Will the real Newcastle United stand up?
Like many of you reading this clap-trap, yours truly was less than amused at the poor haul of points from games away at West Ham and Burnley and given Chelsea’s recent run of results and the undoubted power of their squad and genius of their manager, I hadn’t given us much of a chance at home to the likely PL Champions 2014/15. I wasn’t alone.
What I hadn’t bargained on however was something of a question being answered regarding Chelsea. While Mourinho was leading the media off the scent with mad talk about ball-boys and latterly cows (I know, don’t ask) a more unpalatable truth was being chewed over by him and his coaching team no doubt. This Mourinho team expertly put together on the back of financial doping has swept most before it this season but it has rather come unstuck in the North East of England in recent weeks. Chelsea were unable to get any more than a point at the SoS and of course they were frustrated and worked out of the game by Newcastle United’s admirable industry, dedication and no little skill. I loved the crowd as well on Saturday – belligerent, visceral and full-on. Nice to hear Terry commenting upon how he couldn’t hear instructions because of the din and even a sore Mourinho described the SJP congregation as a good crowd that wants to win.
Two teams which we can describe as average (us and the Mackems) have come up with a way to undo Chelsea and while the press has gone large with the ball-boys palaver, we can have little doubt coaches and managers will be pouring over recordings of the United – Chelsea game in particular but also their trip to the Mackems. There is a way to defeat Chelsea and there is a way to stop them. We have shown the way and so have the Mackems. That was the story late on Saturday afternoon. As usual, most of the press missed it.
But we shouldn’t talk about Chelsea. We can leave others to wonder how the world hasn’t stopped spinning because Chelsea has lost a game and we should lavish the praise on our lads. And the manager!
In no particular order of priority I’d like to say how well Jack Colback is playing right now. What an engine this lad has on him and from where I’m watching, he has future Newcastle United captain written all over him. I really hope that happens because he’s a great honest professional and his performances suggest he is utterly dedicated to the Black & White shirt. At the other end of the park, I know I’m not alone in purring over the performances of Ayoze Perez. This lad is only going to get better and whilst I worry about him being over-played and burnout on Saturday he gave a performance of sheet grit and determination. He was never going to win a physical battle with Terry and Cahill but he was a constant thorn in their side and we went into a deeper position, I couldn’t help but reflect upon just where Hatem Ben Arfa went completely wrong. Perez looks like a footballer. HBA looks like a has-been. I take no pleasure in writing that.
All over the pitch there were excellent performances. Colo is back to his magisterial best, Janmaat must be making Arsene Wenger’s throat go dry and pulling a rictus smile when he thinks about Matt Debuchy, an older, inferior player, prone to injuries who he bought for twice the money we paid for our Dutch Master. Now, that was good business and then some.
Sissoko was excellent, Alnwick was excellent, Dummet never put a foot wrong. Excellent, excellent, excellent.
I love SJP on these occasions. We know Chelsea are a million times better than United bought when every player is giving 100%, the manager has a plan that is working there is no finer place on God’s green earth than being in The Gallowgate with your mates roaring our team on, on a cold winter’s day and the old place pumped up, teeth clenched, fists clenched and screaming like its life depended upon it. This is the Newcastle United I love.
Up and coming we have Arsenal in London this weekend. They are on the back of a pasting of their own at Stoke Saturday gone and Arsenal’s famously slapped-arse-face fans starting to turn in big numbers against their manager. Our game down there could go either way. If as I fear, Arsenal are feeling hurt and angry we could get the backlash. However, this could also be the start of a painful run for them and we should go there in good heart and full of confidence. These are the games when we know we won’t have much in the way of possession but Pardew appears to have developed a plan predicated upon industry, commitment and sheer hard graft of the type summed up by Colback and Perez. The manager will have our support when we play this counter-attacking way against those clubs with bigger and better squads. Anything at The Emirates would be excellent.
Without raining on our own parade however, the January transfer window is just round the corner and I have misgivings about what is likely to happen at United. Sissoko we hear is attracting the attention of Arsenal and if they offer in excess of £15 – 20m, Ashley will sell. He’ll always well. There are also questions about Tiote and Taylor (s) now in the last year of his deal as I understand it. I wonder about Cisse as well.
With 23 points in the bank, we probably need another 18 points to guarantee PL football next season. Ashley may do what he did last season and gamble on us having enough and flog a key player (probably Sissoko) and coast out the rest of the season with no recruits made.
As things stand, we need at least ANOTHER striker and ANOTHER central defender. Those were signings that should have been made in the summer. It remains to be seen if we can get that business done next month.
So it’s Leicester away in the FA Cup. At the Walker Stadium. It’s not even Walker. Pfft. I’d have preferred a home draw as we seem to have perfected the art of away ties latterly but that is a game we should be looking to win at the first time of asking. I suspect The Foxes boss Nigel Pearson might not be looking at the tie with much relish given his team’s PL position. We’ll see. We have to go there to win.
I was delighted to see Gateshead get a great away tie to West Brom. Going to a PL side is a brilliant prospect for Gateshead’s fans and players. Everyone at true faith wishes them all the very, very best.
Blyth Spartans have a brilliant home draw with Birmingham City and well, you know …. Croft park will be the place to be for this tie and this one, ko times permitting might see a good true faith shooting party having it large in the Masons Arms beforehand. All our best wishes go to The Spartans.
Anyway, as the great song says … All The Lads and Lasses There All With Smiling Faces ….
Have a great week.