed. Not bad drive on him too!

    Stu – I hope you didn’t tell him to boycott the arsenal game ?

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  14. I like the link with Jarrod Bowen as well.

    Could see if we can swap him with Atsu or Murphy – but £10m is a great fee anyway if not.

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  15. If … and I know it’s a big if, but if we could add Bowen, Phillip Max and Sidibé to Joelinton – that would be a very good transfer window imo.
    Particularly if we keep Hayden, Longstaff, Schar and Dubravka.

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  16. Eric Sykes:
    Well, I think in terms of players we are not behind last year now. I would say Gayle is as good as Perez. Judging by the fee Joelinton is probably as good as Rondon.

    We did well in the 2nd half of last season and that was not all down to Rafa. Some players like Schar had settled in. Dummett and Lejuene were back. Hayden and Longstaff broke through. Ritchie was switched to the left and Almiron arrived.

    IT WAS NOT ALL RAFA.

    I am hopeful as long as the boycotters don’t fck it up.

    Eric – Longstaff and Hayden didn’t break throughout – Rafa had no choice but to play them coz of injuries, Ki was away on international duties – so we were left no choice.
    Longstaff was nearly sent on loan and Hayden would have stayed in the reserves otherwise

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  17. Just shows the press know nowt,they said the hold up with deal was because player only wanted a 3yr deal club wanted 4yr,crap he’s signed for 6

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  18. Sharpy: I said Hayden and Longstaff broke through, I didn’t say it was a Rafa masterplan. I had said earlier in this thread that he had lucked into it. Some of our improvement in the second half of the season was luck, like that, and some of it good Management and tactics by Rafa.

    I don’t expect you to have read everything I have said on here. I did go on a bit of a rant 🙂

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  19. Kimtoon: I have lost my subject matter though. Pards and Ugly John are out of football and I never really watch MLS as it is a bit crap, so Rooney has gone as well. And they took off Bein Sports over here so I don’t even have Keys and Gray anymore.

    Have to make do with questioning the boycott crowd.

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  20. Eric Sykes:
    Sharpy: I said Hayden and Longstaff broke through, I didn’t say it was a Rafa masterplan. I had said earlier in this thread that he had lucked into it. Some of our improvement in the second half of the season was luck, like that, and some of it good Management and tactics by Rafa.

    I don’t expect you to have read everything I have said on here. I did go on a bit of a rant

    Eric – I stopped reading when you turned your back on Bamburgh mate ??

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  21. Even Rafa won’t be news in a few weeks as he disappears into the black hole that is Chinese football. Not for the money at all though. Rafa would never do that!

    There’s always Ryder though. The gift that keeps on giving.

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  22. Icedog:
    Just shows the press know nowt,they said the hold up with deal was because player only wanted a 3yr deal club wanted 4yr,crap he’s signed for 6

    Ice – it’s regularly the case though mate, and all too often we lap it up and let these stories p!ss us off and create negativity. With Ashley round there’s already plenty of that anyway – we don’t need to buy into journo mischief making.

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  23. Actually, these avatars are really difficult to make out being so small and square so I switched to the Crown Fountain in Chicago.

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  24. Just arrived back home in Dubai to f8nd we have finally signed Joelinton. Great news. What about Kyle Scott? Any news on the young’un?

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  25. I will continue my Rafa rant.

    Ashley is a sh!t but was Rafa being honourable and honest? He is disappearing into the black hole of Chinese football. Only Pelligrini has ever escaped from there. Tevez, Hulk, various Serbs and Oscar. Alexander Pato. It is where players’ careers go to die whilst they sit on a giant pile of cash.

    Same for Rafa and his coaches. None of you can tell me he doesn’t know what he is letting himself in for.

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  26. I think Rafa did an Ok job under the circumstances – no better, no worse. He was functional and pragmatic and that is how his team played. He may have won many trophies but he was certainly no Bobby Robson for us. Robson was inspiring on a very limited budget whereas Rafa was mostly boring o a similarly limited budget.

    He actually had some good players and some of that was his own talent spotting. Pity we didn’t see that talent flourish more often. Our best games of the year were always the last game where he took the shackles off.

