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    Tuesday May 22nd, 2018

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Team TBC
Friendly

Venue tbc
Date tbc
Kick-off tbc
Last Match

Newcastle 3
Chelsea 0
Premier League
St. James' Park
Sunday 13th May
Match report

The Never-Ending Tour

  Number of Newcastle
  games attended by
  NUFC.com in 2017/18:

107



 

 

 

 

alt

 
Gallowgate lags:
Aarons sentenced


After pleading guilty to a charge of affray, Newcastle winger Rolando Aarons received a 10 month suspended sentence with 100 hours community service at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday.

The offence took place inside city centre bar Livellos back in October 2016, Aarons reportedly punching and head butting another man during a mass brawl.

Among several others convicted was Aarons' mother, who received a 28 week sentence suspended for 12 months, with a two month curfew.

Giveaways:
Winners


We received some nice feedback from two recent NUFC.com reader competition winners as follows:

Thanks to Coral, Simon Greaves took part in a fan game on the pitch at SJP on Monday:

"Just wanted to thank you again for the chance to have such an incredible day that will stay with me forever. Didn't disgrace myself and even played a key role in setting up our second goal in a 3-3 draw!

"PS: I bumped into this lad who was oddly familiar.."

(Dyer had just played in a game for a Barclays XI)



And thanks to the RFL, Keith Gunning was at SJP on Saturday and Sunday for the Magic Weekend rugby: 

"Just to say thanks again for the tickets...I've never seen rugby league live before - the last time I can remember watching it was on Grandstand in the 1970's, with Eddie Waring commentating."

We've got various other things to give away over the coming weeks including beer, books and anything else that we can blag on your behalf....

Internationals:
Roberto's got 
your number.....


Belgium's 28-man preliminary selection for the World Cup Finals in Russia has now been named and the name of Newcastle goalkeeper Matz Sels appears. 

The 26 year-old has been regularly called up for international duty since October 2015 but is yet to make his senior debut.

Roberto Martinez's side play Portugal in Brussels on June 2nd - 48 hours ahead of the cut-off date by which their final 23 man squad has to submitted.

They then have further home kickabouts against Egypt and Costa Rica before commencing their World Cup campaign against Panama in Sochi on June 18th.

While it's uncertain whether Sels will make it to Russia, only injury will prevent striker Aleksandar Mitrovic from taking his place in the Serbian squad.

They play a warm-up game against Chile in the Austrian city of Graz on June 4, ahead of their WC opener against Costa Rica in Samaria on June 17th.

(Achraf Lazaar wasn't in contention for selection by Morocco, while Mo Diame previously made himself unavailable for selection by Senegal.
Neither Jonjo Shelvey nor Jamaal Lascelles made the 23- man England squad or the five named reserves).

Other international call-ups:

Adam Wilson (England U18s @ Panda Cup)

Fri 25.05.2018 Uruguay (n) Chengdu FR
Sun 27.05.2018 27th China Chengdu (a) FR
Tue 29.05.2018 Hungary (n) Chengdu FR

Adam Armstrong, Freddie Woodman 
(England U21s @ Toulon Tournament)

Sat 26.05.2018 China (n) Aubagne FR
Wed 29.05.2018 Mexico (n) Salon FR
Fri 01.06.2018 Qatar (n) FR
(Tournament continues until Sat 09.06.2018)

Chancel Mbemba (DR Congo)

Sun 27.05.2018 Nigeria (a) Port Harcourt FR

Withdrawals/omissions:

Christian Atsu
(Ghana) injured
Ciaran Clark
(Ireland) injured
Rob Elliot (Ireland) not selected
Matt Ritchie ( Scotland) injured
DeAndre Yedlin
(USA) not selected

Ex-Mags:
Hoyoots


Former Magpies reaching the end of the road at their current employers include:

Sam Allardyce sacked as Everton manager
Hatem Ben Arfa
left Paris SG tbc
Facundo Ferreyra left Shaktar Donetsk
Jamie Holmes released by South Shields
Stephen Ireland
left Stoke City tbc
Alan Irvine sacked as West Ham coach
Brian Kerr
resigned as Albion Rovers manager
Alex Nicholson released by South Shields
James Perch
released by QPR
Marcus Maddison
transfer-listed by Peterborough
Stuart Pearce sacked as West Ham coach
Steven Taylor
transfer-listed by Peterborough
Mike Williamson released by Oxford United 

New clubs for old boys:

Steve McClaren now QPR manager
Chris Moore now manager of Consett
Mark Stimson now manager of Waltham Abbey

Happy Valley again:
Golden goals 
bring silverware

Newcastle U21s have made a successful return to the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens tournament after a one year absence, lifting the trophy for the second time.

