Tag Archives: Newcastle United

Ah! That’s Champion(ship / League, but only the latter part)!

Apologies for the use of the first person throughout this post, but something has been niggling at me.

I felt a little ashamed in being a Manchester United fan yesterday afternoon. While sat next to an avid Stoke fan, it made me realise that the Premier League is severely lacking in one, important aspect that makes football the game that endears so many – spontaneity.

The Championship’s denouement was one of those special afternoons in football. It left you lost, perplexed, and yet, you didn’t care – clarity wasn’t necessary. You just went along with the journey, wondering where you would end up at the end. For the neutral, there’s no finer feeling (it is maybe why the play-offs tend to be the best games all season); for the Stoke, Leicester and Southampton fans, it was perhaps of a sort of masochistic torture.

Ever since that momentous FA Cup quarter-final between Barnsley and Chelsea, Mick McCarthy’s comments in the post-match analysis have stuck with me. Fans of Barnsley have experienced Premier League football, relegation, more relegation, promotion, and now the FA Cup in the space of ten years.

Excitement and despair, those two feelings so closely aligned with one another, consistently experienced by Barnsley fans. As he put it, it’s exciting to be a Barnsley fan, because the spontaneity is always there.

This is not the case with the Premier League, with one of the top four guaranteed to win the division and claim those Champions League spots. Supporting a team like United means that the result is almost predictable week-in, week-out.

When the unpredictable does happen, it’s almost treated with distain by some United fans; the prospect of losing means that everything they’ve bought into has been demolished completely – like losing does not happen for those supporting what is once again the richest club in the world. Well it does, and at times (and dare I say it), it’s a refreshing change.

This is why as a United fan, I live for the Champions League more than the Premier League;  for a start, the Premier League doesn’t force me into a nervous, drunken stupor like last Tuesday. My appetite for the European Cup isn’t just in terms of the history United have with ol’ Big Ears, but because it’s where that sense of unpredictability is most likely to be (in the latter rounds, anyway; the group stage feels like an irrelevance at times). The quest for another European Cup is what feeds me more than another  almost-certain Premier League title.

However, today’s game between Newcastle and Chelsea is intriguing: Newcastle, the masters of spontaneity within the Premier League over the last two decades, could unexpectedly hand the title to United if they beat Chelsea this afternoon; yet a Chelsea win will make next Sunday a day of relevance, even if it may be only slight. I’m not sure which one I want.

Even so, it’s very easy for me to write the above – I know that all too well. But I guess there is something that United for once lack, which most other clubs at least have. Perhaps this is why I’ve gone to a lot of Stockport County games this season.

God, I’m confused.

David.

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Chelsea, Comment, England, English Premier League, Football, Football League - League 2, Football League Championship, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Opinion, Soccer, Southampton, Sport, Stockport County, Stoke City, The Football League, UEFA Champions League

Match Report: Newcastle United 0-0 Bolton Wanderers

Kevin Keegan returned.

End.

David.

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Bolton Wanderers, English Premier League, Football, Kevin Keegan, Match Report, Soccer, Sport

The Wit and Wisdom of Kevin Keegan

kevin_keegan-head_over_heels_in_love_s.jpg

I have said some harsh words about Newcastle United on this site, and indeed I have been quite sick of hearing about them over the last week. But today, I have to admit that football supporters everywhere owe the Geordie club a debt of thanks.

Since hearing the news of Kevin Keegan’s re-appointment as Newcastle manager, I have lost count already of the amount of times I have heard the phrase ‘entertaining football’ uttered in connection with it. And I have to say I cannot argue, the world of football is about to become a whole lot more entertaining. At least for us neutral observers, and dare I say one or two Sunderland fans.

I think it is time for a reminder of exactly what this great man has to offer the game in terms of entertainment. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you what is now universally known as The Wit and Wisdom of Kevin Keegan:

“The good news for Nigeria is that they’re two-nil down very early in the game.”

“It’s like a toaster, the ref’s shirt pocket. Every time there’s a tackle, up pops a yellow card. I’m talking metaphysically now of course.”

“The 33 or 34-year-olds will be 36 or 37 by the time the next World Cup comes around, if they’re not careful.”

