Sunday, 30 December 2007

Typical - good riddance to 2007

Chelsea 2 Toon 1

Just when it looked as though we might get a point from London for a change... A inept display by a linesman ensured that no points where gathered. From the highlights (there is a misnomer) it looks as though the players showed a bit more heart... But to no tangible benefit - typically.

The old adage about "what goes around comes around" is proving itself again - we get a fluky win against Fulham and then get a bizarre decision at Chelsea which means that we end up with nowt. I suppose these things are supposed to even themselves out - but it doesn't feel like it at the moment.

As it draws to the end of the calendar year it seems appropriate to have a think about the good and not so good things that have happened this year....

Good things - Fat Fred Sheppard isn't on the TV, paper, t'internet (delete as appropriate) any more; Mike Ashley wearing his Smith shirt and getting the coach to the mackem game; Habib Beye looking like he could be a fine defender; ermmm.... that's about it - apart from Dyer leaving and West Ham becoming the Cockney Reject Mags...

Not so good things - Any game against Wigan (in any year), lack of heart by the team for games, lack of consistency, booing of the players (including Stephen Carr - he might be rubbish, but he's our rubbish) the poor atmosphere at SJP; mid-table obscurity (the only consistent); the lack of a left back (please play Charlie Zog on the wing); playing so many players out of position, Joey Bloody Barton, abject surrender against Liverpool.... I could go on but I'm getting more and more fed up...

So, the transfer window is about to open, a new year is about to start... What do I wish for?? Simple, a team that plays for the shirt, cares as much as I do about the results and gives me as a fan something to smile about.

Oh, and a cup run Wembley would be good as well!

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Newcastle United - Media misery foretold

Oh god.... Its happened again. Just in the same way that the knives where out after the Liverpool match for Allardyce (see Depressed ) its all started again. Two catalysts this time - the bloody awful game at Wigan and Joey 'bloody' Barton. The press frenzy has started again, pontification by mischievous Southern hacks who seem to love nothing more that to have a pop at us Northern oiks... Its wearisome in the extreme and lazy journalism... But then again when has that ever stopped the British press??

As for Barton - I've already said that he's the new Lee Bowyer... I was wrong. At least Bowyer seemed to have a modicum of self control. Barton appears to be lacking even that. His apologists seem to suggest that he was provoked... My advice Joey - don't be so stupid to put yourself in the position to be provoked. Don't go out in Liverpool, don't go out to clubs, don't go out drinking all day, and most of all don't be so bloody stupid.

I hope that if he's found guilty that his contract is canceled and he doesn't get the opportunity to collect any more of his obscene wages. I'm fairly sure that if I couldn't work because I was banged up then I'd get sacked... It should have happened when he attacked Dabo at City.... Oh, how they must be laughing now, whilst counting the £5 million that we gave them for him.

As for football - just the small matter of Chelsea away today. They haven't lost at Stamford Bridge since Ken Bates was in charge and had black hair... So, the signs aren't good.

More fun and games at the Theatre of the Absurd; roll on 5.45...

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Sick of it

Wigan 1 Toon 0

This was truly awful. I've seen some poor games before, I've seen games where we showed no heart, where we were outclassed and games where we were unlucky. Today was none of these - the Toon were just rubbish. That's what makes it so damn frustrating - individually they should play well, players like Smith, Duff and Milner are all good players. They have just neglected to do so as a team. Today was the worst example of this - every player was poor and forgot to play as a team.

For a while we looked as though the defence was sorted, I feel much better when I see Faye and Taylor at the centre of defence and Beye is a class right back... but I wish that Allardyce wouldn't play N'Zogbia at left back... It's just plain wrong.

The crowd took voicing our displeasure to a new level - booing at half time was to be expected (if unnecessary) but the chant of "we're sh*t and sick of it" was a new one... and extremely heartfelt. Entirely directed at Allardyce. The "Shearer" chants were again directed at Allardyce and a plea for a change in the managerial seat.

I'm really not sure about kicking out the manager again - yet. What would be achieved by this? Unless Mourinho or Lippi is going to tip up at SJP in the next few days, then I can't really see the point in ditching the current incumbent. He may not be the most imaginative manager (dull would be another word) and he hasn't gone anywhere near getting the fans to believe in what he is trying to do. The problem is that we don't trust him. Whilst I don't subscribe to the excellent Billy Furious view that he is the devil incarnate - we can't see what he is trying to do. I just hope that Ashley & Mort don't follow the Shepard route and fire a manager without having a replacement lined up. Lets hope they have more sense than that...

But then again this is the Toon.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Dear Santa

What I'd like for Christmas is.....

