Shearer, Saint then God.

Big Alan Shearer - living the dream

Big Alan Shearer – living the dream

There are a few players down the years you have represented both Newcastle United and Southampton. But there is one special player that stands out like the Angel of the North dancing like MC Hammer with it’s wings on fire.

Aye, the sheet metal workers son from Gosforth – Alan Shearer… (or God as we call him in our house).

Like most houses who breathe black and white, we have accrued several momento’s of Big Al. Pride of place is the framed and signed sketch of his portrait, the beer soaked scarf from his testimonial, the rubbish from his bins – joking! What a player, what a man.

It’s now nearly 7 years since he last pulled on the jersey. Good God, really? Trouble is, was it ever in doubt that metaphorically speaking we would end up with a Shearer hangover once he hung his boots up? Relegation within a couple of years was not a surprise. After all he had carried that team on his back for a while.

As for his final fling, I didn’t speak for days after the farewell match against Celtic. I was fortunate that I shared my birthday celebrations that night (same as JET Milburn too!) and the pre and post-match festivities left me ever so tired and emotional, er herm. That evening, 27 years that very day (in full toon kit, shorts, socks, mask the whack) I cried like a newly born baby yearning for his mam’s bosom.

Actually had an even more memorable birthday at a different match, May 11th 1997 – Newcastle win 5-0 against Forest to sneak into second place and qualify for the Champions League, whilst the Mackems and the Boro were relegated! All this on my 18th, happy day!

However, the Shearer phenomenon was no more.  All that could be done that night, was to point at him repeatedly and shout SHEARER, SHEARER, SHEARER – hoping that the cacophony around SJP would drown out my man sobbing. That’s all we could all do, apart from swinging the scarves around our heads. How class was that man?

This man was Newcastle United. He epitomised everything that we were about. He himself was living the dream of wearing the number 9 on his back – and smashing goals in for United. People loved, adored and worshipped him. Everyone wanted to be him. I am welling up again thinking about it. Tough as teak, clever with and without the ball, ruthless and powerful – he was a true leader of men. Never mind his goals, how many near post headers did Shearer power away from set pieces? He was one of our best defenders too! But above all, Alan was one of us.

This love affair and emotion for the man began from minute one. Similar to the infamous day JFK was shot dead, I remember the news breaking of our prodigal son like it was yesterday. I was working a summer job in a well-known, large clothes department store in the Metro Centre and ran the stockroom with my radio on all day. It was announced over the airwaves and I ran and broke the news in the staff canteen where the rest of the front of house staff sat and moaned about their jobs, slumped and downbeat. The transformation was instantaneous. Grown men hugged, leapt on tables, wept and laughed manically, the chant “Who the f*ck are Manure Nited” rang around so loud, and the jumping up and down so fierce that I took an errant Shearer-style elbow in the temple from the cleaner!

All people could do was grin in disbelief. Telling every person they met that day the news and say – “we will definitely win the league now”. I mean, who doubted his addition would have brought any less?

During his NUFC career, even though blighted by some pretty serious injuries – he could have done nothing more than the 206 Goals he smashed in for United. As we all know a record breaking haul, eclipsing Wor Jackie’s record. Despite his personal triumphs, a succession of manager changes, dubious squad additions and sales, left Big Al, the fans and Newcastle United without any silverware during that purple period. Unbelieveable and this was a real crying shame. Will we ever have a better player in our life times?

The fact he slipped through our net the first time around, with rumour abound that in his trial he ended up in nets as GK, doesn’t bother me one iota. The excitement of signing him for a world record £15 million fee and sticking the victory salute in the face of Man United would have been missed out on. No I wouldn’t change that.

Tell you what though, and this is an obvious statement I would love to drop a 26 year old Shearer into our current team! Cisse set the world alight when he signed last January, and looked like he was going to score every time he struck the ball in anger. But he really has gone off the boil, and I am desperate for him to do well, though just imagine the chances Cisse has spurned this season had they fallen to the Head or foot of Shearer?

Not a fair comparison really comparing PDC to the greatest striker of the modern generation – but when you have the number 9 on your back, that is always going to be the burden.

The chances Cisse missed against Mentalist Kar-Keys luckily did not come back to haunt us this week. I know he was unfortunate to have two legitimate goals chalked off, but he missed three nailed on golden chances too.

As we continue the comparison, this week is the anniversary of the legend himself scoring a hat-trick in an impressive win against Bayer Leverkusen at the Cathedral on the hill, in the Champions League. Leverkusen had been CL finalists the previous season too. He could win games on his own, stick him in this team and you wouldn’t bet against him scoring the winner in Amsterdam would you? I am welling up again, get a grip man!

