Well, this was completely different to the day before, at least on the pitch.
We had decided to try and get to the stadium while West Ham were playing, figuring that
would be the easiest and quietest way. After stopping for a few cheeky beers in a bar near the stadium (which had a big West Ham flag in the window, somewhat surprisingly), we got there just as the half time whistle sounded.
The Newcastle section was sealed – as it had been at the end of the shenanigans on the Saturday – with entry only possible with a ticket. Having said that, though, there were only ever three or four Securicor guards there, which wouldn’t have provided much of an obstacle. Plus, as there was no bar open in that section, we were forced to go into the Schalke concourse for beer (not that I was drinking beer on duty, Mr Editor!)
You could tell that less Newcastle fans were wearing colours for this game, which was probably a sensible decision. Though, I’m impressed my Bayern supporting mate kept my Shearer top on for the day. There seemed to be a lot more tension between the two sets of English fans than there was at the outset of yesterday (again, completely understandable), although I missed the sight of a West Ham fan trying to charge across the security barrier on his own (I spilled my drink so went back to the bar). Apparently, it took three stewards to hold him back.
Towards the end of the first game, there was a huge commotion where West Ham were sitting. Presumably, something similar to what happened to us on the Saturday was happening in the entrance to their section. Beer was thrown towards that direction, and crowds of angry West Ham fans were sprinting to that area. Again, whatever happened took a good few minutes to resolve, and the police response was slower than you would expect.
But, anyway, back to the football, which was the complete opposite of the Malaga game (on the pitch, at least). Pardew decided to put Sissoko in centre midfield, and he looked good. Simple, this management lark, I guess. We had a lot more control and didn’t waste the ball half as much. We varied our attack, even using the flanks and not just lumping the ball up to the Shola-sized hole we have in our team (no way am I saying we miss the Pendower Pele, but if we are gonna just hump hopeful balls up the park, we need someone who can win headers).
In fact, it was through the wings – and with a header – that we took the lead. Aarons wriggled free and looped a cross over for Riviere to put past Schalke’s reigning player of the year, Ralf Fährmann. I’ll tell you what, mind, that Aarons is rapid! Tricky, bags of pace and makes good runs. Admittedly, it was a friendly, but there seems to be some promise there. Hell, he even got the second goal with what I will generously call a cross-cum-shot which beat the keeper and went in off the post, to the surprise of pretty much everyone.
It was about now that the party atmosphere in the away end, coupled with all of the substitutions, led to the fans to focus on more entertaining activities, such as building a beer snake (admittedly, I contributed quite a few of the beakers needed). What was relatively harmless fun, though, turned into something a bit more sinister when some of the lads decided to throw it over the fence to some of the families sat on the other side, who clearly didn’t want the present. Predictably, the snake collapsed, wetting some very upset men, women and children.
On a more positive note, sadly after quite a few of the Schalke fans in that area had left with some not very nice words for their visitors (who had also been complaining about the atmosphere and lack of singing), one Newcastle fan handed a present over the fence to a little boy who had been upset, which was followed by a few others giving five Euro notes to a girl they had upset. Although, the less said about Geordies throwing notes at young girls, the better…
Actually I was talking to a young lad in the crowd at this time about this very (digital) publication, and he was complaining about some of the stick young Toon fans get in the match reports and articles. He wanted me to point out that not all the dreaded ‘young ‘uns’ are a problem, and he has a very good point. I think sometimes we lose sight of that, as idiots come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Anyway, most of the young lads I met were canny (although hoying beer is a bit of a stupid idea. Especially when it’s lovely, sweet, cold German beer and not bastard Fosters).
On the pitch, there was still time for Newcastle to add a third, as Cabella found his way through the Schalke defence and stuck the ball past the keeper. A fourth nearly came too, after a powerful run from Adam Campbell saw Fährmann have to make a smart save. When the fourth goal did come, it was for Schalke, and the whistle blew straight after for the end of the game so it was hard to tell if it counted or not.
So, we saw two sides of Newcastle on this thoroughly enjoyable jaunt in the Ruhrpott region. On Saturday we saw a plodding, defensively-slack collection of players, several playing out of position. And on Sunday we saw a fast, incisive and comfortable team score goals against a Champions League team. What’s the betting this will be another season of extreme ups and downs?
UNITED: Krul (Elliot 46), Anita (Campbell 73), Coloccini (Yanga-Mbiwa 46), Williamson (Streete 73), Dummett (Perez 79), Obertan (Vuckic 73), Sissoko (Satka 46), Colback (Abeid 46), Aarons (Armstrong 68), Riviere (Ferreyra 57), Gouffran (Cabella 57).
SCHALKE: Fährmann, Ayhan (Friedrich 46), Santana, Matip, Kolasinac (Fuchs 46), Neustadter (Hoger 46), Sobottka, Dennis (Borgmann 71), Prince Boateng (Multhaup 46), Choupo-Moting (Avdijaj 62), Meyer (Itter 71).
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