I think I was more or less crossing a line with Alan Pardew before a ball was even kicked on Saturday. Having read his at best garbled, ill-considered, jumbled up thoughts and at worse class-prejudice regarding the intelligence of young players coming through the respective Academies at Southampton FC and Newcastle United Football Club I’d been pondering how we got to a situation at our club where such half-baked views were held by someone in such a position of authority (sic).
Let’s just say one or two things about the Newcastle United Academy though. Mark Douglas of The Journal made a very casual throwaway reference to United having made Cat 1 status last week. There has been no confirmation from United though they did tell me via e-mail (again) I can buy tickets for the Kings of fucking Leon and a minty loan-shark sponsored piece of their generic PUMA acrylic with an iron embossed club logo for the bargain price of 16 bar. I’ve so far managed to resist both. Whether the club has achieved Cat 1 status for the Academy under the Elite Professional Player Performance criteria set down by the Premier League / FA and independently audited remains to be seen. If they have achieved the standard, good but it is hardly a cause for celebration as it will mean United is two years behind everyone else. By everyone else, I don’t just mean the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, the Manchester clubs et al. I mean the likes of Stoke, Sunderland, West Brom, oh and I also mean the likes of Blackburn (Venky’s and all), Boro and Wolves who if you have good eye-sight will have noticed dropping through the divisions these last few years. They still managed to get Cat 1 Status for their academies though. In the summer of 2012 however, Newcastle United by all accounts and in the absence of any explanation to the contrary, failed the EPPP assessment.
There has been a lot of evasion, smoke and mirrors and a lack of investigation by the local press in the intervening period but on the basis of information that has found its way to us, then reason the club failed the EPPP inspection was down to insufficient resources and well, some er, shall we say inconsistencies with the administration and recording of coaching activities. Of course, I could be completely wrong and I’m all ears if someone at United would care to explain exactly what has gone on at The Academy before and after the 2012 inspection. Let me elaborate upon what I understand to be the case with the resources issue at The Academy. I don’t mean a shortage of bibs or cones. It’s a shortage of coaches and a further failure in the 2012 inspection was also said to be due to insufficient coaching time spent with young players.
So, now let us return to Pardew’s comments about social class and the recruitment and progression of young footballers through the ranks. Players regardless of background, ethnicity, class or anything else will develop if they have (a) talent (b) total dedication and (c) the correct environment. Has United, given its failure to secure Cat 1 status for its own Academy, through what it is understood to be insufficient investment of resources into the coaching infrastructure provided the correct environment? Well, not according to the independent assessors sent out to inspect standards against the EPPP. And not on the evidence of a complete failure of any player to come through the ranks whilst Ashley has owned the club and nail a place in the starting eleven. I haven’t forgotten about Krul or Carroll or Taylor or Ameobi – the current set up had nothing to do with them.
So, let’s take Pardew’s words for the clap-trap they are unquestionably are and consign them to the land-fill of other rubbish he has spouted lately. Try not to laugh when Pardew talks about “intelligence” given he is half-way through a ban for a complete and embarrassing lack of control and which came only weeks after “shut your fucking noise, you old cunt!” to the manager of Manchester City broadcast to millions.
I’m not particularly a massive fan of athletics but despite myself at the last Olympics one Saturday night, I spent part of the evening, off the sofa and punching the air in joy as Jessica Ellis came down the home straight with no-one ahead of her. It was a moment of sheer, sporting joy and fulfilment. I did the same with Mo Farah. I loved it. Jessica Ennis isn’t middle-class by the way, like many Black British athletes she is from a disadvantaged part of Sheffield where every socio-economic indicator would suggest she’s been up against it. She has succeeded because of her supreme, innate talent, her incredible dedication and crucially, because she has had support and resources to bring that talent out, like so many athletes, black and white from Britain’s inner cities or “rough estates” ©.
The most successful sports institution in the North East and indeed in the country in my opinion is Durham County Cricket Club. The County Champions are an exemplary sporting institution. They develop their own talent and they are the best. They are also owned by their supporters or members. Harmison, Collingwood, Onions et al. Local lads from ordinary, working class backgrounds across the region, whose talent and dedication has been husbanded brilliantly by the coaches of Durham CCC.
Looking to football and the most talented player of his generation, Wayne Rooney, couldn’t be more working class if he tied his whippet to the lamp-post outside the pub. John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard are the products of the English working class. I see Barkley emerging at Everton and he’s the same. I do recall a certain sheet-metal worker’s son from Newcastle who didn’t do so badly either.
Strangely enough, a shooting party from true faith has been invited to Wallsend Boys Club next Saturday for Football Focus’ programme. Its fantastic recognition for a much loved and respected local institution, formed before WW2, let’s not forget to provide a diversion from the demon drink for apprentices working in the shipyards. Wallsend may be the most celebrated local boys club having delivered Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Steve Bruce, Lee Clark, Steve Watson, Alan Thompson but across the river at Redheugh Reds coaches will rightly point to Paul Gascoigne, David Hodgson and many more. So can others – Montagu and Fenham, Walker Central, Cleveland Hall – all clubs with deep roots in the working class communities of Tyneside. Largely starved of resources and ignored by the likes of Newcastle United they struggle by dependent upon the commitment of their volunteers and non-stop fund-raising. Middle-class? I don’t think so.
Let’s look further afield for examples of the nonsense of Pardew’s clap-trap – Zidane, Maradonna, Drogba and many more – not a Business Studies A Level between them. Probably hopeless at serving G & Ts to Mum and Dad’s friends when they are round for “dinner” as well.
Pardew, let’s face it is a fine one to talk really isn’t he? Let’s be honest, he couldn’t have been appointed to the job at Newcastle United, on merit could he? He’s a man been brought in to question nothing, get on with it, keep things ticking over and not to ask for anything. He’s pretty much delivered on that prospectus but at the end of the day, that’s no good to Newcastle United – the one we think we support as opposed to the pale imitation it has become under Mike Ashley.
So, Pardew reckons we’ll get a replacement for Loic Remy then? Aye, whatever, Alan, we noticed that was code for saying, there is no way Loic Remy will waste his career playing for you.
Oh, and club captain, Fabricio Coloccini is going to defer a decsiion on his future until the summer. I’ve never known anything good come from one of those deferred until the summer type of decisions. I’d imagine this is the last few weeks of Clo’s time at United, and let’s be honest, what the fuck id there to hang around for? The battle for 8th?
And then the match kicked off at Southampton. Pardew reckons that performance “wasn’t us”. I beg to differ – it looks very much like “us”. It looked very similar to “us” at Man City (a), Everton (a) and (h), Spurs (h), Mackems (h), Chelsea (a), Fulham (a), Swansea (a), West Brom (a), Hull (h) and of course Cardiff (h) in the FAC. Maybe the wins over Man Utd (a), Spurs (a) and Chelsea (h) are the aberrations? Maybe a standard 4-0 humping at Southampton, which let’s be honest, didn’t come as a great surprise, is “us” – what do you think?
I listened to Pardew before the game, once again talking Southampton up and again made reference to the fact we can’t compete with them as well as bigging up their Academy (see above – just resource ours correctly and employ some decent coaches for fuck’s sake) and he promised his return to the dressing room on match-days would have an impact. It did, we were worse. Afterwards, Pardew made some talk of “energy levels”. In English this means our team didn’t try, didn’t give a fuck – and we’ve seen that before haven’t we? I won’t go through the whole team but with the exception of Elliot, it is fair to say, every single one of those pulling on a United shirt were absolutely, unforgivably disgraceful. They stole their living from Newcastle United last week.
Mind, there was some world-class bull-shitting coming out of United this last week. Of course, Pardew is a master of the arts, talking about the attacking, entertaining team Mike Ashley wants to see at United. If that didn’t make you guffaw with laughter then the promise that the rebuilding of the team for next season has already begun! I know, I know, come back. There just comes a point when listening to an accomplished bull-shitter like Pardew when you can’t take any more. Let’s get one thing absolutely, crystal clear – NOTHING ALAN PARDEW EVER SAYS, EVER HAPPENS, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER!
The man has absolutely no credibility whatsoever. It didn’t help that in his first few weeks in the job that his Andy Carroll is not for sale under any circumstances pledge was somewhat undermined by a helicopter landing at Darsley Park and Llambias and Ashley chasing the big galloot around Whitley Road with giant nets to take him to Merseyside. And that has pretty much been standard fare ever since. Last summer was a complete bollocks in the transfer market as we well know and only topped in January by the sale of Cabaye to PSG (for way below his market value – the latest I hear is Kinnear was confused with the € and £ signs) with no replacements lined up even though the deal had been agreed well in advance (contrary to statements about trying to keep him). Pardew’s words are very, very, very cheap and hollow.
But it seems the bug is catching. United were taken apart last Tuesday night by an Everton team that didn’t look like they had to try that hard. I listened to John Carver talk after the game and wondered if it really was Everton, a club as bereft as investment as us and not an all-star line-up drawn from the finest at Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid. It was only fucking Everton, John! Then Carver is bigging up Ashley actually deigning to grace us with his presence as though he’s Harry Hard-core and about to start going for a bottle with the Undertaker at some out of the way Juniors fixture and Biffa watching taking notes. Apparently, Ashley at the match “bodes well”.
Bodes fucking well? Honestly, man! This kind of thing truly boils my piss – at every other half arsed club in the country, the owners and directors showing up for first team fixtures is the FUCKING norm, unexceptional, unremarkable, every-day kind of occurrence. Not at United, if the barely-interested, thin-skinned bully from Berkshire somehow manages to find himself into a football ground at the same time Newcastle United is playing, all of a sudden it’s a cause of celebration. Nah, not having that, like!
And this coming weekend, it doesn’t get any easier. Forget all this Man U crisis talk, there couldn’t be a better place for them to be coming to than to face a team that can’t defend fucking anything and doesn’t have a goal or any creativity in it whatsoever.
Just make it quick and clean.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …