Liverpool cult hero Luis Garcia is returning to Anfield on Easter Monday to take part in the 'Celebration of the 96' charity match. Jon Holmes caught up with him...
You just can't sit and get angry at Niall Quinn, say Johnny and Al. Even if he's talking rubbish it stills seems quite nice rubbish coming out the mouth of a friendly, normal man...
The fact that what looks likely to be his last appearance in a Newcastle shirt was arguably the one that typified Yohan Cabaye's influence at the club is only likely to increase the fans' heartache ahead of his imminent departure.
Were he to have made the move to Paris Saint-Germain at the start of last season, some may have accused the midfielder of greed, with the riches of the capital club proving too strong. Now well into the oil money-injected project, however, PSG are emerging as one of the finest clubs in Europe, and the desire of a man known to have been homesick during his time in the north-east to play for the best team in his homeland is wholly understandable.
The Magpies' fans will likely be appreciative of such a fact, though they'll mourn the loss of a man who has proven to be instrumental in an albeit unpredictable time at the club. Newcastle sit eighth in the table and still hold faint hopes of European qualification through the league standings but the return to France of their best player would likely see such hopes diminish.
In what may well prove to be his swansong against West Ham the 28-year-old netted a superb brace from five shots in total, created four chances for team-mates and completed three tackles in a somewhat exaggerated display of the all-round capabilities that he's shown at St. James' Park. Cabaye's exploits earned him a rating of 10 from WhoScored.com, which was his first at the club since signing from Lille in 2011.
Here we look at the stats of a couple of compatriots tipped to replace him, along with another that could be best suited to the role.
One side that will have been hoping that Cabaye's switch to PSG did not come to fruition is perhaps Montpellier, whose prized asset Remy Cabella has been linked with a move to fill his fellow countryman's boots. The 23-year-old is undoubtedly their real bright spark, shining in a dull period at the club since the shock title-winning campaign of 2011/12.
The Frenchman operates in behind the striker, a role that Cabaye has been moved into by Pardew in recent times, though he can also play out wide if needed. He'd be by no means a like-for-like replacement, operating further forward than the Newcastle fan favourite, netting six goals this season from an average of 2.5 shots per game. He is more creative than Cabaye in general, creating 2.2 chances per game, but doesn't offer the versatility in being able to drop back into a deep position in midfield.
Clement Grenier, another of the touted transfer targets that Pardew seemingly has his eye on, is perhaps a little more capable. The Lyon man is also likely to be in higher demand, though both have been tracked by some of Europe's top teams. The playmaker, also 23, has already been capped three times for the national team and is more adaptable in terms of dropping deeper due to his superior physical presence, despite also preferring to play in the number 10 role.
Grenier is a set-piece and long shot specialist - since the start of last season only three players have scored more goals from distance (6) in Ligue 1 - so is perhaps better suited to covering for Cabaye's absence. He'd offer more height in the midfield area and does his fair share of defending, with an average of 2 tackles per game. Nevertheless he too is better known for his involvement further forward, mustering 2.6 shots per game this season, but doesn't offer quite the same stability and all-round ability as Cabaye.
That brings us to WhoScored.com's suggestion. Gregory Sertic is having by far his best season in a Bordeaux shirt and would likely be available at a cut price in comparison to the two before him here. A key player in the engine room for his side, the 24-year old has added an attacking threat to his game to pick up three goals and three assists from deep this season. It hasn't affected his defensive output though, with an average of 2.3 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game, and if Newcastle are after another jack of all trades type, Sertic could be a very wise option.
Decent in possession, his pass accuracy of 83.7% is superior to Cabaye's but he doesn't just play it safe, connecting 73 long balls with a 74.5% accuracy compared to Cabaye's respective figures of 61 and 58.7%. The Bordeaux man is the best rated player for his side this season according to WhoScored.com, with his average of 7.40 just shy of the Newcastle dynamo's 7.46. He's not as accomplished in an attacking sense but has shown the progress that suggests that he could be a great replacement, with Cabaye four years his senior.
One thing is for sure, the Toon Army will sorely miss Cabaye and they must act fast if his transfer to PSG is sealed as expected. A win ratio of just 22.7% in the league games that Cabaye hasn't started since arriving in the north-east is a huge drop from 47.4% when he has been in the XI and indicates his importance to this side. The signing of any of the aforementioned three could be just the sort of turnaround the club need if they are to finish this season how they've started it.
Martin Laurence - follow him on Twitter.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings..
Statistics? Discussions on how each player would fit in to Newcastle's system? Analysis of their strengths and weaknesses? Rubbish. Not one mention of how "dreamy" the potential replacements are? How did this article make the cut?- pof