Apologies to those of you expecting to see this on Monday morning but events conspired against me to get what constitutes coherent thoughts on the previous day’s events down in writing for you. By no means does this mean I had a hangover after over-imbibing with several jakeys on Sunday night.
First things first, Manchester City is an excellent side and no-one can say any different. They are great to watch, their movement, touch, passing and style is great to watch and in Silva, in my opinion, they have the player in the Premier League most worth paying to see perform. I couldn’t help purring at the contribution of Eden Dzeko who put in the best centre-forward display I have seen since well, a certain Alan Shearer esq prowled the open green spaces of Gallowgate. You throw in the likes of Toure, Nasri and Kompany and you have something of a complete football machine. They are worthy champions and although the smart money seems to be going the way of Chelsea for the title, I happen to think Man City will take some stopping – the rest just look pale shadows compared to Pellegrini’s men. What a fantastic team and I’m happy to concede they beat us with quite a lot to spare.
You aren’t interested in my lavish praise of Man City (though I’m not sure if you are THAT interested in my opinions of United if I’m honest) but eyes down here we go. I’m not going to kid on I was happy with our performance. I can’t be when we have lost. My expectations haven’t been reduced so low as for me to be content to be out-played by the opposition at home and escaping a leathering. I still retain a certain pride in the B&W shirt for that not to have happened yet.
There are glaring statements of the obvious however. I like Cabella. He can play. He might need to toughen up somewhat and jumping out of challenges isn’t going to endear him to many in the long term but technically he is an excellent player and looks to have some promise. I think Ashley will be thinking £25m for him, the window after next, no trouble. I thought Janmaat was everything I hoped he would be, intelligent, lots of pace, nice touch and energetic. A quality player and a worthy replacement for Debuchy on this evidence!
I think it says something of the poverty of what Pardew has at his disposal that Perez, signed as one for the future in the summer from the Spanish Second Division was making his debut in the first PL game of the season against the Champions. He didn’t disgrace himself and he looks to have potential but really he shouldn’t have been on the bench. United needed to sign a goal-scorer in May and they still do in August with just under two weeks of the window left open.
Fair play to Riviere, he was full of running but he was isolated up front and feeding on scraps. Who knows what he can really do but he had a tough assignment on Sunday gone.
With a side like Man City, I often speculate how many of our players would look comfortable in their team. I think Krul would be okay but the only out-field player I think who could look them in the eye would be Colo. I thought he was excellent on Sunday and whilst I’ll take some persuading he is back to his magisterial best, he was our best player against City by a distance.
It was good to see young Aarons get on the pitch and things did happen when he had the ball at his feet but it says a lot when Obertan is getting a run out as well.
We looked to have more enthusiasm, more verve than we did last season. I felt Colback was utterly committed and his graft put me in the mind of Nicky Butt (maybe it’s just the bonna heed) and as regular readers will know, I was something of a fan of our ex-midfielder from Manchester.
For me though, the likes of Goufrann, Anita and Dummett just don’t do enough. They may be good professionals and all the rest of it but I remain to be convinced. I know we have Tiote (providing Ashley doesn’t manage to flog him first and I rather think that’s the idea) and De Jong to come in but I see big gaps up top and at the centre of defence and at left-back.
Losing to a magnificent Manchester City team is certainly no disgrace and the real test will come at Villa Park this Saturday and of course at Gillingham in the LC and then at home to Crystal Palace. If we don’t have a minimum of 4pts on the board by then, I think a harsh light will be shining on Alan Pardew.
On the subject of Pardew, I sometimes don’t know whether to feel pity or contempt for the man. Some of the stuff he comes out with in the press (when Ashley allows him to speak to them) is so risible it’s difficult not to feel scorn for the man. He so often fails to get his words right. So, variously, in the run up to the season starting he was credited with saying we are going to compete for a place in the Champions League to talking about getting 48 points. I am far from an expert in PR but a simple, modest statement about wanting to achieve more than we did last season might have sufficed. Throw in something about wanting to entertain, improve year on year and really there you have something that we all want to hear. The PR hasn’t reached the levels of a hapless Ashley-lackey begging the media not to publicise Joe Kinnear’s profanathon, but it is still pretty dire.
But not for Newcastle United, a simple start to the season. No, this latest wheeze from Ashley to at best withdraw good-will with the press to at worst wanting the press to pay for access cast another cloud over the club when everything should have been focused upon the pitch! What Ashley hopes to achieve with this strategy escapes me but he has placed a price on what he might be able to squeeze from the media for the words of Alan Pardew and his players he is sorely missing out on the good-will and publicity the media spread for Newcastle United and football in general. Famously belligerent, Ashley doesn’t appear to give a fuck about anything he can’t stick a price-tag on and so we go on, seeing the club dragging itself into pointless spats for very little gain.
As for what Pardew has been saying, I sometimes wonder if those who do the manager’s laundry will ever come across a bit of paper with Mike Ashley’s hand-writing on it with instructions to his employee on what to say – very happy with the players I’ve got – tick, Mike Ashley is a wonderful club owner and given me everything I need to do the job – tick – the club has reinvested the money it has received from selling players – tick. Honestly, Pardew must be so desperate to stay in this job he will, it seems, put up with any indignity. When I compare his belly-crawling to Tony Pulis, the scale of his forelock tugging is grandly exposed.
Personally, I think it is this as much as the desperate performances on the pitch that have made Pardew such an unpopular figure amongst such a large swathe of our support. There is an inescapable sense Pardew works for Mike Ashley than he is involved in the cause of Newcastle United.
Whatever Ashley is doing to get green out of the press, it doesn’t seem to be working, with The Sun having decided against this bull-shit media partners deal. I can’t say I’m disappointed.
The issue with the press wasn’t the only example of Ashley’s malign influence upon our club before the season started. Now far be it from me to defend the privileges of very wealthy men, namely, the Newcastle United coaching team but buckshee tickets for friends and family extends to kit-men and other backroom staff and is a nice perk of the job. Again, it’s that goodwill thing and it is a common practice across the game. It won’t cost much but having the wives, children, parents of club employees at games creates the right atmosphere and in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t cost a lot of money. That’s not how Ashley looks at things and with him there isn’t a saving small enough for him to see as worthwhile. He knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
If United wanted to reallocate those tickets for good causes etc. that’s a different matter, but so far as we know, it’s just penny-pinching and will cause the kind of grudge that might manifest itself in many other ways in the workplace. We all know how this kind of trick often costs far more than it saves. Petty, spiteful and pointless – typical Ashley!
It can only be correct however to send some praise the way of the club. I think we can all say how saddened we were at the deaths of John Alder and Liam Sweeney on Flight MH17 going to follow Newcastle United in New Zealand. I felt they got the tone absolutely right with the tributes before Sunday’s game and I have to thank the fans of Manchester City for respecting the tributes and joining with the minute’s silence and applause on the 17th minute. I think the garden area the club intends to dedicate to the two lads is also a nice touch. Fair play to Newcastle United.
I found it incredibly affirming Sunderland legend, Jimmy Montgomery was so warmly welcomed to St James’ Park as was the Sunderland fan who was so active in setting up fund raising for our two lads who have been lost. The vast majority of the money raised (£30K+) will be donated to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Marie Curie charities and it is to be hoped that money will be used in a very positive way. I am sure it will. That is a fitting tribute to Liam Sweeney and John Alder.
As I understand it, there is to be a tribute to John and Liam at Sunderland’s coming game this Sunday and again, any right-thinking person cannot fail to acknowledge the class of Sunderland AFC and its supporters in providing these touches. I never imagined I would write such words but anything less would be simply churlish and plain wrong.
Like the donations to charity, if anything positive can come from the deaths of two innocent football supporters it might be the reduction in bitterness and bile between Newcastle United and Sunderland. No-one wants anything other than a keenly contested derby and an intense local rivalry but I think we all know this has over-stepped the mark on more than one occasion and it simply brings us to national, international attention for all of the wrong reasons.
As some of you might know the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) and the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) subsidised a bus to travel to London from the North East to join the march from Marble Arch to the Gloucester Place HQ of the Premier League in a campaign for Affordable Football For All. The bus was filled with Newcastle United and Sunderland fans and went there and came back without a cross word.
To be fair to United, the club has something of a progressive philosophy for ticket-matching for away games and has achieved some success with deals with Swansea, West Brom, Stoke and Southampton. Those deals will save regular away travellers a pretty penny and makes football more affordable. What we need however are more of these deals and that’s what we need to be working for.
If you want to read more about the day, please just click here –
As some of you will also know, the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) has been involved in seeking to learn more about Newcastle United’s decision to sell the lease on land at the back of the Gallowgate End on the area surrounding St James’ Metro Station. United has refused to answer any questions from either the NUST or the local media and provided only cursory information at the sham that is the Newcastle United Fans Forum.
Right now, demand for seats at St James’ Park is declining because of how the club acts and because of its lack of ambition. However, it might not always be this way. We all know, there is massive potential to grow Newcastle United with a strategy that has ambition, commitment and unity at its heart. That area behind the Gallowgate End is the only part of SJP that could possibly be redeveloped.
The Trust has more information regarding the potential redevelopment here.
My heart sank when I saw our League Cup draw. That is some schlep to Kent next week for a mid-week match that not many of us have any confidence United is really that interested in. But we should be watching this game closely. United should put out a squad more than capable of winning this game and progressing to the next round. End of story.
Obviously, we have Villa next Saturday with a lunch-time KO and although many have tipped them for a season of struggle, they started well with a win at Stoke. We will have our work cut out but this is the kind of fixture we need to pick up points in otherwise Pardew is going to find life very uncomfortable.
No missive from true faith would be complete without a plug for our fanzine. I have to say we’re all delighted at how the subscriptions are going and at how many of you have made the journey with us from the old hardcopy format to Digital. We also know of many of you who have joined us for the first time and are enjoying the latest issue (TF113) but also going through the back copies in the archive as well.
As I’ve said ad-nauseum, we’ll have 10 issues out this season and each one will have a minimum of 100 pages. I really think the design and layout of the fanzine has kicked on since we were doing the hardcopy and because of the extra space we are able to allow writers to express themselves with and Glenn has been able to up his game with the design. We are really pleased with how it’s going and the reaction it’s getting from readers.
For an annual subscription of £17.99 you get full access but you can also get a subscription on a recurring quarterly basis as well at just £5.99.
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Remember also though, we do a free Newsletter, the SATURDAY SPECIAL. This is the work of our Deputy Editor, Gareth Harrison and Glenn Ashcroft. It is a wry look at the world of football and obviously Newcastle United over the last seven days but also the weekend’s fixtures.
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Many thanks to all of you who weighed in and snapped up the second batch of true faith’s City Crest badges we have had made up. All were sold out in an evening. They are a quality item and at some point in the future, we will do more but very soon, we’ll have some different pin-badge designs for sale and hopefully, they will prove as popular as the City Crest numbers. Keep an eye on here, twitter feeds and all the rest of it.
We do have a fast diminishing supply of Kelly and Peacock bucket hats for sale. It was great to see them being worn in numbers on Sunday gone and I’m sure they will be worn proudly at Villa Park this Saturday.
If you want one – just click here, piece of cake. The quality is very good, the service top notch and well, they are all the rage as my dear old Ma might have said.
Thanks for all of the photos of one of the true faith flags we have allowed out on loan to Old Orleans Bar in the Haymarket. Keep them coming.
We hope to have some news regarding something extra we’ll be doing this season with the Podcasts. Obviously, we’ll be keeping the Taylor & Besty road-show going but we hope to be doing something a little different as well. Oh, I know, I’m such a tease.
I think that is just about enough from me.