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.