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true faith - the special no. 159 Fulham home, 11th March 2017, 3:00pm K.O.
Cartoon illustration of 4 posh Fulham supporters holding up an England flag saying Moses, Tarquin, Tristan, Giles, Fulham rah, rah, rah!!

And fade in .... 

It is just about one full year since Rafa Benitez took over as manager and the ill-fated yet entirely predictable doomed Steve McClaren era at United. To be honest I never thought we had an earthly of a chance in getting Rafa to an Ashley owned United but there you go ... despite everything our reviled owner has visited upon the club it still retained enough attraction to bring the former manager of Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Liverpool and Valencia to NE1. 

The decision made by Rafa to commit to United in the summer following relegation is possibly the single most important act at United since Kevin Keegan decided to rescue the club as it teetered on the abyss of relegation to Division 3 (old money) back in 1992. Rafa has energised the club, brought the support back together behind the players and given a reason to believe. That belief took a big dent in January when Ashley failed to support Rafa and I am as anxious as anyone about what happens after promotion is secured. There have been rumours about West Ham, Arsenal and even China being interested in Benitez. Why wouldn't they? The man's pedigree is top class. The best players and the best managers are always in demand, always have options and any ambitious club that wants to progress will do its utmost to keep its top talent. Whether United falls into that category we will learn in the summer. I don't believe Rafa will be part of any con trick to kid us all is well as per Pardew. This is a man schooled in the dark arts of football politics from his time at almost every club he's worked at but he isn't short of options ... our imminent return to the PL has gilded the manager's reputation and shown another dimension to his talent. 

Rafa being interviewed with the Tyne Bridge in the background

But after twelve months at United we should be ready to give thanks that a man of his stature has the same belief in Newcastle United as we do despite the often cancerous undermining of our club by Ashley and the people he has in his charge. Rafa has instilled belief and without him I dread to think the condition the club would be in right now. That relegation was delivered by McClaren but he wasn't the only one who was culpable - Ashley, Carr and Charnley take the lion's share of responsibility, not to mention Alan Pardew' whose real talent is now being exposed in the aftermath of his sacking at Crystal Palace where he lasted less than two years. We knew he was a charlatan despite the sneering of his pals in the media who are now remarkably quiet on the subject of their oily favourite. 

If he is allowed to celebrate many more anniversaries at United I'm confident Rafa will give us a club of which we can be proud. We know the finances of football are loaded against us - Russian and Arab money as well as the largesse of Champions League football year after year but there is no reason why Newcastle United, even now should not be in the top ten of the PL and competing for cups and occasional forays into Europe. 

Murphy celebrates putting us 2-0 up against Huddersfield in front of the away end

Quite simply Rafa has to be backed. We have won the lottery with him at United. It has taken a lot of stars to be aligned for this man to be our manager and for many, he represents Ashley's last chance. If he leaves in the summer I believe the club will buckle and face a fate far worse than it ever has done before. Speaking personally, I'll bring to an end of over 40 years active support for the club. I'm not alone. 

But in the here and now of a bid to reclaim our PL status we come back to SJP on the back of three excellent results at Brighton, Huddersfield and Reading. We are in a strong position with ten games remaining (including today's match). That's not to say we finished Brighton off with that win last week. We definitely didn't. Huddersfield aren't finished. No-one is with 30 points left to play for and anyone rocking up to SJP today to imagining a routine win then they need to be reacquainted with some of our disappointing results against Blackburn, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday. I expect Fulham to be physical, cynical and I've lost a lot of faith in the officials in this division. It is going to be hard grind but if we end the game with another three points then we should be happy.

View form the away end at Reading, looking up the pitch Ritchie clears the ball during a Reading attack

Ahead of today's game we have a load of stuff for you. 

In the week the TF Pod lads met with The Mail's NE football correspondent Craig Hope and there is an excellent Podcast available for you. Listen here.

