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tim  krul 18 Mapou  Yanga-­Mbiwa Steven  Taylor Fabricio  Coliccini Davide  Santon JUST  A  FOOTBALL  CLUB?  19 IT’S  FAR  MORE  THAN  THAT! WORDS//BRIAN HALL - AUTHOR OF LIFE OF BRIAN IN BLACK AND WHITE hatem  ben  arfa Moussa  Sissoko Papiss  Cisse AS IT RS WORDS//MAX FLINDE Yohan  Cabaye Sylvain  Marveaux Yoan  Gouffran STANDS As we approach the new season with no signings, many of us are wondering who will be in the starting 11 for the opening game away at big spenders Manchester City. This is the team I would pick if all are fit to start. Hopefully we can go into the new season with a renewed belief in our own ability after a horrendous season last time round. I can honestly say it was one of the worst in my memory. Mike Ashley has not done anything to show us he wants to improve our squad, adding only to his catalogue of balls ups by employing JFK. Why he has come back to Newcastle United, none of us know but he has already caused embarrassment with his loose tongue and I can see it happen again and again. Only time will tell if he will end up as manager again. I wouldn’t bet against this scenario happening before the season is finished unless we manage to get some good, early results and get some confidence into the team. The best way for us to get results is for us to have a go - you only have to look at the way Swansea approach games. Swansea go out to win. When they want a win, they will have a go at City, not play for a draw and hope to sneak one at the death. Man City will take us apart if we sit back. They may take us apart even if we have a go but at least we, the fans, can have a team we can be proud of and just maybe, we can go there and win. Manchester City are in a different league to us but beating them is not impossible and being our first game, we could take them by surprise. I want to see Marveaux get a few games under his belt and settle into the first team. With him and Ben Arfa in midfield we would have flair, pace and most of all, chances. All Pappis Cisse needs is a half chance to start firing in goals and with the Gouffran running alongside him, I think they could do well. The Targets We definitely need another forward for competition and injury but attempting to buy three forwards seems to be a little over the top unless they are buying with an eye on selling Cisse? I think we could do with another play maker in midfield and offload Cabaye. He has been too inconsistent since he joined and as I have said many times before, he goes missing in games far too often. I am also a little concerned about our goalkeeping options. If Krull doesn’t get fit for the start of the season and his injury drags on, or he sustains another injury, I don’t know if we are in safe hands with Rob Elliot. He has made a few good appearances and some fantastic saves but in my opinion, he is not ready for first team at St James’ Park. Our number three, Jack Alnwick, is surely not ready for first team football but he could find himself in the first team if we suffer injuries like last season so another tried and tested goal keeper would be a sensible target for us. Our defence is looking ok at the moment and I hope Debuchy can force his way into the team as he is a great player although he didn’t impress last season. He seemed to lack pace and in the Premier League, pace is an attribute many managers are looking for. He does like to get forward but with Ben Arfa playing on the right, we need a more stable defence. Marveaux, Sissoko along with Ban Arfa, will provide enough attack. I have lost a little bit of hope for Newcastle United as of late but it only takes a decent run to get everybody going again and hopefully the lads can do just that. As it stands though, I am not happy with the ongoing circus Newcastle United has become. Thank God England are playing decent cricket in the Ashes. I have long held the view that Newcastle United are not exactly your average football club. And I am not talking about events both on and off the pitch, because I don’t really feel like going down that path! No. I am expressing a view that this institution represents far more in terms of simply footy. This is a little, canny proud region, somewhere between England and Scotland, only recently described as having many parts which are uninhabitable, remote, and, well, desolate. That came from some buffoon in the House of Lords. So what. The key point though, as John Hall once put it, is that Geordies – loosely defined, that is – are the Basques of England. Fierce, proud, passionate identity, never to be surrendered. And therein comes the place of Newcastle United in people’s lives here. Whether NUFC fans have a season ticket, travel to every away match, live in Australia, never get to a match, or a just a Granny in a cafe, so many people in this region see this club as quite an important part of their lives. Their culture. And that is felt with intens