I can’t say I enjoyed much of our win over a woeful Crystal Palace team who unquestionably deserve to be relegated with their manager, Tony Pulis. Pulis is as good an explanation for the failure of English football to produce good, competitive international quality footballers as I can think outside of the orbit of Sam Allardyce. I’ll take a delicious delight in Pulis’ sense of grievance at Cisse’s late goal maybe being scored after the time allotted not least because I can’t abide the bloke but also it seems like a just response to his game-plan of time-wasting and feigning injury. Fair play to the Ref Probert for not being fooled by what was going on out there!
For all of that, we were poor and the team has a massive Yohan Cabaye shaped hole in the middle of it that has not been filled and won’t be looked at until the summer. That’s me being optimistic.
I was delighted for Cisse that he should get his goal and our winner. Players with less heart than Papiss would have retreated into themselves but despite having failed to take two really good chances in the second half, he was still making the runs and not hiding. Cisse is a nice bloke as well and it’s always good to see the ball bounce for the good guys now and again. It would be timely for him and United were he to recapture his form and goals of Spring 2012 and starting this coming week when we face an impressive Everton, a strong Southampton side and not forgetting Man Utd at SJP a week this coming Saturday. They are three very demanding games up and coming when we will need all hands on deck.
I was pleased to see Sylvain Marveaux make a return to action as well. Something has gone on with Marveaux and the manager because he has just been completely off the radar (which happens at United with players like S. Taylor, Obertan, Haidara, Marveaux from time to time completely disappearing from view without much explanation) and for what it’s worth I think he has talent. Whether he like Hatem Ben Arfa has failed to kick on due to the inability of the coaching staff / manager or his own character or lack of professional determination, I couldn’t say with any certainty but I do know there is a player inside of him that could have been, could possibly be very useful to us. The news piece in the run up to the Palace game regarding senior players at United raising concerns about HBA’s professionalism and attitude I’d guess is a fair indication that the club has given up on the lad. Again, it’s really sad that, for whatever the reason, enough isn’t being made of his great talent and whilst those who criticise the coaching and guidance of the player at United, I do think professional athletes are responsible for the basics of their own conditioning (i.e. weight).
A player currently struggling at the moment is on-loan striker Luuk De Jong. Worryingly, some are comparing him to the lummox Rob McDonald, who those of a certain vintage still have the horrors about. To give De Jong the benefit of the doubt, he’s played barely any football this season, he’s in his third different national league in less than 12 months, has arrived at the club when we have just sold our best player without replacement and the team has been out of form. Add into the mix how narrow we play, the lack of delivery from the flanks and the Dutchman has quite a bit in mitigation. However, he could really do with taking the back of the net off at SJP at some point in the future before the doubts in the stands transmit themselves to the pitch.
There was no Adam Armstrong this week after his cameo at Fulham. Who knows, maybe Adam had some kind of clause in his contract that he would get a PL start before the end of this season? I know I am so cynical! What I do know is the local press appear to have gone a tad OTT in talking about the potential of a golden generation coming through the ranks. That seems to be based upon very little and can’t refer to Ferguson, Tavernier, Sa. Ameobi, Vuckic et al whose progress seems to have stalled completely! I do like the look of Dummet and hope he can train on and nail that LB spot because we’ve been weaker in that spot since Enrique left and Santon just looks uncomfortable playing on his wrong side in my opinion.
Anyway, we are on 46pts and looking up rather than down, which can’t be a bad thing. There is an end of season feel about the place at the moment however. That’s not great in the middle of March is it?
I had to laugh last week when the material from NUST went online regarding NUFC Holdings plan to sell the lease on the land around St James’ Metro Station which has been in the ownership of United since 98/99 following the purchase from NEXUS. As has been covered widely Ashley seems to want to sell the land as quickly as possible. What will happen to the money from the sale remains to be seen but it says everything this matter has neither been raised by or communicated to the Fans Forum. It was instructive the club has declined to answer the press’ questions on the matter and nor has it yet pulled its usual truck of just putting something bland on the website. The Gallowgate End of St James’ Park is the only part of the stadium that can be extended. Hall and Shepherd got a lot wrong at United (other than making themselves very wealthy) but they did demonstrate foresight in acquiring this lease as it provided United with the potential to extend the ground at some point in the future. Ashley’s plan to sell the lease demonstrates absolutely he just doesn’t see that ever happening. It probably won’t as long as he is there but if the lease on the land is sold and there are future developments that will pretty much put the kybosh on St James’ Park being extended any further in its current format. The sale of the land is likely to generate a relatively small amount of money for Ashley but it could have potentially long term consequences for Newcastle United FC.
The reason I laughed is because throughout this season this fanzine and others have been implored to play some leadership role in mobilising action against Ashley. We are ill-equipped to provide that leadership and have no legitimacy as a humble fanzine to do so. However, the cause for my mirth was immediately following the news going out via various channels the first response I received directly from a supporter was to tell me nothing could be done. I congratulated this person on being the first to surrender. He had his hands up like shit off a stick. It continued as well, some readers letting me know they weren’t really arsed and that they had “heard” (love that by the way) you couldn’t build over a tunnel (which will be news to every major city in the world with an underground system) but the general air of resignation and auto-response defeatism stunned me. I read something criticising the NUST for raising this issue now when it had been known for some time – as if that was a reason not to do anything NOW!
As they say, if you didn’t laugh you’d cry.
Anyway, whether something can or can’t be done remains to be seen but having recently joined the board of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust I have been more than impressed by the intelligence and commitment of fellow board members. If something can be done, then it will be done. Watch this space as they say in the movies.
Again, on the theme of gallows humour, I couldn’t help laughing out loud at stuff from Alan Pardew regarding how team-building for next season has now begun. Really? You don’t say Alan, do you? The cause for my cynicism is that NOTHING, repeat ABSOLUTELY NOTHING Alan Pardew EVER says, EVER happens. Won’t sell Carroll? Carroll sold. Need to bring in one or two players in the summer, no players are brought in. We’ll definitely try to hold on to Cabaye (when Yohan lets on, there was an agreement to sell him in January) and we’ll definitely try to buy replacements. But of course no replacements are brought in. Honestly, as soon as he starts talking at whatever passes for press conferences these days, how the reduced ranks of hacks stop themselves from laughing is beyond me. Whether Pardew is a fool or a knave is the great question of our times. I’ve believed both at various time!
Of course I’m not suggesting the club does not need major investment this summer – just to stand still will require substantial wedge – it’s just that I can see how this will roll. Ashley’s forte is trading players. We will sell players this summer. And some players will be released. Lots of them. I don’t think for one moment players won’t arrive over the summer but I can predict that on 1/Sep/14 when the summer window closes more money will have been brought in than has been invested. Pardew’s remit is to keep us ticking over and the telly money rolling in. No ambition, no hope and the club dying from the inside.
But I’ll try and stay positive. Me and plenty others have supported the club through darker periods than what we experiencing now, we’re on 46pts and I spent delicious hours imagining Tony Pulis’s knot of injustice twisting inside of him on the bus back tom South London. You have to take your pleasures where you find them. Have a great week.