THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – Work In Progress – 9/Aug/15

by • August 9, 2015 • TBAWEComments (21)1781

As ever, it was great to be back amongst friends for the start of another season with Newcastle United. There is always McClarenSaintssomething to be said for the walk from town to St James’ Park, nods to familiar faces, hand-shakes with pals just like afterwards it was good to chew the fat about what we’d just seen, compare views on what’s gone down at United over the summer and speculate at what the season has to come.  The social aspect of following any club is part of the attraction of our supporting life but there can’t be many clubs like Newcastle United for connecting so many people across a city-region and creating a whole network of support based around the club and the city centre. Home games are more than going to the match, they are a day out, a social event.

So then, what to make of our first proper game under Steve McClaren? I thought we did okay. Southampton’s Europa League exertions clearly gave them an edge in their fitness and although I had us as the better side overall, particularly in the first half we tired towards the end and I felt both managers were content to share the points. It was good McClaren didn’t mark his first proper game at St James’ Park with a defeat. Mission accomplished in that regard.

The post-match chatter amongst my coterie of Mags was how well the new lads had done and I certainly won’t contradict that view.  I liked the look of Chancel Mbemba. He was strong, quick and aware. Hopefully he’ll compliment Colo and offer a physicality we have often lacked at the back. It’s very early days but Georginio Wijnaldum looks a very handy player and it was great he got off the mark in front of The Gallowgate with a picture book goal, courtesy of an Obertan cross that was delivered to perfection. We didn’t get much of a look of Aleksandar Mitrovic but I think its fair to say, he’s no shrinking violet. I think I’m going to enjoy watching this lad at United, though I do anticipate one or two er, well incidents with him. I think he’s going to relish bashing centre-halves about. We’ve not had that for a while.

I do think however, more needs to be done in the transfer market. At the end of last season the expectation was we’d bring six players in for the first team and so far we’ve achieved 50% of that target. Our name has been continually linked with Austin and Thauvin as well as a few others who I’ll confess I don’t know much about. United can do itself a lot of good if it completes that business and even a confirmed sceptic such as myself will acknowledge we’ve turned a corner if that is delivered. If not, it’s difficult to see us realising any target of finishing in the top eight and having a crack at the cups.

I wouldn’t disagree with those who believe we should bring a left-back in. We’ve not looked particularly convincing downLeazesSoul there since Enrique left for Liverpool and I’ll confess to never being a big fan of Santon. Both Haidara and Dummett have potential in that position but were we to bring an equal of Janmaat down the left, then that would give us a balance and foundation that could take us onto another level. I’m not holding my breath.

I was pleased to see De Jong on the pitch. If this lad can stay fit, he could be a big asset for us but that’s a big if.

I was pleased to see us doing more pressing and winning more tackles. There seemed a bit more commitment and that’s obviously a massive difference given how many games we came away from last season questioning players’ integrity.

There were some familiar weaknesses however. We still don’t seem to be able to take a corner very well and conceding two headers is likely to have been noted by every PL club analyst in the country. Expect our box to be peppered with crosses until we can sort this out. Obviously we will have to deal with the crosses to the box but we’re also going to have to stop the delivery as well. That seemed a bit too easy today and they were Southampton’s only way of getting at us. That is something I’d hope McClaren and his coaching team will be able to address this season. Likewise the team needs to stay behind after school and practice corners and dead-balls until we have it cracked.

This weekend sees us to travel to Wales for the game against the excellent Swansea City. That is a tough assignment because Gary Monk is emerging as a very accomplished manager with a team with an established pattern of play which served them well last season and on the opening day away to Chelsea where they gained a credible draw.  Anything down there will be a bonus.


Off the park, the club is still baffling in its relations with the media. This whole media partners’ nonsense with The Mirror has antagonised the rest of the media and I’ll be honest, I simply laughed when I’d heard United had banned Channel 4 from SJP because one of their journalists asked about banning journalists. It’s almost Pythonesque.  I can’t imagine C4 losing much sleep about being banned by United. What is the point of that?

How is this helping Steve McClaren? I have my doubts about McClaren but he should be given a chance – be that with sufficient investment but also creating the right environment around him with the media. This unending belligerence needs to stop. This is a good piece on the C4 website about the whole carry-on – click here



It was interesting to read Pardew’s interview with The Telegraph last week! To describe him receiving a vanilla coverage from GallowgateSoulThe Telegraph would be an understatement. I think we all know if Pardew was chocolate he’d lick himself to death but his self-confidence tips over into delusion at times. Some of the things Jason Birt (The Telegraph) missed might have included his lamentable record in Cup competitions not to mention him holding the record for the worst run of derby results in history. Since 1892 if you will. There was the small matter of dedicating wins to Mike Ashley but abrogating responsibility for defeats onto supporters for variously being too enthusiastic, not enthusiastic enough, conniving in the banning of journalists and failing to challenge Ashley on investment as any manager with a set of balls on him might have done.  He was Ashley’s bitch and when the opportunity came for him to double his money, he was off. Interestingly, he confirmed what we have been saying here for five years – the club brings in players to put them in the shop window and sell on at a profit and neglects to build a team that can improve and which can compete to the greatest of its ability i.e. the whole competitiveness of sport. But Pardew put up with that for five years, frequently told us that wasn’t happening, when clearly it was and he complicit in a process that degenerated our football club. Then there is the question of his conduct in regards to Jonas. All areas The Telegraph failed to investigate when discussing his time at United. He’s not a bloke I have a lot of respect for as a man or a manager.

