If ever Newcastle United gave us a kick in the balls, losing 2-3 at SJP to Hull City was it. Over 40 years traipsing around watching this mob has given me a natural suspicion of optimism but I’ll be honest, I didn’t see this coming and had snaked my way to my pre-match boozer, frankly a bit full of myself and fully expecting a good afternoon in the sunshine, a decent performance and 3pts. What followed completely undid the wins over Fulham (h) and Villa (a) and now has us asking serious questions of the manager and his coaching team. On this occasion I can’t blame Mike Ashley or Joe Kinnear for what went wrong.
The simple truth of the matter is Alan Pardew had a far better selection of players at his disposal than Steve Bruce did at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon. Pardew held all the aces – home advantage and a supportive crowd on the back of two wins and am anticipation to see us play well and win.
What then happened opens up a whole load of questions about the manager and the people he has on his staff. For the opening ten minutes we were all over Hull and although the first goal carried something of good fortune about it, our superiority looked obvious as our passing completely out-manouvered Hull and we looked set fair for a decent afternoon. Then Steve Bruce made some tactical changes and from that moment onwards, Pardew had no response, unable to re-think his strategy and thus was completely out-thought by a very, very average manager and a group of players who will likely be in the mix for relegation at the end of the se season. That’s Hull I’m talking about.
There was so much wrong with our play and so many questions for Pardew to answer.
Why can’t we defend? Why do we make heavy weather of the most basic of clearances? Man City apart, we’d looked half decent defensively this season but for me both full-backs far too often make the wrong decisions and although HBA lit up Vile Park the previous Saturday afternoon, here he looked disinterested and lazy, not doing the tracking back that is so essential at this level. Anyone would think he’d been out in Jesmond the night previously rather than preparing himself for a top level Premier League football match.
I’m not sure what goes on at Darsley Park during the week but our ineptitude in both defending and attacking set-pieces is now a deep malaise at the club whereas our inability to come back into games once we have gone behind is an unwanted stat that was referred to often last season when the manager seemed completely unable to revert to a Plan B. The lamentable lumping of balls up the pitch when we are chasing a game is simply depressing.
For Hull City this season, read Reading at home last season. It is completely unacceptable and the bull-shit about consistency from the manager is a not that clever diversion from his own short-comings. This is happening far too often and at this moment in time the only positive thing I hear being said about Pardew is that he isn’t Joe Kinnear.
Looking at the forthcoming fixtures when we face Everton (a), Cardiff (a), Liverpool (h), Chelsea (h), Sunderland (a) and Spurs (a) we can see how desperate it was to lose at home to Hull fucking City.
At the end of last season, there was a sizable swathe of our support calling for Pardew’s head and although I wasn’t one of them and had hoped the Fulham and Villa results represented a turnaround, I’m afraid that result at SJP v. a poor Hull side now has me wondering what, if anything has improved over the summer.
I have felt the first five games of this season were vital to get us off moving in the right direction and we looked like we might be able to achieve that but the Hull defeat reminds too many people of what went wrong too many times last season. This time there is no Europa League excuse to wave in front of bad performances and results.
However, before we hurl ourselves headlong at a daunting set of fixtures we have the small matter of Leeds United at SJP in the League Cup. There is something intrinsically good about Leeds on the fixture card. These games mean something. It is a game that has to be won however because whilst he has been manager, Pardew’s performances in Cup competitions has been lamentable. We were none too comfortable against Morecambe in the previous round but we know Leeds will be revved up for this and so will their fans. If our players think they can toss it off or if Pardew thinks he can put a sub-standard side out then we will come unstuck and the manager will lose more friends than he has already at SJP. This game has to be won – end of story.
We are just putting the finishing touches on our next issue (TF106) and the little fella will be in the newsagents this weekend, with subs and online purchases all being posted immediately. We’ll have a full description of what you can expect in TF106 online over the next couple of days.
We have had a good response to our call-out for professionals amongst you who might be able to help us analyse what is going on at United in terms of how the business and finance is being managed. Indeed, we have an excellent piece in the forthcoming issue of true faith concerning the club’s activities in the transfer market under Ashley and set that against what happened prior to his arrival as well as how United compares to other clubs in the purchase etc .of players. It is a superbly researched piece which establishes complete transparency of the investment in players at United under Ashley. We have a football press unfortunately that is either incapable or too bloody bone-idle or shit-scared to undertake this kind of work, so its left to a raggy-arsed fanzine to do it for them. It’s shameful really and if anything, the local press are worse – apparently content to knock out the endless drivel of transfer tittle-tattle, knock-knee stories and crap quotes from the manager for time eternal. It’s pathetic.
However, if you think you have the skills and knowledge to help us analyse what is going on at United, drop us a line at email@example.com
We are particularly keen to speak to former employees of the club off-the-record and get some understanding of how the club is managed from the inside. Again, drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
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Have you downloaded the true faith PODCAST yet? This latest issue of the TF PODCAST not only features the peerless Taylor & Besty (as well the gobshite TF editor) we also welcome The Mirror’s North East Football correspondent, Simon Bird from the People’s Republic of Cramlington and a Black & Whiter to boot. We think it’s a really good PODCAST (even with the band practising in the background) and we commend it to you for immediate downloading and listening.
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No United this coming weekend as we’ve got Everton at Goodison next Monday night in a fixture switch that seemed designed to kybosh one of the best away trips of the season. Keep looking in on the site through the week as we’ll have a few ideas about where you might be able to pop along to if you are determined to avoid trips to IKEA and all the rest of that domestic hell.