Saturday, 30 August 2008

Jimmy Jimmy

As The Undertones once said :-

Little mummy's boy
He wasn't very old
Though he was very small
He did what he was told

Jimmy Jimmy
Jimmy Jimmy - Oooh
Jimmy Jimmy
Poor little Jimmy wouldn't let go

Unfortunately, Newcastle United have finally let poor Jimmy go, to Aston Villa, yesterday for £12m. Milner spent four years at SJP, with one season on loan at Villa, Newcastle paid £5m for him in the Leeds United fire sale and no doubt the amount of profit was significant in the sale. However, during those four years Milner has also become one of the most capped England U21 players, has grown in confidence and stature and has the ability to change a game with a shimmy and a dip of his shoulder.

Their can be no doubt that he has been treated badly by the club, loaned out to Villa, almost sold to them on the last day of the transfer window two years ago, played out of position by Allardyce and then apparently not getting the same type of pay deal of his peers. What has always been so impressive about Milner is that he hasn't played all this out in public, he hasn't let it affect what he does on the pitch and he has always 'done the right thing' - even down to submitting a transfer request last week - a move that will have cost him a few quid in loyalty bonuses. As the ever eloquent have said

In our eyes Milner's genuine graft and honesty provided an antidote to the feeling that we've signed mercenaries, thugs and conmen in recent years.

Its fitting that his final game for the Toon came in the Midlands, along with his final goal... In a game that will have left him cup-tied for his new employers. Shows that the boy has turned into a man and, for me, his presence will be sadly missed in the Black and White shirt.

The sale also brings in a horrible deja vu - there are 3 days left of the transfer window and Newcastle are selling one of their best players. Why, why, why?? In the mid-week game Newcastle squeaked past Coventry without playing any strikers (actually squeaked is a bit harsh... it was one of the most one sided games that I've ever seen go into extra time) until EMO came off the bench to get us through to the next round of the fizzy pop cup. So where is the logic of selling one of the more attacking players in an already depleted squad? Beats me, but it most certainly smacks of the type of short termism that we used to see so often under the previous ownership.

The fans have been promised a 'wow' signing... Keegan is still alluding to this

"It might not look like a positive move to fans at the moment but what will happen in the next two to three days will be positive."

I'm not so convinced - although during a bout of insomnia last night I was listening to Radio five's "Up all night" Some guy rang in and was convinced that Newcastle had let James Milner go, because we were on the point of signing.... David Beckham....

Laugh? I almost spilt my ovaltine...

Posh, shopping on Gosforth High St (don't think she'd fancy Sheilds Rd) - now their is an image to conjour with...

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Sweet Streford Sunshine

Manure 1 Toon 1

Some of the emotions from today - relief, exhilaration (for a full minute Newcastle had the lead), anticipation, and anxiety (for the last five minutes) I felt all of these, but most of all I felt pure pleasure. Pleasure that Newcastle didn't ship a shed load of goals, pleasure that we had a team playing to entertain and pleasure that some of the fun seemed to have come back to the team and the crowd.

After 36 years of not winning, today was important because it felt like Newcastle where on the same plane as Man Utd - for once.

Newcastle had three new signings on show - Guthrie, Gutierrez and Coloccini. All had good debuts - but I fell in love (just a little bit) with Gutierrez. He's the antithesis of the usual South American import - committed and robust combined with some other more traditional South American traits - passionate and slightly bonkers. He never stopped running and was a constant threat - a complete pain in the arse to the Manure midfield/defence and attack. At one stage he ran back the length of the pitch chasing after Rooney, won the ball off him by the corner flag and then charged back up the pitch. Cue adoration from 2,500 Geordie's.

As for the other two, Guthrie for me was probably man of the match - a calm and assured centre midfielder who kept Paul Scholes busy for most of the game. Coloccini is a thinking centre-half who did really well with the impotent Manure attack. A sure sign that the defence is having a good game is Rooney getting booked for dissent, instead of him putting the ball in the back of net.

Some of the highlights of the day, included the guy behind me screaming "Howay Superman, score" completely missing the point that Gutierrez's nickname is Spiderman. The 6 blokes dressed in full Spiderman costumes (who were apparently stopped from getting into Old Trafford as their costumes breached health and safety guidelines....) and finally on the police shouting "Get the bald bloke" as we obediently filed out of the stadium - about 7,000 follically challenged men shifted uncomfortably.

Off now to watch MOTD 2 - as I have no idea how Martins managed to score his goal. One of the joys of watching live sport - I completely missed it. No doubt distracted by the stupor that the Manure fans appeared to have for the whole of the game.