Magpies hero was Callum Roberts, whose golden goal was enough to overcome Rangers in the final after 20 minutes of play failed to break the deadlock.

Watch Callum's winning goal here

That saw the sides reduced by a player to four-a-side, Newcastle defender Owen Bailey donning the gloves as "rush" 'keeper, with Nathan Harker making way. 

Two minutes later, a patient build up ended with Victor Fernandez centring for Roberts to side-foot his fifth goal of the tournament, before setting off on a victory lap of the field, pursued by his team mates. 

Newcastle captain Owen Bailey then followed in the footsteps of James Tavernier by lifting the trophy United last won in 2012. 

Saturday had seen Ben Dawson's side make it into the Quarter Finals following a win and two draws, and they advanced into the last four by beating Japanese side Kashima Antlers 7-6 on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

Spot kick successes came from Bailey, Fernandez, Barlaser, Roberts, Charman, Watts and Longstaff, with Harker saving an Antlers penalty. 

That brought about a meeting with Leicester City in the semi-final and after another close encounter the young Magpies prevailed, Callum Roberts scoring a golden goal to win 4-3 and seal a place in the Final against a Rangers side they'd already drawn with.

Results - Saturday (seven minutes each way): 

Hong Kong FC drew 1-1 Roberts
Newcastle Jets won 3-1 Roberts 2, Longstaff
Glasgow Rangers drew 0-0

Results - Sunday (ten minutes each way)

Kashima Antlers drew 0-0 (won 7-6 pens)
Leicester City won 4-3 Fernandez 2, Longstaff, Roberts
Rangers won 1-0 Roberts

Squad: Owen Bailey, Dan Barlaser, Tyrique Bartlett, Lewis Cass, Luke Charman, Victor Fernandez, Nathan Harker, Matty Longstaff, Callum Roberts, Kelland Watts.

PS: While the tournament was in progress, news spread that both Matty Longstaff and Lewis Cass had agreed their first professional contracts at NUFC.

Magic Weekend:
Eggchasers #4


The annual oval ball extravaganza that is the Rugby League Magic Weekend took place at Gallowgate this weekend - results were as follows:

Sat 19.05.2018:

Toronto
43-30 Toulouse

Widnes Vikings
18-38 St Helens
Wigan Warriors
38-10 Warrington
Castleford
38-10 Leeds Rhinos

Crowd: 38,881

Sun 20.05.2018:
Salford
12-26 Catalans Dragons
Wakefield
22-25 Huddersfield Giants
Hull KR
22-34 Hull FC

Crowd: 25,438

Borrowers:
Loan lads


Henri Saivet
(Sivasspor)
The Turkish Super Lig side ended their season with a 1-5 loss away to Besiktas on Saturday, but Henri didn't feature in Sivasspor's matchday 18.

Matz Sels
(Anderlecht)
Sunday saw the Brussels side round off what has been an unsuccessful end of season playoff series of games by losing 1-3 at home to Genk on Sunday.

That left them third in the six team group and with a place in the Europa League next season, not the Champions League.

Sels kept his place in the side.

Rolando Aarons
(Hellas Verona)
Previously relegated from Serie A, Verona rounded off their season with a 1-2 defeat at champions Juventus on Sunday, Aarons playing the first 62 minutes.

Aleksandar Mitrovic
(Fulham)
Aston Villa (n) Championship playoff, Saturday.

Update:
Accounts


Friday saw the publication of the club's latest set of accounts summarised online here
 
2018/19:
First friendly claim


Friday brought unconfirmed reports from Ireland that Newcastle are pencilled in to face St. Patrick's Athletic in a pre-season kickabout.

United are expected to hold a training camp for the third successive season
at Carton House near Dublin, a venue Newcastle first visited back in 2009.

That year ended with a friendly against Shamrock Rovers, while the 2016 camp culminated in Rafa's squad facing Bohemians.

