Newcastle United - The Season Ahead
The season hasn't started yet for the Magpies but the circus at St James' Park certainly has. For one season Newcastle looked like they had got everything together, with a 5th placed finish only just missing out on a champions league spot. Graham Carr the chief scout had obtained players of a promising standard for relatively cheap transfer fee's. Yohan Cabaye moved to Tyne side for only 4.3 million and quickly proved he was well worth his price tag. Along with Papiss Cisse signing in January and repaying his 9 million price with 13 goals in twelve games. As well as a stunner against Chelsea, winning the BBC's goal of the season. With a wealth of young French talent, Cisse gaining the highest games to goals ratio for a Newcastle striker ever, and having two reliable center backs in Steven Taylor and Fabricio Collichini, everything was looking up for the Magpies. With a place in Europe to come everyone was excited for the 2012 - 2013 season.
The following season however proved to be too much. Having not done enough spending whilst they were on the front foot Newcastle left themselves open to injuries and tired legs. The extra games in Europe proving too much for the toon army. Papiss Cisse went the way of Torres and seemed to have a confidence problem in front of goal. Hatem Ben Arfa was injured for the largest part of the season with alot of youngsters having to play regular starting roles down to Newcastles injury crisis. The only commendable parts of the season being the magpies run in europe and new signings Sissoko and Gouffran giving a glimpse of there ability ( Hopefully to carry on into next season ). So at the end of the season having narrowly avoided relegation there's alot to be done at ST James's over the summer. But what has happened?
The Wonga Sponsorship:
The payday loan company became the official sponsors of Newcastle United this year in a deal worth 24 million over 4 years. This also gave the Newcastle ground its long standing name back ( St James' Park ) rather than the widely loathed Sports Direct Arena. However, Wonga is a pay day loan company that charges 4,214 per cent APR on its internet-based payday loans. This has been a concern of both MP's and financial charities nationwide although the firm isn't doing anything illegal. This puts some of the team in an uncomfortable position. With Hatem Ben Arfa, Chiek Tiote and Papiss Cisse all being of Muslim Religion this sponsorship may contravene the faith they practice. Under Sharia law, a Muslim is not allowed to benefit from lending or receiving money from someone, which means that earning interest is not allowed. Muslims comply by interest not being paid on Islamic savings, current accounts or Islamic mortgages. So far only Papiss Cisse has out right refused to wear the logo on his shirt, offering to wear an unbranded or charitable logo instead. However the Newcastle board have refused this and Cisse is currently spending training sessions on his own.
Joe Kinnear - Director of football
Mike Ashley parachuting Joe Kinnear into ST James's as director of football makes no sense. The only logical reason for doing it is that Ashley doesn't fully trust Pardew after last seasons relegation battle. In 6 weeks at the club Kinnear's only real job is to sign players, yet Newcastle are the only team in the Premiership not to bring in a single top flight player. So what is he doing? Many speculate he is there simply as a shadow manager, ready to take over in the event of Pardew being sacked early on in the season. But why would Ashley consider another director of football after the Dennis Irwin incident? The memory will still pain the Newcastle owner as the legal case for Kevin Keegan's dismissal cost over 2 million.
In his first few days Kinnear not only insulted the fans, claiming to be more intelligent than the supporters, but remarkably manged to show he doesn't know the players names. Referring to Yohan Cabaye as " Kebab " on live radio. Only time will tell if this will bring a bit of stability to Newcastle or if we will see it spinning into a comedic media frenzy. . . again.
Hopefully Pardew will remain as manager and get to coach the team his way. Without the added pressure of a European campaign and surely a few players still to arrive in the North East, this season could be a promising one for the magpies. If the first team can stay fit and injury free there is no reason they can't push for Europe again. Santon, Gouffran and Sissoko are all showing huge potential. Ben Arfa can win a game on his own with inspirational runs from midfield. The players have the creativity, ability and determination to make this season a memorable one. Lets just hope the hierarchy let them get on with it and do whats best for club, not there wallets.
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