They say – Never look back only forward, and boy would I love our current number 9 to eclipse Shearer and score a goal that Shearer himself failed to do – the winner in a Cup final. Dare we dream? WE DARE!

COME ON UNITED. HTL.

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NUFC V Southampton – The mutual Bogie team Co-Op.

Every day we are hit with statistics regarding football. Be it online, in the papers, TV and Radio, the Bookies or whatever – the bombardment never ends.

Who uses these stats and what conclusions do we draw from them?

Well as a fan looking at up-coming fixtures and enjoying the odd punt, I have decided to look at the statistics between NUFC and their next opponents in line at SJP – the red and white striped mob from down the road. Nah, not that mucky lot – much further down the road – those of the Cannonised variety in Southampton.

Will a quick study of past encounters between the two reveal any deeply hidden secrets? Definitely, maybe NOT!

For as long as I can remember, Southampton was a team that really bugged me. The quintessential “bogie” team. In my time they have had a handful of great players, but never a great team. There lies the problem for me. (Bearing in mind I was born in ‘79 before people start screaming about Big Lawrie Macs team with Ball, Keegan, Shannon, Osgood, George, Shilton and co).

For every time we played at home, barring the very odd exception, the Saints rolled over and had their tummies tickled. But perversely Newcastle United, were sent packing on almost every occasion down at the Dell and latterly St Mary’s.

Losing is always part of the game and without it there would not be victory, but when you are confident and expect to bring something back from your travels and return with nil it hurts that little but more. To go on your travels, and then have some of the greatest goals ever scored against you – it hurts even more.

I suppose we have to mention those goals? Every bogie team surely had a “bogie” man. Now you know who I am referring to, the chubby Channel Islander himself Matthew Le Tissier. We all know the goals and we will never forget them either as they will be repeated until the end of time as we know it. No doubt a hugely talented footballer, though on that day at the Dell – Sad Ken the one legged pit pony would have had a hat-trick against Mike Hooper. The ginger witch moved at speeds akin to a two toed sloth on valium. Yes I know he saved a pen with his feet against Klinsmann – but come on, he was still a duffer! However, I digress.

So without wishing to rock the football world with the following revelations – it seems obvious looking at the history of the fixtures that the two were mutually beneficial bogie teams!

A Co-Op conquering the north-south divide. You win at yours and we will win at ours, lovely. Completely ridiculous I know, but if you are a devout stat-olic praying at the altar of numbers – look at the table below. It’s the Da Vinci Code moment. If only we had all been let in on it sooner! Nostre Damus will be spinning in his grave – as he predicted.

At Southampton (38)

At Newcastle United.   (37)

Results

Total

%

Results

Total

%

Southampton

22

57.89

Newcastle United.

28

75.68

Newcastle United.

5

13.16

Southampton

4

10.81

Draws

11

28.95

Draws

5

13.51

Goals

Total

Av.pg

Goals

Total

Av.pg

Southampton

63

1.66

Newcastle United.

85

2.30

Newcastle United.

33

0.87

Southampton

32

0.86

So as history dictates, Southampton will usually beat us down on the South Coast. No surprise then when the Saints downed us yet again 0-2 in November.

Now are we going to see the pattern continue on our hallowed turf?

NUFC (if you are to believe the stats) have a 75% chance based on previous meetings – and the most likely outcome being a win by a 2-1 margin. Stick your house on it!

Will Southampton keep their side of the bargain and arrive ready for the usual stuffing? Does Southampton’s new Argentine Manager Pochettino know about the deal?

Somehow my gut tells me keep a tight hold on the deeds to your house for now. After all Southampton arrive at Gallowgate having in their last league encounter dispatched the Champions of England 3-1. They also travel knowing that they well and truly kicked our backsides at St Mary’s and were unfortunate not to put 5 past us, never mind the two they did get.

Can we call a team above us (on goal difference) and in good form a bogie team? Perhaps not, and the win against Chelsea will mean nowt if we bow down and buck the trend in the series to allow Southampton to become the second team this season to do the double over us.

No, this game is massive. Forget the bollocks above. Series my arse! This is a game which demands attention as a one off and which needs to be met head on from the first whistle. There will be no tummies being tickled this time. Let us return the favour and send them packing on the long journey home with a barrel full of sweet Fanny Adams. Let’s leap frog the beggars!

Wins breed wins, and daft as it sounds, the way we start the next campaign can depend on how we finish this. The old chestnuts of Confidence and Momentum pop up yet again, but can’t be ignored.

This game and indeed our seasons destiny remains firmly in our own hands, not in the realms of history and past. It is here and now. Will we grab it?

Prediction – Home win 2-1 – put your house on it! COME ON UNITED. HTL

Matt Le Tiz today
Matt Le Tiz today

Kevin Keegan. NUFC’s original renaissance man

Dream team United

Dream team United

February saw an anniversary pass without much note. Believe it or not it is 21 years ago that Kevin Keegan took the reins for his first game as manager of Newcastle United.

To set the scene for those too young to recall, Newcastle United were in deep danger of going down and under. People think that clubs going to the wall is somehow a new thing. Well it is not. Newcastle were amidst a power struggle in the board room, with Sir John Hall and his Magpies group looking to gain control after claims of the club losing £600,000 per year. This sounds nothing in today’s terms. After all Man United, the richest club in the world, operate off a debt 100 times that. But this was serious and should the worst happen and we were relegated to third tier, there was a possibility we would have lost the club. It’s unimaginable.

NUFC were most definitely in turmoil on the pitch. Having the previous season lost in the play-off Semi’s – under The Bald Eagle Jim Smith, to no other than the unwashed mob from down the road, he departed and Osvaldo Ardiles brought in. The season was 91/92 and Ossie bless him, had Newcastle playing some attractive passing and attacking football and had started to blood Newcastle’s finest crop of youngsters in over a decade. These included Lee Clark, Steve Watson, Robbie Elliott, Stevie Howie and Alan Thompson. But they were all bairn’s and the results were bad. In truth this selection policy was due to crippling lack of funds to strengthen. Although scoring goals, the Toon defence was leakier than the hull of the Titanic. Just like the doomed ship, NUFC were going down and FAST. At that moment in time NUFC had the worst defensive record in Britain.

The boardroom tug of war eventually saw Sir John Halls Magpie group succeeded. They vowed to change the club from top to bottom.

Newcastle then lost 5-2 away to Oxford United, this result sounded the death knell for Ossie and the board acted in giving the Argentinian the Spanish Archer. Had they not have acted, the bell may also have tolled for the Toon.

With a drop to the third division looking nailed on, this in our official Centenary year, unbelievably like a bolt from the blue – in came our very own Messiah Kevin Keegan. Keegan from the so-called football wilderness was seen by a gamble by some in the press as he had not been involved in the game since ’84 and this his debut as a manager. His arrival was not as spectacular as when he left as a player (in a helicopter!), but none the less just as astounding. His arrival was Wednesday 5th of February, his coronation as King was to be only three days later.

The Toon was gripped with Keegan Fever. The game was against Bristol City at home. The date was Saturday February 8th. The clamour was such that the gate that day doubled it’s last to near capacity 29,263 and the place was rocking.

David ‘Ned’ Kelly grabbed two and Liam (Liam, Liam, Liam O) O’Brien the other. The game finished 3-0 and Keegan had won in a fashion that would continue throughout his tenure. That win did give a temporary lift, but there were still games and drama remaining. KK walked out on the club, came back and the club bobbed up and down until the final game of the season against Leicester away. Such was the situation that NUFC had to win that game to survive. Which we did in crazy circumstances 2-1, Gavin Peacock scoring in the first half after latching onto a backpass to the keeper and dinking it over the onrushing keeper and into the net. Then heart ache with a late late equaliser conceded through Steve Walsh – as it stood United could go down. Remarkably deep in stoppage time the same Leicester scorer slotted through his own net and a subsequent pitch invasion that saw the referee blow for full time. NUFC as we then knew it survived. But without the appointment of Keegan back in 1992 the club as we know it today would never have arrived.

So amidst talk of our French Revolution, it is only fair to remember our true Renaissance man was not of French origin – but in the form of a little fella with black and white curly hair born in Doncaster – Joseph Kevin Keegan. HTL

Can Newcastle United stop Gareth Bale and Spurs?

Spurs Dangerman Bale. Get him hit!

Spurs Dangerman Bale. Get him hit!

At this moment in time is there a better attacking left sided player in the Premier League than the Welsh wizard Gareth Bale?

Even though he faces us on Saturday as an opposing player you can only admire the kid. As fast running with the ball as without it, able to turn inside and out and scores with unerring accuracy from that quality left boot of his. He seems to have the lot. Crossing ability, shots, free-kicks, assists and goals. Great combination!

Back in the day of KK’s second (really third) coming as manager, Bale had been targeted on his transfer hit-list. At this point he was still a raw teenager plying his trade at Southampton.

