Swiping Barcodes - Newcastle Preview
Date: Friday 10th August 2007'Oh, mi lads, you ought to see the cases, Bellies hanging over pants and black tattoos for braces. Three parts pissed on Newky Brown and silly gins on faces We’ll just have to wallop em... and put them in their places.' Like the expectant feeling you get as a simmering T-Bone steak lands in front of you, the saliva drools at the very thought of the most looked-forward to opening game of the season in recent (and not so recent) memory. This Saturday, August 11th, Sam Allardyce will enter the Reebok with all the false aplomb of an El Cid returning to the Spanish Legions after selling his services to the Moorish hordes. Unlike El Cid, he may just not be greeted with roars of adulation after his desertion in the face of adversity he applied to Castle Reebok just a few short months ago and his recent blatant poaching of our backroom staff. He may, to put it bluntly, be in for a severe shock or two. 'Sammy' Lee is the man on the ramparts here now and he may well feel he has more than just a point or two to prove. In his first real test as a manager he faces his mentor and one-time buddy on an equal footing with pride as the main prize in a contest that can only have the atmosphere of a warzone. The visitors, long – time unfavourite, wobble-bellied opposition to the Whites faithful, have, like ourselves seen much change in the interim period and all pre-season friendly form can safely be ignored because this is the real thing. Even the pundits are twitching behind their quills at the thought of who they hate most, Sam 'media denouncer' Allardyce, or the team they mostly love to hate so much they are already predicting relegation for it before a ball is kicked in anger. Newcastle United (to give them their official title), or the Toon Army, the Barcodes, the Magpies (to give them a few more popular ones) are the visitors and the expectancy is that SA will revert to type and look for a solid away point, maybe with an option to snatch a cheeky win with Mark Viduka possibly leading the assault that at one time was the domain of Shearer, with the young Obafemi Martins up there with him. The Barcodes are not short on squad strength although 'Joe the Toe' Barton and Michael Owen are definite non-starters for this one. Shay Given is reputedly unavailable, but then again, this may just be a ploy by the wily one. Geremi is likely to retain the captain’s armband and has a fairly formidable squad at his disposal with the likes of Rozehnal, Cacapa, Enrique, Luque, Ameobi, Milner, Nzogbia, Duff, Dyer and co all wanting a piece of the action. Alan 'kiss the badge' Smith is also in contention. The home warriors are yet to be named and maybe our own El Cid will get a chance to oust the pretender to his name. Sammy has given no indication as to who will do what as yet, with Sinclair, Gardner, Hunt and co as much in the dark as we are. A fully fit Ricky Gardner would definitely play, but has he reached that standard in time? Will the older heads of Speed and Campo take the stage and will Wilhelmson and possibly Baaten get their chance in such an important fixture? Guthrie, McCann, Helguson, Andranik, all are in the strongest squad Bolton have aquired for a fair old while. The strike partnership of Anelka and Kevin Davies is almost a banker bet, as are the places of Jaaskelainan, El Hadji Diouf and Kevin Nolan. Faye and Meite are almost certain to be in there too. The rest is but speculation at this moment but hopes are high that the young and in form Ricky Vaz Te will continue his goal spree. One conclusion can almost certainly be stated: This will not be for the faint-hearted. My prediction is a win for the Whites and possibly a convincing one. I’ll go for 3-1 . It will be tough but then again, so are we.