Late Tackle

COCKNEY BARROW BOY UPSETS THE APPLE CART.

The sea was calm. Too calm for Mike Ashley. “Let’s rock the boat”, he said to Derek Llambias. So they unnecessarily rocked the boat and out fell Hughton. Swimming in the doldrums, but waiting in the wings, a lifeline was thrown to Pardew. “Hop on board Alan, just say yes”. Stormy waters ahead.

As a Newcastle fan not much surprises you. You’ve seen almost everything and even the most outrageous event can be recieved by a shrug of the shoulders. Keegans back? Shrug. Joe Kinnears the new manager? Shrug. Shearers being called on to save us from relegation? Shrug. Cocaine orgies? Shrug. Headed by a calm and dignified gent we were passing through a period of stability. The lack of surprises was the surprising thing.

Yet, on Monday morning, Mike Ashley was to surprise even the most composed supporter. No shrugs here, just confusion and pure rage. The fog on Tyneside descended. The future again looking bleak.

The main question on peoples lips was why? Why get rid of a man who had converted a recently relegated club with a troubled camp  into unbeaten at home, record breaking points tally, Championship winners at the first time of asking on a small budget? Why get rid of a man who had recently led his team to famous victories against their local rivals, Arsenal, and Villa and led to a league position of 12th without an assistant manager for a lengthy period? Why get rid of a man who was respected and loved by fans and players alike and had brought the best out of youngsters and previous troublemakers? Why also sack Paul Barron, the goalkeeping coach who has brought up Tim Krul and Fraster Forster? Why?

Yes, we hadn’t won in five games and played incredibly poor against West Brom, but the league table showed we were overachieving in 12th and we had been missing key players through injury and suspension the last few weeks. As the week went on things became even more surreal, as Jol, O’Neill and Klinsmann rumours all passed, Alan Pardew became the lone frontrunner. The Kenyan. The fucking chancer.

The apparent reason behind sacking Hughton was due to Ashley wanting a more experienced manager. Bringing in a second rate has-been with a track record of losing for a fresh, overachieving manager. Heck, why not sell our up-and-coming centre forward for an experienced journeyman. Ade Akinbiyi, he’ll do.

The whole situation is so outlandish it’s incredibly difficult to understand, if he actually has any, of Mike Ashleys thought processes. Even on a financial basis, central to Ashleys thoughts, it simply does not make sense. Surely Pardew won’t be on much less wages, if at all, than Hughton? Hughton was already the lowest paid manager in the Premier League. By sacking a favourite, fans will be more likely to boycott games, therefore he’ll lose out on ticket sales and players are less likely to perform meaning relegation is a real concern. If Newcastle do get relegated, Ashley will stand to lose far more than he will have saved. Additionally, offering Pardew a five and a half year deal, that he will never see out, is incredibly stupid.

The last club Pardew managed were in the third tier of English football. He’s won no major trophies. He has no local connection like Shearer or Keegan, and he has no pedigree as a player or manager like Gullit, Dalglish, Robson and Souness. He is a friend of Ashley and Llambias though. A gambling friend.  I wonder if they like Russian roulette? He’s also desperate, willing to work for a low wage, a Londoner and will say yes a lot.

Chancers have taken over my life this week. Pardew. Clegg. Stuart Baggs ‘The Brand’. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if we bought Ali Dia in the January transfer window.

The situation we are in is just so unnecessary. That’s the frustrating thing. Getting in a second rate manager for an overachieving one. Breaking down fan and player morale. Potentially driving out talented players. All unnecessary. Things are never black and white at Newcastle.

This weekend Newcastle host Liverpool, a fixture that it is impossible not to mention 1996 when it comes around. On the 3rd of April 1996, as well as being Tim Kruls eighth birthday, Newcastle were close to winning the Premier League. I can remember it well, it was a Wednesday night and I was seven. I never watched it, as I had to go to bed as it was a school night. My Auntie was looking after me as my parents had gone out for a meal. She kept running up and down telling me when a goal had been scored. I liked football a long time before this but it is one of my first memories of it that I can remember. I never really understood the games importance at the time, but I do now. Luckily tomorrows game is on ESPN so Redknapp can’t harp on about it.

Pardew will be able to empathize with Newcastle on this one as he was so close to silverware had it not been for Liverpool too. A last minute equaliser by Gerrard in the 2006 FA Cup final meant the game went to extra-time, in which Liverpool went on to beat Pardews West Ham on penalties. Luckily for Pardew, Gerrard will not be playing tomorrow evening as he is out with a hamstring injury. Carragher is also out, but Torres returns after becoming a father. Expect Bebeto style celebrations.

Liverpool have been poor on the road, a trait of all Hodgson sides. He’s won just two away games since August 2009 and this season picked up just five points out of twenty four away from Anfield with his only victory coming courtesy of  Maxi Rodriguez’ strike in the 86th minute against Bolton.

Liverpool usually score first, having done so 68.7% of the time this season; a figure only Arsenal can match. Despite this, no team has thrown away more points than them this season having lost twelve points from winning positions, only Villa can equal this.

Torres is the obvious threat. He seems to be fit and interested again now and has scored five and assisted five this season in the league. It’ll be a game both teams will feel they can win, Newcastle knowing Liverpools poor away record and Liverpool knowing Newcastle are demoralised, playing under a new manager and also having not won a game in five.

Mike Ashley. A tosser. A twat. A prick.

Chris Hughton. A true gent. A fantastic manager. Forever a local legend.

There’s only one Chrissy Hughton. There’s one too many Mike Ashleys.

A bloody good man.

Protest organised for tomorrows game against Liverpool. For updates and details follow @NUFCprotest on Twitter.

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REACTION TO REACTION.

