The Bundesliga has broken up now until mid-January. My own team played their last game two weeks ago, and we now have to wait until March to play again. That’s almost three months!
Football is part of the festive programme, alongside alcohol, eating your way out of your Christmas jeans and arguing with the family. Christmas needs football, almost as much as it needs booze.
As part of the peace treaty between the missus and I, we alternate Christmases. This year we’re going to her parents in Löbau, a small town in Saxony near the Polish border. The quality of the alcohol will be better than in England, sure (hell, even Foster’s tastes like beer here. Terrible beer, but beer at least), and I can still watch the Stoke game, but it’s not really the same as going to the stadium or even watching it in the pub with mates.
Having said that, we’re coming back for New Year, so I don’t have to wait to long to be back in Toon.
How well are we doing at the minute? The loss against the mackems is still in the back of my mind, and I would never say that some of the subsequent performances, while fantastic, have erased that. We also lacked much of anything against Swansea, but we’re picking up points in a way we haven’t seen since Pardew’s first (full) season.
Since then, I think we’re all a bit less certain of how effective a manager Pardew is. As we’ve seen this season, we can take the fight to the big teams, but then seem to panic when other teams (the unwashed, for example) do the same to us.
I’m also still certain of my belief that we only play one good half per game under Pardew, but, at the minute, things tend to be trending upwards. Having said that, there’s no way the club wants us in Europe next season (or the UEFA cup, specifically), so I can see us falling away in the New Year as injuries pick-up and the squad is purposefully not strengthened. Or, perhaps more likely, weakened.
But, we shouldn’t be thinking about that. It is Christmas after all – the season of giving.
Let’s hope NUFC gives something to us this Christmas, starting by giving a hiding to Stoke.