Special K’s ambitions were not matched by the board and he was ridiculed, undermined and finally pushed enough for our King to jump ship. Bearing in mind he had targeted Schweinsteiger from Bayern also, yet in came Xisco and Nacho Gonzales! Milner was sold, Colo and Spiderman swung into town and the rest as they is say is history.

How close the Welshman came to landing here is dubious, but I tell you what I would have loved to have had him up here. However it did not start too great for him at Spurs and his career was very start stop. Old ‘Arry did not seem to put any faith in the kid, and at one point if my memory serves me right he had the ignominious statistic hanging heavy around his neck that Spurs had never won a game with him in the line up!

Remarkable isn’t it how things change, and with a good run in the team he just seems to get stronger and stronger. Those performances and goals in the Champions League against Inter Milan were incredible.

Without doubt he is very much the danger man in the current Spurs team. This a team that is scoring goals and not conceding many – also a good combination.

The question is can we stop him? My feeling is that if we do, we have got a hell of a chance as Spurs are a little bit short on the injury front. However concentrate too much on Bale and then leave the back door open for other dangermen such as Aaron Lennon who has terrorized Newcastle’s defence on occasion. If Bale is utilised down the left then a key battle with our new attacking full back Debuchy is in the offing. His natural instincts to get forward may be curbed as the danger of Bales pace exploiting gaps In behind would be suicidal. On the flip side if Debuchy does bomb on, will this make Bale retreat as part of his defensive duties? I would not bank on that.

If he plays through the middle or has a free role then I would be happier that we could cope, far more congested and his opportunities to turn on the afterburner will be curtailed by Cabaye, Sissoko and Tiote (possibly). For me that is a very strong trio and I would fancy them against any midfield opposition. As for the rest of the team, Lennon as already mentioned will be a huge test for Santon for the same reasons as Bale. Davide has struggled against tricky wingers and had a bit of a mare against our old boy Kazenga Lua Lua in the cup when he turned him inside out in the right back position. Lennon will do the same, turn inside and out. He can make a fool out of any full back though not as potent as Bale. His final ball and shot are nowhere near the quality of Welsh Gaz, but never the less very dangerous.

Next is new defender and another supposed Toon target is Jan Vertonghen. A strong and adventurous defender with a wicked shot, not quite in the Phillippe Albert class (who is?) but good all the same. After that I think Spurs have problems. Defoe is definitely missing the game, out for three weeks. Great news for Newcastle having scored in the opposing fixture in August and he has been a constant threat to us down the years with his direct style and accuracy with either foot. Then we have Adebayor, who starred in our 0-5 hammering, and  the Toons worst defeat of 11/12. He played like Pele to the power of Dixie Dean. His aerial menace caused Colo no end of problems and had the usually unflappable Curly haired one going AWOL. He has just returned from the African Cup of Nations and by all accounts is “fatigued” after representing Togo.

The game last year landed at a bad time for NUFC. It was an emotionally charged day, the White Hart Lane faithful believing their Gaffer ‘Arry was off to be the National team manager. To be fair I think he thought he was off too, how wrong were they?

Scott Parker has returned to the team following a long lay out to plug the gap left by Sandro, the Brazilian destroyer lost to a serious knee injury. Parker obviously will be out to make a point, but I do not fear him. The man I christened “360 degrees of pure football” during his stint on Tyneside, due to his inclination to turn on the ball when not necessary will have a tough game against our midfield which I think is possibly our most potent asset. Last mention is Clint Dempsey, who in the colours of Fulham scored a hat-trick against us at the Cottage in another forgettable performance. The Yanky is a solid and underrated player who will float between midfield and attack, but how much he floats will depend on whether Adebayor makes the game or not.

Now to our boys. Let’s not get carried away, we have only won once away and that being at Villa who are abysmal. Even that was with a second half backs to the wall performance, with Geordie backsides squeaking like the Lurpak trombonist. However, confidence is everything. Villa was step one on the ladder to redemption, Chelsea we jumped a couple of rungs and thoroughly deserved our three points and played like lions. But that was at SJP with 52,000 backing. Can we turn in the type of performance that saw Keegans team win 1-4 just a few seasons ago? The reality is that in the last three fixtures between our two at the lane we have lost 3, conceded 8 and scored 0. I think if we played as we did in the first half against Villa, and the 90 minutes against Chelsea we will give the Glory, glory boys a much harder game than they are expecting. Taylor returning to the back for is a boon, and his partnership with Colo will need to be on song. The fullbacks will have to be sensible and choose the right moments to hit the accelerator and watch in the view mirrors for danger. Cisse looks almost back to his old self, with him actually get some service for once without the ball landing at his feet without snow on it. He could spark in front of our midfield triumvirate.

