Thursday, 31 January 2008

Brief Encounter

As I've mentioned before, I have to travel a fair bit with my job, this week I've been to Edinburgh, London and today, Glasgow. I also use different types of transport, train yesterday, car earlier this week and today I flew. I must have the carbon footprint of a yeti, but it saves so much time flying.

Anyway, there was I sitting waiting to get on the plane and a bloke in his 50's wandered up and sat next to me. I did the usual, quick glance and then back to the paper... Slight satellite delay whilst my synapses caught up... And then I realised that the ex-Toon manager Graeme Souness had sat next to me. I was so torn... I wanted to demand my money back from him for numerous games, but not least the Manchester City 0-3 just before he got sacked, I wanted to berate him for Boumsong, ask if he'd taken a back-hander for Amady Faye - or did he just sign the wrong one? As the words "Albert" and "Luque" were forming on my lips the flight was called. Perhaps I should have taken my friends texted advice

"Slap him and ask 4 a refund 4 all the rubbish that we paid good money 2 c". Needless to say I said nowt.

I also don't know what else alarmed me more, the fact that despite the fact that he had been staying overnight in Manchester (he was commentating on Sky - Manure v Portsmouth) he had no luggage - not even a man-bag. Or the fact that he's a Daily Mail reader... Somehow neither surprised me that much.

On the plane one thing just summed him up. The captain had to make an announcement that the weight distribution on the plane wasn't right and whoever was sitting in the wrong seat should move to the correct one... Guess who sheepishly had to move? Selfish to the core. Git.

I've been cross all day thanks to Sourness - just like old times eh?

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

A Wise man?


Any change to a senior management team is usually either as a result of an internal promotion or to bring in someone with experience from the outside. The perceived wisdom of most businesses is that a strong management team is needed in order to steer the direction and to set the strategy. If this is the case, then where on earth does Denis Wise fit into this model at Newcastle United? Supposedly Executive Director (football) in charge of youth development and transfers... I wouldn't trust him with the drinks kitty on a girls night out, never mind the Toon's transfer kitty (I'm resisting the obvious comment about him organising the taxi's home..)

My only thought is that this must be part of Ashley & Mort's succession planning for if/when Keegan leaves... Other than that what are they doing paying him a reported £1.5m a year?

Anyway, one consoling thought - at least we won't have to see Adebayor again this season... A wonderful player, but at least he'll be doing damage to other teams rather than us. They didn't get the double figures that I thought that they might against us over the two games... but its been yet another footballing lesson for the Toon players. I wonder if Ashley will get his cash card out now - Giles Barnes anyone?

Never mind Kev - its the Smoggies at the weekend - they might play in the same colours as Arsenal, but that's where the similarities end

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Thats all folks

Well, the end of the season has happened and its SNAFU for the Toon... Its another season in the wilderness of mid table; another season without a shiny pot for the trophy cabinet; another season when the Brasso budget doesn't have to be increased.. And this year we almost made it into February with a flicker of hope.

The predicted defeat came at the Gunners, with Emmanuel Adebayor scoring against us...again. He's rapidly becoming one in a long line of players who love scoring against us - step forward Poyet, Owen (before he signed for us) and Paul Scholes. They always seemed to pop up and score at least one against us every time they see the black and white shirt in front of them. Apparently the display yesterday wasn't the worst and a bit of character and fight was shown - but we still ended up loosing.

So, as the transfer window starts to close, we have nothing to offer any potential new players in terms of being able to win something. However, does that really matter to those players who are likely to be pulling on the shirt in the near future? Nah - its just the size of the weekly armored car drop at the bank that attracts players to any Premiership football club. Its only the fans that care.

So, Kev, my request still says the same, buy us a decent left-back. At least you've stopped playing Charlie Zog there - but Jose Enrique isn't up to the job.. A monumental waste of Ashley's cash. So get rid and get someone else in.

Thursday, 24 January 2008


Hey, its been a (fairly) quiet week on the Toon front... well, as far as the media is concerned anyway. Just a bit of sniping that the Keegan bubble has burst - well, he didn't manage to win his first game 8-0 therefore he must be a failure and that's about it... Phew, situation almost back to normal.... And then one of those things happens that you just know is going to have ramifications for Newcastle United.