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  27. I will say it again. Rafa may have achieved great things in football, but he certainly didn’t achieve great things at NUFC. He told us he was performing miracles in “SAVING” us from relegation. 44 and 45 points are not miracles. Fcking Pardew got us there on the same sort of budget.

    But Rafa was God. The God that just deserted for money. There is no other reason he would go to China.

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  28. And a loss is a loss Kimtoon. I absolutely hated Pardew as you know. He would lose by big scores, but how many teams have gone down on goal difference from the PL? 2? Maybe even just 1. Rafa even had us worse of than Schteve in the first 10 games of this season. The worst since 1898 or something like that. But it was all about the Goal Difference when GD doesn’t even count except under exceptional circumstances.

    No, I am sick of Rafa being portrayed as a God at NUFC. He was above average. That’s about it. He took the Chinese lucre. the slightly above average (for us) Manager that now everybody on Eds, The Mag and The Chronic want to boycott for losing.

    Give me a break. Rafa Benitez, the king of keeping the goal difference down at NUFC and the 1-0 or 2-1 loss. For the goal difference! It always reminded me of the skit line on The Simpsons – Think of the Children!

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  29. I am not angry either. Just take off the rose tinted glasses with 24 carat gold rims where Rafa is concerned. He certainly did, he now has about 52 pairs of them in China and craps on a solid gold toilet.

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  30. KIMTOON: that was not directed at you. It was a very general rant about Rafa and his fanboys who have built him up to something he was not at NUFC. He was slightly above average at NUFC. I haven’t looked up his points per game total but I bet it was similar to Pardew.

    The points per game total!!! Yes, that stat. The one that is being used to slam Bruce now.

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  31. I hated Pardew. Absolutely hated him. But just for my own little maths/stats lesson I went back and had a look at what he did under the same restrictions that Rafa was under i.e. The Fat Bast@rd. I was a bit surprised.

    Pardew: played 155, Points 2017

    Points per game = 1.34

    Rafa for the last 2 years in the PL under the same restrictions:

    Played 76, Points 89

    Points per game 1.17

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  32. Eric – your rants do read like someone who’s been jilted and posting at 3am after a few bottles of wine ?

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  33. I know we criticise the club for what seem like them dragging their heels getting deals done – and maybe that’s the case.

    But we aren’t alone. I’m sick of hearing about Maguire to Utd, or Fernandes to Utd, or Tierney to Arsenal or Zaha to Arsenal.

    Other than City and Leicester, nobody has really done any business in this window yet.

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  34. Sharpy, i agree, Eric is starting to come across as a bitter ex 😆
    She’s only gone for him for his money and bigger d ick
    My new girlfriend is really lovely, honest, she’s from my area and a really good cook, far better than my ex was. 😉

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  35. I’ve now come to the opinion that the takeover was an Ashley generated scam to deflect from sacking Rafa. He knows Kidwai the Essex lad and that’s where all the statements came from. Nobody else in UAE made any comment at all. Meanwhile the fans, me included, are so into getting rid of Ashley we believed it or half believed it. It was just another Ashley Bishop scam!
    Unbelievable?

    £40m on a unproven Brazilian is a hell of a risk. However we still need another centre forward. Joelinton is a Perez replacement and not that big a spend if you discount the £30m Perez money.

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  36. I will stop the rants if you all want.

    I do it because there is a lot of dead air on here quite a lot of the time.

    I told you, I have run out of material without Ugly John and Rooney.

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  37. Georgio, Joelinton has the number 9 shirt, so is Rondons replacement more than Perez . I agree about the fakeover though. It sure was useful to deflect Rafa leaving and got SD lots of lovely coverage whilst footy was off air. 😉

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  38. Eric – we are just winding you up mate. If it does you good to rant then knock yourself out – it’s an open forum.

    I can honestly say I haven’t given Rafa, Rondon, Perez a second thought – and as for Carver or Pardew.
    I have no ill feeling towards any of them. Ability and effort are 2 very different things. I think all give a lot of effort while at NUFC.

    I guess for me it’s out of sight out of mind. I choose to focus on who’s at NUFC now and what happens from here.

    But that’s my way. I’m not saying your way is wrong, I’m just ribbing you mate ?

