I don’t know how I let it happen but on the morning of the Vile game I was absolutely convinced we were going to win with something to spare. The little voice we all have in our heads warning against such wild optimism (expecting to turn over the worst team in the Premier League at home) was for once quiet and I left the house full of positivity. Why? Why did I let it happen? This is Newcastle United for God’s sake and this team can at times be as much use as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking party. How could I be suckered again?
Obviously those of us who love carrying on a good old football vendetta imagined this was our opportunity to push Vile or rather their wank fans into a big open grave and start making preparations for Jelly and Ice Cream when the dullards go down in May. Except this is Newcastle United and it’s not how it pans out is it?
I suppose it was somewhat inevitable we would struggle and even the stats showed we didn’t enjoy the majority of possession and that’s not surprising because a central midfield of Anita and Colback is never going to be able to push the game further and they are good for little more than tracking, pressing, closing down which is all well and good against the division’s better sides but woefully inadequate when we need to take the game to the opposition. Put that alongside a lack of pace and creativity down the flanks even with Sissoko in the side and we are never going to worry teams, run at them, get them turning etc. I’m not sure I’ve seen a less mobile pair in attack than Mitrovich and De Jong.
There are those who reckon we should look at 7 points over 3 games but that is looking for consolation – have a look at where we are after 17 games – fourth bottom and with some testing fixtures over the Christmas and New Year period to come.
The January transfer window is going to open soon and I’d desperately hope what McClaren was talking about in the summer about reshaping the team over three windows holds true and he’s not another gobshite in the mould of Alan Pardew.
What do we need? Where do you start?
Well, up top we need a striker who can score PL goals. My preference would be Charlie Austin but that’s not generating much positive noise in the media, if you think they know anything about these things. Another punt on a kid from Belgium, France or Holland would be a massive gamble given Carr’s poor record of late. We desperately need someone who can put his foot on the ball in the middle of the park, pick out a pass, spot the runners and generally get us moving forward quickly rather than the lumbering pace at which we move currently.
I’d add a central defender and a left-back and even a winger with a whole load of pace but I’m aware I’ve just replaced half of the team. But that’s what will need to happen one sweet window soo if we aren’t going to be perennial strugglers.
I laughed last week when I read Mike Ashley is going to personally oversee a review of the working conditions of agency staff at the modern workhouse known as Sports Direct’s Shirebrook major distribution centre. This is straight out of the Keith Bishop PR book of talking bollocks. It’s as if the working conditions, pay and everything else at Sports Direct has all happened by accident and the generous Mike Ashley was blissfully unaware of what has been going on.
Perhaps he’s unaware that every area of the Newcastle United operation has been cut to the bone even as far as the medical staff at Benton which might go some way in explaining our incredible bad runs with injuries and slow recovery rates, why the corporate facilities at SJP are straightforwardly scruffy and unkempt, why the promised reinvestment of the academy and training facilities has for all intents and purposes been shelved, why a lease on land owned by an affiliated company bought by Ashley in his takeover in 2007 will be redeveloped and thus making economically unviable any future expansion of the Gallowgate and for no other person’s benefit than Mike Ashley. Perhaps it’s all an accident that despite the TV deals sending United’s income ever upwards few on the staff have had any kind of pay-rise in recent memories. Perhaps it’s just coincidence the lack of hospitality for press and media embarrasses us all. This is a club run on a shoe-string, one that made its photographer redundant.
No. veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner, in my opinion, got it right about Ashley – CLICK HERE
It pains me this man, Ashley is connected to our club and just like last season when those who organised the protests, walk-outs and boycotts stirred him into his clumsy TV appearance before the West Ham game so he is promising action at Sports Direct now the bad publicity, censure from business and politicians now the share value has been hit and shareholders’ sphincters are twitching at a loss in value. Its little more than that. We’ve seen it all before.
There is however a campaign we might want to support. I’ve no idea whether it will be successful or not, no-one can make those guarantees but it makes me feel better becoming involved with it.
See here for details – 38 Degrees – HMRC Investigate Sports Direct – CLICK HERE
We’ve had another great start to the interest in the new issue of true faith (TF123) which is now available for download. It’s absolutely and completely FREE. For very good reason we reckon it is the most widely read fanzine in the UK and quite likely the best read magazine of any description in the North East region.
The last two issues are also there for you to have a read and when we get to the close season we are going to work on providing a full archive of every issue we have ever done and let you have them all 100% FREE of charge.
Before that though, you can get the current issue by clicking on the image below.
You can also join the writing team at true faith by dropping us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org You don’t have to be any kind of super-fan, qualified writer or have any kind of qualifications. All we ask is that you have a genuine love for Newcastle United Football Club and a desire to entertain and inform your fellow supporters. Obviously the meat and drink for true faith is the doings at Newcastle United but we are always interested in the football experiences of those who take in games abroad or who live abroad and have developed an interest in the football culture of their adopted homes. We are also interested in the north east’s non-league football scene so get in touch if you want to write about that as well.
We do like putting out a few pieces about gigs, books, films and whatever else – it’s not a massive thing but it does offer a little relief from the intensity of our football club.
Anyway, it’s a tough assignment on Boxing Day when Everton visit St James’ Park. Everton has a nice balance to its team and a manager who seems to know a little about what he’s doing, which I don’t really think can be said about McClaren in my opinion. I am looking forward to a game which does have a good solid feel to it as a fantastically traditional football fixture. I hope I have those same feelings of warmth on the final whistle. We will have the true faith matchday newsletter, The Special out on Boxing Day and if you haven’t signed up for it to get it straight in your in-box, just register here.
Generally speaking it’s been a bloody awful year to be following the club. I’ve never known the atmosphere between us to be so fractious and bitter with people falling out over the best way to deal with Ashley, if we can deal with him at all. There has been some unpleasantness which has been awful and has split our support. It’s not helped by a febrile atmosphere within social media but the truth is no-one has all of the answers and no-one has the monopoly on wisdom. We are all scrabbling in the dark to resolve a situation which goes beyond Ashley’s running of United and is connected to how the wider game is organised and exists within the context of politics, law and business. How will it all end? God knows but I do know the club can’t survive more of the same in the longer term.
But, thank you for all of your support this year. We are the same as you – supporters who love the club and true faith is a means to express that, to give us a platform to share opinion, argue our views and record our relationship with Newcastle United. We’ve never had a bigger output in terms of this website which we relaunched this season, The Special newsletter which is incredibly popular and of course the fanzine which we are now offering in FREE, digital format and which has gone down a bomb. Our podcast is developing a really big and loyal audience. That is only going to grow. We’ve never had a bigger audience so we must be doing something right.
On behalf of everyone at true faith please have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …