For me, I'll tell you what, oh my days, there's something quite likeable about Danny Murphy - even if he has the sunken eyes of a man with a lot of demons...
Back in June we looked at what each PL club needed this summer. Now we re-visit last season's top six to assess their progress. There are an awful lot of gaps...
What do the papers, the TV, and fans of other clubs think about your team? In this series, John Nicholson and Alan Tyers look at the stereotypes, coverage and media agendas for each team in the Premier League. This week, it's the turn of Newcastle United.
Ex-player pundit presence
Big Al is inexplicably employed to talk for a living despite talking not being his best feature. Note to southern BBC producers: just because you can't understand him, don't assume he's saying anything interesting. In fairness, we have noted an upturn in the amount of (for want of a better word) effort being put in by MOTD's big beasts of late. Of the club's recent managers, Keggy, the people's purveyor of surrealism, Souey, one of our very favourite pundits, and Shexsy Ruud are all regular TV fixtures. Also working are orangey man John Beresford, who is never not happy and Sir Les, who appears to be operated by remote control. And Warren Barton is on TV in America. Warren. Barton. We shall say that again. Warren Barton.
Steve Harper is getting some gigs and seems thoroughly decent. Often praised for his club loyalty, though it has to be said, staying at the same company for 20 years while on great money and only occasionally being required to work doesn't seem that great a selfless act to us. Rob Lee seems a sensible man. Too sensible to be entertaining, sadly. David Ginola brings a cheerful presence though we tire of the faux fawning over his supposed good looks. It's a ship that's sailed too long ago.
Popular with the only-one-name-needed stars. Ant. Dec. Sting. Gazza. Nail. Also Robson and Jerome. Cricketer Graeme Swann is one of the few non-local Newcastle fans we can think of, other than Tony Blair, for which Geordies deserve some sympathy.
Back page leaders?
Lots of fans and a comedy owner who delights in torturing the locals guarantee soap opera-style coverage. Appointing a Director Of Football who, at times, appears to be clinging onto sanity by a fraying thread also guarantees headlines. Mike Ashley's complete failure to address what it is that he is doing at the club and what he gets out of it has actually become a story in its own right. The club has been good value for 'managerial merry-go-round' stories in the last couple of decades until the remarkable decision to sign Alan Pardew until 2525. Rightly rounded criticised for the hiring of Kinnear and transfer window failure, Newcastle are the current league leaders in 'what the hell is going on at that club?' type features and columns.
Gaffer's media skills
In comparison to his Director of Football, Alan Pardew looks like a Renaissance man with the gift of the gab. Compared to the population as a whole, Pardew oozes narky intolerance. The feeling that he might just punch someone is never far from the surface at any Pardew presser. Of course, this is an asset in the north of England and not to be under-estimated, especially if you hit one of the Custis brothers. The Newcastle job is one of endless fire-fighting off the pitch, so you have to have sympathy. Will eventually be crushed by it and get the sack in an acrimonious feud over something trivial such as Ashley appointing a big ginger gibbon as first-team fitness coach. Still, seeing as they will have to pay off all his long contract, it's hard to feel that bad..
Vox pop cliché fan
Fat. Really, really fat. What appears to just be noise may actually be speech. Hard to understand, may be speaking in tongues or having a stroke. Knows only a few words such as, 'aye,' pint' and 'The Toon'. Prone to randomly breaking out into a repeated chant of 'Shearer, Shearer' for no reason. Suffers from a high tears-to-disappointment ratio. Almost naked all the time, no matter the weather. Have become the subject of patronising but presumably well-meaning 'these fans deserve better/the magnificent support' guff from most commentators.
Keyboard warrior ferocity
Considering a long history of humiliation at the hands of terrible owners, they could be a lot worse. Have too much self-deprecation to work up the required mixture of pompous self-righteousness and indignation. Innately a bit chippy due to being a long way up north from everywhere else in England, feeling ignored, marginalised and misunderstood but also, perversely, rather liking that fact.
Working-class citadel of sport. Only show in town. Proud history of great number nines. Down to earth, gritty, loyal and run by modern realistic entrepreneur.
Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Joe feckin' Kinnear?! Ha Ha Ha Ha. Other fans often affectionate towards Newcastle, mixed with a bit of pity at their being endlessly let down by so-so managers and now by owner who seems to be deliberately trying to upset them. Loyalty to club is admired - though felt by some to be overstated in a self-mythologising way. Overall? Likeable rubes. "Have you seen how much these lot drink?" and "Have you seen the size of that bloke's breasts?" among common reactions.
Archetypal news stories
'Fans Demand Keegan Return'
'Fans Demand Shearer Return'
'Ashley Renames St James Park 'The Fu**ing Northern C**ts Stadium''
'Toon Fan Punches Horse Saying 'Whadyaexpectman? It Spilled My Pint''
John Nicholson and Alan Tyers
Read Johnny's book, 'The Meat Fix' here
Alan on The Ashes and more here.