You can have a read of the article here if you missed it.


In summary, this was a steady if unspectacular start. The whole thing will need time and McClaren should be afforded that. But he also needs more players of a better standard to those that almost got the club relegated last season.  The biggest responsibilities at SJP rest with Messrs Charnley and Carr. Get to work.

Have a great week.

Keep On, Keepin’ On …


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21 Responses to THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – Work In Progress – 9/Aug/15

  1. Malcolm says:

    ‘Steady if unspectacular’ – probably how we will be under McLaren.

  2. Mike L says:

    Errrhhm, you have completely missed the point here. Surely the only issue, given how we ended last season is how many turned up to watch and how many season tickets were renewed. Not a single mention!? You commit to a path and you have to stick to it. And the path is for Ashley to go. Now everyone’s balls have gone soft and we all turn up and talk about the game and turn a blind eye to the elephant in the room. Readers and writers and all supporters, you are being played like kippers. I thought at the end of last season that we had finally cleared our heads of the ambiguity and the clear path was Ashley Out. Are you wavering! I have stopped my season ticket. The only way to rid this club of MA is through a collapse in income through ticket and merchandise sales, money, so fucking stop. Or shut up and put up with what you have.

  3. Graeme says:

    Mike L – Spot on. When I read this, I began to wonder if the club now had a third media partner.

    A panicked owner appearing on Sky Sports, a summer break, three signings and all seems to have changed in the eyes of some. In reality absolutely nothing has.

    When watching it on MOTD, the number of ‘Wonga’ shirts worn by those in the crowd appears to have increased. You can knock on the door as many times as you like, but if there’s nobody inside, you’re wasting your time.

    The end result could quite easily have been 2-3 by the way and as for Obertan’s cross, he’s done it once before, with sadly very little in between.

    • Ken Brown says:

      I noticed the number of wonga shirts on MOD as well and it left me somewhat depressed. I am of the opinion that the vast majority of supporters are not in the least bit concerned with the way the club is run and will continue to turn up at SJP regardless.
      That, of course, is their prerogative and I think that those of us who are boycotting might as well accept the fact that we are powerless until Ashley himself decides to sod off. Some may think this is a defeatist attitude but it just seems to me that we are in the minority by some distance.

    • mikey says:

      Jacked mine in too.

      While i cannot bring myself to go under his regime, i was chuffed to see them getting a result obviously. Can’t get it out the blood.

      MY energies is going into viable alternatives to the club. Small scale for now like joining supporters trust and supporting the magpie shirt rather than the conga (never worn one never will)

      takes a while to change the culture and the protests last year rattled the board, ne doubt. Thing is with a football club if things go right on the pitch the crowd are happy. It is as simple as that. Although i think there’s enough of us that have had our eyes opened to dedicate ourselves to something more long term

  4. Rob says:

    Vurnon Anita was excellent as well (like a new signing?) and the game turned against us when he went off.

  5. Rod Fraser says:

    Spot on about Pardew mate. He was a merry part of the charade at NE1 as long as it suited him. If the man had anything about him whatsoever he would’ve binned it off long ago and thus maintained some respect. Unfortunately he’s symptomatic of the general malaise with regards to greed and self-serving that dominates football these days..

  6. Stephen B says:

    3 signings and all is well for some people, glaring weaknesses were exposed yesterday by Tadic, Pelle and Long relentlessly targeting it until it bear fruit. More incomings needed otherwise we wont be getting anywhere near the top 8 never mind top half!!

  7. Faugheen says:

    3 New signings? all those 3 signings do is replace HBA, Santon and Mbiwa, who left in January.

    We need at least another 3 signings of the same quality of the 3 main summer arrivals. However, don’t hold your breath, there seems to be an awful lot of you out there that have been duped by Ashley’s TV appearance.

    Nothing will change with this man in charge, he’s laughing at you, with your anti Ashley rhetoric, banners and campaigns, then handing over another £600 for a season ticket.

  8. Peter Shearer says:

    Surprising what a few months can do. I agree that those of us boycotting have done what we can but we are outnumbered by those willing to accept Ashley’s vision for our club.The anger will rise again at some stage, as nothing has really changed,but in the meantime I am happy that I have done my bit to try and protect what was a great club.It is up to to others to explain their actions,but there is no doubt in my mind that Ashley acted because of the protests and just as we were winning the fightback for our club,people have been duped again.Sad,but 49000 people are willing to support Ashley,most of who joined in the chorus at the last game of “get out of our club”.

  9. Ian Summers says:

    There were many positives on Sunday and it was great to see a coaching team on the touchline consistently waving the team forward, such a relief after years of negativity. Poor fitness levels proved the folly of a ridiculous preseason US trip. The lack of impact made by the substitutions also proves that the squad lacks depth and is no where near strong enough for a full season. If there are any outgoing senior players and no more incoming players of significance then this window would represent yet another wasted opportunity for the club. Personally a difficult decision not to renew season tickets is not regretted unless we strengthen the squad further in what remains of the transfer window, a centre half that can head a ball might help to complement our African Bobby Moore. After watching Ivanovic on Match of the Day I’d love to see Aaron’s have a go at him?

  10. Simon Sharp says:

    McClaren has a real difficult job on his hands, and no-one should be expecting miracles overnight. If we can finish around 10th/11th this year then that represents progress given that from Christmas until the end of May we were in total freefall and were every bit as bad as the 08-09 side that went down. The squad should have been added to properly in every transfer window for the last 3/4 years, rather than buying players on the cheap when they were available in an attempt to plug holes (hello, Riviere), loans and lucky gambles (Remy and Ba), putting square pegs in round holes (Anita), or a desperate splurge to get new bodies in (Gouffran, Sissoko…). The failure to invest properly over that time will take time to rectify; in the meantime, you have to hope that the club can keep the core of good players that we have (Janmaat, Wijnaldum, Perez, Sissoko) and we might get somewhere, even if it’s just the addition of 1 or 2 quality players every window. But that’s a big if. We may soon see just how much truth (or lack of it) was in what Mike Ashley said when wheeled out in front of Sky Sports before the West Ham game.

  11. Excellent article . It has saved me some time writing my views on Sundays performance as I agree entirely the comments especially the closing remarks on Pardew . He is a poor excuse for a man.

  12. john laird says:

    I genuinly think now that it was the working class season ticket holders who chucked it in “what with having more morals” and SJP is turning more and more into opd trafford with our abundance of middle class bellends turning up with wonga on there tops! I do own a wonga top (i didnt buy it honest) but ive had the brains to take my iron with a lot of water and steam and bun the cunt off. An instant improvement

    • Rob says:

      I don’t see any way you can bring class into this.

      • Alan says:

        Not set foot in SJP for a few years now but I’d hazard a guess that our support predominantly hails from a working class environment, as has always been the case.
        This is of course hugely irrelevent as far as the wearing of a top advertising Wonga is concerned.
        Anybody doing so, no matter what their social standing, is as thick as fucking pig shit.

  13. Peter Shearer says:

    You probably can bring class into it-and politics. Football was the working man’s game in the early days, a relief from the working week.Now it is the preserve of Sky and the Corporates and maybe it is those on the left of politics who have the strongest objections to this and the likes of Ashley. Generalisations are usually too simplistic,and I am sure there will be more to it than this,but I do not think our support is made up of the “working class” as much as it used to be. Many of the fans that have left are likely to be the ones that made up the “soul” of football,who are now disillusioned with what it has become.I can well remember many of the downsides that went with what was predominantly a male crowd,and I fully support a wider participation,but there is little doubt that the noise at St James rarely gets close to the old days.

  14. Still going to the game says:

    Have to say that me and my son who attends the games with me both commented on the fact that although there was multiple black and white shirts hardly any were the new season wonga effort. Most being either retro tops or original shirts from a few seasons back. The sale of the new tops must be well down.

  15. Chris Nappin says:

    It’s quite annoying all this shit that gets thrown around between fans of the same club – do people really think that their best strategy is to goad people into being ashamed of what they’re doing? Think about what actually made a difference last season; people of all opinions buying into the fact that the shit we’ve had thrown at us is no longer tolerable and that taking action together can actually make a difference, as the Sack Pardew/Ashley Out campaigns did. Respect for people who actually went to the Spurs game was a successful theme that depicted unity was it not? What really is the best way to get people on side, fighting for the result that you want, adhering to the same tactics you believe in – by trying to belittle them and shooting down anyone who chooses a different path than you? To try and imply that they are somehow inferior to you because they’ve not complied with what you’re wholly convinced is the ultimate answer? No fan on the planet would want what’s happened to our club, but that lies squarely at the door of Ashley, not the behaviour of our own fans. Remember Pardew claiming it was the fans fault against Palace (of all clubs)? Let’s grow up here and stop berating people as if they’re the actual problem here, it’s lazy to fall back on that shit. If you actually want things to change for the better then maybe think of a legitimate strategy that might work for us instead of this relentless, pointless bullshit that people aimlessly throw at each other

  16. Peter Shearer says:

    I think I agree with that Chris! It is important we try and show respect for fellow fans, but it is also understandable that there are frustrations from the differing viewpoints.As many of us have joined in the protests, and joined NUST and boycotted the games,I think we may feel we have done as much as we can, whilst there are still so many who do not want to join in these actions.That leads to frustration as it was clear Ashley was beginning to wobble, but now all the pressure has been taken off him again.So if you believe that this strategy is the only way to protect our club, it is likely that people will feel frustrated at the lack of action from others.I guess that is the reality of us all caring so much about our football club.