To continue our derby build-up, we sought the professional insight from the opposition camp. We couldn't get our first choice due to contractual differences, but thankfully we were able to secure a fitting last-minute replacement...
Last week, Roker Report invited Lee Ryder of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle to have a chat about the derby. We can only assume that his recent performance on TalkSport, in which he definitely didn't come across as a barely literate berk (honest), had gone to his head a little and we couldn't afford his fee.
He wanted us to make a sizable donation to a charity, a charity we already have a long and proven record of supporting to the absolute fullest of our ability. Frankly, if we could have afforded to have made the donation we wouldn't need Lee Ryder to ensure the charity saw it.
Anyway, as luck would have it, we managed to secure a fine replacement. Top Toon journo Lee Cryder agreed to step into the breach and decided that freely helping a website who support his favourite charity actually was a worthy use of his time.
So, without further ado, lets turn the floor over to Lee Cryder - who is definitely a completely different person to Lee Ryder. Definitely...
Hi Lee, thanks for stepping in at the last minute. What is the general feeling around Newcastle regarding this weekend's derby match?
Lee: It's all very positive, obviously. Newcastle have had a brilliant start to the season and will definitely consider themselves very unlucky to have failed to have picked up the maximum 25 points available from our opening 7 games. It is just a shame that good fortune has deserted the club once again.
It has been especially galling to lose twice against Manchester United, though. We were once 12 points ahead of them and they are our main rivals really. The subsequent 15 years of Newcastle doing nothing shouldn't obscure that fact.
Who in the Newcastle ranks are you backing to be the big difference-maker on Sunday?
Lee: You always have to back Shola, don't you? His derby record is brilliant. The most impressive thing in Newcastle since Shefki Kuqi's supreme shooting powers and hold-up play left the entire Newcastle squad purring. Kuqi still has me purring even now.
Eyebrows were raised when Alan Pardew was handed a monster 8-year contract recently. Is it a bit much of a risk considering his record?
Lee: I am not sure I understand what you are getting at. What do you mean by 'his record'?
Well I mean the fact that he has been essentially sacked 3 times in the last 6 years, and failed to get Southampton promoted from League One and was ultimately totally outshone on the South Coast by a former Scunthorpe physio.
Lee: I think it is very unfair to bring that up. He couldn't be expected to perform at West Ham given the interference from above that forced him to accept Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano into his squad. No manager would enjoy a situation like that.
But surely you have to admit that his spell at Southampton was a total disaster?
Lee: No. I have actually had a chat with a trusted and key source at St James' Park and I am assured that details regarding Alan Pardew's record at Southampton are 'absolute nonsense and total fabrication'. That's good enough for me.
It is a matter of public record though, surely, that he was unable to get them out of League One despite massive financial backing for that level?
Lee: No. I don't think it is. My source assures me otherwise. Besides, why is it always Alan Pardew mentioned? Why is everything always about Newcastle United? Why doesn't anyone ever mention Jan Poortvliet? Have you looked at his record at Southampton?
No, we didn't really consider it relevant.
Lee: Well, there you go then. May be you should have...
Our apologies. Perhaps you could enlighten us?
Lee: That's not my job. Anyway, we are not here to talk about Southampton.
O...kay... perhaps we should move along. Why do you think the North East derby fails to garner the kind of interest nationwide that lesser derbies do?
Lee: Well - ya knarr - I think we have a situation here where we are seeing the obvious Southern-based media bias against Newcastle United in all its glory. Unfortunately, Sunderland have been caught in the crossfire a bit about that, but Newcastle are such a special club there is a lot of jealousy out there that those of us who follow the club have had to learn to live with.
That's an interesting perspective Lee but in what way are Newcastle a special club? Enlighten us.
Lee: At Newcastle, people love to win games. In fact the fans want nothing else. I really can't stress how much Newcastle fans dislike losing. That's why the bearer of the famous number nine shirts are such revered here. Number nines tend to be strikers you see and, well, Newcastle fans just love seeing their team score goals because there is a strong belief here that the more goals you score the better chance you have to win. So that is what makes Newcastle so special, you see. Their fans enjoy seeing their team win and score goals. No other club can say that.
What would you say if I suggested that, actually, all fans of all clubs really like those things, and Newcastle United aren't all that special at all?
Lee: I'd have to say that ya simply divn't understand.
Thanks to Lee for his time, and a reminder that any likeness he may have to anyone else is purely coincidental.