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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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Michael Gove proposes House of Lords sit in Sunderland during Parliament refurbishment

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Sunderland has been suggested as one of several locations for the House of Lords to relocate to while Parliament undergoes refurbishment.

York had been previously been proposed but the Government vetoed the plans.

Michael Gove, who is Levelling Up Secretary, is said to have written to Lord McFall of Alcluith suggesting locations including Stoke-on-Trent, Burnley and Sunderland.

In the letter, Mr Gove said he knows “cities and towns across the United Kingdom would be pleased to extend their hospitality to peers”.

He is quoted as saying that having “carefully reviewed the proposed arrangements”, he “will not support the use of the QEII Centre as an alternative location”.

The Queen Elizabeth II Centre conference and exhibition space is just a few minutes’ walk from the Palace of Westminster in London.

In the letter, which the Sunday Times said was also sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, Mr Gove suggested a move elsewhere in England, Scotland or Wales.

He is reported to have written: “As the minister responsible for levelling up, it is clear to me that the House of Lords moving elsewhere, even for a temporary period, would be widely welcomed.

“I have carefully reviewed the proposed arrangements and…I will not support the use of the QEII Centre as an alternative location.

“I propose to establish dedicated liaison points for you in my department to support you in identifying a suitable location for the House of Lords in the North, Midlands, South West, Scotland or Wales. I would, of course, be happy to meet you to discuss this.”

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city-guides

Tyne Bridge to Close for Several Weeks for £41m Restoration

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Several weeks of overnight closures are planned in order to allow engineers to assess how bad a state the Tyne Bridge is in, before it can be restored to its former glory.

The long-overdue restoration is estimated to cost £41m in order to restore the bridge and refurbish the Central Motorway.

According to a local authority report, the inspection is expected to require the famous crossing to be closed from 10pm to 6am from June 13 to July 1. A number of roads underneath the bridge on the Newcastle Quayside are also due to be affected by the works – with closures due between May 16 and June 10 on Quayside, Lombard Street, Queen Street, and Akenside Hill from 8pm to 6am.

A Newcastle City Council spokesperson said: “We submitted a bid for £41.4 million to Government which, if approved, will enable a four-year maintenance programme for the Tyne Bridge and the Central Motorway to go ahead. As part of the funding process, we are required to carry out some initial works on the Tyne Bridge.

“This includes a full inspection of the bridge, so we can assess its condition and the scale of works required to finalise the costings and project plans to fully restore and refurbish this major structure. This needs to be completed ahead of funding being approved.

“As we need to inspect the entire span of the bridge, overnight closures may be required on the bridge and roads underneath it, so engineers can complete this work safely. Details on the programming are being finalised.”

The Tyne Bridge has not had any major maintenance for two decades and its much-needed refurbishment has been at the top of council officials’ to do list for years, in the hope of ensuring it is looking its best once again by its 100th birthday in 2028. However, it has been warned that the grade II* listed structure may have deteriorated into a worse condition than currently known and council bosses have warned that, like on other major projects like the Grainger Market’s roof repairs, the refurbishment may take longer than expected.”

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Seaburn and Roker Beaches Named Best Beaches in the Country in 2022

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Sunderland’s beaches have been named among the best in the country for the 11th year running.

Seaburn and Roker were both named as winners of the Seaside Award by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy. The pair were once again handed Blue Flags, marking them out for their for their excellent water quality, cleanliness and attempts to constantly improve visitor amenities.

The Blue Flag awards, now in their 35th year, are issued by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy and act as ‘a quality mark so visitors can be sure the beaches boast top-notch facilities and meet the highest environmental standards’.

Linda Williams, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for Vibrant City, said: “It is fantastic to see Sunderland’s beautiful beaches once again awarded the prestigious Blue Flag and Seaside Award.

“Flying these flags at Roker and Seaburn shows everyone who visits that our seafront has excellent quality bathing water and first-class facilities.

“We’re very lucky to have fantastic beaches with beautiful, clean water to swim and bathe in, and this national recognition is testament to the hard work of everyone involved in keeping our beaches clean, tidy and well-maintained.”

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