England are going to the World Cup...! Wait, we already knew that. It's this week that we've learned that France are coming too. I guess it wouldn't be a real proper international tournament without a squad implosion, and well, France are pretty good at those, aren't they?

Zlatan, for a brief moment, looked as though he was going to ape Cristiano Ronaldo, but the slick-backed Real Madrid man completed a hat-trick to give him an aggregate victory over Ibrahimovic. Apparently the match also confirmed Portugal's World Cup qualification - but who really cared about that? The clash of two titan egos lived up to its billing and proved to be great entertainment.

What we did learn about England, this week, is that they're not very good. Alexis Sanchez (who?) left a miserably half-full Wembley speechless, with shivering crowds not quite able to accept that the night was truly Chile. Marcelo Salas can't have been pleased. A pre-World Cup brace in a 2-0 win over England for Chile was his feat, but one he now shares with Sanchez, who at 24 may yet surpass many more of Salas' achievements.

England also lost to Germany. Per Mertesacker scored from a corner. The Arsenal fan I watched the game with wonders why he poses little threat from set pieces for them. Playing for Arsenal though, he plays against at least semi-competent defences. He'll certainly face a stern task against a thus far impressive Southampton backline this weekend. One small plus point for England, Adam Lallana has some fancy turns. I'm not sure it'll be enough to reverse Cruyff turn England to World Cup victory, though.

This week, we speak to Newcastle United fan and Lanterns on the Lake drummer, Ol Ketteringham. Since the conversation took place, it's come to light that Newcastle are for sale. I can't say I'm surprised, it was surely only so long until Mike Ashley would stop torturing Tyneside with a fatal cocktail of ridiculous management structures, financial prudence taken to extremes and a complete disregard for public relations - or any real relations of substance with fans.

You're based in Newcastle - and if I'm right you're a Newcastle fan.

I am yes, very much so.

I'm almost unsure as to whether to commend you or...

Most people commiserate me. Certainly for the last few years. Well, a couple of years ago we had a glorious season which took everybody by surprise, which was really nice, but last season we returned to being the general laughing stock of the football world. But this season's going alright.

A good place to start then perhaps is with the news that half of the Newcastle side have qualified for the World Cup with France's World Cup Play-Off victory over Ukraine.

Probably all of the Newcastle side!

What do you make of the make up of the squad, taking the size of the French contingent into consideration?

When we finished 5th, everyone thought it was a great idea. Last season having so many players from one nation, everyone was asking - can this work? There was an initial burst in the spring after we signed lots of French players, but then it tailed off. I think this season, though, there seems to be a really good team spirit in the squad. Apart from a horror result against Sunderland and a couple of other unfortunate defeats, we're not actually doing too bad. You can only really judge it on results and at the moment, we're doing alright compared to most others outside the top teams.

That's fair. One thing that needs addressing though - given the tail off at the end of last season and whisperings about Yohan Cabaye hankering after a move - there seems to be some level of disharmony at Newcastle, the playing staff, management, management structure and board haven't seemed to have been aligned for a very long time.

I agree. Apart from when Bobby Robson was manager, it's hard to remember a time when there was harmony running through the club from top to bottom, maybe a couple of months when Kevin Keegan returned under Mike Ashley, though that went horribly wrong. There's definitely a lack of harmony in the club at board level, certainly between fans and the board. I find it depressing sometimes, it'd be really nice for Newcastle to be about football, but it's not. There's so much that goes along with it, so much negative feeling. You go to games and there's always chants going on about this, that, and the other, it takes away a little bit from the enjoyment. But with Cabaye looking to leave, we are that kind of club now. Players will come to Newcastle, and if we're not in the Champions League - like you see with Suarez at Liverpool - a lot of players will come to club and when they sniff an opportunity to move to a bigger club and earn more money, them and their agents will be clamouring for a move.

It's a shame, how difficult it is to compete with moneyed clubs. If you look at Southampton, for instance, as well as they're doing this season - it's a shame that there's a glass ceiling, financially. That unless they spend far more unsustainably than they have, there's a level they can't compete at.

It's possible that they could compete, though difficult. If Southampton got to the Champions League this year, they'd have the kind of money they could invest in players and be able to try and make that leap. But you've got to keep qualifying and sell all the players because you can't afford the wages.

I guess one advantage of having Mike Ashley as chairman, is that if Financial Fair Play comes in, you're not going to be in danger of overspending...

For all the abuse that Ashley gets, in terms of making the club financially viable, spending within its means and being stable, he's probably done a good job. When regulations come in, it'll hopefully bear fruit. Newcastle still are a big club - 52,000 every week coming to see the games, a big global following and loads of shirt sales. We should be able to compete at the right end of the Premier League, but in order to get to the Champions League, we'd have to have one miraculous season and then hopefully try and sustain it. You look at Leeds and Portsmouth going beyond their means and ending up bankrupt, so you've got to be careful.

Southampton have invested loads of money in players, making some big signings over the last couple of seasons and made a big gamble getting rid of Nigel Adkins and bringing in Pochettino. But everything they've done seems to have been very effective.

It's quite interesting, how Southampton have taken a very different approach to Newcastle. With Graham Carr as Chief Scout, you've looked to swoop in for undervalued players at points in time where the deal is financially viable rather than on a needs-basis for your squad. Looking at last January, you were in clear need of a replacement for Demba Ba and ended up with a load of other players and Yoann Gouffran. I think with Southampton, there's also a bigger focus on youth, it's an interesting comparison with the differing philosophies between the clubs, yet both seem relatively secure and stable.

