SBNation's Newcastle United blog, Coming Home Newcastle, was gracious enough to take the time to answer some of my questions ahead of the game tomorrow. Take a look after the jump, and be sure to keep an eye out over at CHN for my answers to their questions as well.
With the departure of Andy Carroll and the face injury to Shola Ameobi, Newcastle are down to three healthy strikers. Who out of Peter Lovenkrands, Leon Best, and Nile Ranger do you see getting the bulk of Premier League starts?
Make no mistake about it, Newcastle United are all of the sudden in a very bad way as far as strikers go. My assumption is that Alan Pardew is scouring the free agent market for someone to come in. Finding a boot that can score goals in the Premier League in that crowd is going to be quite the chore though. I think Leon Best is probably the go to guy now, with Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger splitting time at the other spot. I get the feeling that Pardew doesn't like something behind the scenes about Ranger, which is unfortunate, because on the pitch he has flashes of major brilliance.
Liverpool shelled out 35 million pounds for Carroll, and manager Alan Pardew has vowed that he will use that money in the summer. What do you see as possible priorities for the club in terms of the squad for next season?
Well you are making the assumption that he will get to spend that money over the summer, which would be a fair assumption with anyone other than Mike Ashley. Ashley feels that the Club owes him somewhere around 25m that he injected last season to keep it running through the Championship (that's not to mention the 100m or so in debt that he payed off when he bought the Club). The Toon Army is forced to wonder if Ashley sees this sell as a big payday and the Club's opportunity to repay part of what it owes him.
If Pardew does get to spend some of that 35m, then striker must be his first look, which sounds strange, since, didn't we just sell a really good striker? We also need cover at the wing-backs since the James Perch experiment has failed. If Hatem Ben Arfa can be again what he was when he got here then I think we'll be fine in the midfield.
Chris Hughton appeared to be fired for very little reason earlier this season. How did that decision strike you at the time, and do you feel any differently about it now? Do you think Pardew has done well since he came in?
It was rash to say the least. Saying that he was fired for no reason is hitting the nail right on the head. I disagreed vehemently and vocally with the decision at the time, and still do. If Pardew took this team right to Europe I'd still disagree with the decision to sack Hughton. I can't imagine a situation in which I will ever back down from that opinion. That said, Pardew has done a fine job thus far, and have no ill will toward him, after all what did he do but accept a job offer.
Stephen Ireland has joined the club on loan from Aston Villa. Will he be given a chance to make an immediate impact, do you think, or will he stay on the bench in favor of Hatem Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez once the former returns from his broken leg?
Well his impact will surely not be immediate, since he himself is dealing with a knee injury. He'll get a fair shake into the mix even when Ben Arfa is back from injury. If I were Jonas Gutierrez though, I'd be a bit worried about my status the rest of the season. I struggle to understand this move, but if I had made the move it would be for the sole purpose of putting pressure on my existing starters.
Newcastle currently sit tenth in the table with 30 points, equidistant from the European places and relegation. Pardew has targeted 40 points and survival for this season. Do you think Newcastle will finish mid-table, or lower, given the loss of Carroll and Ameobi?
I had been saying that this squad had an outside shot at Europa, but that chance is all but gone now. At this point I'd be very surprised with a Top 10 finish, but relegation seems unlikely. Anything above that should be seen as a bonus. We're in a much worse situation than we were when the window opened, but it doesn't mean that we're doomed. This squad, as it is, can still win Premiership games, maybe even on Saturday.