It was somehow fitting that a game that started off with dark black rain clouds overhead ended up bathed in sunshine. If the same team can beat Bolton next week then maybe, just maybe 2008/9 could be a good season.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

1972 and all that

What happened in 1972? Well, some of the notable events included
  • Munich Olympics
  • Bloody Sunday
  • Watergate
  • The release of 'The Godfather' film
  • The first digital watch was introduced (and it cost over £100)
  • The average house price was £7,374
  • Newcastle United beat Manchester United at Old Trafford
If I'd realised that the last point had been so momentous then I might have paid a bit more attention to John Tudor and Stewart Barrowclough's goals as the Manure team featuring Charlton, Law and Best lost (mind you, I was still at junior school at the time) Whatever happened on that day must have left big scars on the red team - cos we haven't got close to beating them at Old Trafford in the intervening 36 years.

So, will this run of form be broken tomorrow? - I'd doubt it, but as ever, I live in hope. After a farce with the box office the tickets have arrived this morning (why is it the NUFC box office never quite get it right? Was it such a suprise that the season was starting again??) so I'll be there to witness what will most probably be a humiliation.

Still, I've had a little flutter (the old adage about a fool and his money being easily parted) and at 90-1 here's hoping for a repirse of 1972. I'm just off to dig out my flares, Bay City Rollers tartan scarf and find some platform shoes... So if you see someone wobbling down the Chester Road tomorrow - that'll be me.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

A slice of life

I went shopping today.... in deepest darkest Salford. In the typical August pouring rain I trudged from shop to shop getting provisions (Bear with me this does have a point - and I'll eventually get to it) I ended up at the local butchers - one of those traditional butchers shops with the striped awning outside and the butchers wear starched white coats, and they sell all types of indescribable offal.

Needless to say the usual banter ensued, after they had called me a vegetarian (only in a butchers could that be an insult, because I shuddered at being offered black pudding); they then started in on another of my weak spots... Newcastle United... As ever there was the bitterness that Shearer didn't sign for Manure - which manifests itself as "How many medals did he win with your lot then?" and then some typical gloating - "So how many times has your lot won the double then?" And then the killer question - "So how are Newcastle going to do this season then?" Oddly enough without a second thought, my witless retort was "Relegated: Championship here we come"

It could be gallows humor, it could be false bravado - but actually it just feels like realism. Newcastle flirted with the lower reaches of the table last season and I really don't see what has altered to make it different for the coming season. Allardyce has been run out of Toon, Emre has moved back to Turkey - but other than that little else has altered. We still are paying the injury prone EMO a small fortune every week, Viduka is still on the books and unlikely to play more than 10 games all season, Damien Duff hasn't joined the Irish invasion of sunderland and worst of all, they've let Joey 'bloody' Barton out of prison.

Still only a week to wait until it all starts again. Can't wait...

By the way - I'm I the only one to notice the resemblance between our proposed new central defender; Fabricio Coloccini, and Michael Bolton??

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Texting Tales

With a flurry of beeps and vibrations the conversations this week have been going something like this...

Tickets on sale on Monday u goin?

Yup - I'll have 2

I'm on hols

I'm not botherin - no point

How much? Its on the tv

£41!!! Jeez... Nah, I'm not goin

I'm on hols as well!!!

So for our "Season Opener" (
© Sky TV, the inventors of football) half the people I know aren't going, due to holidays, the price of the ticket or general apathy. Admittedly, the opposition don't help, its Manure again. A humiliation twice last season with an aggregate score of 11 conceded and one scored, doesn't instill confidence does it?

The exchanges above brought to mind a series of articles in The Guardian a few years ago that have stuck in my mind. They were called "Football, the game that ate itself" The general hypothesis was that corporate greed was destroying the sport and it would all implode in on itself. That was written in 2004 and was perhaps a little early. However, I wonder if this season will see the start of the decline? As the economic situation worsens one of the first things that can be sacrificed is the £70-80 needed to fund a trip to an away ground. Not that falling attendances will cause football to implode, as we all know, fans at the game are a mere inconvenience to the TV scheduler and corporate advertisers on who's money The Premiership is built.

Still, I'll be going... Why? Firstly, I can walk there from my house, and secondly there might just be the chance that I can say "I was there the first time Newcastle beat Manure since the invention of the electronic scoreboard". It won't happen of course, but blind optimism is a pre-requisite of any Newcastle United fan.

So another season of mediocrity beckons - Toon on the Telly last night. Sultana Sports treated us to Hertha Berlin V Newcastle in the Majorca Cup. For a start, the Majorca Cup sounds like a 18-30 vomiting contest and I'm sure that Hertha Berlin was some war time code name for a Mata Hari. However, I settled on the sofa last night to watch 'the lads' entertain me.

It was woeful. Newcastle lost.

In fact, it was so bad I went and washed up halfway through the second half.

Roll on August 17th