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true faith - the special no. 130. Newcastle United v Norwich City, 28 Septmber 2016, 7:45pm K.O.
Illustration of Villa park

And fade in .... 

We may not have a bigger game this season than tonight's at St James' Park when we face promotion challengers Norwich City. This is going to be a very tough game and it will require every player to be at it and for us in the stands to be 100% behind the lads in Black & White stripes. No sighing at mistakes, no fanny behaviour if we are under the cosh or go a goal behind and certainly no booing at any point during the game. I've been part of some fantastic crowds at SJP when we've turned the place into a bear-pit of hostility and been right behind the players. Think of those games against Chelsea over the last few years, the Arsenal come-back and many more when our support has been at its raucous, radgie best and we've all been part of the contest as opposed to interested observers.  Now is the time for every good man and woman to come to the aid of the club we all love. 

We absolutely have to be United on and off the pitch. We have to be completely behind the manager and the players for the whole game. Its a piece of piss being at QPR cheering the goals rattling in - its a test of our collective character when we are hunting the points in the Championship. We have to be up for it. 

Come on United. 

Sam Allardyce

So then, Fat Sam Envelope has dropped himself in the shite with his stupidity and his greed. As I type this up its still not certain if he's the England manager or not but its hard to conceive of a way in which he could keep the job without the FA handcuffing themselves to a total wrong'un but its not like they can't say they are surprised. We've been there before with Allardyce with this stuff and there has always been a stench around him. This fanzine has been the recipient of some very interesting stories involving Mr Envelope but m'learn'd friends aren't going to get a nibble at us. Still, it was a good day on Barrack Road when we got shot of this money-grabbing prick. 

Alan Pardew as his replacement? You could not make it up. 

Anyway, back to the match tonight and you can have a good look at Alex Hurst's match preview that's now online. 

Thanks to those with kind words for this week's Thru Black & White Eyes true faith editorial - if you haven't read it yet, its here for you. 

Keep On, Keepin' On...

Follow Michael Martin true faith editor on twitter @tfeditor1892
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The Entertainers @0th anniversary game, Newcastle Legends vs Manchester Select, in aid of the Alan Shearer Foundation. Sunday 9th October 2016 Kingston Park.

Norwich City (h)

SWOT analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

Tonight we face what I believe to be our strongest challengers this season, Norwich City. They have kept the bulk of their squad from last season with the exception of Nathan Redmond, and understand what it is required at this level. They currently stand top of the table before Tuesday’s games, with 20 points from their first 9 games having won 6, drawn 2 and lost 1. Away from home their record is won 2 (Blackburn and Nottingham Forest), drawn 1 (Ipswich) and lost 1 (0-3 at Birmingham City). Last game out they beat Burton 3-1 at Carrow Road with the following team:

Norwich City team in last match v Burton Albion 4411: GK McGovern, LB Olsson, CB Klose, CB Martin, RB Pinto, LW Brady, CM Hoolahan, CM Dorrans, RW Howson, AM Murphy, CF Jerome.

Josh Murphy came on for his twin brother while John Ruddy, Sebastian Bassong and new signings Alex Pritchard and Nelson Oliveira, from Spurs and Benfica respectively were left on the bench. Manager Alex Neill made 10 changes to the Steven Naismith inspired team that beat Everton 2-0 at Goodison in the League Cup, proving that rotation is not just for Rafa. It’s probably the only way a side can survive over a 46 game season and Norwich have a strong squad which, arguably, should have seen them installed as favourites before the season began. Alex Tetley returns to the squad tonight but doubts remain over Youssouf Mulumbu, signed from West Brom during the summer on a free transfer. Matt Jarvis is their only long-term absentee after knee surgery in the summer.