However, last year's visit to Carton House was followed by a meeting with Hearts in Edinburgh. 

The League of Ireland side play at the 5,300 capacity Richmond Park in the Dublin suburb of Inchicore.

Season 2018/19 dates:

Thu 14.06.2018
Premier League fixtures @ 9am
Mon 02.07.2018 Pre-season training begins
??.07.2018 First live TV fixture announcement*
Thu 09.08.2018 Transfer window closes
Sat 11.08.2018
Premier League begins 
(theoretically that could be Fri 10.08)

(* last season was on Thu 06.07.2017)

PS: The 2018/19 season will be the third and final one covered by the current £30 ceiling on away ticket prices in the Premier League. 

Premier League:
Just Champion!

Newcastle  3  Chelsea  0

Match report

Movement:

Relegated from PL:

Swansea City

Stoke City
West Bromwich Albion


Promoted to PL:

Wolves
Cardiff City
Fulham or Aston Villa

Playoff Final:
Sat 26.05.2018
Fulham v Aston Villa 
(Wembley, 5pm)

Unlikely lads:
Running Mag


Update: Thanks to those who have pre-ordered their T-shirts already, only limited numbers now remain to be claimed - don't delay!

The countdown to the fifth section of Mark Allison aka
Run Geordie Run's global trek is nearing, with the Toon fan leaving Belgrade on Monday June 4th.

And commemorating th
e 2,900 mile trek from Serbia to Astana in Kazakhstan is a special edition T-shirt, now available to order for £15 plus postage.

Every penny of that £15 goes directly to Mark's chosen cause of St Benedict's Hospice and T-shirts will be posted after 1st June 2018
order here

Previous Run Geordie Run T-shirts have helped raise a remarkable £30K, which represents almost 10% of the total amount raised by Mark for various charities - he's currently closing in on the £300K milestone. 


2018/19:

Kit claims


These two designs are currently doing the rounds, claming to be leaked version of next seasons' kits:


 

alt

 
 


Fixtures, Tickets etc.
Season 2017/18

 
The stadium Box Office is located in the Milburn Stand, just up the slope from the Sir Bobby Robson Statue. The previous ticket desk in the club shop has now closed.

Paid-for matchday ticket collections take place from the windows at the back of the Gallowgate End Stand, above NINE Bar.

SJP Box Office phone: 0844 372 1892* 
(7p per minute plus network charge)

* 0044 870 444 1892 from overseas

 

Online Box Office is here

SJP seating plan is here

On the opening day of ticket sales, they officially commence at 10am - with any points reduction for away tickets becoming effective at the same time.

Away tickets are sold only to season ticket holders and members*. All ST holders are automatically members (a non-negotiable fee is added annually by NUFC to each ST).

Heading to the Toon?

City guide
here

NE guide here

Season 2018/19 dates:

Thu 14.06.2018
PL fixture release @ 9am
Mon 02.07.2018 Pre-season training
Thu 09.08.2018 Transfer window closes
Sat 11.08.2018
Premier League kicks off (theoretically that could be Fri 10.08)

The three-season PL £30 away ticket scheme concludes at the end of the 2018/19 season.

Run Geordie Run resumes his lap of the planet on June 4th, with the fifth of eight planned segments taking him from Belgrade to Astana.

Mark's 2,900 mile route is scheduled to take 100 days and he's running for St. Benedicts Hospice more details here

Other events @ SJP:

Live music:

Fri 08.06.2018, Sat 09.06.2018
and Sun 10.06.2018 Ed Sheeran, with support from Anne-Marie and Jamie Lawson.

Rugby Union:

10.05.2019
European Champions Cup Final
11.05.2019 Challenge Cup Final



 

International Magpies
National Service

World Cup Finals: 

Thu 14.06.2018-Sun 15.07.2018

Groups:

A Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
B Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
C France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
D Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
E Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
F Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
G Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
H Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

2018/19 international breaks:

Thu-Tue 06-11.09.2018
Thu-Tue 11-16.10.2018
Thu-Tue 15-20.11.2018
Mon-Tue 18-26.03.2019

Sat 05.01.2019-Fri 01.02.2019 AFCON Finals
 
Coxy's Cockup Corner
Whoops, He did it Again...



