It is now eight days before the season kicks off and United is yet to make a permanent signing despite having a Director of Football in post allegedly who has the telephone number of every top manager in the world.
Those of us amongst the SJP crowd of 16,187 for the visit of SC Braga in the last pre-season friendly will have been underwhelmed by what we saw. Little creativity, poor in the box and slack with possession! Who knows how we’ll fair defensively against a side with stronger attacking options?
On another day Capitano Colo could have been sent-off for what looked like a nailed on Red card to me when he pulled back the Braga striker with only a free run on goal. Okay, you shouldn’t read too much into pre-season friendlies.
Although there are some doubtless reading this who are tired of all the negativity around Newcastle United right now and want to be looking forward to the new season with something approaching optimism, the fact of the matter is we are going into this season weaker than we were in May and at the end of a season where we struggled to retain our Premier League status. I’m getting a little stick via my Twitter account for pessimism but frankly if anyone who is anything other than concerned at the direction of our club right now then I’ll have a pint of what they are on.
We’d been promised a root and branch review of how the club operated last season but what we have had is the baffling appointment of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football, the resignation of Derek Llambias as Managing Director (though no replacement appointed), the departures of Harper, Perch, Simpson and the loan deals for Ferguson, Tavernier and Abeid reducing the numbers available for selection. Gosling and Amalfantino have been told to find other clubs and Shola Ameobi is considering where his future lies ahead of an ambition to play for Nigeria in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Shola is one of our few striking options but should he leave, he’ll likely drop a division. Yet, I rate him higher in usefulness to Yoan Gouffran. But that’s just my opinion. On balance, we’ve appointed a conditioning coach whose role is to reduce the number of injuries the first team squad sustains. Seems like a good idea. Let’s see if it works.
Personally speaking the continuing presence of Mike Wiliamson and Gabriel Obertan on the club’s books is depressing as those two have had ample opportunity to demonstrate they are PL players but consistently demonstrated they are not.
The squad is light-weight right now and there is now the possibility of Yohan Cabaye attracting a bid from his admirers. He would have to be replaced but I’d have little confidence in Joe Kinnear being able to organise a quick-deal for a suitable player given his performance so far in his post. Indeed, I’m reminded of the previous window Kinnear presided over in January 2009 when he sold Given and N’Zogbia late in the window (to be fair he brought in Kevin Nolan and Ryan Taylor in the same window) at a profit for his boss but well, you know how that season ended.
Those looking for a ray of sunshine wouldn’t have got it from Alan Pardew this last week. The manager has informed us Southampton is in a stronger financial position than Newcastle United and has admired Swansea for the way in which they have organized their finances to make some impressive signings. Now that is depressing if we are being told Newcastle United cannot match the financial wherewithal of Southampton. That really is a first. Let’s hope the interpretation some have made from his words as applying pressure upon Kinnear and Ashley is the case rather than a reflection of the lack of budget to strengthen before the window closes at the end of August.
Likewise, having picked up a stray match programme yesterday in The Milburn I laughed at Pardew’s boast his team had made Motherwell “look ordinary” in our recent friendly with them in Scotland. Knock yourself out Al, Motherwell eh? Dear, dear me.
One word I’m hearing repeated more often amongst some time-served Mags is “Ambition”. Or rather the absence of it at St James’ Park! More and more the realization is dawning that Newcastle United is little more than a bolt-on operation to Ashley’s Sports Direct empire with a mission to cut costs to the bone and run our club on a shoe-string for maximum return. Every decision that is made at United serves the interests of Mike Ashley. The club will cease to operate as an independent entity if the current hollowing out continues in my opinion.
Anyone who knows what is going on with staffing numbers at the club will be aware how long-standing club employees have been cast aside and there will come a time in the not too distant future when I’m sure they will have kids from The Academy teams working in the club shops or in food kiosks on match-days. Everything is increasingly cheaper and definitely nastier.
I quite like the design of that kit United worse at home for the Braga game. A bit Blackburn Rovers in style with black replacing blue. Nice design. I’ve no idea where we would wear this third kit though when our Black & White stripes, black shorts, black socks wouldn’t do exactly the same job. A tribute to Sir Bobby Robson? Hmm, okay then.
We are going to have quite a bit lined up for you over the next eight days online but ending up this coming weekend with the brand new issue of true faith (TF105). It will be 64-full colour pages of opinion, history, nostalgia written by our stable of new and old scribes. We’ve given our gob-shite fanzine something of a haircut and a new look about it (but not too much) so we hope you approve of what we’ve done. Further details to follow separately.
Gomis, Bent, E’to … will it ever happen?
Have a great week.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
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