The prospect of our home fixture with Arsenal had sent a chill through big sections of our support and I’ll happily concede I was one fearing the worst. After the disgrace at Goodison Park last Sunday when pundit Phil Neville coined the “flip-flop” expression to describe United’s mentality that so upset John Carver, it was difficult to see anything other than a convincing defeat.
As so often happens on these occasions, it didn’t really turn out that way. We conceded two soft goals and for a spell up to the end of the first half, we were ragged. I felt Arsenal were guilty of over-playing a little and had they been more prepared to put their foot through the ball then we might have been on the end of a serious hiding. Thank God they didn’t.
I don’t know what was said at half-time but United emerged with a different mentality. The team grafted, chased lost causes, pressed and showed some admirable courage. They had heart.
I was particularly impressed by the running and talent of Remy Cabella, who looked a genuine threat and caused the Arsenal back-line problems when he had the ball at his feet. I would say the same for Ayoze Perez who has a good mix of mercurial talent and heart. I do think it is easy to overlook the contribution of Sammy Ameobi but again, I believe this is a lad with talent and a bit of heart. That can count for a lot in my opinion. The arrival of Jonas onto the pitch means more than just football. He is another with heart and then some.
However, the pick of our line-up in my opinion would have to be Daryl Janmaat. The Dutchman has been a light in the darkness of this season and looks like the genuine article to me, an accomplished professional who performs consistently in an under-performing team. It might be premature but with doubts growing regarding Colo’s commitment to United as well as his aptitude for leadership on the park, we might have our new captain in there at right-back. Well, until he’s sold that is and that might be the summer if the media whispering is any measure.
For all that much improved second half, United still lost the game and I’ve reached a stage in my supporting life where I feel fatigued at applauding failure and defeat, no matter how gallant it has been. I want something more than the plucky under-dogs narrative from a club with one of the biggest untapped potential of any in the country.
On the subject of comings and goings and initiated by Carver himself, United have to clear the decks this summer. There are too many players who are just not good enough. For me, these are the players I’d like to keep and build around:
Krul, Janmaat, Haidara, Coloccini, Dummett, Sissoko, Cabella, Ayoze, Cisse, Aarons, Sa. Ameobi and not much more. I’m told de Jong is a good player but the omens do not bode well for him given he’s lost a full season and his record at Ajax is hardly encouraging on the fitness front.
The likes of Williamson, Anita, Goufrann, Obertan, Riviere have to be moved on. They just aren’t good enough whilst the likes of S. Taylor, Tiote, Jonas and R. Taylor have probably reached the end of their time with us. I remain unconvinced about Abeid and beyond Aarons and Armstrong there doesn’t appear to be much knocking on the door from the academy. That said, I think Dummett is a decent prospect though I doubt he’ll be a world beater.
My musings are all very well but in the cost-is-king credo of Mike Ashley I believe something rather different to the day-dreams of a fanzine dick-head.
I’ll be staggered if Ayoze Perez and Daryl Janmaat are Newcastle United players come August. Indeed when Carver is doing the job Pardew did by apparently touting our best turns to rival clubs, you perhaps know there is a rabbit off. I’m pretty sure Sissoko would like to get himself to a “big club” but like Tim Krul his form has been inconsistent this season and I suspect if bids do come in for him they will not be what Ashley will want. Maybe a Spurs or a Liverpool might take a punt on Sissoko – I don’t think he is good enough for the likes of Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City or Chelsea.
Ayoze Perez’s incredible arrival in English football will have been noted by clubs with greater ambition than ours (almost all of them then) and you know that were a good £15m offer to come in for him from a Man City, Mike Ashley would be sending his helicopter up to Benton to whisk him off to the North West and counting the money.
I imagine, like last season and despite the likely profits to be announced very soon and new riches coming into the game via the new TV deal, United will be required to rebuild by recycling the monies they raise from sales. I suspect that because that is what they appear to have been doing as club policy over several transfer windows. It’s great getting bargains but if you consistently shop in Poundstretcher and similar, you’ll eventually realise you don’t have anything a bit of a cut above. Getting value often involves paying big fees and big wages.
John Carver can make all manner of claims about what Lee Charnley has told him about conversations he’s had with Graeme Carr and Mike Ashley, the truth is his old boss made loads of similar boasts over a 4-year period and was made to look like a twat at the end of every transfer window. A fool or a knave? I always felt a bit of both.
Is John Carver going down the same road?
Ironically, just as Carver is repeating the sins of his predecessor in spinning shite fro the fans, Pardew tells the media what we all knew all along – Newcastle United is suffering from a complete lack of investment. Pardew has detailed issues with injuries but I’d like to compare the problems United has had with other clubs and I’ll speculate whether the injuries picked weren’t as a result of players being over-played due to a lack of alternative options.