What's this all about then?
Click here  
for a rambling explanation of sorts....

 

On This Day in History
22nd May


Born Or Died:

1881 Colin Veitch born, Heaton.
(1899-1926)

Invited for a trial by Newcastle in September 1896 after facing them in a Northumberland Senior Cup tie for Rutherford, Colin Veitch signed amateur forms in 1899 and turned professional soon afterwards.

Debuting in a 0-1 home defeat to Wolves in October of that year, it took three seasons for the half back to become a regular in the side that finished fourth in 1904.

Then heralded an unprecedented period of success for the club and Colin featured in three League Championships and four runners-up finishes, plus five FA Cup final appearances (seven, including replays).

Captaining United to their 1910 success in the latter competition, Veitch was capped six times by England but found himself overlooked for selection after becoming involved in the Players Union.

Veitch’s final United game was at home to Everton in September 1914, and he served in the Royal Artillery as a 2nd Lieutenant.

Later returning as trainer and coaching United’s juniors, Veitch became Bradford City manager in 1926 after controversially being given notice to quit Gallowgate. 

Reporting on United’s fortunes for the Chronicle upon his return, he was banned from home games during 1929 after criticising the club in print.

One of the most significant figures in the club's history, Veitch was also one of the founders of the Professional Footballers’ Association.

Involved in the establishment of the People’s Theatre in 1911, his interest in the arts extended to writing and composition.

Colin passed away in the Swiss town of Berne, where he had gone to convalesce from pneumonia in August 1938.

Publishing his obituary, the Guardian said: 

"One of the finest footballers in Britain. Veitch's name was synonymous with honesty and good fellowship."
 

Thanks to the efforts of the Heaton History Group, a commemorative plaque was unveiled on Veitch's former house in 2013.

He was also selected as one of the club legends to be immortalised in banner form by the Gallowgate Flags group in 2016.

1901 Roddie MacKenzie born, Inverness.
(1922-35)

Joining United from Inverness Clachnacuddin for £100 in September 1922 after earlier service for rivals Thistle, right half Roddie Mackenzie was initially brought to SJP on a month's trial.

Debuting for the senior side in 1-0 home win against Huddersfield Town in April 1923, the 
tough tackler was a mainstay of United's side for a decade, playing his part in the 1927 First Division
Championship success and 1932 FA Cup Final victory

Losing his place after Newcastle's relegation in 1934, Roddie played on for Gateshead and had a short spell at Reading.

1931 George Lackenby born, Newcastle.
(1950-56)

Full back who graduated from Newcastle's junior side and made his league debut in a 1-2 defeat at Spurs in December 1951. 

George however found himself restricted to occasional starts for the first team due to the consistency of Bobby Cowell and moved on to Exeter City in 1956 in a £1,500 deal.

Later appearing in the colours of Carlisle United, Gateshead, Hartlepool United and Ashington, George died in 2004.

1956 Dave McKellar born, Ardrossan, Scotland. (1986)

Goalkeeper loaned by Newcastle from Hibernian to provide cover for the injured Martin Thomas in February 1986.

Dave began his career as an apprentice with Ipswich Town under Bobby Robson in 1973 and had loan spells at both Colchester and Peterborough. 

However, the Scottish youth international suffered from homesickness and returned to his native Scotland in 1976, turning out for Adrossan Winton Rovers.

Tempted back to England with Derby County in 1978, McKellar later played for Brentford, and Hong Kong side Happy Valley.

Joining Carlisle United in 1982, Dave was in goal two years later as Newcastle beaten them 5-1 at St.James' Park to end the Cumbrians' own promotion hopes.

Reunited with former Carlisle team mate Tommy Craig when he became Hibernian manager in 1985, McKellar however failed to dislodge first choice Alan Rough. 

Becoming a free agent in the summer of 1986 after Newcastle declined to offer him a deal, Dave joined Hamilton Academical.

He featured for the Accies in a momentous 1-0 win at Rangers in 1987, when future Magpie miscreant Albert Craig allegedly blew his nose on an Ibrox corner flag....

Returning to Brunton Park (initially on loan from Dunfermline) in 1988, McKellar later moved to Kilmarnock, finally ending up at Rangers, as cover for Andy Gorman. 

Later working in child protection for the social services in Scotland, he opted to remain in that role when offered the job of Everton goalkeeping coach by Walter Smith during his time in charge at Goodison. 

1959 Alan Brown born, Easington.
(1981-82)

A product of the mackem's junior system, striker Alan Brown scored twice against Newcastle during a League Cup tie in September 1979 - and then netted the winning spot kick in a penalty shootout. 

Falling out of favour at Roker Park during the 1981/82 season, United took him on loan in an attempt to boost their forward options, Alan Shoulder and Bobbby Shinton both struggling for fitness and Imre Varadi left to shoulder the goalscoring burden. 

Brown quickly gelled with the equally fleet -footed Varadi and the duo inspired fine home wins over Charlton and Luton in successive games during November 1981.

Netted his first Newcastle goal in a 4-1 rout of the Addicks, Brown then grabbed two against the Hatters before leaving the field through injury - United winning 3-2. 

Missing a midweek defeat at Orient, Brown then featured in draws against Grimsby Town and Blackburn Rovers without adding to his goal tally.

Expectations were high that a permanent deal would be concluded, but Brown then returned to the mackem amid United claims of a back problem that he denied. 

Meanwhile, questions were raised about our ability to meet his asking price - said to be £100K.

David Mills then appeared on loan from West Bromwich Albion in early 1982 and Brown ended up at Shrewsbury Town in a part- exchange deal with Ian Atkins. 

There certainly seemed very little wrong with him on his next appearance at SJP, scoring the winner for the Shrews in our opening game of the 1983/84 season.

In fairness, Newcastle's claim of an injury problem looked more authentic when Brown left Gay Meadow soon after and barely played for his next club Doncaster Rovers before retiring in 1986 - aged just 27.

Brown later worked as a prison officer at Durham, while son Chris also played for the mackems and Doncaster Rovers.

However, his off-field exploits - including shooting people with a ball-bearing gun and appearing in a sex tape were rather more memorable than his football.

1968 Paul Moran born, Enfield.
(1991)

Alleged striker who came through the ranks at Spurs and made his first debut for the Cockerels during the 1986/87 season.

Failing to become a regular starter at White Hart Lane, Moran went out on loan during the 1988/89 season to Portsmouth and had a spell at Leicester City a year later.

His Magpies career consisted of one erratic outing
home against Wolves in February 1991 - after which his loan was terminated.

Completely missing his kick when an early chance fell to him, claims later emerged that he'd spent the previous evening sampling Tyneside nightlife with fellow Spurs player, Paul Gascoigne. 

After a brief loan spell at Third Division Southend United, Moran somehow ended up back in favour at Spurs and managed a handful of (scoreless) Premier League appearances in 1992/93 and 1993/94.

Handed a free transfer in the summer of 1994, Moran signed for Peterborough United but failed to score in 11 appearances and left London Road the following summer. 

He then played for non-league Enfield, Kingsbury Town, Hertford, Hendon, East Thurrock United, Borehamwood and Potters Bar Town - acting as player/coach at the latter until 2005. 

Spurs fansites report that Moran worked as a painter & decorator in Enfield, worked for the Press Association and was part of the Spurs Veterans side.


 

What Else?

1921 Real Sociedad (Spain) (a)
3-0 
(?-?)
Friendly 
Smailes(1-0,2-0), McDonald(3-0)
Crowd tbc
Following two games in Barcelona, United's post-season tour of Spain moved on to San Sebastian and the Atocha Stadium.

Team: Lawrence, McCracken, Hudspeth, Curry, Low, Finlay, Aitken, Ward, Smailes, McDonald, Seymour.

1924 Real Madrid (Spain) (a)
1-2 
(?-?)
Friendly 
Scorer tbc
scorers tbc
Crowd tbc  

1927 Dutch Olympic XI (a)
4-1 
(2-0)
Friendly 
McDonald, Clark, MacKenzie, Harris 
Leerkotte 
12,000 

Played in Deventer, Holland and featuring a birthday goal for Roddie MacKenzie. The home side replied early in the second half through Leerkotte from the GOLTO club.

Team: Wilson, Maitland, Hudspeth, Harris, Spencer, Mackenzie, Seymour, McDonald, Gallacher, McKay, Low.