One of the disappointing things last season was being in the Europa League and seeing a chance for some of our younger exciting players to get a chance, but it didn't really happen. Players like Sammy Ameobi, who people have really high hopes for - Gael Bigirimana. I don't know if it was too early or there was a bit of downward momentum we couldn't really recover from last season and we got into a bit of a spiral, which is really hard for young players to come into. I'd really hope that over the next few years, some of those young homegrown players will start coming through, if that was too early. It's great signing below market-value players from abroad to create a fairly decent squad quite cheaply but what everyone wants to see, and I'm no different, is young English players coming through. In the way Southampton have got at the moment with Lallana, Rodriguez, Ward-Prowse...

Ward-Prowse looks brilliant. I've ridiculously high hopes for him.

I haven't seen much of him, what kind of player is he?

The thing that's impressed me most is that last season he certainly wasn't a set-piece specialist, or hadn't displayed that capability. Yet this season, from nowhere, he's added dead-ball ability and immaculate crossing to his game, with a ridiculously sweet right foot. Beckham-like crossing with (whisper it softly) a latter-day Scholes-like vision and control of the midfield. He's definitely a bit exciting.

I know Joey Barton tweeted that he'd be in his England starting XI for next year's World Cup, which had me thinking I should see a bit more of this fella.

You've got some interesting prospects though - you mentioned Bigirimana. I seem to recall Adam Campbell turning out great on some of my Football Manager saves...

He went to Carlisle on loan earlier this season, but came back because of injury. In the long-term, big hopes for him. Paul Dummett, who's started to come through, has the potential to become a really good left-back.

He's caught me by surprise, he's not that young, and wasn't on my radar at all...

As youth players go, he's a relatively late developer. He was at Hibs last season and they got to the Scottish Cup Final, which was when he started coming to people's attention. I don't think people really thought he'd challenge for a first team place, but all the talk in pre-season was about how well he was doing. It sounds like he's a really good professional who works really hard. We had Nile Ranger, who was a walking series of embarrassing headlines. Everytime you looked on the internet, it'd be like 'oh god, what's happened now'. Though he did look like a genuinely exciting player at one point. I think he was a similar character to Ravel Morrison, who appears to have turned it around a bit.

Looking at some recent training videos, Morrison does look like a prospect...

I think in terms of England, for a few years we've been able to look at the next generation of attacking midfielders like Theo Walcott, Wilfried Zaha, possibly Raheem Sterling and now Adam Lallana and Andros Townsend. But I'd always wondered where the central midfielders coming to replace the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were coming from, but with the likes of Morrison and Ward-Prowse, they're obviously out there. I think for me, Brazil is two years too soon for any of the next-generation of England players. The tournaments following will probably be when we'll see a renewed England team.

What's your favourite past Newcastle game?

I think, just for the sheer joy of it, that 5-0 win over Manchester United where Philippe Albert scored the last goal with a chip over Peter Schmeichel. That was probably my greatest football experience of all time. Alongside - there's a few from the Keegan era, the two 4-3s against Liverpool were both incredible games. More recently, the 3-2 win over Barcelona under Bobby Robson at the Nou Camp. We put 5 past Sunderland, when Kevin Nolan scored a hat-trick, and it doesn't get much better than that, that was a cracker. There's probably less of those games under Alan Pardew. We're not that kind of side, we're a more workmanlike team who'll grab a goal or two while trying to get a clean sheet. I think that's part of the problem with Newcastle. In the not too distant history, there were some glorious and unexpected times under Keegan and Robson and it's a bit hard for Newcastle managers in the modern game (with associated financial realities) trying to replicate that.

What about your favourite player?

The best player I've ever seen, I would say is David Ginola, in terms of what he could do with a football. But probably, for me, in terms of the players I've seen at St James - it's Peter Beardsley. On his day, he was an absolute artist. He was a Geordie and is a brilliant bloke. He loves Newcastle.

That's interesting - we spoke to Future of the Left's Andrew Falkous and he also went for Beardsley. I'm surprised that not one of you went for Shearer!

Fantastic striker, but yeah, I don't know - maybe something about the charisma thing. Well... no I wouldn't say anything bad about Shearer. Amazing player and an incredible servant to the club, especially considering he could've gone to Manchester United. But purely because he was more of an artist, I prefer Peter Beardsley.

The rules: Three points for an exact scoreline. One point for a correct result. Each act will play twice over the course of the season (think home and away if you prefer to adhere to football vernacular). See the base of the page to see how We Are Scientists performed last week.

Gameweek 12 Predictions:

  • Everton 1-1 Liverpool
  • Arsenal 2-1 Southampton
  • Fulham 0-2 Swansea
  • Hull 1-0 Crystal Palace
  • Newcastle 2-1 Norwich
  • Stoke 1-0 Sunderland
  • West Ham 2-2 Chelsea
  • Man City 3-1 Tottenham
  • Cardiff 1-2 Man United
  • West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa


  • RECAP: Gameweek 11 Predictions - The 405
  • Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Cardiff Score: Aston Villa 2-0 Cardiff [1]
  • Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 West Brom Score: Chelsea 2-2 West Brom [-]
  • Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-3 Everton Score: Crystal Palace 0-0 Everton [-]
  • Prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Fulham Score: Liverpool 4-0 Fulham [-]
  • Prediction: Southampton 3-1 Hull Score: Southampton 4-1 Hull [1]
  • Prediction: Norwich 0-0 West Ham Score: Norwich 3-1 West Ham [-]
  • Prediction: Tottenham 2-0 Newcastle Score: Tottenham 0-1 Newcastle [-]
  • Prediction: Sunderland 0-4 Man City Score: Sunderland 1-0 Man City [-]
  • Prediction: Man Utd 1-2 Arsenal Score: Man Utd 1-0 Arsenal [-]
  • Prediction: Swansea 1-0 Stoke Score: Swansea 3-3 Stoke [-]

Total Points: 2

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