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  39. I think the takeover has fell on its ar$e, but I don’t think it was fake.
    It was confirmed from the Saudi side, so I don’t think it was a smokescreen by the club.

    I don’t know if we will ever find out what truly happened though.

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  40. Sharpy: you must be thinking of somebody else if you think I have been wound up today : I have just put up with 2 months of utter boll9ocks. BZG, no BZG. Rafa, no Rafa. Rafa to China for the geld. Steve Bruce? What really? 35 million for this Joelintn guy from Hefferlumsberg? Alright then.

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  41. Rafa was not sacked georgio.
    He left us at the end of his contract on 30 June 2019.
    That was his decision . NUFC did not have a new manager waiting in the wings which is the norm when a club sacks the manager.
    There can not be many people settled with their family in the UK who suddenly up sticks and move to China. I would find it more believable that this move had been arranged and fully discussed with his family for some months , and , if I am correct , it would have been futile for NUFC to get him to stay.

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  42. I can talk about Pogba. Or Bale? really strange situations but if I was on 500k week I wouldn’t be that bothered either. Bale won 2 Champions Leagues for Zidane. I have no idea what is going on there.

    It is almost as intriguing as a Steve Bruce Novel or Jack Colback to Notts Forest on loan.

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  43. So it’s looking very likely that the next in is the Saint – I didn’t know he has the same agent as Joelinton.
    That could well work in our favour, and those 2 up front with Almiron ?.

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  44. I had never heard of this Saint fella until yesterday. Nice want rid of him. Why is that?

    He might be a decent player and a front three of him, Jo and Alm seems exciting but we need more than that. One injury to one of them and were left with Gayle/Muto or Atsu/Murphy.

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  45. Sidekick – you’re right. Technically he wasn’t sacked but they offered him a new contract that they knew he’d refuse. He wanted to stay so I’d call that sacking. Having said that Rafa clearly had his eyes on the big chinese bucks for weeks before he left. He’s gone down a lot in my estimation.

    This Maximim kid has fallen out with Viera supposedly for bad attitude in training. I guess we never get the truth in these affairs.

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  46. Viera wants rid of Maximim because he does not work hard enough. Obviously didn’t put in maximum effort – I’ll get my coat.
    I would not worry about how much effort he puts in training so long as he puts a shift in when it matters.
    He is fast and very skillful so put him out wide on one side with Almiron on the other and that will give some defences a big problem.
    I hope we do manage to sign him as I can see us playing some entertaining football and the fans will be filling the ground.

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  47. The Saint doesn’t look like a player who is going to track back and help his full back out to be fair. But he looks exciting, creative and dangerous – and alongside Almiron and Joelinton would be a very interesting front 3.

    I like the look of Jarrod Bowen at Hull too though. He was there with Bruce at Hull so they know each other, and I think he would be more similar to Perez – creator plus grafter.

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  48. kimtoon:
    Saint sounds a bit like a certain HBAin his attitude, fun to watch though.

    Kim – that’s exactly what we’d be buying – a Benny/Ginola type winger. He ties defenders in knots when he has the ball at his feet – but don’t expect him to run 50yrds to win it back

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  49. Hi guys, the takeover was definitely for real. BZG definitely want to buy the club and are still trying to do something according to what I’m hearing now I’m back in Dubai. It’s wasn’t fake. Whether they believe it’s worth £350m and are prepared to pay that is another matter, or whether Ashley is keeping that figure stable or adjusting as he wants is also another matter.

    NDAs have been signed thus not much news now, but I’m quite sure that at least BZG still want the club.

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  50. Dubai Toon:
    Hi guys, the takeover was definitely for real. BZG definitely want to buy the club and are still trying to do something according to what I’m hearing now I’m back in Dubai. It’s wasn’t fake. Whether they believe it’s worth £350m and are prepared to pay that is another matter, or whether Ashley is keeping that figure stable or adjusting as he wants is also another matter.

    NDAs have been signed thus not much news now, but I’m quite sure that at least BZG still want the club.

    good to hear mate,keep your ear to the ground lol

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  51. So Brucie says he hopes we can sign another “one or two” players. Jesus they never learn. To me that sounds like a winger and a kleft back at the absolute best. We will have no chance of achieving anything other than relegation. Unless of course we go through the entire season without an injury or suspension.