We also have a Preview podcast of today's game featuring our usual ne'er do wells as well as some guest Fulham fanzines. 

There is also the small matter of our 100+ page fanzine to get your peepers around, read here. 

There's enough to be getting on with eh? 

Also on the go today will be another display by the Gallowgate Flags in the Gallowgate End. Please get to the match a wee bit early and bring scarves etc to support the display. This manager and these players desrve our support. 

Before all of that however the NUFC Fans Foodbank will be having another collection before the game. They will be based at Strawberry Place opp Nine Bar and the kind of stuff they are after is: 

  • breakfast cereal,
  • tinned meat/fish,
  • pasta/cooking sauces
  • and tinned tomatoes.

Please support the Foodbank collection - it says a lot about us as a group of supporters that we can come together and support people who are less fortunate than ourselves but who live in our communities and who for a myriad of reasons find themselves near destitution. 

The Newcastle West Foodbank is issuing 1000 food parcels per week to local people who often include children and the disabled. God knows how many other Food-parcels are being handed out amongst other Foodbanks on Tyneside and beyond but we can give a great contribution by making some donations and saying a lot about what we are as supporters of Newcastle United.


Keep On, Keepin' On...

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Follow Michael Martin true faith editor on twitter @tfeditor1892
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New issue - tf 129 out now

This is issue 129 of true faith, Newcastle United's longest running and most widely read fanzine and a must read for the clued-up Black & Whiters.
 
Read it free here
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Support NUFC foodbanks in association with NUFC and Newcastle West End Foodbank. Donate matchday opposite NINE bar, Strawberry Place from 1:00pm newcastlewestend.foodbank.org.uk

NUFC Supporters foodbank

Next Foodbank collection opposite NINE BAR on Strawberry Place behind the Gallowgate End will be before today's match from 1:00pm. 

Please give generously. 

These are some of the things the Foodbank could really use: 

breakfast cereal, tinned meat/fish, pasta/cooking sauces and tinned tomatoes.

There is more information here.

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Fulham (h)

SWOT analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic did a number on us in the first game of the season when, despite us having 55% possession and more shots, they won 1-0 through a Chris Martin goal from a Tom Cairney corner just before half-time. They then resisted our pressure while looking dangerous on the break. Sone Aluko caused Paul Dummett problems all night as they did to us what we’ve just done to Brighton and Huddersfield.

The Cottagers are no mugs having won four and drawn two of their last six games (Wins 3-1 at home to Preston, 2-0 away to Bristol City, 3-2 at home to Forest and 2-0 away to Burton and draws 2-2 at Cardiff and 1-1 at home to Leeds on Tuesday). Their last defeat in the league was 0-1 at Birmingham on 4th February. They currently sit five points outside the play-off spots in 7th place with 57 points from 35 games, having played a game less than Sheffield Wednesday in 6th. They have a decent away record - won seven, drawn six and lost just four, the second lowest in the division (we know who has the lowest). Over their travels they’ve scored 25 and conceded just seventeen, an average of a goal a game. This is a good, well organised team with a clever, experienced manager.

Fulham also still have everything to play for after Jokanovic’s side rescued a point at home to Leeds on Tuesday night through a very late goal from Tom Cairney which probably ended Leeds’s chances of a automatic promotion slot. The side Jovanovic sent out at Craven Cottage was:

Fulham last match 4-2-3-1: GK Button, LB Malone, CD Ream, CD Kalas, RB Fredericks, CM McDonald, CM Johansen, LW Kebano, AM Cairney, RW Aluko, CF Martin

Ironically, Fulham had 73% of possession and 23 shots compared to Leeds’s seven. However, only five of those shots were on target. Controversially, one from Neeskens Kebano looked as if it had crossed the line but the Championship won’t have goal line technology until next season. 

