WBA 1 Toon 1
On the way to the game we played a new game to keep us entertained, 'guess which clubs are in the same division as we are?' It look us a while, and I'll confess that the whole of the car laughed hysterically when I inquired if we'd be playing Luton Town this season? (apparently they ceased troubling the league statisticians some time ago). It all felt a bit unreal yesterday, traveling to a game in blazing sunshine, going to a familiar ground, seeing a team playing in a strip that is an affront to the eyes; and then there was the tributes to Sir Bobby. We'd all thought that it was going to be an emotional day and it proved to be so.
The tributes to Sir Bobby, ranged from scrawled on bed sheets proclaiming adoration for the man to freshly minted shirts bearing his name. The applause started long before the scheduled one minute and lasted for a long time after. A fitting tribute to the man and to all those in football he touched.
The game itself was a mixture of the same hangover from last year with a little bit of added new angst. Shola had a shocker, Nolan looked unfit, and Gutierrez promised way more than he delivered. The positives were, Smith looks like he may make a good Championship captain, Duff finally hit a ball sweetly, and Stevie Taylor is going to do well in this division. Another positive was that Shola's clumsiness in sideswiping Harper's forehead meant that Tim Krul got a chance to show that he really is a class 'keeper. Without him I doubt Newcastle would be mid-table now, definitely one for the future, maybe along with Nile Ranger, who managed to get onto the pitch for the last 90 seconds.
A couple of additional observations from the game, the warm up was interesting (yes - I drove so we arrived a full hour early). It was obvious who the starting 11 were, they all warmed up together on the right hand side of the pitch. Whilst, the substitutes warmed up on the left hand side of the pitch, with one exception - Barton spent the 20 minute warm up kicking a ball back and forwards with the Newcastle mascot - no one talking to him, no one involving him in any of the planning for the game. His whole body language sets him apart from the rest of the team. More trouble ahead with this, ahem, character methinks.
Also, I wonder if Ashley is getting the message yet - the number of times 2700 folk felt the need to sing "Get out of our club, get out of our club...." (decency prevents me from writing the rest of the song). Seeing as the BBC are reporting this morning that he's now thinking of staying on and appointing O'Leary as manager, I'd guess that he's a little hard of hearing. If this man is supposed to be such a good businessman, how can he think that alienating the whole of the customer base is a good way to make more money? Madness.
A final thought, last season we started with a 1-1 draw in the sunshine, against the eventual champions and ended up relegated. I think that if things don't change in terms of ownership and management, the same could happen again. Newcastle United - never dull.