In preparing for what could become one the biggest games in Newcastle United’s Premier League history, the professionalism of club management comes out in its confused charm offensive. 

Whilst urging supporters to get behind the team, captain Colo produced a much debated apology to supporters, accompanied by an inevitable plea. The press on Saturday’s morning carried reports about two of the team, Steve Taylor in the Mail and Vernon Anita in the Sun. Here is what they have to say. 

In an interview apparently littered with profanities, Steve Taylor gives us some insight into both being a player at Newcastle United along with special insights into the changing rooms following a record 8th defeat in a row:
‘It was in the dressing-room,’ says Taylor. ‘Locked doors, now everybody listen. It came between the players. We were the ones who wanted to call a meeting. We’re the ones in the s**t”. 

It would be interesting to note why the manager had been excluded. 

He tells us about a level of determination that we have not seen on the football field:
‘It was fantastic to hear everyone’s opinion. Not just one or two. Everyone. It needed that. Players said, “Ask me to play here or there and I will””. 

At least he recognises the effect that the drop in fortunes has had on supporters:
“At the moment we’re sending them home with faces like slapped backsides and it’s horrible to see that”. 

On his rallying cry, it is refreshing to hear that “the lads have got the b*****ks”. 

Anita’s comments on the other hand come after he was reported to have committed himself to St James’ Park after reports that he would be used as a makeweight in a prospective deal for a Dutch player. He focused on the notable Sunderland match and preparation. On one of the darkest days in Newcastle history, we lost 5 in a row against the team down the road. 

We have an insight into why Anita was not selected for that game:
'The manager thought Sunderland would play the long-ball game and that’s why he picked other players.” 

Fair enough, Anita is one of the shorter players in the squad so less able than others to withstand an aerial onslaught. Was it the right decision?

“I found that naive because Dick Advocaat had just become trainer and everyone knows the Dutch always play good football and that’s what happened”. 

Any coach could be forgiven for thinking Advocaat, a former manager of 3 national sides, winner of league titles in 3 countries, winner of 10 cups at domestic and European level would have s simple plan to beat us with. Being simply the best allows room for the odd error. 

The players’ appearance records also tell a tale. In a squad that is top heavy with midfielders, Anita has not been selected to start in 20 of the league games before West Brom. 

Taylor has been absent, injured since the Burnley game on 1st January, himself having only started 7 in the Premier League. With Mbiwa out on loan from the start of the season, Taylor is one of 3 senior central defenders in the squad, the other, Coloccini and Williamson also having had their own suspensions. 

That points to poor management of the squad above Carver, whether it is Ashley or Charnley who has failed to ensure that there is appropriate balance and resource. In key areas, there is insufficient depth. For today, we see the return of Cisse up front, himself top scorer despite having only started 10 times. The other senior striker, Riviere, is yet to get off the mark in the league. 

Supporters recognise that the failings are at the top of the club. We recognise that as one of the 20 richest clubs in the world, net squad investment has been the lowest in the league over a period. Nevertheless, we still expect sustained effort from players. 

It is good to hear passion from Steve Taylor even though he is unavailable. It is good to hear from Anita that “I only want to play good football, win matches”. The players echo what we want. 

Having seen how the players rallied around after Hughton was sacked, producing a brilliant win against Liverpool, let’s hope that this time around, between now and the end of the season, their efforts and actions will echo even louder than their words.