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A high-five for Amanda? Toon transfer targets to help open a new chapter in Newcastle United history

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Jesse Lingard and Sterling
Author: Sam Smith

 

It’s over! As takeover fever hits Newcastle, the most important detail of the deal remains the removal of Mike Ashley.

 

After 14 years of detachment from the fans, football which gave a resurgence to the word “turgid” in too many match reports, and a blanket of indifference that stifled the hope and ambition of thousands of Geordies, a new door has opened. Come on in passion, excitement and possibility.

 

NUFC Takeover - Newcastle upon Tyne

Scenes outside of St James Park (courtesy North East Updates – Facebook page)

 

But before we dash off into some January transfer window fantasy land, let’s just take stock for a moment.

 

The Saudi takeover is clearly not simply a black and white matter – there are many shades of grey to be dealt with in the coming months and years. However, what remains impossible to ignore right now is that Newcastle United sit second bottom of the table, winless, and in desperate need of some new blood on the pitch. Without doubt, new foundations need putting down behind the scenes, but the burning question for today is which players should we invest in as part of the first wave of reinforcements?

 

Before listing a galaxy of international superstars, perhaps we should learn from Man City’s £32million Robinho regret. He lasted less than 50 games. Bad business by any measure. However, since their early audacious transfer policy, City have won several major trophies including the Premier League on five occasions. To emulate this success the Magpies will need to find their own versions of stalwarts like Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta as cornerstones of their future development if the club is to rise to the top of the Premier League “within the next ten years”.

 

It’s unlikely to be an instant fix, but if done correctly the sleeping giant of Newcastle United may rise to put the North East on the footballing map once again as the club becomes relevant across the globe. Let’s hope Newcastle adopt a pragmatic approach and combine proven premiership tenacity with a sprinkling of flair – a thoughtful mix of youthful exuberance and hard-nosed experience. One thing remains certain, Saint-Maximin needs support.

 

So, who are the realistic Premier League targets right now?

 

Credit: Jesse Lingard – Instagram

 

Having turned down the Toon last January to move to London based West Ham United, Jesse Lingard may think twice before rejecting Newcastle for a second time. The club he turned down previously lacked ambition, direction and investment, however under the stewardship of Amanda Stavely there is a new mood around the place and the discontent between the fans and the previous owner has been put to a much-needed end.

 

For years the team has lacked attacking creativity – someone to run deep from midfield, put the ball in the net or be given the freedom to provide opportunities for teammates. Alongside a fit Callum Wilson, an in-form Allan Saint-Maximin and hard-working Miguel Almiron, Lingard could make a huge difference to the club’s fortunes and help it climb up from the foot of the table. Yes, our marquee signing of last summer Joe Willock plays a similar role to the Manchester United man, however this transfer would give Newcastle that cutting edge and strength in depth that has been non-existent under Ashley. Lingard has already put in a few dazzling performances for the Red Devils this year, including a well-worked goal against the Mags back in September and a curling effort from the corner of the box against the Hammers. The boy has goals in him.

 

Aston Villa engine room warrior John McGinn is a prime example of the tenacity required for a team to be successful in the Premier League. Having starred for Villa last season alongside Jack Grealish, McGinn’s performances were hugely positive and helped to drive the team to a respectable 11th place finish – a position Newcastle fans would be ecstatic with come the end of this campaign. Now McGinn has developed a more attack minded side to his game and seems fitter than previous years, adding an extra yard of pace. Could he combine his defensive mastery with his increasingly attacking style to help form a solid base for Newcastle to work from? One thing is for sure, he’d certainly add balance to the side and would be adored by the fans as a result of his passion for tackling and breaking up play. Alongside Isaac Hayden he would give freedom to the likes of Willock and Almiron to break the lines and enable the team to have sustained attacks on the opposition defence. Get stuck in John!

 

Enough about putting the ball in the opposition net, how about stopping the ball going in ours? Stand up Connor Coady and become a Toon fan favourite. The no-nonsense, brave and canny operator helped Wolves to consecutive top eight finishes in their first two seasons back in the Premier League and has played in all four divisions of English football. Freshly capped for the National side, Coady leads from the back and could become the rock in the centre of Newcastle’s defence – with Nuno leaving Wanderers at the start of the season a fresh start may be exactly what the 28-year-old is after.

 

Credit: Ivan Toney – Instagram

 

Ivan Toney perfectly sums up the Ashley era: he was ours, but we let him go! Since his time at St James’ Toney has emerged as a force of nature up front. His powerful build and dynamic style have enabled Brentford to get off to a fantastic start – 31 goals in 45 Championship games last season suggests he has the qualities to be an exciting Premier League prospect. The signing of Callum Wilson at the beginning of the 2020/21 season gave Toon fans something to cheer about and he has shown glimpses of his talent in between his injuries – the fans recognise a skilful striker but unfortunately, he’s not on pitch enough to show it week in, week out. If he was to stay fit, Wilson would be at a top six club scoring goals for fun. The possibility of having two proven Premier League talents leading the line seemed like a dream under Ashley but now it could be reality. The combination of pace and power from Toney and the mix of Wilson’s experience and his poacher’s instincts would certainly get the fans off their seats.

