John Carver accused his team of a lack of professionalism after they had conceded a late goal to Stoke City and had to settle for a share of the points at a stupefied St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon. The fact of the matter is the lack of intelligence which allowed Peter Crouch to predictably score a late goal at the Leazes End was not the only story in a game which was played in front of a virtually silent and increasingly broken home crowd. If Sunday morning had brought me stories of die-hard Mags of many years sacking the game off due to a complete lack of interest then Monday brought similar stories of life-long supporters doing the off at half-time through a complete lack of interest. This was dull and depressing. This is the Zombie club.
Anyone who watches United regularly knows Williamson isn’t good enough and Colo is a fading force. The team has been crying out for robust and quality central defenders for at least two seasons. Windows open and close and nothing happens! The midfield partnership of Colback and Anita was unable to assert itself in the central areas though I have to say, were they able to ever slide some clever balls through to strikers, I’m not sure what would come of them. Perez is a fine prospect but he looks mentally and physically exhausted. He desperately needs a rest and that is no shame. The lad owes us nothing from his transfer fee.
Up top we are bereft. To be fair, the team does manage to get itself into wide positions and a number of balls are whipped in from the flanks from the full-backs and a number of our attacking players but it is too little or to no avail. Newcastle United … the club of Gallacher, Appleyard, Milburn, Keeble, White, Davies, Macdonald, Cole, Ferdinand and Shearer … does not have a centre-forward on the books worthy of the description. Cisse? A fitful force that neither Carver nor Pardew seem to have confidence playing regularly. Form or fitness? Who knows but the club has a poverty in attacking positions. Riviere? Buy cheap and you usually buy twice. Ferreya? God knows.
Frankly, what we are witnessing is a depressingly calculated lack of investment in the squad.
Mbwia and Santon both leave the club in the January transfer window (and I was keen to keep neither to be honest) but there is no inward investment. No replacements. Newcastle United had two fit central defenders on the books on Sunday. That’s your lot. Yet, players leave Tyneside to go and prop up the artist formally known as Glasgow Rangers, a financial snake-pit where five of our lads go to serve whose purpose? I’m all for our fringe players getting first team competitive football and applaud the relationship developed with Gateshead FC but Rangers? For these lads? Bigi, Vuckic and Ferguson have all played at a much higher level already. What they will gain from playing in a 75% empty Ibrox escapes me and I would imagine the club’s finances won’t benefit either. What’s going on? Who knows? Don’t ask Charnley he’s saying nothing and this is only a fortnight after the interview in The Chronicle when he conceded they had to improve communications. We’ve heard all that bunkum before.
So, we head to Selhurst Park for a meeting with Alan Pardew. If ever there was a nailed on, banker of a defeat, it is this one.
Shola? You write your own match report if you want.
I can’t have been the only Mag to have had a sneer when Derek Llambias denied Rangers’ manager Kenny McDowell’s claim he had been instructed to select the five loanees from United when they were fit. Derek has form for well, not being entirely truthful hasn’t he as we learnt from the Keegan tribunal. It did make me wonder about Davide Santon’s girlfriend’s claim via social media that her beau has been fit for some time but deliberately not been selected for United because the club wanted to move him out of the club. Does Charnley pick the team? Are you really not a Yes Man JC?
There will be no Newcastle United this coming weekend but I’m sure anyone who was at
North Shields last Saturday will be keen to impress upon fellow Mags the great time had by one and all at their home-game in the FA Vase v. Phoenix Sports, which they happily won. North Shields is another one of Tyneside’s non-league gems. People like you and I support them. People who you have more than likely stood and sat next to at St James’ Park and travelled with following United all over the country and abroad. Their fans come in all shapes and sizes but there is a definite buzz about North Shields at the moment and you know what, it’s all down to the fans who are making an effort and having a great bit of crack. Good luck to them, I must get down there to sample the atmosphere and take a few beers down there. God, I might gan mad and have a few scoops in Tynemouth as well. The Robins are at home this weekend to West Auckland. Hmmm.
As a Gateshead lad myself, I have no connection with The Robins and my own non-league affiliations (such as they are) lie with the Heed Army, though I can’t be described as hard-core and I’ll confess to having a fondness for Blyth Spartans and positively purr at the prospect of an afternoon at Croft Park. I know, I’m such a lightweight.
I haven’t decided where I’m going this Saturday … Heaton Stann is at home and that could be a good day out with the lads from Ryton & Crawcrook. A nice walk down the road to the Hussar afterwards for a pint … there are worse ways to put in an early evening post-match before I head deep south to Tyneside’s Left-bank.
Gateshead is at home to Nuneaton and I do like a good swally afterwards at The Nags on the High St. with a rum bunch of lads who have discovered a life after Newcastle United.
Cricket international, Steve Harmison has sprinkled some star dust on Ashington AFC and the crack is usually spot on at Hirst Welfare. The Colliers faithful are a good bunch of lads and lasses and the overwhelming majority are Mags of some description at the bottom of them as well.
Percy Main, Whickham and even further afield at Northallerton and Billingham, we’ll have a full column before the week’s out of the pick of the non-league action for you. Hey, you might go to the football and end up enjoying your day out. Fancy that eh?