How do you assess Newcastle’s season so far?
I think I said last time that we over performed last season so this season was always going to be difficult but I don’t think anyone would have thought it would’ve been this difficult! Perhaps people will say that the Europa League was a distraction and we’ve had a lot of changes to the squad but I think some of the blame has to be laid at the owner and manager. Alan Pardews’s long-term contract was a bizarre choice and the numbers of transfers have been bewildering as well. A lack of a domestic cup run has also been depressing.
Do you think you’ll fight off relegation?
I think we’ve got enough quality in the squad to fight off relegation and I think Wigan will be the last team to fall into the trap door. The fact you’re asking that question shows how bad this season’s been.
Demba Ba left for Chelsea in January. Has that affected the season?
Sadly he’s still our top scorer which is quite a depressing fact. I don’t think anyone would criticise Ba after how he was treated by Pardew. He was essentially forced out as Pardew refused to play him in position and I can’t really understand why. There were rumours that his knee injury was a long term issue but I think that was what the owners wanted us to think.
Newcastle went all French in January with their signings. What was Pardew’s thinking there?
I assumed that he was just copying Arsene Wenger! I have no idea what that transfer policy was about. Moussa Sissoko and Debucy have been amazing signings but I can’t understand why we didn’t look around a bit further afield. Perhaps we’ve only got scouts based in France!
What do you think has gone wrong this season?
I’m not entirely sure. It’s been a strange season really with a lot of new players coming in so maybe that has been the major issue – we haven’t had a settled team. You wouldn’t thought the face the majority of the team speak French was a positive but maybe the sudden influx of players especially in January has had a detrimental effect on the team overall. Most clubs like Everton and Swansea have built slowly signing a two or three players each season whereas we signed 5 players in January alone.
What did you make of McManaman’s tackle on Haidara?
I know I’m biased but I think it was a terrible tackle that could’ve ruined his career. I was incensed at the time.
Who should West Ham be worried about in the upcoming match?
I don’t know anymore. After the Liverpool match I just hope we actually turn up. Cisse knows where the goal is so I’d go for him although he’s been quieter than last season. I’d also like to say Yoann Gouffran but I’d be lying.
What’s your opinion of West Ham this season?
Disappointingly you’ve been remained solid throughout the season and good to see Andy Carroll scoring again. You’ve been a classic Sam Allardyce team and have been hard to break down which has been why you’re comfortably mid-table.
Which West Ham players would you have in your squad?
I think I said in the last interview that I’d love to have Andy Carroll back in the black and white and that hasn’t changed. The rumours are that he’d love to come back and I think most supporters feel the same way. I’ve also been impressed with your defence (not surprising given some of our shocking defensive displays) and Collins and Reid have been very solid in the centre.
Your prediction for both clubs earlier in the season was Newcastle 7th and West Ham 12th. What do you think it will be now?
Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. Hopefully Newcastle 15th (and above Sunderland) West Ham 10th.