Martin has 11 goals so far this season despite an ongoing dispute with the club about being allowed to end his loan spell and return to his own club Derby County. That seems to have settled down now - maybe because Fulham are having a much better season than the Rams so why would he want to return? He’s a big lad who caused us problems from set-pieces. Jamal Lascelles probably still has nightmares about the way he lost him for their goal from a corner in August. Tom Cairney is the player who makes Fulham tick, however, with eight goals and ten assists this season. We were linked with him in January but a quoted £25m price tag soon put a stop to that. Be interesting to see what happens in the summer if we go up and the Cottagers don’t. We have a history of going back in for players when the economic circumstances change and this lad is a good player who could do it at a higher level.

Fulham players jump into the crowd to celebrate their equaliser against Leeds

Jovanovic has pretty much his full squad available for this afternoon; only Floyd Ayite and Lucas Piazon are missing through injury. I don’t think there will be many changes from Tuesday night.

Once again the question will be whether we can replicate our away form at Gallowgate. The issue of supporter expectation, the flat atmosphere despite the best efforts of the Gallowgate Flags just won’t go away. Maybe it’s a product of the way we have been treated for years as ‘consumers’ but there is a sense of people turning up and effectively saying ‘Come on then, I’ve paid my money, entertain me’ and expressing their impatience and dissatisfaction if we aren’t ahead in the first fifteen minutes. I’m sorry but that isn’t the way it works. It’s not an economic relationship like you have with a shop or service. It’s the difference between being a spectator and a supporter. Let’s try to support the lads from the off right through to the end of the game, in the full and certain knowledge that players will make mistakes. Most people improve their performance through encouragement and support rather than being abused and belittled and that includes well paid footballers. To paraphrase Field of Dreams, if we get behind them they will win.

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Author credit -  Wallace Wilson follow on twitter @wallacehwilson
Stay Free Records Newcastle. Vinyl records of all types bought and sold. Unit 1 2nd Floor (The Antiques Centre) 142 Northumberland St, Newcastle, NE1 7DQ. Mon-Sat 10am - 4pm
Visit the Stay Free Records facebook page here.
Gallowgate Flags Quiz Night, NINE Bar, St James' Park, Friday 24th March 2017 - 7pm. Tickets £10. Great prizes, good crack and all proceeds go to Gallowgate flags displays. ticket only get yours here.
Newcastle v Swindon, 12th March 1994, Premier League

As it was when it was

Newcastle v Swindon, 12th March 1994

Newcastle United’s return to the top flight had been most impressive sitting in 4th place going into a home game against Swindon Town who had been promoted alongside United in the previous season.

2 successive wins with clean sheets achieved continued a run of 11 wins and 2 draws in the previous 18 games that included a remarkable 18 goals for Andy Cole and 13 for Peter Beardsley.

Those victories saw Kevin Keegan lose Lee Clark and Steve Howey for the remainder of the season which, alongside the £2.25 million record signing of Ruel Fox, meant a move into an advanced midfield role for Robert Lee.

Swindon, the only side to stop The Mags winning during the 1992-93 Championship campaign, were bottom the table and 6 points from safety. 

For The Record:

Following victories over Leicester and Notts County (League Cup), this was the 3rd time United had won 7-1 in 10 months.  Spurs would be defeated by the same scoreline almost 3 years later at St James Park.

This was the 3rd of 6 successive wins and part of an end of season run of 10 wins in 14 games that ensured Newcastle qualified for Europe for the first time since 1977.

Including this game, Cole and Beardsley would score another 7 goals each to take them to a remarkable 41 and 24 goals respectively in all competitions.

Fox, who scored his first goal for Newcastle in this game, had his record fee broken within weeks as QPR’s Darren Peacock arrived for £2.7m.  He played the remainder of the season in a new look partnership with the surprisingly impressive youngster Alan Neilson.

Swindon would win only 1 of their remaining 9 games, go down as the bottom side on points and ended the season having conceded 4 or more goals in a game on 9 occasions. 

Mariah Carey had an only solo UK Number 1 with a version of Badfingers ‘Without You.’

Mariah Carey - Without You (Official Video)
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Marc Corby - true faith writer follow him on twitter @nufc_1980_1994
Support Gallowgate Flags. Paid for by fan donations to create a better match day atmosphere www.gofundme.com/gallowgateflags
Illustration of Rafa against a football tactics board background

What Would Rafa Do?

Rafa would of course come through the “fixtures from hell” with just shy of maximum points. He would turn the tough run of fixtures that ‘we just had to get through’ into an opportunity to cut us clear of the chasing pack. He’d also get huge psychological victories over the only 2 teams that actually are a threat.

Thanks to Rafa, and the team he has built, we are almost home and dry. 10 games to go and if we win half of them it’s done.

Newcastle attack Reading goal ball goes wide

Another thing that Rafa demonstrated in the past week was how little possession matters if you have no quality to back it up. We had 24% at Huddersfield and 30% at Reading. We’ve scored 3, taken 4 points and only conceded from a penalty. In fact Reading only had 1 shot on target for their 70% possession over 90 minutes. Pointless.

If you had to sum up our overall performance this season, you’d have to say we’ve been outstanding against the top teams in this league whilst being guilty of complacency and underperforming against those near the bottom. Patterns like this and “bad records” used to consume the likes of Alan Pardew and Steve McClaren.

Not Rafa. He will not be affected by such talk as he continues to take each game on its individual merits. Like the three games we’ve just had, Rafa and his team will have done extensive homework on today’s opponents and will have the team set up and drilled accordingly.

We attack Reading Gouffran picks up ball just outside on the left of box with Ritchie making a run

Fully fit, we all know our strongest eleven now and for once it seems likely we could see it. Gayle is back, Ritchie and Shelvey are in top form and we have our whole defence fit for selection. The only doubt is Yedlin who has been excellent at home but Rafa will have been pleased with Jesus’s performance on Tuesday. He’s more than capable of filling in, and failing that we have Anita.

Everything has fallen in to place thanks to the man in charge. Rafa Benitez, thank you.

What Would Rafa Do?
Right the wrongs of the first game of the season. He’s built one hell of a squad since then. Another huge three points today.
 

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Simon Campbell - true faith podcaster, follow him on twitter @simoncampbell11

Club and county - We are the Mags. 

Get into these absolutely top notch true faith t-shirts which celebrate the identity of Mags from England's two finest counties, Northumberland and Durham. 

Only £17 plus P+P. 

Northumberland Mags t-shirt - get them here
Durham Mags t-shirt - get them here
Arsenal supporters protest against Arsene Wenger before the Bayern Munich match

Long Live The King

There was something troubling about seeing Arsenal fans protesting against manager Arsene Wenger following their stuffing off Bayern Munich the other night. Faces not born when Wenger took over yelling that he should leave. People unaware for whatever reason what that club owes him. Or perhaps just people so used to success that 4th and the quarters in the Champions League every season is now unbearable failure. I do understand that they've not won the league in 13 years, but in that time clubs have emerged with a lot more spending power than Arsenal. The initial advantage gained through advances in fitness and nutrition have long been copied by everyone else. Signing such dominant figures as Henry, Vieira, Bergkamp, Pires and Campbell all at the same time is a trick not many would pull off twice. So it's understandable that success has been a little more difficult to come by lately, though they are still in touch with the top of the game in this country without ever managing to get to the very top of the tree any more. Having said that they've won the FA cup twice in the last 3 years and face a non-league club in this year's quarters this weekend. That's success in anyone's book but it seems they're determined to get him out which means they will eventually. To quote Clement Attlee in spirit, a period of silence on their part would be welcome.

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Rolando Aarons celebrate scoring goal against Man City in the League cup

Headlines

Rolando Aarons has hit the headlines recently, firstly with claims he'll be back on the pitch before the season's out ( we'll see about that), and secondly with an announcement of criminal charges being pressed for violent conduct in a quayside bar at the back end of last year. He may have been completely wronged in this latter issue for all I know but it's a sad state of affairs when your players are making more headlines off the pitch than on it. It must be frustrating for a young lad who made such a promising start to then be denied the chance to push on due to constant injury but he really needs to knuckle down and concentrate on his football when he's back. I've always thought he has a chance of being a big star but he has to make that happen. It would be very easy for a career like his to fizzle out before it's really begun in earnest.

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true faith - pin badges

tf Leazes end badge
tf Gallowgate end badge
tf Northumberland - We are the Mags badge
tf Durham - We are the Mags badge

We are delighted to announce we have a new batch of pin badges on sale. 

Our Leazes and Gallowgate SOUL pin badges are now available and you can get them here - 

Leazes Soul, and Gallowgate Soul,

Our hugely popular Durham and Northumberland - We Are The Mags pin badges are also back in stock 

Durham, and Northumberland.

Each badge is only £5 Plus P+P. They will be delivered the day after they ordered. 

Top 3 of the Championship, 1st Newcastle, 2nd Brighton, 3rd Huddersfield

On the Cusp

A great week for us then, 7 points from 9 in our 3 tough away games. Those 9 points are just like any other 9 points though. We need to capitalise on this week's great results by carrying on in the same vein in the weeks to come, with just the same focus, intensity, desire and organisation. We have 3 of our next 4 at home, and only Fulham today of those 4 in the top half. If we can win most of those games we will maintain our 9 point gap to 3rd ( notwithstanding Huddersfield's game in hand) and have only 6 games to go. We are so close now to achieving our goal for the season. Let's not throw it away.

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Author credit - Mark Brophy tf writer & blogger, follow on twitter @mark_brophy
Read Mark's blog here link
Fortiter Defendit Triumphans Newcastle City Crest t-shirt

Fortiter Defendit Triumphans & St James' t-shirts

We developed this popular interpretation of the city crest some years ago for a cover of the fanzine. Now we've incorporated it into this fantastic t-shirt which we expect will be a must for anyone who loves the city that plays host to our beloved football club. And also true faith's St Paulli inspired t-shirt but obviously given a very Geordie twist. Both t-shirts come to you for a very reasonable £15 plus P+P.

To order Fortiter Defendit Triumphans just click here.

To order St James' Skull and Crossbones click here.

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Away end at Brighton celebrating
Football Supporters Federation - Fan Mail newsletter, read and subscribe here

Sky meets fans to discuss impact

Broadcaster continues dialogue with delegation of fans & the FSF

Recently, represenatives from a number of Premier League fan groups met with executives from Sky Sports to continue to look at the impact the broadcaster's fixture changes have on match-going fans. Kat Law from the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, said: “We were encouraged by Sky’s enthusiasm to continue to build a working relationship with supporter representatives."

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Seven points from three of the hardest game of the season, on the road? Thank the lord for Rafa Benitez. Here is what the papers have been saying since United tightened their grip on the title.

Benitez is closing in on beating Kevin Keegan’s record of away wins in a season and the man himself was speaking about Newcastle’s title chances earlier this week. The former United boss was, as always, highly positive about the club and backed them to go all the way this season. Keegan said the club was returning to “where it belongs” but insisted “that’s when the hard work starts”

After a good week on the pitch, news broke off the pitch that wasn’t as pleasant. Youngster Rolando Aarons is set to appear in court after being arrested last October on the Quayside. The midfielder, who is currently on the sidelines, will face a violent disorder charge but is likely to avoid prison.

Finally, as this weekend marks a year since Benitez was appointed, you would expect the focus to fully be on him. However, opposition boss Slavisa Jovanovic is determined to cause an upset and ensure everyone is talking about his side on Saturday evening. The Cottagers boss has said this week that Fulham can “dominate” Newcastle when the two sides meet today. Let’s hope that isn’t the case.

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tf history prints, poster graphics of famous games - get yours here £10.00 each
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tf weekly podcast radio tower logo over pic of away end at Reading

Podcast x2: Craig Hope talks NUFC and Fulham Preview

For the second time this season true faith are joined by national football journalist Craig Hope of the Daily Mail. Craig gives us his views on all things Newcastle United and provides insight on the club and his views on the 'Rafalution'.

Amongst topics discussed are Rafa Benitez - will he stay or will he go (and why), United's season so far and a look at how the squad has done. There are some words on Aleksander Mitrovic as well as how Craig's relationship with the club has changed this season. Listen here.

The true faith podcast is back giving you a full Newcastle United v Fulham match preview. Alex, Si & Ben talk through three cracking results for United before looking ahead to a game that we could really do with winning. Alex is then joined by Russ Goldman from the Cottage Talk and Matthew Baldwin from the Total BS podcast. Listen here.

We now have a Facebook page if you want to speak to us and tell us we're wrong.

Follow and talk to us @tfweeklypod

We're on Radio Tyneside every Friday 6:30-7:00pm and pre-match every Saturday match at 13:30 listen on 1575 MW or online here.

LISTEN ON SOUNDCLOUD
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Gallowgate Flags t-shirt, The pride and the passion
tf Gallowgate Corner Original t-shirt

Gallowgate flags t-shirt & Gallowgate Corner - t-shirt

This t-shirt has been launched as a fundraiser for the Gallowgate Flags group. The target is to raise a further £1000 from the sales of this t-shirt in order to provide additional funds for the purchase of jumbo flags on the Gallowgate. The plan is to have them all ready for the end of the season. 100% of the funds raised from sales of this t-shirt will be donated to Gallowgate Flags, get yours here.

The Gallowgate Corner of St James' Park has always been one of the most vociferous and passionate areas of our grand old home. From the days of the terraces to the modern era, The Corner stands out as home to some of Newcastle United's most passionate fans get it here.

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Sky Bet Championship logo

Numbers

No team has ever failed to be promoted from the Championship when gaining 90 points across a season. Watford and last season Brighton both came third with 89 points and neither got promoted, both losing in the play offs. Practically all season United have been running at a points total of two points a game. Title winning form, I think they call it. We’ve ten games left and thirteen points are required to get us to 90. Funnily enough the game this weekend is Rafa Benitez’s one year anniversary at United, a period in the Premier League with a stinking side saw him accrue thirteen points from ten games, the same that we require now. He had a worse team in a harder league and managed. Now we’re in a worse league with a better team. It seems inconceivable that United will fail to make it to ninety points and get promoted.

Huddersfield at home to Brighton

There are caveats though. If Huddersfield win their game in hand then they will have 71 points from 36 games, practically two points per game and if they were to win again in their next game, they’d meet that promotion filling criteria (for the time being). I’m not convinced by Huddersfield. They’re the opposite to us of late, winning games they really shouldn’t have against Aston Villa and Rotherham. We’ve thrown points away in games there was only one winner since Christmas. Blackburn, QPR and Bristol were dominated by United and should have all been nine points. For that reason I don’t think Huddersfield can keep it up, though they face no more teams in the top six this season and looking at their fixtures a lot of the games seem ‘winnable’. For that reason it’s essential that there is no complacency. I’ve heard people looking at Fulham’s superb away form (second only to our own) and saying they’d take a draw. It’s wins that will get us promoted. We need to win all of our games, starting this Saturday.  Expecting anything less could lead to disaster.  

With two games of the league season to go last season Brighton had won their last five games and scored 12 in their last three. Then they drew their next game and found themselves outside of the top two for the first time since August. They couldn’t get back in and provided us with six points this season. No let up, no draws.  Just wins and promotion sealed in April. That’s the attitude the manager will have. We need to be the same. Saturday is a massive game.  Do your bit.

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Alex Hurst - tf podcaster & writer, follow on twitter @tfalex1892
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