1932 Racing Paris / Red Star Olympique XI (France) (a) 1-3 (1-2)
Friendly 
Weaver(pen)
scorers tbc 
5,000

Cup Winners United embarked upon a brief two match tour of France and Germany, but left behind goalscoring hero Jack Allen in hospital for a double hernia operation. 

The game was played on a Sunday in the Stade Olympique de Colombes, main venue for the Paris Olympics in 1924.


Match action from Paris I


Match action from Paris II

1946 Hammarby IF XI (Sweden) (a)
0-1
(?-?)
Scorer tbc
2,000
Game four of Newcastle's end of season visit to Scandinavia saw them lose to Swedish opponents for the second time in 24 hours.


United in Sweden 1946 (from top left):
Milburn, Bradley, Craig, Harvey, Wright, Graham, Stubbins, Wayman, Swinburne, Corbett, Hair.


1958 Progresul Bucharest (Romania) (a)
1-1 
(1-0)
Friendly 
Mitchell(
1-0)
scorer tbc(80)
40,000
Having begun their post-season tour with a 2-3 loss in Barcelona, United travelled via Paris, Brussels, Cologne and Budapest to Bucharest and were accommodated in the Athene Palace Hotel.


Team: Simpson, Keith, McMichael, Scoular, Stokoe, Franks, Hughes, Davies, White, Eastham, Mitchell.

1960 Hadjuk Split (Croatia) (a)
2-3 
(0-1)
Friendly 
White, Stokoe(pen)
scorers tbc
Crowd tbc 

1983 Select XI Thailand (a) 1-0 (1-0)
Friendly 
McDermott(
1-0)
25,000 
A 30-yard rocket from the boot of Terry McDermott won this contest staged in Bangkok as United's Far East tour continued. Record buy John Trewick fractured his wrist and returned home.

1985 New Zealand FA (a)
4-0 
(3-0)
Friendly 
Reilly(22,72), Gascoigne(24), Beardsley(30)
6,500 

Another "All Whites" meeting - this time at the McLean Park cricket ground in Napier.

Team: Thomas, Brown, Saunders, McCreery, Clarke, Roeder, McDonald, Cunningham (Gascoigne), Anderson, Beardsley, Reilly. 

1988 Jamaica (a)
1-1 
(0-0)
Friendly 
og(76)

Newman(
0-1)
1,000
The second and final game of United's visit to the West Indies was delayed by 24 hours as local officials attempted to contact missing Toon striker Mirandinha.

Claiming to have been unwell, he reportedly agreed to travel from Sao Paulo to Kingston for the game but then failed to show up. 

1999 Manchester United (n) 0-2 (0-1)
FA Cup Final
Sheringham(11), Scholes(53)
79,101
Another fantastic Magpies display at Wembley Stadium - off the pitch, that is. 

Amnesia prevents us from dwelling on the second leg of Fergie's treble any further.
Match report
.


No words needed

2001 Exeter City (a)
2-1
(1-1)
Friendly

LuaLua(14), Quinn(35)
Roberts(49)
4,702

A friendly match probably best remembered/forgotten for Carl Cort's serious injury after an unnecessarily heavy challenge from Exeter's Graeme Power. 
NUFC.com match report.

2011 West Bromwich Albion (h)
3-3
(2-0)
Premier League
46pts, 12th/20
S.Taylor(16), Lovenkrands(39), og(Olsson)(47)
Tchoyi(62,71,90)
51,678
While the rest of the Premier League were preoccupied with Survival Sunday, United threw away a three goal lead and lost the chance to finish in the top half of the table, eventually ending a mixed season 12th.
NUFC.com match report


2012
Some self-fulfilling prophecies from Alan Pardew about season 2012/13:

"I’m hoping that I will educate our fans for next season.

"If they think we can finish fifth with a European campaign and the finances we’ve got, it’s impossible. 

"I honestly believe that you need to be a bit more open with the fans. The problem some managers have is they’re not open enough.

"This year, I’m sure we’ll say something like, ‘We’re looking for a top-eight finish, hopefully attack one of the cups and have a great run in Europe. 

"I wouldn’t say we couldn’t challenge for the top six if we got knocked out of Europe. Then we wouldn’t have those extra 13 games."

As it turned out, 14 games in Europe saw us battling relegation until the penultimate game of the league season. Just as well we bombed out of the other cups at the first hurdle....