Michael McGovern seems to have taken over from John Ruddy as the Canaries first choice keeper following his impressive stint for Northern Ireland at the Euros but this team still bears a strong resemblance to the team we played in the Premier League last season. Both Ivo Pinto and Martin Olsson will provide an overlapping outlet. Pinto notched his first ever goal against Burton while Olsson is a threat if he gets on the edge of the box as we found out to our cost at Carrow Road last season. Norwich’s midfield is the only one in the division which can compete with ours in terms of the personnel with the likes of Dorrans, Howson, Hoolahan and Brady available for Neill to call on. Up front the Murphys are attracting attention from Premier League clubs as they offer pace and a real attacking threat playing off Cameron Jerome, who, while limited in the Premier League, is a handful at this level. Jacob Murphy is their top scorer so far this season with five goals while Jerome and Howson each have three. Russell Martin and Timm Klose, meanwhile, are big strong lads at the back who also offer a threat at set-pieces. The 6ft 5in Klose scored against us last year when we failed to get anywhere near him from a set piece just after half-time. We can’t afford a repeat of what happened at Villa but, hey, Rafa knows this.

So this is our biggest test to date over what has been a challenging September. Let’s not forget that since we lost our first two fixtures we have won 7, drawn 1 and lost 1 - an impressive run. We also have the best goal difference in the division. But there are 36 games left after tonight’s fixture. I know it’s easy to get worked up over one game or a period of a game where things haven’t worked out quite as we would want but it’s important to take a slightly longer view. The strength of the squad is probably the most important factor in determining who gets promoted at the end of the season. My money would be on tonight’s opponents to be in the mix along with ourselves when we are counting the points after 46 games.

Author credit -  Wallace Wilson follow on twitter @wallacehwilson
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Illustration of Rafa with graphics of tactics board in background

What Would Rafa Do?

Rafa will have had an eye on tonight's game as a massive fixture from the very start of Norwich's blitz of form. 5 wins in a row, including Everton, has them top of the league and they look like our strongest rivals for the title this season.

Rafa will have known the threat they pose well before any of us and this game will have been identified long before any of us realised Norwich were any good. 

After a disappointing result at vile (whilst also being a decent result away to another big rival), Rafa will no doubt be looking for a more complete performance. 90 minutes not 70. Those that struggle to end games with the same intensity that we start games are surely under threat?

I'm looking at Momo Diamé more than anyone here. I don't think we've quite cracked what he can offer us yet, or where he is most comfortable, but we have seen sparks of how good a player there is in there. However, the drop off in effort and energy from him in the last 30mins of games is going to get costly.

Alas, I think Rafa will continue to play him and push to get more out of him. He was excellent midweek last week and perhaps when those around him are still recovering he can offer us more there. 

Clark makes great tackle to stop Villa getting a shot in, whilst Sels comes ruching out to block

There will be changes though, as there has been for midweek games so far. We have a list of players who will be fresh and gagging for a game. Some of those didn't even make the bench on Saturday. I love that we have this issue. The ability to field half a team that hasn't played 2-3 days previously will win us lots of points this season (see QPR away).

Last point, Matz Sels. Rafa Benitez will not be dropping his first choice goalkeeper because some of our fans went mental at him on social media on Saturday. If anything, Rafa has to play him because to drop him after Saturday would ruin him.

Rafas too much of a good bloke to do that to the guy who came highly rated at the start of the season. He's struggling to settle into the team, but Rafa will be as appalled as the rest of us who have common sense at the way he was vilified on Saturday. 

Rafa will do everything he can to rebuild this lads confidence before caving to pressure from idiots and dropping him. It's a shame for Darlow, if the situation was less emotionally charged he might get a chance but not now. He has to stick with Selz because it's the right thing to do. The fans need to back him.

The goal conceded at Villa was a poor one but it was coming for 20 Minutes as we'd lost our foothold in all positions. We, as fans, need to be better and more patient that this meltdown every time we have a blip. Selz having a mare isn't the only reason we will drop points this season. 

Rafa has a big job this season. Let's not make building players confidence after a weekly fan meltdown one of them.

What would Rafa do? 

3 points against our biggest rivals before (touch wood) a nice run of Autumn run of game. Viva la Rafalution.

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

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Birmingham City 0-2 Newcastle United (Saturday 28th September 2002)

As it was when it was

Birmingham City Away, 28th September 2002

Qualifying for The Champions League in April seemed a long time ago as Newcastle United started the 2002-03 season poorly.

With 3 defeats from their opening 5 league games and losing their 2 opening games amongst Europe’s elite, the previous week’s 2-0 victory over sunderland was a 2nd successive Derby win and appeared to kick start the season.