This momentous event? Spurs beating Arsenal in the League Cup (how old school am I?) semi final. Not only is this the first time that Spurs have beaten their local rivals for the first time since the invention of the floodlight, but they thrashed them 5-1. To compound this Emmanuel Adebayor and Nicklas Bendtner decided to do a Bowyer/Dyer and start scrapping with each other (interesting how they haven't had bans or were sent off - consistency huh?).

So, why is this going to impact us? Well, we've got two games against Arsenal in the space of a week, the FA Cup 4th round and the League... and I just know that we are going to be the Gunners whipping boys in revenge for this aberration of the natural order of things. I fear for what will happen to us, but I wouldn't be surprised if the goals against column is in double figures... Gulp.

The other thing that has alarmed me is the rumors that we are interested in buying Woodgate - again. Whilst I've always said that he was one of the best defenders that I've ever seen in a black and white shirt... he spent more time in the sick bay that little Micheal Owen (he plays for England you know..) I hope we've got plenty of spare beds and nurses to cope with him.. Also, it really is taking the bringing back old faces thing too far... It will be Killer back next....

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Laughing all the way to Barbados

Toon 0 Bolton 0

An odd game last night, at first I was disappointed and was trying to console myself with thoughts like 'at least we had a spell of sustained pressure' which I hadn't seen in a while... But it felt like platitudes. It was a dull game, two teams being so scared of loosing that they cancel each other out and become creatively paralysed. Then it struck me - there was a huge shadow cast over this game. It wasn't the frenzy of Keegan's arrival, nor the media circus that has surrounded Newcastle for the past couple of months, no it something far more fundamental... Both teams have been fashioned by Allardyce and both teams go against the ethos of attractive, flowing football.

The Allardyce ethic was one of grinding out a result and wearing teams down. It was why he has deemed to be a success with Notts County and Bolton and was one of the reasons why he failed at Newcastle. Don't get me wrong, Allardyce isn't the only culprit - for example anyone who had this misfortune to watch Man City v Charlton FA Cup replay this week will have wondered why they gave up 2 hours of their life to watch that unmitigated expanse of tedium. Contrast that game with the approach that Arsenal have, or (through gritted teeth) Manure. They WANT to win, want to create and to entertain. I was lucky enough to be at the Nou Camp for Barcelona V Seville earlier this year. The football was breathtaking, slick and cultured. The outstanding player on the pitch was Leo Messi (wonder if he fancies a trip to the North East of England!!!) and most of all it was entertainment.

Last nights game was stilted (some of it will have been the expectation of Keegan's arrival) and cagey. Despite the fact that Newcastle have the players to play attractive football (Duff, Milner, N'Zogbia and Martins) there was little of that today. I have a vision of Big Sam with his big fat wallet (recently swelled by a £4m payout from Mr Ashley); chugging on a big fat cigar; laughing in a maniacal manner whilst sunning himself in Barbados. The sooner his legacy fades into the past the better.

Kev - at least you have a feel for the size of the task in front of you now.

PS - Highlight of last nights game? Ashley proudly wearing his "King Kev - 1" shirt. Made us laugh out loud... Good on ya.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Messiah or a naughty boy*

The frenzy has continued unabated - the expectation levels have continued to rise and as at 5.15pm today we'll know if the Keegan effect is going to start to live up to any of the hype. It never ceases to amaze me that the rest of the country seems to take almost as much interest in our team as I do... on occasions. Of course, Keegan is good press, his sound bites are legendary (e.g. "I'd love it, just love it") and seems to understand how the media works and is good entertainment.

My brother tells the story of Keegan (visit one: the player) getting surrounded by a group of kids in the middle of Newcastle. The most common cry was "How Kev, sign me bus ticket" Needless to say, he did. That just sums up the man and thats one of the reasons why he is so loved on Tyneside.

His press conference yesterday, Keegan said that he understood what the job entailed and what was needed. Much has been made of the "Geordie Nation" over the past few days with even Tony Cascarino getting in on the act. It's made me wonder if it really does exist... The Toon fans certainly seem to have a different psyche to the supporters of some other clubs. We want to be entertained, see good attacking football and players who have a pride in wearing the shirt. But do we really want to see glorious defeat or do we want to win something? I know which I want. Actually, I want jam on it - I want to be entertained AND see a trophy cabinet at SJP with something other than cobwebs in it.

So this evening brings Bolton to SJP - they got beaten 3-1 last time we had a new manager. That proved to be a false dawn. Somehow I feel a lot more optimistic about this not being a false dawn - I'd gleefully accept the same scoreline but even if its not Keegan (visit three: the manager) is something that just feels so much better.

