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This issue of The Special is dedicated to Mrs Kath Cassidy and her outstanding loyalty and service to Newcastle United Football Club. Best wishes in your retirement from everyone at true faith.

Welcome to another issue of your essential match-day read The Special from your mates at true faith. 

So then, another derby match and I imagine you are like everyone else – shitting it. 

It’s been no fun losing five derbies on the spin, particularly to a Sunderland team as relentlessly piss-poor as them. It might be different if they were reasonably competent but the points gained from us have kept them up. Something has to change today because I’m not certain our collective morale could cope with a sixth successive defeat and fat head Allardyce grinning all over the joint with the Mackems leaping around like monkeys at the same time. 

We’ve got a canny read for you here but at the same time don’t forget Ryan Bell’s match preview on the main site. Just click here.

If you are in the mood for it yours truly and Alex Hurst met with our oppos from Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme in the week at the excellent Northern Threads in South Shields to record a pre-derby Podcast. It was all good crack with The Chronicle’s new lad Chris Waugh acting as the Kofi Anan and he kept order at the coast. 

You can get at the pre-derby podcast by just clicking here. 

Once again a big thanks to Northern Threads for being excellent hosts. 

Also at the pre-derby Podcast was The Telegraph’s Jonathan Liew who sat in and later filed this copy.  

It’s not a bad piece. 

Also on the blower last week was The Guardian’s Louise Taylor (aka Wheyse Keyes Louise). To be fair to the girl Taylor, she’s tidied up her act in latter years and no longer files copy likely to boil your piss for its clunking Geordie stereo-typing etc. The piece is likely to be in today’s Observer. I know, Podcasts with Mackems, patter with WKL, we’ve all gone soft. 

But if its real high-quality fanzine writing you are after then get stuck in to today’s offering in this here release of The Special but also the SUMMER SPECIAL issue of the true faith fanzine (TF121). It’s now absolutely FREE and gives you something of a foretaste of what we’ll be publishing on a regular basis and making available via the website.  

We are hoping to have the next issue of true faith published next week and you good people who have registered to The Special will get the first look. 

And finally ….  

Do you want to help us? 

You could forward this here issue of The Special to your Mag mates and tell them they can register for it themselves just by clicking on this here link. 

Cheers. 

Right, come on United, these are shite... 

Keep On, Keepin’ On

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mackems (a)

SWOT analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

After a great attacking display last Sunday we enter Mordor with the mackems the only club in the whole Prem and Football League still without a win. Fat Sham’s first task as chief pimp was to sort out a defence which had conceded 11 goals in 8 games. He managed to keep it down to just the one at West Brom, aided by the fact that Tony Pulis was only marginally less negative with only one shot on target during the whole game. ‘A drab contest’ The Times called it. As they experience the full horror of a team led by a man who has entertaining paying customers at the bottom of his list of priorities It almost makes you feel sorry for the mackems - almost. 

The team Allardyce fielded at The Hawthorns was:

Johnson came on as a sub for Larsson in the second half after West Brom scored and Defoe came on for Gomez as they chased the game late on. 

Jeremain Lens was missing as result of his two Yellow Cards the previous week. I would normally expect him to return along with Ola Toivonen, if he’s recovered from his groin strain, to play alongside Borini behind Fletcher.  Both offer an attacking threat with Lens in particular a danger. The problem for Allardyce is that, while this will give them more creativity, it will weaken their defensive cover. Fat Sham’s instincts will be to defend and get the long ball up to Fletcher. The other decision facing Allardyce is whether to bring Coates back into central defence after his suspension. How he selects and sets his side up will tell us a great deal about how he is going to approach the rest of the season, at least until January, when no doubt he will weave his transfer magic that brought us the likes of Alan Smith, Cacapa, Geremi and Rozenhal. 

I think we can pretty much guarantee that Allardyce’s sun’lun will work hard, be aggressive and get the ball up early to the front man to then battle for the second ball. It’s the approach that he is most comfortable with and the one he has adopted for most of his managerial career, including disastrously with us despite us not having the players to play that way. He’ll expect players to adapt to his style rather than adapt to their strengths and weaknesses. The crowd will be behind him in his first home game so we can expect it to be pretty full-on for the first 20 minutes with a yellow card for Cattermole. We, on the other hand, need to play the game as much as the occasion, matching their aggression and work rate and trying to quieten the crowd. Defensively, they are vulnerable to pace so I would hope that Sissoko will run at them and Wijnaldum will run past them. They may defend deep to try to stop this but this then leaves them vulnerable to Mitrovic’s presence around the penalty area. If he plays like he has in our last three games he could be the key to our winning this game.

The mackems are pretty much where we were before the Norwich game. If they don’t win the derby their prospects for the rest of the season are looking grim. A draw won’t be good enough for them as they seek a record sixth derby win in a row. It would leave them with only 4 points from their first 10 games and having already played their new manager joker. A defeat would be catastrophic. As the old saying goes, form means nothing going into a derby. However, confidence is very important  and I would hope that a 6-2 win, our first win before a derby since 2006, will send confidence soaring. Allardyce’s appointment and all that goes with that means that a draw wouldn’t be a terrible result for us but we should be looking to beat the worst team in the Prem. Let’s do this 

Prediction: sun’lun 0 Newcastle United 3

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Fanzine crack

Ahead of today’s annual visit to the back of beyond, we caught up with Tom Lynn. Tom is a long-standing Sunderland fan and as a dedicated Red & Whiter has contributed to their fanzine A Love Supreme for many years as well as had a spell as editor of his own title, The Wearside Roar. Tom is a season ticket holder at Sunderland and regular away-day tripper with his team. 

TF Another derby, another manager, this is becoming something of a habit isn't it? What's the deal with sacking all of these managers? 

Tom Lynn: Bad management at the top. Ellis Short wants to do well by Sunderland but he has been poorly advised and needs to surround himself with some football people who understand the English top flight in particular. Interestingly enough Sam Allardyce is the first of recent hot seat incumbents to demand that he is known as the manager as opposed to Head Coach. He wants control over transfers and general club policy. Of late prior to him Roy Keane started well and got us promoted at the first time of asking in 2006-07 but ran out of ideas and seemed to have limited imagination in the transfer market and lasted just over two years-his stint, however, was probably the most enjoyable since the Peter Reid era. Steve Bruce, the Northumbrian [born Corbridge] who calls himself a Geordie was doing well at one stage but once he oversaw the sales of people like Bent, Henderson and Gyan and brought in sub standards replacements he was going nowhere but out of the door and despite his protestations it was nothing to do with his black and white leanings. That 1-5 didn't help him, mind! It was a meek surrender and bordering on unforgiveable in its nature. Short pulled the trigger on him after two and bit years in 2011. Martin O'Neill [2011-13] started well and was perceived as the guy to take us to the land of respectability but ended up plummeting towards the gates of Championship hell via dire, boring football and allegedly often not being on the training ground much. Di Canio lasted six months but gave every SAFC fan several moments to cherish in one game-the 3-0 win over you lot at you place-from clipping Pardew pre match to sliding along the touchline and gesticulating to the Milburn Stand and giving it largesse at the final whistle. He was a bit mad but spot on with his observations of a lack of professionalism amongst certain cliques in the squad. It was never going to last. Poyet took us to Wembley and brought in some decent players, but many were loanees who left and were never adequately replaced at the time like Ki, Alonso and Borini. Di Canio and Poyet were never happy with players brought in by Directors of Football Di Fanti and Lee Congerton [the guy who paid £10m for injury cursed Rodwell], although Poyet needs to look at himself as he certainly influenced the signings of poor players [by Premier League standards] of Scocco, Vergini, Buckley and Bridcutt to name but four wastes of money. Hopefully Big Sam will build something his predecessors have failed to do for many reasons. Short must back him financially and personally, however, for this to happen.

TF What's your view on Advocaat leaving so soon into the season and now Allardyce taking over? 

Tom Lynn: Advocaat should never come back after doing brilliantly to save us from the drop and I'm afraid I view him as a bottler who left when the shit hit the fan courtesy of no wins in eight games. He moaned, and boy could he bleat on an almost daily basis, about not getting what he wanted during the summer transfer window. In that case if he was so principled he should have quit the night the transfer window shut, citing broken promises. Then people would have respected him.

TF I hear some SAFC fans questioning Ellis Short's competence these days, what's your opinion of your club's owner? 

Tom Lynn: Ellis Short seems pretty determined to build something at SAFC or he would have quit by now but see my comments above regarding the turnover of managers under his tenure. Get football people from corporate backgrounds at boardroom level and let Allardyce have a free rein and let's see what happens.

TF SAFC seems to have cracked the art of winning derby matches in recent years, why do you think you've been so successful in latter years? 

Tom Lynn: I suppose everything goes around in circles to an extent and despite people saying derbies are levellers, sometimes the other team simply has superior players for whatever reasons. You had a good view years of domination with the comparative ambition and financial input during the Hall/Shepherd/Keegan era and because you could buy better players than the then cash strapped SAFC who also had a new stadium to purchase, it was a painful time to be a Sunderland supporter. The most confident I've been of beating the Mags in recent years, we lost 1-5. I was far from confident before the Di Canio game at your place and we won 3-0. Of late I think we've wanted it more than Newcastle and have also played quite well, two major factors.

TF There is some whisper of a negative or even a drinking culture amongst SAFC players which has led to a revolving door of managers, what do you hear? 

Tom Lynn: There have been rumours of a drinking culture amongst certain SAFC players but I have absolutely no evidence to back such claims up. Additionally, when a team struggles as we have done often for too long, according to social media and the rumour mill not only is the centre forward shite but the tea lady's crap, the groundsman's dogs a mongrel and the kit man is a reincarnation of Satan!

TF Obviously, neither NUFC nor SAFC is doing particularly well at the moment, where do you think both clubs have gone wrong? 

Tom Lynn: Both clubs have been appallingly mismanaged in so many different directions and at times I think that they do take the combined regular nigh on combined 100,000 who watch our teams every other week for granted. its no coincidence that the mega rich clubs run by bottomless financial pit Arabs and Russians who acquired lots of wealth in a short space of time are at the top of the pile most of the time, but surely both clubs have enough to be better than the likes of Swansea, Southampton, Stoke etc., never mind Everton an their ilk? Imagine our potential if we were brilliantly run?

TF Where do you think both clubs will finish this season? 

Tom Lynn: I'll be ecstatic to finish forth bottom. We're both going to have to get our arses into gear to get out of our current doldrums but I'm hoping that three from you lot, Bournemouth, Norwich and possibly WBA Watford and Villa will save our day. It'll be close.

TF What do you think SAFC's strengths and weaknesses are as a team? 

Tom Lynn: Ashley has the finance to do something for any club he chooses but maybe he's been called a Cockney wanker too many times that he won't go the extra mile and just sees NUFC as part of his overall business portfolio. His stance with the media, your ground just being a huge advertising hoarding for Sports Direct and his Howard Hughes like persona is distasteful. However, look at the money Shepherd and Hall allegedly took with them when they left NUFC-not much ire is directed their way these days and Ashley inherited a lot of crap from the end of their time there. Steve McLaren is just a weird appointment after the manner Derby exploded after Christmas last season and a plethora of recent failures, interspersed with a little success, in Holland and Germany. He talks in soundbites and clichés and does not inspire confidence. Like ours, your support has remained out of proportion with what you've witnessed on the pitch, but you've had relative success and European adventures in comparatively recent times to keep you going-we were going through a 19 and 15 point season during those days!

TF There is a lot of talk amongst long-standing fans about the future of football and a bit of a depression about the state of the game - what's your opinion? 

Tom Lynn: Football is over exposed at every level. For heavens sake they are even showing Under 21 games on TV now. It is rapidly losing any novelty value, even at Champions League level. Then there's the fact that many clubs are literally buying success which is making the competitive element far scarcer than its ever been. Ticket prices are disgusting and we are being taken for mugs by manipulative business people who see us as cash cows and who are now simply taking the piss. Its cheaper to go abroad for a week than attend a London away game. Sometimes I hate the plastic, sanitised feel of the Premier League and its only the comradeship, wit and craic of fellow fans that keeps me going as my team has got shitter by the week this season to date.

TF What's your favourite derby memory? 

Tom Lynn: Any win over Newcastle is memorable for obvious reasons but for that split second of almost [or better than! :-)] sexual like ecstasy, Adam Johnson's late winner last season took some beating. Then there was Marco in the Leazes 1990, Di Canio's slides, Richardson's free kick...

TF What's the derby memory you'd like to forget? 

Tom Lynn: Two, 1-4 at home when even Chopra scored and 1-5 when I thought we were certs to win.

TF If there was one player from Newcastle United in the time you've been following Sunderland that you'd love to have seen in a R & W shirt, who would it have been and why? 

Tom Lynn: Shearer. He may a wankers hat on Wearside at times but if he was your club's main striker you'd always be in with a shout. His attitude was spot on too. I remember Bobby Robson saying on TV once that the hardest part of modern day football management was motivating millionaires but used Shearer as an example of a player he never had to gee up, adding that if he wasn't a professional footballer he'd be playing parks football with the same zeal.

Many thanks to Tom for his time 

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Shut up! 

Will someone have a word with John Carver? The bloke made such a monumental arse of managing United last season you might imagine he would be determined to keep a low profile. You know, like move to Alaska or something. But no “JC” (pfft) cannot keep his flap shut and there he was in the week talking about how it was essential McClaren won his first derby and all that. What a ‘kin brass-neck or what! Carver was in the dug-out for the five we’ve just lost on the spin and let’s not forget he was there when SBR lost two at SJP as well. Oh and of course the one with Gullit. So, he’s been on the coaching team for eight derby losses. Keep it buttoned man John.

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Don’t believe the hype

Against some pretty stiff competition Graeme Souness remains the worst ever manager we have ever had at Newcastle United with Dalglish running him close in my opinion. Souness seems to have some long-running resentment with United and there have been several snide remarks here and there over the years since he was pedaled ten years ago. To be honest I agreed with him that our derby game with the Mackems isn’t as intense as the Glasgow Old Firm between Celtic and Rangers and I’ll take his word for it about the Istanbul clash between Galatasaray and Fenerbache. What Souness didn’t recognize however was those fixtures are between the two leading clubs in domestic leagues that don’t attract much interest whereas United-Mackems exists within its own orbit and uncomplicated by the quest for domestic supremacy and silverware. But it doesn’t matter really. What seems to matter to Souness is the continuing need to talk himself up at the expense of others. Everything is about him. That’s probably why at his age he’s still getting his hair “done” and weighed in for some new massive ultra-white gnashers. The bloke is a bore. 
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NORTHERN THREADS - MID SEASON SALE HERE

A homage to Murcia

Last week I also caught up with one of our most popular writers and absolutely top notch laddie, Tony Higgins. Jarra Lad Tony now lives in Spain and is something of a massive convert to the Spanish game and his adopted country’s way of life but particularly its football. Not for Tony, however the glamour of Messi and Ronaldo but what interests your fellow Mag is the under-growth of Spanish football. Anyway, Tony has a new book out – A HOMAGE TO MURCIA and you can get at it here.

To get you in the mood for the book though, you can have a listen-in to the TF Pod-Father, Alex Hurst and me cracking onto Tony in this week’s Podcast. Just click here to get at that.

Get the book on Amazon now
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Five star 

Kevin Keegan won every single derby he managed Newcastle United in. No pressure Mr McClaren.
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Missing in action 

I’ll be keeping an eye on Fabricio Coloccini and Moussa Sissoko in particular today. Don’t let us down. 
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mackems away quiz

As ever this is just for fun, there are no prizes but the answers are at the foot of the page.

  1. In what team did former Sunderland manager Peter Reid and new Sunderland Sam Allardyce play together? 
  2. What was the score in the first ever derby match at Roker Park between Sunderland and Newcastle United? 
  3. What was the score in the last ever derby match at Roker Park between Sunderland and Newcastle United? 
  4. Who was the Sunderland Chairman who decided to call their current ground the Stadium of Light? 
  5. In what year did Newcastle United and Sunderland last meet in a Cup competition? 
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Sunderland 1-2 Newcastle United (Sunday 18th October 1992)

As It Was When It Was

Sunderland, Away, 18th October 1992

The previous week’s 1-0 home win over Tranmere secured Newcastle United’s 10th win out of 10 games. Scoring 23 goals and conceding 6, The Mags were 7 points clear at the top of the league and firm favourites to beat Sunderland at Roker Park.

On the back of a 0-6 defeat at West Ham played out Live to ITV viewers, the hosts had lost 5 of their opening 10 games and sat 19th in the table following Saturday’s results.

Having sold their 5,500 tickets in a day, United’s supporters took their habitual places amongst the home supporters around the ground. With ‘incidents’ occurring throughout the first half, the Clock Stand Paddock housed an additional ‘unofficial’ away end.

For The Record:

Somewhat underestimated and forgotten, despite the final touch ensuring an own goal, Newcastle’s opener was a tremendous move from defence to attack containing 11 passes.

Liam O’Brien’s winner was the 2nd successive season the Irishman scored a beauty at The Roker End.  The previous year’s chip over Tony Norman was arguably better.

United’s win at Roker was a first since 25th August 1956 (also 2-1). 

The 28,098 present was the highest league crowd on the road that season and only beaten by the League Cup attendance at Chelsea (30,193).

Following the previous season’s 1-0 victory at St James Park, this match was the 2nd game of 4 in a row that United would beat Sunderland. They would better that by winning 5 in a row between 2002-2006.

Tasmin Archer’s ‘Sleeping Satellite’ was Top of the Pops for the 1st of 2 weeks.

Tasmin Archer - Sleeping Satellite
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Man Down

Leeds United this week did their level best to put us in the shade in the comedy club stakes. Eleven games into the season and on the back of a bad run they sacked their manager/head coach Uwe Rosler, only appointed in the summer, and gave his job to Steve Evans,who'd recently parted company with Rotherham. Rotherham have also recently replaced Evans with Rosler's predecessor at Leeds, Neil Redfearn.

Rosler was the sixth manager or head coach to be relieved of their post by Leeds since owner Massimo Cellino took over in January 2014, just over 18 months ago. Prior to that, Cellino had got rid of 36 managers in 22 years in charge at Cagliari in Italy.

On the same day Rosler was fired, Cellino was disqualified from ownership of Leeds by the FA after failing their toothless Fit and Proper person test due to previous convictions for financial crime and fraud in Italy. Cellino is only the 5th person to actually fail the test in over 10 years.

The purpose of mentioning all this isn't to promote a cringing acceptance of what we have here at Newcastle,"be careful what you wish for", far from it. What this does show is how bad things can get. The aim has to be removing our club from private ownership, and for that matter all such institutions and clubs. That requires collaboration between governing body and government. Don't hold your breath.

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This is the End

Marina Hyde pointed out in the Guardian this week the absurdity of the clean, change candidate for FIFA's presidency being a representative of a hereditary autocracy who torture footballers. They are ploughing on with their presidential election when a significant proportion of their executive commitee, the current President, and several of those previously tipped to succeed him are either suspended by FIFA or charged with criminal offences. They seem to think nothing can stop their control, their dominion over football.

This week UEFA charged Manchester City because their fans booed the UEFA Champions league theme when it was played before their match in that competition.There's a regulation which explicitly forbids "disruption of a competition anthem" apparently. What ever happened to free speech, even the right of consumers to complain about what they are being served? This is all very indicative of our role in things; sit down, shut up, pay your money and provide an attractive backdrop for advertisers.

This all feels like something is about to break, that something is about to end. I don't know what is to replace these governing bodies or how but it seems the time is fast approaching that they will be perceived as more trouble than they are worth and swept away.

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Back to the Future

Rangers have won their first ten league games of the season in Scotland's second tier. Already they look like they are on a procession to the title and then returning to the Scottish Premiership for next season. Within a couple of years it will no doubt be as if they had never been away. The dynamic of the league hasn't really changed for the better without them. More teams fight for 2nd 3rd and 4th but Celtic have won every single title since Rangers last won it. Two clubs dominating has been replaced temporarily with a single club. Everyone would love there to be closer competition there than the permanent Old Firm grip on things, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen any time soon.

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Don't Let it Go to Your Head

I'm told we are favourites to win today's game with Sunderland; what a load of steaming old you-know-what. We win one game and all of a sudden we're the team in form. In case no-one had noticed, and no disrespect intended to them, but we were playing Norwich at home last week and scored a few goals. We could easily have conceded a fair few more than we did as well. Anything could happen, but I wouldn't be surprised if today's game was two sides playing it cagey and trying not to give anything away.

That's the pessimism over with. On the plus side, we've got a good win at just the right time before this one and our players and staff have to be in a better frame of mind going into the game than they would have been after a 1-0 defeat. Pairing Mitrovic and Perez undoubtedly looks the way to go for us so fingers crossed we don't revert to one up front now we've finally broken that mould. I'd love to see us take the game to them, put them under pressure and make life difficult for them from the off but whatever changes McClaren has made so far we're still not a pressing side and we're certainly not an attacking side. For all that, we've looked quite impressive when we have gone forward even when defeated in the last few games. Hopefully we can continue to create a few chances and put a couple away. 

Come on United.

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Fans still hit with bubble matches

Bristol City's away following are the latest to be hit with bubble match style restrictions - they'll have to travel to a service station to pick up their tickets for the Cardiff away game. While Burnley and Blackburn still face full bubble matches for their fixtures. Here FSF caseworker Amanda Jacks explains more and reiterates our opposition to this police tactic...

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The Newcastle Fans Brand - available here

What the papers say

In total contrast to the game at The Etihad three weeks ago, Steve McClaren’s half time team talk worked wonders as a shaky and poor first half performance turned into a solid and enjoyable display after the half time interval. The 6-2 rout of Alex Neil’s men means Toon fans can be cautiously optimistic ahead of the biggest game of the season this weekend. Here is what the papers have been saying over the past seven days.  

Where else to start than with GiniWijnaldum’s fantastic four from Sunday. The £14.5m man made up for United’s poor offensive tally this campaign with four top drawer goals which all left Norwich number one, John Ruddy, helpless. Couple that with Mitrovic’s Shearer-esque goal at The Leazes end, and fans can start getting excited at our attacking prospects. Of course, the defensive side of our play nearly cost us dearly. Norwich were gifted two goals by poor tracking back and lack of concentration. This all points towards a thrilling 5-5 draw in the derby this weekend, as neither North East team seems to be able to keep the opposition from scoring. However, the result from the weekend means black and white fans can have a bit more faith, as Sunderland look to make it six in a row. North east legends, Malcolm MacDonald and Julio Arca chatted to The Chronicle about their derby day predictions. 

The man looking to indeed make it six in a row, is of course a former Toon manager, who didn’t enjoy the best of spells on Tyneside. Sam Allardyce will be no doubt finding his first home game in charge of the Black Cats that little more special, as he aims to pile more misery on his former side, and gain Sunderland’s first win of the season. But Big Sam has this week claimed Mike Ashley didn’t give him enough time at the club, and believes he was unfairly dismissed, despite his poor start to life in Newcastle. But what is even more interesting to hear, is the players Allardyce claims he wanted to sign, but was not allowed to under the orders of the Sports Direct scoundrel. Sam claims England defenders Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines were on his wishlist, as well as Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric. Instead, the 61-year-old claims he was given Jose Enrique, Habib Beye and Chelsea world beater, Geremi… Interesting to see how his reign would have faired, had we gained these huge talents.

From potential transfers in, to potential transfers out as French winger Florian Thauvin looks like he may already he wanting a way out of Newcastle, despite only signing in the summer. The 22-year-old had a sensational debut, albeit against Northampton Town, but has failed to shine since then and has subsequently lost his place in McClaren’s starting XI. Mercato365 are the news outlet stating he wants out but there has been no word from the player as of yet. Dubbed as ‘Cabella mark II’, Thauvin’s signing came as a surprise as Newcastle splashed £12m on him, even though he was voted amongst the ‘Worst XI of the season’ by French magazine, L’Equipe. He doesn’t appeal to me and I’d much rather see his place in the side filled by a player like Rolando Aarons or Ayoze Perez.  

Finally, a sad day for people associated with NUFC, as veteran tea lady, Kath Cassidy has hung up her apron for the final time. Kath has been tea lady at the club for a whopping 52 years and is said to be known by everyone at the club. Ex managers and players such as Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer all paid tribute to her, claiming she was “much loved” and “Legendary”. Former Manchester United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson claimed she deserved “A long and happy retirement”. Let’s hope the departure of Kath doesn’t affect the players too much ahead of Sunday... 

Enjoy the game wherever you are watching this weekend.

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Listen on Soundcloud or subscribe on iTunes and listen LIVE 7:00pm Friday nights on Radio NorthumberlandFollow us on twitter @TFweeklypod

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Manc

It's not only in the North-East where nerves will be frayed this Sunday. Manchester United make the journey to City with a fair amount more riding on the result than this time last year. 

LvG rounded off last week's win at Everton by saying that if the red half of Manchester is victorious this weekend, his side should be considered title contenders. Louis van Gaal: Man Utd title contenders if they beat City

Taking that comment literally, he would have to fight off Slaven Bilic's West Ham for the Premiership crown given their prowess at the City of Manchester stadium. But fair play Louis, all that money spent is finally giving you some confidence. 

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Friends reunited 

Talking of rivalries, there's a bit of a manufactured one for Jurgen Klopp's first home league game as Liverpool manager. Southampton make the trip to visit their old first team, but at least this time they won't have to worry about playing too well and losing half of them to Anfield. 

It could prove a testing afternoon for Liverpool though, against a Saints team unbeaten away from home in the league, despite not hitting last year's heights. Klopp's team can press as high as they like, but you feel there will be chances for Southampton, left over from Rodgers' reign.

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Whatever Happens

You don’t have to live in Sunderland or the surrounding area. Sam Allardyce doesn’t manage your football team. Your team will sell out the home derby.  Lee Cattermole doesn’t play for you club. Your phone doesn’t autocorrect ‘the’ to ‘FTM’. You’ve seen your club play in Europe.  You don’t say ‘spoun’ ‘bouk’ or ‘keayz’. You know your club is vastly underperforming and want to do something about, compared to being in love with the London based Texan who has made you one of the Premier League’s worst ever sides. Adam Johnson wasn’t given the captain’s armband at NUFC this season. You support the region’s biggest football club.

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mackems away quiz answers: 1. Bolton. 2. Newcastle United won 3-2. 3. Newcastle United won 2-1. 4. Bob Murray. 5. 1979/80 (League Cup. 

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