1. 3 points at Wigan on Boxing Day (I'm going)
2. A new left back to be found under the tree at SJP
3. A display of attacking, attractive football at Wigan (have I mentioned that I'm going?)
4. Michael Owen to come back to full fitness and to score 15 goals this season
5. Failing that.... for him to be lured away to a team like Portsmouth or Spurs and they can pay his extortionate wages and put up with him playing for England as his first priority.
6. For Oba to play as a centre forward
7. For Charlie Zog to play left wing NOT as a left back
8. For Mike Ashley to keep that smile on his face (he still looks like a kid in a sweet shop, wearing his favorite Toon top - gawd bless him).
9. For Titus and Sibbi to have terrible games on Wednesday (I'm going, you know)
10. Alan Smith to get his first Toon goal - sooner rather than later (Wigan, Wednesday?)

In fact if I get one of these I'll be suprised... But then again, I keep hearing that Santa is a Geordie!!

Have a Toontastic Christmas!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Savage Amusement

Toon 2 - Derby County 2

Bloody awful - from a team who are so bad that the only have six points by mid December, the Toon managed to make then look like bloody world beaters. I never thought I'd be saying this, but thanks to Mark Viduka - it was only thanks to him that we managed to scrape a draw.

Shocking, disgraceful and woeful - and that was just the back four... The midfield was hapless and upfront we had a striker playing right wing, a left winger playing left back and a right winger playing on the left wing... confused? Well I was... If Allardyce is a tactical genius then I'm Rudolf the red nosed reindeer.

Only cheery thing this weekend has been the mackems loosing to Reading to a non-goal... Well, I laughed.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Thieves in the night

Fulham 0 Toon 1

By the skin of our teeth the Toon have pick pocketed 3 points from the Cottagers tonight. It wasn't pretty, nor exciting, nor fluent. But, we have 2 wins in a row in the Premier League for the first time in 2007. So, its job done to an extent... Just like watching Brazil -no, just like watching Bolton, definitely.

A couple of points about the game. Barton; I feel the same about him as I did Lee Bowyer. He's an odious man, and if found guilty of the charge against Dabo he deserves to be sent down and sacked from the club. I'd be surprised if that happened - his legal team will be too good for the Salford court and even if found guilty he won't get sacked, he's way too valuable to the club for that. However, it still doesn't seem right seeing him in a Toon shirt (in the same way that it never looked right seeing Bowyer in black and white). He scored the winner today, but it masked a poor performance (again) from him and in many ways he was lucky that the penalty went in.... I'd have been far happier if Jimmy Milner had taken it... But, Barton took it, scored and nicked the 3 points from the quite frankly hapless Fulham.

Secondly, we were awful in the first half, I can't express it any better than the wonderful "two teams threatened to outdo each other in total mediocrity at the Cottage."

Dan? He seemed to quite enjoy it - time will tell... But for a while I thought that my worst fears (see below) were going to be realised. Still, he's witnessed a Toon win and maybe has become a fan.


Toon v Fulham today - not particularly auspicious as far as the fixture list goes, but a big day for me in my fight against the red tide.

To explain, by a wonderful quirk my brother has also made his home in the North West, and he lives about 10 miles away from me. This means that I get to see him and his family on a fairly regular basis, certainly more often than I get to go and see my parents who are still in the NE. He has two children, boy and a girl and Dan is 14. Needless to say he's football mad and also needless to say, he has spent the last few years as a confirmed Manure fan. Its a peer group thing, and perfectly understandable. He hasn't had the guiding hand of his father giving him sage advice as to the rights and wrongs of this - my brother has always had a limited interest in football and was the typical glory hunter as a kid, he supported Liverpool because they won everything....

Dan and I always have had banter and he's been to a few Manure games on corporate tickets. Then a strange thing happened - he went to a Scout jumble sale, came home with a Toon top and announced he was converted. I've no idea how long this will last for, but needless to say I'm shamelessly going to exploit this. I'm planning to take him to an away game in the near future, if the passion and excitement doesn't hook him then I'd be very surprised. Also, as the Fulham game is live on TV tonight we are having a special Aunt/Nephew night and he's watching it with me.

So, firstly "Howay the lads" secondly, please don't let it be another of those dull 0-0's or even worse a 1-0 loss with the Toon showing no heart - for Dan's sake make it a good game!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007


Toon 2 Birmingham City 1

Lucky? Fortunate? Jammy... yup, Saturday's result was all of those. But, it was also hardworking, gutsy and deserved. Its an old adage, but you make your own luck. A penalty that on some days wouldn't have been given and a corner that was deflected off Beye's shoulder.

Anyway the Blues fans that I work with seem to conveniently forget Jerome's novel way of defending when last man on the wall... I know I've never played the game, but I'm fairly sure you aren't allowed to bat the ball away with your arm in the penalty area.... And they also seem to forget the squandered chances in front of the goal. But hey, what are rose tinted glasses for?

Saturday was just the result that the Toon needed. Three valuable points and three winnable games in front of us now, Wigan, Fulham and Derby (although not necessarily in that order) if we get some of this right then we should be able to rise a little off the mid-table obscurity that the Toon seems to excel at.