Howay the lads

* For the uninitiated this is a quote from "Monty Pythons - The Life of Brian"

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Whoops I did it again...


Not only do we manage to score 4 goals in a single match...but we've got a new (or should that be slightly used?) manager. Still stand by my comment a few days ago, its probably as mistake for him to come back, but hey... its better than getting Mark Hughes.

So, King Kev returns, SJP has sold out again and we have made it to the next round of the FA Cup... Its been an odd day. I just hope that we don't end up with Killer Kilcline back at centre half as well...

James Richardson on the excellent Guardian Football Weekly podcast described Newcastle as the Britney Spears of the premiership. I might have been offended if I hadn't been laughing so hard... There is such an element of truth in what he says, the question is will Keegan be our rehab or is he leading us off the rails again. One thing is for sure, supporting Newcastle is never dull.

Oh - and we can kiss goodbye to any sensible substitutions for the foreseeable.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Gutted - and gutless

Manure 6 Toon 0

It was even worse than I expected - the first half was ok - if a little lucky. As for the 2nd half it was shameful. I normally wait to write about the game - but I want to recall how bad I feel at this moment.

It doesn't matter that one goal came from a free kick that shouldn't have been given, it doesn't matter that we had a goal disallowed for an incorrect offside, it doesn't matter that one goal may not have crossed the line... On another day we could have 2 penalties given against us and they toyed with us. How on earth those players can have the cheek to pick up their wages for this debacle is beyond me - one thing is for sure, not a single one of them deserved it. As for Captain Smith getting sent off for dissent, that was just bloody stupid; shut your gob son and get on with the job you are paid for.

The only saving grace about tonights game was that my little protest about having to pay £47 for a ticket meant that I didn't witness it in person. I think that the downside of tonight means that Shearer will be the next incumbent in SJP - as there is now such a crisis that they'll chuck enough money at him to make it impossible to turn down.

Shame on them all.

Comedy Club

Well, the inevitable happened.. Allardyce has parted company with the club... I've blogged on this before ( see this as an example) - but I'm still not sure if it was a media conspiracy against Allardyce (especially the BBC), Ashley getting sick of getting stick on the terraces (because that's what appeared to be happening at Stoke) or just the fact that the mob voice finally got heard. On reflection over the past few days it was probably a combination effect and whilst I still think that continuity was important it was becoming increasingly obvious that Big Sam had bitten off more than he could chew.

So the next round of media frenzy has started. When I first heard the suggestions that Harry Rednapp was being approached as the next ringmaster at the circus my heart sank. Why on earth would we want the previous incumbents best mate , someone who generates a similar amount of press dislike (well, he hasn't spoken to the BBC in a while anyway), and is currently on bail awaiting news of a corruption charge. Most importantly - he's won nowt. Bonkers, completely bonkers suggestion. So I was really pleased to hear today that he's turned us down. Never before has a rejection felt quite so good.

The other names in the frame appear to be (along with my musings on positives or negatives)

Rednapp - See above
Jol - limited in experience, but that's where my money would be going
Keegan - don't do it Kev.. leave us with our memories of your greatness, you really can't come back again - besides that you;ve never learned to make a sensible substitution
Shearer - does he really want to take a gamble on tarnishing his heroic status? Does he want to leave the comfort of MOTD studio
Souness - No, no and trice no
Pearce - humm - not talked about much; could do a job and at least would have the respect of the players (I'd suspect that Steven Taylor would be quite pleased as well)
Mourino - again the phrase has been bandied about "awaking sleeping giants" which might have some merit. But why would he want to come to the NE of England? Unless Ashley's pockets have got a lot deeper
Hughes - the new bookies favourite... Flawed in so far as he plays dull football, and is as dour as Souness/Roeder were/are.

As for the others Bruce, Keane (!!!!), Coppell and McClaren - see the comments above re Souness... Urgggg... One of the other thoughts that quite appealed to me was John Collins. I know he's not got much experience at all (after all, I think I could manage a Scottish team, and probably play for them as well) but is youth and knowledge of the game might make him a contender. Combined with his apparent dignity and careful handling of the media - you never know it just might work.... Mind you, the rate that the Comedy Club is going at the moment there is more likelihood of Joan Collins getting the job.

Today's game?? Just Manure away... A place since we haven't won since 1972. Its not going to change today. My friend Colin, is convinced that we are going to win - and is talking about putting money on this... Keep it in your pocket, Col. Toon will loose by at least 3 goals - I was there for the 5-1 loss (Steve Clarke's only game in charge) and I remember the awful feeling of that the rudderless ship that was Newcastle United was about to sink. It didn't - but we've been dodging those icebergs ever since... Its chilly in Manchester today....

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Give us a break!

Stoke City 0 Toon 0

Well it was a grim night in the Potteries on Sunday - no goals, no class, no invention. Just a blood and guts (well, to be more accurate mud and rain) cup tie. The Toon got just what they deserved from it - nowt.

As usual Taylor gave his all, Faye was the best defender in black and white. However, Owen was hopeless and Viduka clueless. A damning indictment of his contribution is that Andy Carroll came on for him with 10 mins to go and won more headers and made more of an impact than Viduka did in the whole game - from a player who has spent most of the season so far on Preston North End's bench.

So its a replay - at least we've got further this season than the mackems... So what has been our 'reward' for this - if we get past Stoke in the replay (and that's not a given, remember Birmingham last year?) we get Arsenal, away in the next round... Jinxed or what? Still I suppose its better than going out to Oldham or Huddersfield.

Another interesting by product of not loosing to Stoke is that Allardyce is still in a job - and is starting to buy players... Albeit youngsters - so the Ashley purse stings have been loosened to an extent.

Easy game on Saturday - should be 3 points.. only Manure away to beat....

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Ronnie Radford

Or as he is more commonly known on Tyneside "Ronnie Bloody Radford". Ever since that fateful day at Edgar Street in 1972 (aka Nightmare on Edgar St) when the Toon were dumped out of the FA Cup by a non league team, we've been hoping for a similar result that would take the pressure off us. Needless to say, despite numerous other 'upsets' on FA Cup 3rd round day - nothing seems to have eclipsed that day (although Shrewsbury beating Everton in 2002 came fairly close). That Radford goal is trotted out at this time every year - along with the annoying commentary from Motson (how many other Geordie's hearts sink at the sound of him saying "Tudor's lost it....."?).

So in the current climate of media induced madness the FA Cup game against Stoke is being viewed as Allardyce's last stand. If we get thrashed (or even draw) then I think that I'll be him looking for another job soon. It really is a no win situation for the team - if we win (ha!) then it'll be expected, if we loose then the clucking media will ensure that we are the laughing stock again. Mind you, if we don't get through then the season will be over for us - by the 6th Jan... Not a pleasant thought. One thing for sure, it won't be pretty. I'd guess at a scrappy game and hoping for a lucky goal to get us into the next round. I'll be there to witness it at fist hand - I really do pick my matches don't I?

One thing for sure though, we won't be playing in that hideous all red strip like we did when Hereford beat us... What were they thinking???

Howay the Lads - I don't want anymore instability - so lets have that cup run.... and then collapse in the final like we usually do.

Thursday, 3 January 2008


Toon 0 Man City 2

Ho hummmm.. another night another defeat.

I didn't see the game, have read very little of the reports from the game, and haven't seen any of the 'highlights'. Why? Because I can't bare to look. I feel like a small child hiding behind the back of the sofa because Dr Who just got too scary to watch. The Toon train is coming off the tracks... again.

The press vultures are gathering for the crash which they fully expect to happen at Stoke in the FA Cup. BUT as the excellent Biffa said

To say that there's a groundswell of opinion against Allardyce is untrue - nobody was shouting much about anything tonight, least of all for Alan Shearer.

This apparent collective will to see Sam sacked and replaced by the local hero that fills newspaper columns remains an illusion - along with us preferring to lose matches in the name of entertainment...

However it's undeniably another blow for Allardyce - much more of this and at some point the towel will be thrown in by his corner, whether his guard remains up or not.

Take your pick: Barton's incarceration, recent refereeing decisions, the Nations Cup callups, Owen's miss tonight the banana skin cup tie up next, the visit to Old Trafford after that, or the ceaseless media attention.

Says it all really.... I'm tired of the press, tired of crap football and tired of watching over-paid under-caring players who don't care for the fans or the pride that should come with the shirt [how I wish that the newly released Barton would pay some attention to what I think of him]. I have pride in the job that I get paid for, I want to do a good days work and feel that I give my best for employer and my customers.... If only the 15 or so that play for the Toon cared as much....

I'll stop ranting now... but I'm damn tired of all this.