If our three tenors – Cabaye (everybody knows his name), Moussa and Gouffran hit the high notes we can worry them. Sufficiently for three precious points, who knows?

There is only one way to find out! See you on the other side. HTL.

 

Any comments welcome, I will reply to all.

Newcastle United v Arsenal. Saturday February 5th 2011

Happy 4-4 everybody! February 5TH marked the two year anniversary of possibly the craziest game in Premier League History. A game we will never forget.

Join me in a short trip down memory lane to remember a day that epitomised everything that is great about football.

Newcastle United went head to head with the North London Gunners, in the week following the sale of a certain Andrew Carroll for £35m, with no replacement in the squad. A performance without the Gateshead Bull was crucial for all concerned. Believe you me; many on the terraces were deeply concerned. Especially by twenty six minutes past three! I don’t know what exactly happened – not very good for a match report I know, but it seemed that the Newcastle United players had mistakenly presumed that the match kicked off at half three and somehow had failed to emerge from the tunnel to kick off. Either that or they had all been playing musical statues, as when the pre match music stopped they all froze!

Standing like black and white rabbits in the headlights of an oncoming juggernaut the lads stood and watched the Wenger Boys score goals at will.  As four nil down after 26 minutes would suggest! Bloody hell!  The players looked shell shocked as they staggered blindfolded in front of the Gunners crack firing squad. The way it was going I think a few of the fans would have happily taken a bullet to end the misery! Boy did we suffer. From minute one the writing was on the cards for one of those days that you dread. In fact, that is not true – sixty seconds had not even lapsed when 52,000 hearts collectively sank.

Walcott on 44 seconds scores Arsenals first – ah bollocks man. Djourou on 3 minutes with an unmarked header – ah double bollocks man. Robin Van Persie on 10 minutes – Sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph NO! And just in case we had any designs on enjoying the match RVP struck another after 26 minutes – the rumblings of discontent began to spill. It was all too much for some. We were all over the place, the danger signs were there for a record breaking defeat. I began calculating in my head that if we kept going at that rate it would finish around thirteen nil! Fortunately Stevie Harper prevented another certain goal and an RVP hat-trick before half time. I can’t imagine what would go through the players’ heads if that had gone in at the break five down?

By hook or by crook we managed to get to half time without conceding further ground. The Arsenal players were full of smiles and self-congratulatory back slapping. Job done, you would have presumed. Nobody comes back from that, especially when it has been such a one sided battle. Had it been a boxing match the towel would have been thrown onto the pitch long before the half time whistle had blown. Luckily, like a storyline straight from Hollywood Blockbuster Rocky, the underdog always has his day. NUFC as a fighter had been floored by four unanswered haymakers in the early rounds, but emerging from the tunnel for the second half, bloodied, battered and bruised the lads staggered, nay swaggered out with a steely look in the eye that showed not a feeling of pain in the limbs – but of their professional pride being dented. I think the attitude that could only be applied was that of winning the second half for the fans and for themselves. Regain some semblance of credit and worth in the eyes of their adoring public.  Vanquished were the frozen rabbits, enter the fearless tigers who, all of a sudden started to make Arsenal think that they would not have everything their own way.

The experienced players grew and started to bully the once confident but all too flimsy Arsenal. Tackles flew in and the crowd started to slowly ramp it up like only SJP can do. This pressure resulted in a red card for Arsenal following a very hard (but fair) tackle by Joseph Barton on Abou Diaby (50). The Frenchman arose from the tackle and stupidly grabbed Barton around the neck. Referee saw it and flashed the Red. Bye bye Diaby. What had been a stroll for the Gooners was now going pear shaped. Good old Arsene had started fiddling with his jacket zip and bemoaning every decision. The North London mob under the cosh, began to retreat, the Lads to their credit were really turning the screw. Spirit grew and we went on to floor our cocky opponent 4 times in reply in a frantic and incredible second half. Newcastle United were about to make history…

GOAL – Barton penalty (68). Get in man! Four – one. Skipper Kevin Nolan getting the Arsenal No.1 in a headlock to retrieve the ball. The Gooners’ players baying unsuccessfully for a reciprocal red card. Surely not?

GOAL – Best (73). Come on UNITED! Four – two. Leon slots in after good work down the left.

GOAL – Barton penalty (83). Dubious award, but who gives a toss. Four three man, COME ON!

