I play 5-a-side football in Newcastle on a weekly basis and for the new season the Leisure Centre have come up with an idea to try and stop teams cancelling with notice for games against newish teams which can sometimes lead to a 20 odd goal victory. This season we can call up and give the other team a 5 0 win if there’s nothing to play for at the end of the season and face no punishment for cancelling the game. It’s not nice on the weaker teams, and it’s a tad arrogant, but it’s genuinely not worth trekking into town to annihilate a group of 17 year olds when the league has been decided. Of course, we plan to win the league so it won’t apply to my 5-a-side team.
This is relevant to Newcastle United for two reasons. The first is that I got the email through about this scheme during the match on Saturday. I was reading it through and Man Utd scored their second goal. I raised my head and sore Juan Mata wheel away and there was no sense of disappointment. It’s the first time I’ve ever been at SJP and genuinely not cared about a goal for either team. The second reason why my 5-a-side ramble is relevant is that I don’t think anyone involved with the club believes that the game against Manchester United was worth the time. We should have offered them a 5 0 win and all spent our day doing something else. There is still plenty to play for this season. There’s no such thing as a pointless match in the Premier League – regardless of what’s at stake two expensively assembled, well paid, committed teams, playing front of thousands of people with some of the best players in the world involved should be an enjoyable watch, regardless of the outcome.
However at the moment, only one team has turned up in our last three games. Man City, Hull and West Ham aside this year; Newcastle United have not shown up for a game. Last minute wins against Palace and Villa have papered over the widest of cracks. At this point in time Newcastle United are pointless and a stain upon the league. The league which for all its faults is exciting to watch and be a part of. A league that does it’s best to promote competition with wild financial rewards for finishing as high as possible and playing attractive football. The better you play the more you’re televised. It’s a simple, wildly successful design. In the same way Sunderland deserve to be relegated for losing so many matches in the past few years, NUFC are a generally pointless team at the moment.
Everyone has their reasons, excuses. The true faith Facebook page is like any other internet forum and full of partisan and polarised opinion. It’s got to the stage now where people are going on line during the game and trying to call out ‘apologists’ and lauding the fact they were right all along. If you’ve always believed Newcastle United was destined for this, well done – but you’ll get no applause from me. Predicting the end of the wold won’t make you any feel better when it finally comes, and perhaps we’re in a similar place right now. There was hope this season, and last, and the two years before that. The season we finished 5th was a great year, before that some fabulous results. The promotion season was fantastic, thoroughly enjoyable. Last season we were in Europe and we drank in Brugge, Bordeaux and Lisbon. If this was the Newcastle United hated by many and scorned by the masses – it was fine by me. I’ve enjoyed my football on the whole and while there have been plenty of lows, the highs have been immensely enjoyable.
Things are different now though. We’ve all seen things recently that haven’t been witnessed at SJP in years. All manner of records broken. It’s the apathy and the disdain for the team and management. We do not trust the players any more. We do not trust the manager. I didn’t think Chris Hughton was a good manager, or Kevin Nolan a good player. I think pining for them to return to the club is laughable and will drag us towards the Championship – but I trusted Chris Hughton to use all of his ability to get what he could out of an imbalanced if talented squad. You trusted Kevin Nolan, limited and lacking fitness, to give 100% and tell his team mates that their efforts weren’t good enough. They were decent men, whose achievements have been mythologised in comparison to what we have at the moment. Then again, give me Kevin Nolan over Dan Gosling any day of the week.
The only players who looked like they gave a shit on Saturday were Cheick Tiote, Anita, Santon and Cisse. Papisse Cisse was everywhere, running and harrying and doing his best. I really respect the bloke. I know he’s a professional footballer, and a millionaire – but he doesn’t hide. He gives it everything and keeps going. This a guy told he was second man to Demba Ba at the start of last season. Pardew and Ashley gambled on the wrong striker, with lasting effects on our number 9. It’s the manager’s job not to make mistakes like that. Or at least try and fix them. Loic Remy or bust? How do you feel about that, Papiss?
Yoan Goufrann. Derided, loved and now a symptom. How has he turned out so badly? 12 Goufrann’s for a Jose Altidore I told my mackem mate in December. He was everything a footballer should be. Decent in the air, a goal scorer, a grafter and versatile. He’s shot. He no longer grafts. As the goals fly in he turns towards the half way line, head down probably looking at the subs bench hoping he has to take no further part. Inexcusable. Why though? I think back to November when the French manager said he was keeping an eye of Goufrann and Yohan Cabaye was doing interviews bigging up his pal for an international call up for what would likely be his only chance of attending a world cup. What must he have thought on February 1st? He’ll have known his chances went with Yohan.
The media have given up on us. ‘On the beach’ has been the phrase used of late by journalists about Newcastle United. It’s worse than that. Being on the beach is what teams are in late April/May – not February. Being ‘on the beach’ does not affect players desperate to break into their World Cup squads (squads they arrived at United part of and now find themselves outside.)
Pardew is disliked by the media. The Hull saga proved that. Tears have been shed for Chris Hughton this morning by most in the media. He spent far more money at Norwich than Pardew has, and his limitations have shown. The reaction has been that of anger and disappointment that he has lost his job. Compare and contrast this reaction if Pardew ever gets the bullet.
Nothing is permanent in football. Convincing home wins against two of the worst teams in the league and points and performances away from home will turn the tide. Signings in the summer and a good pre-season, I’ll be back on Pardew’s side, as will the match going public who come under so much criticism these days for not being like SAFC and just staying away. I’ll not hold my breath though.
There’s only so many times I can analyse convincing United defeats in the media. It’s very much the same. People praise the opposition, when no praise is necessary. If these teams hadn’t beaten us comfortably, then serious questions would need to be asked. Journalists should copy and paste the match reports from previous fixtures at the moment. Change the names and dates, maybe the running order of the events, but the analysis is the same. Why does Pardew escape any serious scrutiny? 9th is no disaster for Newcastle United at this moment in time. However this season the means don’t justify the end.
Managers cannot come back from this as a whole. In this country we’re too quick to write off managers who have been relegated. Often there’s little they can do. Look at Roberto Martinez. Rafa Benitez has been sacked and relegated, Pardew was relegated but absolved of all blame as he took over a sinking ship. Never again will he fully regain the trust of these players and fans. Results will ease the tension, buy him more time but at the moment he is part of Newcastle United’s past, not its future, regardless if he is at the club or not.
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