Well, our little run had to come to an end somehow and to no great surprise or weeping
and wailing it did after a lifeless game of football in the East End of London. Sadly, the ill-discipline of Moussa Sissoko means we are without him for the trip to Burnley on Tuesday night. Jack Colback will also be missing from the line-up as well having racked up the points from bookings that means he’s banned from this game.
If the QPR game was a test of how United could take the game to inferior opposition at home as opposed to the dogged underdog rearguard actions which delivered wins for us at Spurs, Man City and at home to Liverpool the game at Burnley is a measure for us on a number of fronts.
Firstly, the West Ham defeat will examine how the team bounces back against opposition we should expect to beat home and away this season. I hope that doesn’t sound like arrogance, it’s not meant to but if we can’t expect to win away at Turf Moor then where can we?
This game is a test of confidence, resilience and spirit but it’s also one of how Pardew utilises the resources he has at his disposal which although depleted by suspensions and injuries will be still superior to what Dyche has to play with. This is the clichéd cold night in Burnley when the appetite of Gallic and Latin players is thought to be tested most severely.
December has thrown up a massive test for us but Burnley (a) should be a win. Let’s not pretend anything else.
Saturday at SJP could not be more of a different fixture with one of the best sides in Europe coming to town and looking pretty invincible in the PL. For what it’s worth, it’s my opinion Jose Mourinho is the best manager in the world and he has his team drilled into a winning machine. It’s a stern test but somehow we seem to have a decent record against Chelsea at home. This game will demand that the workrate we have seen deployed to such great effect in previous games when we have had the role of underdog is completely justified. There will be long periods when we don’t have the ball and the pleasure to be gained from this game will hopefully be in our defending, our tracking, our pressing and discipline all over the pitch. We can’t carry anyone and it’s my hope we’ll have the rested Sissoko and Colback joined by Abeid. I’d love for Colo to be back in the side because we need his intelligence on Saturday up and coming.
Sometimes your heart just sinks when you heard the words Newcastle United and the media. I have no issue with the club defending itself to what it believes to be inaccurate reporting but to accuse a newspaper like The Telegraph of lying makes it look paranoid and jumpy. I don’t believe there is anything mendacious in the reporting of Luke Edwards but if he is wrong let the club illustrate that with facts, evidence and a clear, unequivocal statement from UEFA about what Mike Ashley’s stake-holding in Rangers means for Newcastle United prospects of playing in European competitions.
Frankly, the club hasn’t proven The Telegraph is wrong and there should be questions being asked all over football about what exactly the ramifications are for United from Ashley’s Ibrox adventures. If The Telegraph is correct (and they do have a case in my opinion) then essentially, Newcastle United has just welded in the glass ceiling on its own ambition and capability. Clearly, that matters to every single United supporter but it also has grave ramifications for the Premier League, the FA and the Football League because what it essentially means is that it has a participating member from the highest league in the land which is basically a dead hand. It has implications for the meaning of its competitions draws and the honesty of the games we participate in.
This question goes to the heart of football as a competition. It goes to the whole notion of what a sports club is meant to represent if because of Ashley’s dual involvement with two clubs it violates the sporting competitiveness of another.
It is my fervent belief that Mike Ashley has little or no ambition for Newcastle United beyond the club staying in the PL generating money for player investment from selling players and acting as a billboard for his own businesses. Newcastle United will always come a distant second in order of priorities for Ashley. Further, I don’t believe Ashley has any interest in Rangers really beyond controlling as he does their marketing and merchandise. As he does at Newcastle United.
This is the most important matter for Newcastle United right now and needs to be investigated and analysed fully. Every single journalist covering United should be giving this 100% of their attention. If their editors have the bottle to do so. For our own ends we’ll be doing exactly that ourselves and we’ll share our conclusions or otherwise with you.
Newcastle United’s accusation of The Telegraph of “lying” is a serious slur upon that newspaper and its one I’m sure its owners may be talking to m’learned friends about very soon. It isalso an indication of how serious they know this is for them. They look rattled to me, particularly as the statement has not been signed by anyone which is par for the course. Who put those words together? Lee Charnley? Wendy Taylor? Lee Marshall? Or Mike Ashley? Who is the big boy or girtl throwing the accusations around?
This one will run.
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Our man in the smoke, Guy Hannay-Wilson will be along at the big fancy doo on Monday night and we’ll be following him on Twitter to see who wins what. Follow Guy with us at twitter@tfGHW1892
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