What follows is the reason why football remains a thing of beauty and the ultimate live theatre. Nothing can replicate the raw emotion of what was about to happen. Tiote was about to do something he had never done before at a moment in time that is now etched into the memories of every Newcastle fan alive. We now all walk this earth with the burned image of our Ivorian Cheick volleying left footed into the bottom corner past a disbelieving Scezny.

GOAL – Tiote (88). SJP Explodes! As does Tiote who runs the full length of the pitch his team mates in hot pursuit before being felled and piled upon by team mates. We had fought back to knock down Arsenal with our very own unanswered blows. The last punch had left Arsenal stunned on the canvas, heads spinning in disbelief. But hang on, we have got about 5 minutes left. COME ON UNITED!!!!

Aaaaaaaaaggggghhhh!

Aaaaaaaaaggggghhhh!

Unbelievably United, having been out for the count, were now hunting for the knockout. Then for one unbearable moment the crowd drew a collective breath as the ball drops to Nolan who whistles a shot just past the right hand post. Christ on a bike we nearly won it. Wenger was on his knees by now vomiting in a bucket on the sidelines. You would be sick wouldn’t you?

Phil Dowd and his team give Newcastle a final reprieve as RVP is rightly flagged offside for what would have been his hat-trick and a soul destroying winner for the Gunners having been so comprehensively outplayed in the second period. Though no more so than Arsenal had dictated in the first.

FINAL WHISTLE.

Wow. Delerium, pandemonium and utter disbelief. What a game. Unbelievable, unmissable and unforgettable.  Remember, remember the 5th of February. How can we forget? HTL

NUFC v Spurs. Pardew v Villas-Boas.

Destination White Hart Lane, and who would believe it – the opportunity of three wins on the trot?  This past week was the first time we have had two wins on the bounce since April 2012! So potentially a Geordie black and white snorkel could pop out of the murky relegation waters in N17 for a sniff of clean top-of-the-table air! Remember how that smells? It’s been a while, but that is the reality following the best week of the season for NUFC. Groans of despair and queues for the Tyne Bridge have given way to optimistic suggestions of top half finish with even a European trophy bagged. Whilst I am not going to sign up to that, I look ahead to the game in hope rather than dread.Spurs are good, but who would you prefer at the Helm, Pardew or AVB? I put forward a case for AP and home grown Coaches versus AVB et al – totally through Black and White spectacles and most definitely biased!

Andre Villas Boas; or AVB as the southern based Red Top hacks have christened him. They love that don’t they? For the purposes of this article it is AVB, though it should be plain old Andy House-Good (the literal translation!). This is the thing, the mystique that seems to follow the foreign coaches such as AVB is hilarious. The man himself of course hails from the country that spawned the “special one” and not only a Portuguese compatriot he has also been a scout for Jose at Chelsea and before that his Tea maid. Mini-me Special one AVB has this season bagged a job as Tottenham’s new head coach. This on the back of the Chelsea top job at the tender age of 34! As the old adage goes – it’s not who are are, but who you knaaa. Harsh criticism of a man who in his early thirties won all before him with his Porto team – I know. His team went undefeated and won all four competitions of which it was entered. Credentials of a future superstar manager? I am not so sure, and if you ask any Chelsea fan what they thought of AVB they would respond pretty bluntly – not up to it.

But such is the leaning of modern football that the British public, Chairmen, Directors and the press at large are consumed by the intrigue and intelligence of these Foreign super coaches. Wenger admittedly changed Owners recruitment drives overnight on the back of incredible successes with Arsenal in his early years, but AVB is not a Wenger. He is not a Mourinho. Is he even a Pardew? I know who I would prefer in wor dugout. I defy any manager to have done better in the role than Alan Pardew at NUFC. Maybe if he did change his name to Alain Pardeaux he could become the next superstar export. Somehow I don’t see that happening.

I have no axe to grind with the Spurs gaffer, I just feel he is a lucky lad to get another crack at the top flight after his pitiful tenure at Chelsea. But with a dazzle of smoke, strings and mirrors he finds himself at the helm of a very potent Champions League contender. Levy is a fine business man, but barring his appointment of Redknapp he has hired some right plonkers. The Lilywhites seem to be very much taken in by the enigmatic foreign coaches – Christian Gross, Juande Ramos, Jacques Santini and now Andres Villas-Boas. Now maybe comparisons to that line up are unfair, but would a British or English coach from the Premier League or Championship not do a job that would surpass that mobs efforts? I think the answer is categorically – yes. Spurs are not the only guilty party, we looked for “Sexy Football” with Ruud Mullet – epic fail, not even remotely arousing football. Will not mention “Tottingham” playing legend Osvaldo Ardiles managerial stints at both the Toon and Spurs! Only in the last month Southampton dropped the axe on Nigel Adkins for a non-English speaking Argentinian. But who is surprised?

