Sunday, 9 March 2008
We pay your benefits
Liverpool 3 Toon 0
Well, I thought it would be grim and it was. We'd traveled more in hope than in anticipation and the result was much as we have feared it would be. You know that it isn't a good sign when the first question that your traveling companions ask on arrival into the ground was "Has Torres been rested?". Shows the limit of our expectations.
Most of the first half we struggled to contain a Liverpool team that weren't really that interested. The defence was doing a pretty good job, Taylor and Faye seemed to be coping with Torres and Gerrard and even Reina had to make a save - from a set piece, naturally. Then just at the end of the first half came a season-defining moment. One of those small passages of play that sums up the 2007-8 season for Newcastle United.
I'm sure you'll have seen it, ball played into the box, Enrique seems to have it covered, attempts to clear it, succeeds in hitting Pennant with it (who was trying to get out of the way) and it looped up off him, over Stevie Harper and went into the back of the net. Summed up our season. Why? Well, not that it was bad luck (which it was) but more it was an encapsulation of the state that the club is in.
Enrique cost the club £6.3m in the summer, since then he's never looked a good player - short of pace and lacks any positional sense. Since he's arrived he's always looked out of his depth. I've whittered on before about the need for a left back and nothing has been done. An Allardyce signing who has failed. My point is that the Pennant goal was as a result of a substandard player reflecting the substandard management of the club. The ramifications continue, because one goal goes in, confidence drains away and Newcastle lose. Only Stevie Harper can pick up his wages guilt free this week - without his contribution it would have easily been 6.
As for EMO? Me and many around me felt that he never tries against Liverpool and its in the red shirt where his allegiances really lie. Yesterday did nothing to disprove that - at least Martins looked interested when he came on, way more that Michael did.
Finally, the banter yesterday was great, gallows humour at its best - "Fifty years and we've won **** all" in response to the Liverpool "we've won it 5 times" song. And credit to the one guy half way down the main stand who stood on his chair in response to "stand up if you've got a job". That was swiftly followed by 5,000 Newcastle fans bellowing "We pay your benefits"... I wonder if any of the players in black and white shirts stopped to reflect on the irony of that.
So, we traveled more in hope than in anticipation - it was telling that in the pub later we started to console ourselves with thoughts of trips next season to Sheffield, Burnley, Blackpool and Barnsley.