NUFC – The “mourning” after the day before

Good grief, what just happened?

Good grief, what just happened?

The morning after the night before. The  feelings of shame and the guilt of it all. Did that really happen?

We have all been there. A hazy recollection from the previous days events, of something that may or may not have happened. Feeling grubby, with an awful taste left in the mouth. My gut tells me the story, it never lies.

 In the pit of my stomach my eight pints of weak, but scandalously expensive lager mixed with my early evening chicken Jalfrezi have not been able to quench the burning bile that has been stoked by this shocking event.

Drinking from 10 in the morning has not helped my frame of mind today, but in all honesty the alcohol probably alleviated the pain and has created a selective amnaesia. If we don’t talk about it, it didn’t happen. Right?

Wrong. All our worst fears were realised yesterday at a packed SJP in front of the Sky Cameras.

Following the morale boosting last minute win versus Fulham and the gutsy second half display against Benfica , all the talk had been about beating the Mackem’s and putting a nail in their relegation coffin. On a perverse day, that comfy bubble that we had cocooned ourselves in well and truly popped.

Not in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen such a catastrophic score-line come ten to two yesterday lunch time. Sunderland who are shot shy and suffering from a sever lack of confidence and consistency surely would not pull off a result of any sort at a bouncing and partisan St James Park.

My money went on Cisse 2-0, not be greedy I thought. Two will do, lovely – five English pounds well spent. A licence to print money!

However the air of assurance did start to drain from the moment the team sheet was announced. What I had hoped for was a good old fashioned 4-4-2, more or less starting the game with the XI that finished on Thursday night. After all Pardew said himself that “No matter how good the team is, if you put them under pressure like that they will not be able to cope”.

He was right, Benfica were as good a side as I have seen us play for a good couple of years and we had them rocking. Common sense would see us take that mentality in against our dearest neighbours who are so fragile in all areas, missing their only striker of quality, their captain Clattermole and only floating above the trap door on goal difference. But maybe common sense is not a trait used in Modern day football.

I commented last week after Fulham that Pardew’s tactics have been to feel our way into the game then turn on the afterburner after 60 minutes and throwing the kitchen sink at it. This has resulted in some nail biting 90th minute winners. Exciting, but imagine we did not sneak those goals? Where the bloody hell would we be now? It isn’t worth even thinking about.

The thing is, victories paper over cracks, defeats make the cracks seem like chasms. Everybody wants to know why this could happen, so the steward’s enquiry begins….

I don’t think allowing a fragile Sunderland team any time whatsoever to feel their way into the derby game would be a sound tactic. We should have been at them from minute one. We weren’t.

Is Thursday night an excuse? Were there tired legs out there? No doubt there were, but that comes back to the old chestnut we had way back in the summer – the squad was not big enough, nor had the quality to accommodate the extra games or injuries. You reap what you sew.

We made signings in January, way too late. Again, had we not made those signings – where would we be now? Don’t want to think about that either.

The game itself was poor. Quality in possession was poor, defending pretty abysmal, creativity not great. Unfortunately that has been a symptom of most of our games this season. Regardless of staying up or not some big decisions need to be made on where we are going with the squad, the manager and the club in general.

Yesterday saw Newcastle United lose their 17th game this season. That from only 33 games is an incredibly dire statistic. Wholly unacceptable.

Players quite simply are just not performing. You cannot argue with that many losses that this season has been anything other than hugely disappointing.

I am not going to call for Pards heed on a spike, but many are questioning his tactics and above all team selections. After such a heavy defeat to the unwashed, regardless of the performance all the woes of this seasons under-performance are going to come out now and Pardew whether he likes it or not could be on borrowed time. Unless he comes up trumps again like last season.

Newcastle are crying, nay screaming out for natural width, yet we play consistently with square pegs in round holes. Players, left footed on the right and vice versa. Forcing play to constantly come inside and cause the game to become narrow and much easier for opposition to defend. If you do have a lefty on the right, the absolute minimum you need is a natural footed fullback who can assist in creating that width.

Yesterday was gauling seeing Gouffran and Gutierrez, doing the hokey cokey and turning around. We have a beautiful big pitch, use the bugger! We need natural wingers, if he insists on playing one up front and then a number ten position behind – why not use our actual number ten in that role HBA instead of our new number 7 Sissoko?

We still need two quality strikers, Shola bless him is not up to it. He is a very fortunate boy to have been with NUFC for so long, and Gouffran has not cut the mustard for me at all – albeit out of position for the majority of his minutes on the pitch.

Defensively we will probably lose Colo in the summer, and worryingly having spent a lot of money in the last couple of windows on Santon, Debuchy, M’Biwa and Haidara we are quite plainly as vulnerable as ever. Is it being taught at the club to back off when a player is heading towards goal? Are they being taught under no circumstances to go to ground for fear of red cards? Honestly our defending for the goals yesterday was tragic.

Lastly we now have our number one goalie out with a dislocated shoulder. This injury is bad enough for outfield players, look no further than Stevie Taylor, but a goalkeeper it can prove a difficult one to bypass. 

West Brom are next up and they will provide another stern test, Steve Clark was in the crowd and will have noted our defending. Big Lukaku caused us no end of problems last time out, and I fear another away day woe. But in the ridiculous world of NUFC, who the hell has a clue!

Come the end of term, the teachers report will read – MUST DO BETTER…

One last note, at least we are all suffering together on black Monday. HTL

 

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NUFC – an exciting week

A coven of Mackems preparing to invade the Holy Land

A coven of Mackems preparing to invade the Holy Land

Well it was worth the wait wasn’t it? Papiss Cisse’s winner and the celebrations of players, management and fans together was what make’s it all worth it. It also provides the only worthwhile topic of conversation until the next game. Fulham at home on Sunday was one of those tricky little fixtures, under the circumstances had we have not won, the pressure on Sunday week when you know who arrive at Gallowgate could have been too much to take. As it is with three points under the belt, and 5 points breathing space above the trapdoor NUFC should be able to play without fear in the Derby. I say should… That’s if we show the same sort of urgency and desire shown in the second half against Fulham from minute one against the Mackems.

It’s actually been a regular feature this season, and I would love to see us come flying out of the blocks and scare the living be-jesus out of teams. I am convinced we could do that. But tactically we seem to feel our way into games and only really truly start switching on the afterburner come 60 minutes. The discussion on Pardew’s tactics can come another day.

For the minute we can revel in a superb three points and an even better goal from PDC. For all his foibles, do you know what I absolutely love him. You just know he gives a toss, and for every poor touch, misplaced pass or missed opportunity he has made Papiss makes up for it in other areas – most importantly – conjuring goals at vital times. That celebration was amazing, and the ten minutes or so following the final whistle when he came to the Gallowgate and basked in the glory of his winner. What a buzz it must be for him. It was nearly too much of a buzz for me as I had the hangover from hell and made the game by the skin of my teeth after waking from my stuper at 2.30!

Anyway the sheer emotion of the winner saw many grown men of my age and up clutching their chests as though waiting for the inevitable heart attack! Just as well the RVI is so close to the ground I heard one lad saying as we trundled down the stairs. That’s Newcastle though isn’t it? It is this season anyway. Sky sports reporting we have scored more last minute winners than any other team in the PL this season with 6. For me that is a brilliant sign, fantastic character. The good teams always have that in their armoury.

Just a quick word about Fulham, I thought that in Dimitar Berbatov they have a player of supreme quality (he could have had two goals) but shocking attitude. The lad has everything and has had a fantastic career scoring great goals at Spurs and Man United, and has always had a reputation of being surly and sulky. I have seen him live before and he often had a moan at fellow team mates, but Sunday his body language and demeanor was just piss poor. He has everything you would wish for on the ball –  the ball sticks like glue and as he floats all over the pitch he is awkward to mark but let’s just say I don’t see him as actually putting in a “shift”. He isn’t running anywhere for anyone! No doubting his ability mind, and at £4m Fulham got a bargain buy. Mix his silky touch with Cisse’s verve and raw passion you would have one hell of a player.

Back to upcoming matters. Last minute one nils may be great, but I want something more comprehensive next week against the inhabitants of the Village of the damned. As we all know those poor unfortunate souls by birth will come lolloping off their buses onto the sacred land like a scene from Michael Jacksons Thriller searching for points that will stop them sliding out the league. Someone is due a spanking, and Papiss is due a brace or a hat-trick. Could he? Could we? I bloody well hope so, as do all those with a black and white persuasion.

No doubt an exciting week in store for our beloved Newcastle United. To have a European quarter final and a derby in the same week, unbelievable. I for one will be keeping fingers, toes, legs, eyes and anything else I can cross for two famous victories.

Another comment I heard on Sunday was “I would rather beat Benfica and take a point against the Mackems”. Well can we not do both like? Benfica is the tricky one, but really we know what we have to do, win 2-0 and that’s it.

The derby is another matter. The whole occasion is something that seems to be growing bigger and bigger. Like a snowball rolling down a mountain, it is reaching proportions unseen and do you know what – I love and equally hate it. Derby day sickens me to the stomach. In fact it I start to feel sick around 24 hours before, and very rarely relax until the final whistle. Apart from at least one notable exception!

Having said that, I also absolutely love post Mackem slaying ale sessions and there have been plenty!

Here’s to another one, and I will be putting one in the tap for Shola now!

See you on the other side in the Semis and having put another nail in Di Canio’s red and white coffin.

HTL.