At one time we exported our knowledge to the Continent, our very own beloved Sir Bobby was revered across Europe as one of the best in the business. This success I suggest was not through making players watch DvD’s or over complicating what is a very simple game. Just a knowledge how you want to play, knowing your players and treating them as adults, but above all a burning passion and desire to present a team worthy of the supporters.

Spurs last boss old ‘Arry was from that same school of arm around the shoulder man management. His players wanted to go out and put themselves on the line for him. Regardless of what you think of Mr. Redknapp, the man with the face like a pensioners scrotum, and his seemingly insatiable appetite for meddling in our affairs – he could put a team together. Do the current Spurs players feel the same about their new man? Spurs are without doubt a potent attacking team and sit on merit within grasp of the Holy Grail of the Champions League. This under AVB’s stewardship – albeit not with his players.

Talk about over complication and AVB is your man. When this man goes for his daily ablutions it is rumoured a press conference is held before hand. Sitting behind the press desk with his spindly pipe cleaner-esque arms and legs squeezed into suits so tight fitting you just know he has never ate a Greggs pasty running for the bus. His hair plush and beard trimmed his dulcet tones reverberate around the room, speaking perfect English and using such a “technical” vocabulary that the majority of the scribes are left cooing and fawning like giddy school girls in the presence of greatness.

In the imaginary conference the ginger Iberian would utter sternly, “Well yes for sure, it is erm, a manageable task for a manager with experience in these matters like myself. For that reason we have carried out technical studies and created dossiers of all the possible negative outcomes. For instance the floor being wet, the toilet seat being loose and shifting under the weight of your posterior, last minute eventualities of lack of toilet tissue, tactical issues of smell diversion. We have covered every angle, and as my role in this I am committed to seeing this project through to a satisfactory conclusion”. This Guy could get a round of applause for taking a dump!

Be thankful for what you have got. Should he have been standing in the away dugout at the helm of NUFC I would be enveloped by doubt and mistrust.  Akin to door to door sales man, Irish Gypsy Tarmac gangs, evangelical preachers and maybe even Rasputin the mad monk.

Keep the faith with Pardew, else beware waiting eagerly in the wings are the next Gross, Gullit or even… Souness!! Let me know what you think and leave a comment, I will reply to all. HTL

What a clever boy. I have done a big one. Yes, yes.

What a clever boy. I have done a big one. Yes, yes.

Well done AVB, brilliant. It is a big one.

Well done AVB, brilliant. It is a big one.

 

 

 

 

NUFC v CFC review. The Moussa is on Fire!

A Black and White star is born

A Black and White star is born

Where to start? Newcastle United today put in the best home performance of the season (not hard admittedly), in a fashion that suggests we will climb away from the relegation scrap in style. Chelsea were sent back as we had hoped on the wrong end of a 3-2 defeat including a 90th minute winner. Does it get any better? Questions were there to be asked of our team today, we have a woeful home record this season – only topped by Wigan Athletic for the number of losses. Newcastle had been full of flair and dash as they overcame Villa through the week but tired badly towards the end of that game. Could Newcastle’s new look team of Cavaliers answer the questions that would be posed by a far superior team than Villa?

Chelsea, although in a small amount of self-imposed turmoil themselves, offer a supreme threat on the road. Barring the absence of Hazard, Benitez wheeled out his big guns today. John “I am not a fucking racist, you black c*nt” Terry returned to the fold following an absence through injury, add him to Lampard and historically with those two in the team, Chelsea rarely lose. Not to mention the returning Demba Ba, he once of Black and White persuasion, now newly turned to the dark side. He with a point to prove like all ex-players looking to twist the knife that little deeper.

However, Newcastle United were exactly that – United. They were up for it from the beginning and put in the sort of display that makes your heart pound with pride. The lads with only two Englishman in the starting XI, snapped into tackles, hustled, harried and were clever on the ball when they had possession. No daft long punted balls aimlessly lofted from the back, (Williamson didn’t even make the bench), but movement, interchanges, spinning into space. This all sounds simple stuff, but it has been sadly lacking and NUFC have shown a real lack of ideas when presented with a tough nut to crack. Make no bones CFC are a tough nut, yes they are conceding goals, but they have so much quality they can punish any team at the other end.