Where Pardew is way off beam is in his assessment of the alternative revenue streams United needs in order to compete with Liverpool and Spurs for example. Yes, the club might not be able to sell as many corporate packages as Spurs being based in the capital (neither does Liverpool) with all of that entails but the advertising and sponsorship doesn’t have to come from the region’s limited economic base. This isn’t 1985 when we looked no further than S & N and the Mackems looked no further than VAUX. The Premier League is a global phenomena. United should be looking for corporate sponsors in China, India, the Middle East where-ever. It is a ridiculous statement from a man who fails to have an understanding of the economic environment the industry he works in exists. As for ticket prices, it’s a myth people are getting into St James’ Park and I have often observed for decades that we have frequently paid a bigger buck than those at Man Utd and Liverpool.
Newcastle United could do with a skilled corporate team to get out into the world and get those deals that would move us on. Instead Mike Ashley uses the club to promote his business and that is the truth.
As said previously, I did think United and Everton deserved some praise for their agreement on a reciprocal deal this season. Under pressure from the Football Supporters Federation and lots of club-based supporters group such as the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, the Blue Union (Everton) and Spirit of Shankly (Liverpool) and many others, the Premier League has more or less been shamed into measures to rein in the excesses of ticket prices charged for games and the focus has been on away tickets. The FSF is committed to £20 for away fans via its Twenty’s Plenty campaign. So far though, the Twenty’s Plenty campaign has only had an impact where there has been a lack of demand for tickets and deployed in a supply and demand model. I don’t think that’s what the FSF, the NUST etc had in mind when it started the campaign but it’s a start and a toe-hold into a campaign that has to be continued.
The ticket price of £52 for our up and coming game at Anfield is an obscenity and would tend to indicate that Liverpool Football Club is determined to hack away at its once clear working class roots. As I understand it, United offered Liverpool a reciprocal deal and the Merseyside club declined. That refusal meant that its own fans were stung for tickets for the game at St James’ Park and we will be for our next visit.
This cannot be allowed to pass without both sets of fans registering strong protest and it is to be hoped the FSF, NUST and Spirit of Shankly can organise something which is eye or ear catching on the night. Watch this space.
On the subject of away-games, I spent a good pre-match discussing the merits of our away support yesterday. It wasn’t a positive assessment. The abysmal song-book is one thing these days but the dick-head behaviour of a big minority of our away-day fans is a massive turn-off. It’s been going on a number of years and it would be wrong to label the younger element of our support as exclusively the cause of this malaise. We have planks old enough to know much better as well.
It hasn’t just started and it has been a steady decline. Perhaps it’s my steady march into being a miserable, grumpy old man but the Sign On, We Pay Your Benefits shit whenever we play Everton or Liverpool makes me feel ashamed to be amongst people who think this is okay. Hey, maybe I need to lighten up and realise it’s all just “top bantz” from the laaaaaaaaaads.
I have a good few Scouse mates who follow Liverpool and Everton and let me tell you this, their contempt for those singing this shit is very difficult to accommodate. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have felt properly embarrassed by Geordies from the region with the highest unemployment and lowest wages in the country. I’ve looked into the empty, hollow eyes of some of these so-called fans and I’ve seen a ticket bought by their Mammy. Just stop it. Please.
There will be no Newcastle United this weekend. I can’t say I’m heart-broken. There will be a brilliant game of football played on Tyneside though and it will be down at North Shields when The Robins take on Highworth Town down at Daren Person Park in deepest Norf Sheels. I’m delighted I’ve got my hands on a ticket and I’m really looking forward to having an uncomplicated day at a football match, supporting a Geordie team that no-one doubts is taking a cup competition and a potential trip to Wembley very, very seriously.
From the boardroom to the changing rooms to the terraces and its grand little town, North Shields is completely united behind the same objective – getting to Wembley and winning the FA Vase.
The Reds have a fine FA Vase tradition to live up to as I’m sure their great friends and rivals, Whitley Bay will remind them. As will Dunston.
North Shields got a brilliant 1-0 win at Highworth, Saturday gone in the first leg of the semi-final. They are in the box seat to get top the final but they will know there is a massive job to be done before anyone can start booking hotels for a weekend in that London.
I understand North Shields FC is doing everything it possibly can to increase the numbers of people it can get through the door to roar The Robins on. I believe the game is a virtual sell-out but hopefully with a little help from the club’s friends at the council, more can be shoe-horned into their ground which will matter on a whole number of fronts for North Shields.
I believe there has been some gossip doing the rounds about some contremps down at Highworth but I’m assured by people who were there that it has been grossly exaggerated and any damage was not caused by the contingent from Tyneside. Obviously there are some who love all the hoolie-patter about “top boys”, “running battles” and all of that nonsense but I’m reliably informed such talk is laughable.
Saturday will be about a community coming together to get behind its local football club. I’ll confess to expecting to feel a bit of an imposter as I’m a Gateshead lad born and bred with no connections to North Shields whatsoever. However, a Geordie team on the brink of a Wembley final merits all of us getting under the North Shields flag for a day at least and doing everything any of us can to help these good lads get to Wembley.
All the best to North Shields.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
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