Monday, 31 August 2009

Bank Holiday Blues

I really dislike this time of year, for a start bank holiday's always mean some sort of personal disaster for me. The last one resulted in a badly damaged knee, and previous ones have resulted in various trips to A&E depts (for either me or family members), or some sort of irrevocable fracture in relationship/friendship occurs caused by spending too much time with those you wouldn't usually be with. The August bank holiday is always a trying time, summer is starting to fade (what's to celebrate about that), the weather is invariably crap, DIY and garden disasters beckon, and the roads are clogged with folk seeking the last bit of 'quality family time' before December.

Equally in football its a grim time, mainly caused by the corporate anxiety caused by the imminent slamming of the transfer window at the start of September. In the majority of boardrooms this involves a frantic set of player movements as those going through the out door are supposedly replaced by newer shinier and better models through the in door. By the end of the first week in September squads are supposed to emerge, fully formed with polyester clad badge-kissers proclaiming that "this is the move of my dreams - I've always dreamed of playing for [insert club name]". Before pocketing £50k a week and having a squad number in excess of 50.

Of course, Newcastle United do this differently. I have fond memories of 1995, when Keegan stood on the pitch at SJP proudly introducing Les Ferdinand, Warren Barton, Shaka Hislop and David Ginola to the faithful. We knew that this was a brave new dawn, and the anticipation was almost matched in that year. Fast forward 14 years, and the feeling is so different. At present its keeping an ear open to see whom else the club is hemorrhaging in terms of playing staff. The revolving door seems to have got stuck on out at the moment.

I'm realistic enough to realise that relegation wasn't going to bring in an influx of international quality players, but I'd sort of hoped for a bit more that just Danny Simpson on loan (who looked hopelessly off the pace against Coventry). Call me unrealistic, but I was looking forward to a few wisened journeymen to get us out of the clarts and back up to the Premiership, ably assisted by a few young players grabbing their chance to impress in a black and white shirt and show us what they can really do when unshackled from the shadow of the recent incumbents. But then I remember the club is for sale, the first team is still managed by an interim manager (and has been for almost a year now) and there were no relegation clauses in contracts. Call me unduly suspicious, but I find it a bit odd in Steven Taylor pledging his future to the club just a week after he's said that he wasn't happy with the team... A bit of pre-emptive PR perhaps? I hope not.

Still, tonight is a welcome distraction as attention turns to the pitch again. Leicester City - fond memories of a 4-3 win (before loosing 3-4 became fashionable) in February 1996 - but I doubt it will be the same this time...

Howay the lads (if any are left)

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