OPINION: French is the new Geordie on Tyneside.
As Alan Pardew attempts to save his bacon after a run of bad results at St James, the club has gone more French than Arsenal.
Ten players in the squad are French and 14 speak French as their first language.
The latest recruits are Yanga-Mbiwa from Montpellier, Yoan Gouffran, from Bordeaux, Massadio Haidara, from Nancy and Moussa Sissoko, who will join from Toulouse within the week.
Newcastle also appear to have resisted efforts from San Lorenzo to take captain Fabricio Coloccini back to Argentina, but there are suggestions the player wants away immediately.
Defender Danny Simpson may be on the way out too - he's been linked with three London clubs. Eden Hazard will no doubt face a ban for kicking a Swansea ballboy as he tried to get the ball yesterday, but while his actions were wrong and silly I have some sympathy for him.
Film of the incident shows the youngster was buying time for his favourite team and I am not convinced he didn't then feign injury.
A twitter account purportedly in the name of the ballboy also appeared to suggest he saw his job as slowing the return of the ball at times.
Little surprise both clubs want to put the matter to bed, but watch for some fallout over how ball boys (or is it ball people?) operate.
Luka Modric has been unable to break in to the Real Madrid side, prompting suggestions Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea will bid for him. Can't see it myself.
Michu has signed a new deal to keep him at Swansea until 2016 . . . Kevin Keegan says he would return to management if the right opportunity came up . . . the tabloids reckon Julio Cesar, the QPR keeper, is being watched by Arsenal and Manchester United.
New Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino revealed he had been given notice two months ago that the Saints were considering sacking Nigel Adkins.
It doesn't say a lot for the club's owners, particularly given the rude haste in giving Pochettino the job at the same time Adkins was shown the door.
For the record, Adkins had brought Southampton up two flights of stairs in successive seasons and his side was looking far more competitive than at the start of the campaign.
His replacement left Espanyol in bottom place in La Liga in November and he doesn't speak English.
Manchester United were expected to seal a deal for Palace's Wilfried Zaha this week . . . Spurs made a profit of [PndStlg]23 million (NZ$43m) last year.
Anton Ferdinand is looking at a loan move to Turkish club Bursaspor rather than grab the spot Ryan Nelsen is vacating . . . Rennes' Yann M'Vila, who had been linked with several premiership clubs, has opted for Russian club Rubin Kazan . . . Wesley Sneijder, another premiership target, went east, to Galatsasary.
Bradford City became the first fourth tier club to reach the League Cup final in half a century this week and the players will share [PndStlg]250,000 from the Wembley gate receipts. The club itself will bank the other [PndStlg]750,000 and put itself on the road to recovery. Bradford will play Swansea in the most unlikely League Cup final I can remember.
Uefa has increased - some like me would say has been shamed into increasing - the penalties it will impose on Serbia over the behaviour of its under-21 players, staff and fans during last year's home match against England.
West Ham's Danny Potts faces a minimum of two weeks out after being knocked unconscious against Arsenal following a head clash yesterday . . . Inter's Philippe Coutinho appears Liverpool bound . . . Momo Diame, West Ham's powerhouse midfielder, could activate a release clause in his contact if Arsenal come knocking next week.
The funeral for Celtic great Sean Fallon, Jock Stein's No 2 when the Bhoys were crowned European champions in 1967, was held this week. Fallon died last week aged 90.
England, FA Cup, Round 4. Scotland, Dundee Utd v Ross County. Sunday, Aberdeen v Hibernian, Dundee v Kilmarnock.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Have you lost faith in Taranaki rugby?Related story: Taranaki lose to Waikato
Get Taranaki's frequent news and sport updates