Also, I've taken a difficult decision this week - I'm not going to the away game at Man Ure. The prices have almost doubled in the past three years. Bearing in mind that this is the one game a year I usually walk to its been a difficult decision - but I'm not paying £47 to see us loose to them... as usual. Tough one - but its around the Wigan and FA Cup game v Stoke and I know which I'd prefer.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

They just don't Understand

I spend a lot of time traveling thanks to a job that sees me living in Manchester and working in Birmingham. One of the things that keeps me sane (ish) as I suffer the regular hell of the M6 motorway is listening to Radio five live - a BBC sports and news station. Apart from when Nicky Campbell is presenting the breakfast show - but that supercilious Scotsman is another story... and don't get me started on how Eamon Holmes ruins my Saturday mornings.....

This week has seen a lot of attention on Newcastle United, mainly as I expect that the Southern based press expected the Toon to loose heavily against Arsenal and then sniffed the potential sacking of Allardyce by the time that Nicky Campbell next pollutes the airwaves with his self publicising opinions - oops, there I go again.

Last night there was an edition of 5 Live Sport from Newcastle to discuss the malaise at the Toon. Well, of course they were slightly scuppered as the expected capitulation against Arsenal hadn't happened and its unlikely that Allardyce will be taking up the England/Scotland/Eire job in the near future. Therefore, they drifted back into the lazy stuff about why Newcastle never win anything. The panel consisted of Mick Lowes (a BBC Newcastle match-day reporter) Steve Claridge (ex player, manager) and Gabrielle Marcotti. The ensuing discussion was about what constituted a "Big Club". Lowes suggested that it was due to the level of support and Marcotti kept on suggesting that what defined a big club was the size of the trophy cabinet. The killer statement was from Marcotti when he suggested that Leeds and West Ham were bigger than the Toon because they had won stuff more recently and they had more potential. Needless to say I was shouting at the radio and the people in the lane next to me as I crawled along the M6 at 10 miles an hour started to stare.

Its not that I object to my team being portrayed as a small club - I really don't care, they are the club I support, if they were in the Premiership or the Rymans League... But, its the complete misunderstanding of journalists as to what drives 52,000 people to turn up at St James Park every other week despite not having anything to add to the trophy cabinet for the past 40 years. The reasons for this are legion, just some of them are:-
  • Mis-management of the club by owners over the past 100 years from Westwood to Shepard
  • Linked to the above, panicked managerial appointments (McFaul to Roeder)
  • Linked to the above, poor player purchases (Givarch to Luque)
  • Being just good enough to sit at the top table, but lacking the resources, guile or funds to maintain to win
  • Being a long way from London, and therefore making it difficult to attract overseas quality players
Linked to the last point, Lowes asked Marcotti how often he'd been to Newcastle, he confessed he'd been twice... Twice from a supposed "expert on Premiership football". So, he'd just taken the usual Southern based prejudices and made a few sweeping generalisations. Claridge had more sense, saying that the Newcastle managers job would be the dream job in world football if (and my god that's a big if) Newcastle ever won anything.

Anyway, its Birmingham City today - and no win in the last six games. Those green shoots of recovery that started at Blackburn and have grown a bit more after Arsenal, need to start to bloom....

We'll see.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Fast flowing football

Blackburn 3 Toon 1

Interesting day in the wilds of Lancashire - yes we got beat, again; yes we are slipping down the league table, again; and yes some of the numpties have been booing the team, again. But, to paraphrase a political party - the green shoots of a recovery where evident.

The passion and pride in playing for the shirt where evident across most of the team. The game could have just as easily finished 2-2 rather than another loss. Playing Smith and Martins up front gave us a nip and zip that had been lacking in recent weeks and restoring Milner to the team gives a sense of purpose. The defence is still a shambles at times, but the sooner that Faye gets back to fitness (went off after about 20 mins - must have been brought back too soon) and Beye, Taylor, Rozenhal, Cacapa (give him a 2nd chance?) Enrique (still not sure about him) and Carr (jury isn't so much out on him as already having him sent down) are sorted out then things will start to improve.

The highlights of the day where Martins goal and the ensuing bedlam, Stevie Harper warming up and suggesting that some of the fans had been drinking as we chanted "England's number one" at him and the blokes outside the pub chanting "dodgy perm" at a couple of septuagenarians who wandered past.

A personal highlight was the winning of a small side bet. Despite the pre-match doom and gloom I had a feeling that it would be a good game. It was (despite what the papers say) and fulfilled my prediction of the 3 Fs - Fast, flowing football. Most of all it was entertaining. Ok, we lost (see first sentence) but at least I had my half time pie paid for as a result of the change in attitude from the players - thanks lads.

Wednesday, Arsenal - hummm we'll see.