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  52. Crikey Stuart – I hope you bet your house on our being relegated when you told us the odds were 7/2 .
    If bookies are looking at this blog you might just convince them to make us odds on favourites for the drop.

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  53. To be honest am actually lookin forward to new season, weve replaced rondon with joel and yes we need more ppl to come in but maybe bruce might see lazaar as a good enough back up so might not need a left back. As long as we dont sell any 1 else apart from colback and bring in 2/3 heads in al take that. Would of liked rafa to of stayed but he actually has known months that he was leaving and strung us along. Ashley is a c un t dont get me wrong. But nowt better than the league starting and i for 1 carnt actually wait. Eric keep ranting mate

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  54. Stuart79:
    So Brucie says he hopes we can sign another “one or two” players. Jesus they never learn. To me that sounds like a winger and a kleft back at the absolute best. We will have no chance of achieving anything other than relegation. Unless of course we go through the entire season without an injury or suspension.

    Stu – under promise over deliver mate. If we only manage to get another 2 in, then Bruce can say it’s what he needed. But if we get more, they’ve done a great job.
    I suspect it may also depend on people leaving and squad spaces.

    I think if Longstaff, and Hayden stay with only need 3 – a winger, LB and back up forward (but the latter would depend on Gayle leaving)

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  55. If Longstaff and Hayden stay, do we need another Midfielder in this window?.

    We will have Longstaff, Hayden, Shelvey and Ki. It looks like Kyle Scott will join too.

    We may still have Colback and Saivet – though I hope not.

    It would be good to leave and opportunity for Matty Longstaff to come through as well.

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  56. If we can hang on to Dubravka and Longstaff, we will effectively have the same defence as last season, which is good. The same midfield minus Diame who wasn’t at his best. We then have a new attack of Almiron, JoeLinton and one of Muto, Gayle or potentially another new recruit. Not too much to be depressed about there.

    The bench is still a bit bare, and there is deadwood to clear, but the first team is looking good.

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  57. Bruce is no Rafa and I’d bet he got us at least 10 points. Lets see if Bruce can do the same tactically.

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  58. Stuart79:
    Bruce is no Rafa and I’d bet he got us at least 10 points. Lets see if Bruce can do the same tactically.

    Stu – I thought Rafa did a great job, but 10 points in the PL is a huge amount mate – no way HE as the manager was responsible for QUARTER or our entire points total for the season.

    His tactics were most obvious in our superior goal difference to the other clubs down the bottom.

    He may have kept our defeats at 1-0 where other teams lost 3 or 4 nil. But I don’t remember too many wins thinking, good old Rafa got that spot on.

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  59. If we can keep our defenders we have a good chance a chance as any of the bottom tier clubs, especially if Joe and miggy gel well as a unit up front.

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  60. 32 c here today and 27.5 indoors, really humid, bloody awful. Why we can’t have nice 23 24c temps i don’t know, it’s all or nowt with Britain.

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  61. kimtoon:
    32 c here today and 27.5 indoors, really humid, bloody awful. Why we can’t have nice 23 24c temps i don’t know, it’s all or nowt with Britain.

    Lovely sea breeze on Whitley Bay sea front.

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  62. Don’t knock it – I think it’s the weather attracting the new signing to the Toon ?????????

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  63. I know there is talk of this Marrony lad from Brazil for £10m. But there is also talk of Bowen from Hull for £10m.

    Personally I’d prefer Bowen where we are right now. I don’t think there would be any complications in getting him in, unlike Marrony. I think he’d settle a lot quicker too – plus Bruce has worked with him before so there is already a connection there.

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  64. Sharpy17: Stu – I thought Rafa did a great job, but 10 points in the PL is a huge amount mate – no way HE as the manager was responsible for QUARTER or our entire points total for the season.

    His tactics were most obvious in our superior goal difference to the other clubs down the bottom.

    He may have kept our defeats at 1-0 where other teams lost 3 or 4 nil.But I don’t remember too many wins thinking, good old Rafa got that spot on.

    Then you have forgot Leicester and Wolves away, Man City at home just off the top of my head. All tactically astute performances from the team coached well by Rafa.

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