Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Something I expected has happened...

After repeating years some many times during my university studies, it was inevitable that I would see one of my former class peers (I can never get rount to calling them "mates") treating me as a patient. It has already happened once before in April, when the house officer in the psychiatric ward was a former class peer who I was in a group once (for those who are curious, it was Stephen Ho). Now Lydia Wong (a resident) was seeing me today in the Out-Patient clinic.

Thankfully I am not that close to her, otherwise it would have been awkward for both of us. I don't even know if she recognized me at all. Well I only get to see her again once more in September and that will be it. If it had been one of my closer friends, let say Vanessa Wong, that would have been very awkward... or maybe hilarious in the case of Vanessa.

For my second English Premier League preview, I am going on to Newcastle United. After getting into the 2nd qualifying round for the UEFA cup and signing a quality playe in the form of Damien Duff for only 5 million pounds, I think things are looking up for the Geordies.

However I didn't agree with the appointment of Glenn Roeder as manager. Firstly he didn't have the coaching qualifications for the job. I know he would have obtained those qualifications if he hadn't had the brain tumour but it is still the rules, which were established to stop any old former player just walking in and taking the job without any experience. Secondly his record as manager (formerly at Gillingham and West Ham United) is questionable. For both clubs he took them to seventh in his first season in charge (the same with Newcastle United last season). The second season, both teams were relegated. Maybe we'll see a trend here?

Frankly what Newcastle need right now are a couple of good strikers, thanks to Alan Shearer retiring and Michael Owen crocking himself at the World Cup. More of that in my positional review

Postional review

GK: Shay Given, Steve Harper, Tony Krul
Frankly, with Shay Given an automatic first choice, I don't see why Steve Harper should leave. It's going to take him years to get some games, see the form and fitness of Given.

RB: Stephen Carr (Peter Ramage, Steven Taylor)
An area which Newcastle might want to strengthen up in. Stephen Carr is good but he is on the wrong side of thirty. May need a younger understudy (I though Glen Johnson could have been attracted up north). However Steven Taylor and Peter Ramage have deputised in that position without any trouble and Newcastle's priorities lie elsewhere.

LB: Robbie Elliott, Celestine Babayaro
According to my sources, Elliott should have been released by now as he is out of contract. This should be a good thing, since the Magpies do need a better and younger left back. Matthew Taylor of Portsmouth and Gareth Barry of Aston Villa have been mentioned.

CB: Steven Taylor, Titus Bramble, Craig Moore, Jean Alain Boumsong, Peter Ramage
The defence was very rickety last season, with Bramble and Boumsong the main culprits. However Bramble has been given a show of faith by Roeder and seems to be staying. The future of Boumsong is less clear, with various French clubs (such as Marseille) wanting to sign him. Craig Moore might go but he had quite a good World Cup and with just a year on his contract maybe harder to shift. Newcastle would only bring in new centre backs only if others leave.

RM: Nolberto Solano, James Milner (Kieron Dyer)
Another good solid area for Newcastle. Solano is a great crosser of the ball and finally the board has seen the potential of Milner not to sell him to Aston Villa. Since Solano is getting on a bit, Milner will get chances plus he is versatile enough to play on both wings and up front.

LM: Charles N'Zogbia, Albert Luque, Damien Duff
People have questioned why bring in Duff when N'Zogbia had a fantastic season whilst Luque is still at the club. Well like Milner, Duff is versatile enough to play on both wings and up front, which he has done for Chelsea and Ireland. Plus Luque's future is far from certain at the Magpies.

CM: Scott Parker, Emre, Kieron Dyer, Lee Clark, Amdy Faye, Nicky Butt
A bit of congestion here - don't be surprised to see some players going. The only guarantees I see here are the first three. Clark should have been released by now whilst the futures of Faye and Butt are questionable.

FW: Michael Owen, Shola Ameobi (Damien Duff, Albert Luque, James Milner)
The most important area Newcastle have to bulk up on. With Owen out until Christmas at least one striker, but preferably two, will be needed. Dirk Kuyt, Miroslav Klose and other have been mentioned by the lack of Champion's League football may prove a dampener for Newcastle.

If Newcastle can get a top quality striker, I think they can challenge for a top six place.

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