When the team news emerged, I along with many others questioned Jonas’s inclusion in the team. Many feel he is fortunate to be in the team due to a lack of quality end product, be that crossing, goals or killer assists. In truth he has never brought that, but Pardew remains loyal and if fit seems to have a place in his first XI. Should Marveaux stay fit for a run of games, that may test this theory, but today Jonas put in another 100% performance, but this time topped it with a fantastic headed opening goal. This was a stunning team goal, and just reward for a tireless first half performance – and timed perfectly (so I thought). It came in the 41st minute when Cabaye drilled a lovely ball out wide to Santon. Davide as is his norm, cut in onto his right and swung in a great ball from the left into the box. Who was there to rise like a salmon that would have had Big Al himself smiling but Jonas Gutierrez! He leapt above the statuesque defence and nodded a perfect header into the right hand corner of the net. Cech did not even dive such was the quality of the finish. Get in lad! Cisse spurned a couple of chances and Cabaye struck a few long range efforts.

Yohan Cabaye (everybody knows his name) was the conductor of his very own black and white orchestra. Make no mistake everybody danced to his tune and not a beat was missed. We were well worth the lead. The only real chance of note fell to you have guessed it – Ba who drilled a right footed effort at Timmy Krul, who saved well, but it looped back up to the head of Ba who bravely headed the ball  towards goal but thankfully it fell just wide. This in no small part was due to Captain Colo nearly volleying Ba’s nose into the net as he leant into head it. Poor lad, nose squashed he was withdrawn. Shouldn’t laugh like, but a little snigger is permitted! Purely accidental it must be said. It’s moments like that when you start to think “is this our day?”. Now the fun begins.

Newcastle have taken the lead against a number of teams this season and not been able to hold out, not just for a draw but just as often being completely turned over. Stoke, Everton and Reading spring to mind. Here we are, one up at half time can we hold on? Well NUFC bless them are not a team that goes one up and then parks the bus. Not like the Liverpool teams of old, or George Grahams “boring” Arsenal, or indeed Mourinho’s Chelsea. In days gone by, you let in the first to them you might as well go home. If we tried to park the bus we would probably park it in front of the wrong goal such has been our disarray this season! But would we ever swap it? Might live a bit longer if we did! In true Newcastle style after performing so well we conceded not one, but two goals to go behind in a game that we should never have been behind in. Gutted, and that sinking feeling crept in. Bloody Groundhog Day! Not today.

To be fair they were both fantastic goals from two fantastic players. The first a long range dipping scud missile from Frank “Duck face” Lamps who nearly burst the net. You have to hold your hands up to goals like that. But the lads did not fold and kept attacking with intent, Sissoko getting stronger and stronger as the game went on. More about him later. The second goal NUFC conceded was another superlative finish from Mata, a left foot first time curler from the right of the box into the top left corner. Another worldy of which you cannot do much about. Again the lads remained resolute and with their new found spirit it was one for all and all for one from our trio of Norman aces. People are comparing Sissoko to Vieira, I don’t think that is a fair comparison – on Vieira! This guy is a colossus. People have creamed their pants about Yaya Toure, to me this guy looks every bit as good and more. I think he is quicker. The way he was bursting down both wing channels breezing past Cole on one occasion and Ivanovic the next he reminded me of an ex Toon legend and midfield magician Paul Gazza Gascoigne. Honestly, that is how good I think this lad is. In my mind he has won us the last two games and was the absolute pivot around which Newcastle’s engine room rotated.

It was breath taking as Cisse cleverly controlled and clipped the ball out to Gouffran galloping down the left on yet another blistering counter attack. He took it in his stride and raced in on goal before unleashing a fierce left footed drive of which Cech could only parry. But who had made another lung busting run to keep up with play? You guessed it our magnificent “7” again Moussa Sissoko to calmly tap into an unguarded net. The last number 7 we had who scored goals for fun from midfield was Robert Lee, bought for not a too dissimilar fee from Charlton, albeit 20 years apart. If Moussa turns out to be anything like Bobby Lee – we will all have a new hero. This equaliser was most certainly good timing. Chelsea had not been allowed to settle in their lead and strangle the life out of the game. Nerves could have easily kicked in for our boys, but backed by an unbelievable crowd we continued to pour forward looking for the winner. The fact it came in the 90th minute was remarkable, and for us this time!

The team ran and celebrated en masse with Pards, JC and his staff. The roof of SJP has since been spotted orbiting the planet after having been lifted off! All in all the perfect day, a good old fashioned Saturday match and 3pm kick off, followed by sending the cockney team back home with nowt. Oh yes and the Mackems lost too! Let us savour the moment, and look forward to Match of the Day! Next up is Spurs away Saturday Dinner time, Live on Sky. Bring it on! HTL