A visit to newly promoted Birmingham City was next.  The host’s had won 2 of their opening 7 games and were facing United in the top flight for the first time since 1985-86. 

Despite Brum knocking Newcastle out of the League Cup twice in recent seasons, the last 4 league meetings had returned 15 goals with United taking 10 from the 12 points on offer.

For The Record:

United’s victory was the 2nd of a tremendous 18 wins in 26 games that saw The Mag’s move up from 13th to 3rd and a slight chance of the Championship.

3 successive defeats quickly ended title aspirations but recovering to finish 3rd ensured a highest placing under Sir Bobby Robson’s United management. 

United won 28 of the 54 games played in all competitions that season.  Only 8 ended in a draw. 

Threatened with relegation following 6 defeats in 7, Steve Bruce’s side recovered to win an impressive 7 in 9 games and clinch a 13th place finish. 

Pink had a first of 2 solo number one singles to date with ‘Just Like A Pill.’

Pink - ‘Just Like A Pill.’ video on YouTube
Author credit - Marcy Corby follow on twitter @NUFC_1980_1994
Entertain with the Entertainers, 20th anniversary charity dinner St James Park, Saturday 8th October 2016.
Aaron Tshibola scores Villa's equaliser in the 88th minute to make the score 1-1

Glass Half Full

We conceded a late equaliser against Villa at the weekend. Unable to hold onto our lead or maintain the level of our first-half performance, we threw away 2 points really, to the widespread disappointment of our fans. That disappointment can shine a more positive light on events however. Being disappointed at only gaining a point from a game away from home against a club expected to be at the forefront of our rivals is a sign that we think we could have won the game, and that's got to be a good thing. We'd been ahead until very late on and had we managed the closing stages better we would have won the game. We came very close to an excellent away win against difficult opponents. Furthermore, we had many opportunities to put the game out of Villa's reach, especially in the first half, but spurned them all. On another day we might well have won the game very comfortably. Just the one point from that game is no disaster, because the circumstances of it point to the likelihood that we will win a lot of other games between now and May.

Championship table as of 27.09.16 showing NUFC in 5th place on 16 points

Consistency the Key

Having said all that, it's noticeable that only gaining 1 point from our last two games has seen us slip to 5th. No one is running away with this league but there are a lot of teams neck and neck in the race. Even a slight stumble by us means other sides forge ahead. For us to get to the top and create some breathing space we will need to put up a long consistent run of wins because most of the teams around us will be winning most of the time too. Though there were a lot of positives from the Villa game, good performances alone won't be enough. We can't afford to drop too many points because with only 2 automatic promotion spots we need to be careful we don't get into a 3-way race as happened in this league last season. Brighton lost out on a place in the top two on goal difference last year then failed in the play-offs. Nobody wants that so we need to get back to closing games out when ahead.


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Alan Pardew interviewed on Sky Sports after Crystal Palace's 3-2 win away at sunderland

Years Too Late

Sunderland threw away a 2-goal lead at home to Palace at the weekend and eventually lost to a last-minute goal by Palace's Christian Benteke. Was it just me had the thought flash through their brain that we were still being trolled by Alan Pardew? Pardew's record here against Sunderland was very poor, only managing one win from 8 derbies in charge. We were consistently out-thought and out-fought by them in his time here. It's frustrating in retrospect that now he's left us his teams seem able to raise themselves for games that are relatively meaningless to them, when that was the one thing he couldn't inspire our team to do.

Author credit - Mark Brophy tf writer & blogger, follow on twitter @mark_brophy
Read Mark's blog here link
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Fortiter Defendit Triumphans

We developed this interpretation of the city crest some years ago for a cover of the fanzine and its fair to say it has proven extremely popular.

Now we have incorporated that design 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. Let's not forget for many years, the city crest emblem sat proudly on the shirt of Newcastle United FC.

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What the papers say

What the papers say

It was Newcastle’s turn to drop points late on, as Aston Villa pounced late to make the away side pay for not taking their chances in the first half. ‘If only Gayle hadn’t missed those chances’, ‘If only Sels had saved the header’. No point dwelling, the game is gone, we go again in an even more important match this week. Here is what the papers have been saying over the last few days. 

The Villa game was disappointing but looking at the bigger picture, it is a much needed point away from home. A point that may turn to out to be crucial when it comes to the latter stages of the season. The draw means Newcastle have won only one of their last three matches and with teams such as Huddersfield and Reading keeping up with the league’s big hitters, this midweek game is now huge. Left back Paul Dummett is keeping the faith and believes the players will bounce back after a tough weekend.

Matt Sels

One player in particular was receiving excessive amounts of stick off the fans after Saturday’s game. Goalkeeper Matz Sels hasn’t had the brightest of starts to his career on Tyneside but some of the abuse he has been receiving on Twitter is absolutely embarrassing. Our own fans tweeting him directly saying they hope he breaks his legs… Beggars belief. I haven’t been impressed with Sels this season but I would never direct my anger towards him like that. Remember how shocking De Gea was when he arrived in England? Give the lad time… Sels decided to de-activate his account during the week.

Finally, the decision made by Rafa Benitez to drop Chancel Mbemba on Saturday was a surprising one. The defender was fully fit and hasn’t had too bad of a start to the season, so the decision to drop him was puzzling. However, as Rafa continues to rotate his big squad, he has admitted leaving Mbemba out of the side was for tactical reasons. Benitez claims he thought Hanley’s height in a game such as the Villa one would be a better fit for the bench. Surreal to think a player who could easily start every game, could also miss out at any opportunity. That’s Rafa for you.

Aaron Stokes tf writer, follow on twitter @aaronstokes96
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Vamos Rafa & Gallowgate Corner - t-shirts

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EFL clubs block "B-teams" idea

Restructure of the EFL divisions should not include Premier League B-teams, clubs say

Representatives from EFL clubs met with league officials yesterday to discuss the proposals within the Whole Game Solution. The possibility of Premier League B-teams playing in a revamped English Football League was put to an end, as was the prospect of Scottish teams, such as Celtic and Rangers, entering any new league structure. FSF deputy chair Martin O'Hara said: "One of the positives to come out of this is clubs talking to their supporters. We’ve seen evidence of that over the last couple of weeks – clubs speaking to their supporters, asking them what they want, what they think is important. That’s a good thing."

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Podcast: Should have been 3

United concede late at Vile Park and Alex Hurst and Simon Campbell are joined by Marcus Shearer to look back art two points thrown away. Matt Sels and his continued selection are discussed as well as the performance of the front two and the manager. Listen here.

We're on Radio Tyneside every Friday 6:30-7:00pm and pre-match every Staurday match at 13:30 listen on 1575 MW or online here.
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Newcastle 3 Barcelona 2 an evening with Tino Asprilla, Keith Gillespie and Joe Allon. Thursday 7th October 2016, Nine Bar, Newcastle United St James Park. Call 0191 229 9632 or visit
Bottom half of the Championship table

13 of 16

12 of our next 16 fixtures are against the bottom 12 teams in the league.  Whatever happens tonight, I fancy us being top by a distance on January 2nd after the Blackburn game.  So far from our 10 fixtures we’ve played all of the four teams above us, as well as Fulham, Bristol and Wolves – all of whom we’ve played in heavy purple patches for each side.  Derby County are the only ‘minnow’ we’ve faced so far.  So even if we lost tonight, the next two months should be immensely enjoyable.

Norwich City Club Crest


Our opponents tonight have face only two sides in the top 10 in the Championship – Bristol City (10th) with whom they beat and Birmingham City (6th) who tore them apart 3-0.  Norwich have faced 4 of the leagues bottom 6 sides.  Not a bad start to life in the second tier!

Not welcome mat

Pays your money

If you want to reserve the right to boo as you ‘pay your money’ get yourself along to the cinema so you can get yourself home and write nasty things on the internet to make yourself feel better.  Ring up Alan Robson or something. Please don’t come to the match.

Matt Sels deleted twitter account - @MatzSels does not exist

Things people who abused Sels online also do

Watch other people play computer games online 

Tweet companies who’ve upset them

Make fun of disabled pensioners online to get RT’s

Enjoy Click Bait

Post ‘Here’s Rafa’s line up for Saturday’ images on social media

Post on mackem forums pretending to be mackems

Don’t vote

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