 

 

Credit: James Tarkowski – Instagram

 

Perhaps a slightly more underwhelming addition could be Burnley defender James Tarkowski who has plenty of Premier League experience and is out of contract at the end of the season. It is important to remember the position Newcastle currently find themselves in. Although it’s exciting to discuss the possibility of signing European megastars, players like Tarkowski may enable the Toon to thrive under new ownership and help them to climb back up the table. The English centre-half has plenty of Premier League knowhow and has played over 150 games for the Clarets since 2016, with two international caps under his belt. If Newcastle act quickly in the January window the powerful defender may be available for around £3million which represents a great deal and would strengthen the Magpie defence which has been lacking stability for years. Tarkowski would be a threat in the opposition box at set pieces and would certainly be an upgrade on our current defensive options. Put him in row Z James!

 

Other European options include the likes of 30-year-old commanding centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, Portuguese midfield starlet Renato Sanches from Ligue 1 side Lille, ex-Premier League superstars Eden Hazard and Phillipe Coutinho, Englishmen Declan Rice and Buykayo Saka or Argentinian talent Lautaro Martinez from Italian champions Inter Milan amongst many others, but they might be a window too early for the new owners just now.

 

Of course, the Saudi takeover has attracted a myriad of transfer rumours given the extent of its riches, however Newcastle must be realistic in their pursuit of new players. What remains clear is that the signing of reliable, experienced and hard-working players is top priority.

 

So, while I started by saying it was ‘over’, now Ashley has departed we have a new beginning. Already there is a whole new feel around the club as an atmosphere of optimism, excitement and enthusiasm once again fills the City. It’s an intoxicating mixture, ready to ignite. Howay the Toon!

 

Who would you like to see brought to Newcastle in January? Please let us know on our social media below…

 

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Entertainment

Doctor Who: David Tennant and Catherine Tate to return

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David Tennant and Catherine Tate are to return to Doctor Who, the BBC has confirmed.

The pair are currently filming for the sci-fi show’s 60th anniversary, which it will celebrate in 2023.

Tennant played the 10th Doctor on the time travel drama from 2005-2010, while Tate played companion Donna Noble. Tennant and Tate’s involvement means they will be reunited with returning Doctor Who head writer Russell T Davies.

Davies, who was in charge of Doctor Who when it was successfully revived in 2005, left at the same time as Tennant. Their last episode together was broadcast in 2010.

Tennant has briefly returned before, joining then-Doctor Matt Smith for the programme’s 50th anniversary in 2013.

Davies has teased fans, saying: “Maybe this is a missing story. Or a parallel world. Or a dream, or a trick, or a flashback. The only thing I can confirm is that it’s going to be spectacular, as two of our greatest stars reunite for the battle of a lifetime.”

Tennant and Tate’s 2008 series of Doctor Who is the most successful that the show has had since its revival in 2005, with an average audience of more than eight million viewers per episode.

Are you excited to see their return?

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Eurovision 2022: How Sam Ryder Turned Things Around For the UK

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Sam Ryder has said the “stigma” about the UK’s Eurovision performance has finally been “destroyed” after he brought home our best result in 24 years.

The singer led the UK to second place during Saturday night’s Song Contest in Turin, Italy, with his song ‘Space Man’.

It was the the highest the UK has placed since 1998, when Imaani’s ‘Where Are You?’ finished just behind Israel’s Dana International, who won with her song Diva.

In the years since, Britain has suffered a number of embarrassment moments, receiving the dreaded “nul points” in 2003 with Jemini’s ‘Cry Baby’ and in 2021 with James Newman’s ‘Embers’.

However, the public overwhelmingly backed Ukraine, who won the competition with 631 points on the leaderboard, with the UK securing 466 points.

Winning the 2022 Eurovision trophy is a hugely emotional and symbolic victory for Ukraine in the contest’s 66th year as the conflict continues.

The nation’s president Volodymyr Zelensky responded: “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe.

“We will do our best to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, rebuilt.”

The results had many fans in sheer disbelief on social media, while prime minister Boris Johnson said he was “incredibly proud” of Sam and how “he brilliantly represented the UK”.

You’re the winner in our eyes Sam, well done!

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Eurovision 2022: Sam Ryder Odds Rocket Ahead of Eurovision Final

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The UK’s Eurovision 2022 entry Sam Ryder has closed in on Ukraine in the winner odds after his performance in the jury semi final.

The TikTok star blew away the audience who flocked to the Pala Olimpico arena in Turin, Italy to see the second jury semi final. The reaction to Sam’s act and his amazing performance have now got plenty of fans and experts predicting he is going to push Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra all the way on Saturday night.

Last week , Sam was sitting in fourth place in the Eurovision odds with his song ‘Space Man’ but, after his second rehearsal in Turin received a rave reaction from press over in Italy and fans and he was given a huge advantage by being drawn in the second half of the Eurovision final, he soared up to second.

The Ukraine currently have a 59% chance of winning and the UK 11%. Sweden and Italy then currently stand as third and fourth favourites at 9% and 6% respectively. Our odds have improved even more so since too as the UK have been announced to perform fourth from last, number 22, which has been the winning performance slot two years in a row.

On May 3 2022 it became exactly 25 years to the day since the UK’s last triumph in Eurovision, when Katrina & the Waves topped the leaderboard in Ireland with their anthemic track Love Shine A Light. Since then, there’s been little to shout about. The UK has always been on the wrong side of the leaderboard, with us consistently finishing at or near the bottom. And last year proved a particularly bitter pill to swallow when James Newman came last on zero points, having received nothing from either the juries or televote.

Check out Sam’s song here:

Who do you think will win?

Watch Eurovision Song Contest 2022 – Grand Final this Saturday (May 14) at 8pm GMT on BBC1.

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