In an alternate universe England have just won the right to host the 2018 World Cup and not a single Englishman has whispered the word corruption.

In this world England lost. The Home of Football™.  The Spiritual Home of Football™. Lost. Something must be up.

The reaction from fans, the media and the FA alike has been a contradictory, but predictable one. There has been a simultaneous movement to both acknowledge and ignore corruption. Anger has been shown towards Fifa for alledged corruption in choosing Russia and Qatar as hosts. Yet, the BBC has also been blamed for allegedly ruining the bid by highlighting actual evidence of corruption. I’m not claiming Fifa shouldn’t be investigated, I just hope it’s for the correct reasons and due to bitterness. I sense right now it is not.

As well as being cynical towards Fifa, I also feel this way towards the FA. Before the announcement of who had won the 2018 World Cup, the FA were more than happy to play along despite knowing exactly who they were dealing with. Yet, as soon as they lost the chance to host they were in uproar over being apparently unfairly treated. If we had won the bid the FA would’ve been Fifas puppet. Any murmurs of corruption would have been quickly silenced.

The reaction in England has been bitter. There are high expectations, driven by the media, of anything which involves England and international football in this country, whether it be hosting or playing. Often these feelings crossover more towards a sense of entitlement rather than just high expectation. The press feels we should have the God-given right to win the World Cup every time. “We are the home of football”, they cry. By sending one of the worlds most famous footballers, our Prime Minister and a future king, or the ‘Three Lions’ as Sky Sports News annoyingly referred to them as, many feel we are entitled to hold the World Cup. This, plus believing the presentation would sway votes after a process which had taken many many months and believing you can rely on executives apoken word for votes is incredibly naive. The fact England were odds on favourite to win the hosting was more to do with patriotic punters than inside knowledge on voting. This is evident in the result.

By not holding it since 1966 we are not ‘due’ a World Cup. This decade alone, Great Britain are holding the Olympics, the Cricket World Cup, the Champions League final, the Rugby League World Cup, the Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. I’d call that greedy. To want the World Cup too is even more so, especially after holding the European Football Championship just fourteen years ago.

It’s the choice of Qatar, rather than Russia, that seems odd. This choice seems to be money driven and on a practical level it seems an almost irresponsible choice. Where will all these fans actually stay? Why give the 113th ranked team an automatic place in a World Cup finals? Why choose such an incredibly hot country? Why choose a country who have no room geographically to expand as a result of the World Cup? Strange, and questions will be asked naturally over this choice of venue.

Yet, I’ve never been to Qatar. I’ve also never experienced Russia personally either. Who am I to criticise?  Everyone had doubts over South Africa. That went perfectly fine…

Blatter.

FERGIES TOY BOX.

Fergies toy box is an interesting collection, if only for having just one toy made in Korea. His most played with toys are Paul, Ryan and Gary. He doesn’t play with them much anymore, they’re old handcrafted toys but still work well. He has had them since he was born. Finding toys like Paul, Ryan and Gary in shops now is difficult as their type of toy are close to being discontinued. They’ve never been owned by anyone else, always being consistently good toys; loyal and always willing to play. But modern day toys are different. They no  longer want to be in the same toy box all their lives, they are greedy and disloyal.

However, Fergie has sold or thrown away toys in the past when they were of no use to him anymore;  Henning and Nicky were two. Too old, didn’t work, broken too often. Playing with toys is a fickle and short term world.

Fergie has bought his fair share of expensive toys using his Mothers money in his time. He’s had his Cristianos, Jaaps and Davids, who have thrown themselves out of his pram and subsequently sold. But Paul, Ryan and Gary have always been there. He thought Wayne would be too…

Lately he’s been having some problems with his toy Wayne. Wayne cost Fergies parents a lot of money 6 years ago but he knew it’d be worth it. He was right, as a toy he got better and better. Fergie loved him and played with him a lot. Last year Wayne was better than ever, but on a Tuesday night Wayne hurt his ankle when playing against another toy box. Fergie wouldn’t accept his toy had been broken and kept playing with it, damaging it further.

Over the summer Wayne just wasn’t the same toy, he no longer worked properly. Whether this was due to Fergie playing him instead of letting the toy shop repair him or because Wayne had been paying to play with a rip-off Sindy doll from Primark is unclear. Paul, Ryan and Gary quietly tutted at this act of disloyalty,but Fergie cared for him and took Wayne into his arms to nurture him back to functioning as a toy again.

However things just weren’t the same anymore. Wayne didn’t improve, he simply wasn’t functioning as the toy he once was. Fergie stopped playing him, claiming the opposite to the Tuesday night incident and pretended he had an injury. But Wayne was a big toy now and he told everyone he wasn’t actually broken. Fergie couldn’t believe it after all he had done, and what more Wayne no longer wanted to be in Fergies toy box and wanted to move to another house, possibly due to Fergies Mum not buying any good, expensive toys anymore as she was in debt. Nobody knows where Wayne will end up after the garage sale, but there’s a possibility he’ll move next door and Roberto’s rich parents might buy him. Theres also a possibility he’ll go to a charity shop, for free. He may just stay in the box. Whichever houses he’s in January if he continues to not work properly there is a chance he will end up forgetten about on a shelf or swept under the bed to be forgotten, a surplus to someone’s needs.

With Wayne probably heading out of his house, Fergie will be looking in the shop window at Karim and Klass for a late Christmas present and thinking of blowing the dust off Michael; a toy who always gets broken. Still, Fergie had Paul, Ryan and Gary. As always.

But Fergies growing up now, he’s at the stage of his life where he’s getting too old to play with toys.  He’ll soon be passing on his toy box for someone else to care of it, maybe Jose or Pep, and leaving home. And Paul, Ryan and Gary and maybe Wayne won’t be there…

The calm before the storm in Fergies bedroom.