Over at Black & White & Read All Over, some of the finest talents in the world of football blogging have been asked to give up their opinions on Newcastle Utd's prospects for the forthcoming season. The latest 'View From the Away End' contains the views of Danny of Bitter And Blue, Pete of Round And White, Dom from Mist Rolling In From The Trent..., Terry Venerables of Footballist, Watford fan Jez, and ---ahem--- Swiss Toni of Cheer Up Alan Shearer.
You should go over there and read what everyone else thinks, but as I am an incorrigible egotist, here is what I had to say:
“I sat down to last night to one of the most important tasks of the year: the selection of my fantasy football team. Over the years, I have made a few absolutely blinding selections. Your Matthew Le Tissiers and Thierry Henrys are all very well, but the selections that have given me the most satisfaction have been the ones who cost tuppence and came up trumps – your Claus Jensens, Claus Lundekvams, Rory Delaps and Stewart Downings. The players that you picked up from the bargain basement and who chipped in with precious points at crucial moments (although I like to put my selection of Silas down to temporary insanity).
Perhaps more than any other club, Newcastle Utd has a proud tradition of providing me with key players: Les Ferdinand, David Ginola, Phillipe Albert, Nolberto Solano, John Beresford, Rob Lee and, of course, Alan Shearer have all made regular appearances in my side as I lifted title after title in competition with my mates. As I looked at this year's player list though, the St James’s cupboard looks bare, and not a single player in the famous black and white stripes is going to make the cut. Goalkeeper? Not with that defence. Defenders? No chance. Midfield? Doesn't look like producing many goals. Wingers? What wingers? Strikers? What strikers? Michael Chopra?
I know that fantasy league form is not always the best guideline for judging a player's worth, but it strikes me that this it is a pretty sad indictment of the current Newcastle squad that I can't see a single player worth investing in (except possibly JJ, but only then because he's likely to move on to a better side and is thus decent value). Is Graeme Souness the man to make something out of nothing? To rebuild the squad and bring exciting football back to Tyneside? Judging by his alienation of Craig Bellamy and Laurent Robert – no, I just can’t see it. Even if he had the talent, would he really be given the opportunity to do so by a chairman who seems to have all of the brains of a small piece of cheese? Doubtful.
I like Newcastle Utd. There's something about the passion of the fans and their long, patient wait for success that strikes a chord in this Wolves fan. I'm afraid to say that I think you are going to have to be patient a little longer yet. I predict a struggle to finish inside the top six of the Premiership and no joy in the cups. Sorry about that. I hope I'm wrong."
Damn I'm good. All media requests to the normal address