“They compare Steve McManaman to Steve Heighway and he’s nothing like him, but I can see why – it’s because he’s a bit different. They are both called Steve.”

“In some ways, cramp is worse than having a broken leg. But leukaemia is worse still. Probably.”

“I think Ron will be pulling him off at half time and no mistakin’.”

“There’ll be no siestas in Madrid tonight.”

“England have the best fans in the world and Scotland’s fans are second to none.”

“He can’t speak Turks, but you can tell he’s delighted.”

“You’d think the Moroccans would have learnt their lesson by now. You can’t win games without scoring goals.”

“I’d love to be a mole on the wall in the Liverpool dressing room at half-time. And not for the reasons that you’re thinking of Clive.”

“Goalkeepers aren’t born today until they’re in their late 20s or 30s and sometimes not even then. Or so it would appear. To me anyway. Don’t you agree?”

“I know what is around the corner. I just don’t know where the corner is.”

“You can’t do better than go away from home and get a draw.”

“You’d think the Cameroonians would have learnt their lesson by now. You can’t get very far with such brutal tackles. It’s just not cricket you know.”

“Chile have three options – they could win or they could lose. It’s up to them, the tide is in their court now.”

“The substitute is about to come on – he’s a player who was left out of the starting line-up today. There were others as well.”

“I came to Nantes two years ago and it’s much the same today, except that it’s totally different. The red light district is still the same mind you. Though it’s a lot bigger. And more expensive. I prefer Hamburg, more variety. There are these ladies there with fully formed moustaches, know what I mean.”

“…using his strength. And that is his strength, his strength. You could say that that’s his strong point.”

“The game has gone rather scrappy as both sides realise they could win this match or lose it or draw it even.”

“Argentina are the second-best team in the world, and there’s no higher praise than that.”

“That decision, for me, was almost certainly definitely wrong.”

“A tremendous strike which hit the defender full on the arm – and it nearly came off.”

“I don’t think there’s anyone bigger or smaller than Maradona. You seen the pictures as well Clive. Like an acorn I tells ya, just like an acorn.”

And my personal favourite:

“The ref was vertically 15 yards away. He has a moustache.”

Thanks Mike Ashley, from football supporters everywhere. We owe you one.

Jamie.

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Filed under Alan Shearer, Barclays Premier League, English Premier League, FA, Football, Football League, Kevin Keegan, Newcastle United, Next Newcastle Utd Manager, Soccer, Sport

“Love it!”: Keegan is back at Newcastle

IT’S KEEGAN! AGAIN!

Keegan on Superstars

Amazing! Keegan has been running his football circus in Glasgow in 2005; now he’s going back to run an even bigger one (thank Jamie for that fantastic comparison, there).

Keegan’s managerial record at Newcastle

Games: 251

Won: 138

Drawn: 51

Lost: 62

Win %: 55%

Now, Shearer for assistant?

David.

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Sod Newcastle, a real football team needs saving

So we’ve been hearing all week about football’s crisis club. An ongoing story of failure and disaster, which now appears to have reached breaking point, caused by continued mismanagement and a desire for quick success being allowed to override the need for long-term foundations to be laid.

Well actually, no, we haven’t. Instead the column inches have been clogged up with the latest renewal of the pantomime called Newcastle United. So lets quickly recap what everyone, interested in football or otherwise, now knows: A staggeringly rich football club, and its latest in a long line of staggeringly rich owners, keeps failing to use their staggeringly vast resources sensibly enough even to bring just enough decent football to keep the fans quiet. Oh how my heart bleeds for their plight.

Or to put it another way, who gives a toss? More importantly, who gives a toss when there is a case out there more deserving of our sympathy? A case for whom the kind of press coverage Newcastle have received this week could mean the difference between footballing life and death.

For Luton Town, the game is nearly up. Already in administration, a situation which has cost them ten points that currently make the difference between a place in the relegation zone, and being within shouting distance of the play-offs, Luton yesterday lost their manager. Yes, they lost their manager. You don’t hear it put like that very often do you?

For Kevin Blackwell, his job had become impossible. In making his final preparations for Luton’s home game against league one leaders Swansea on friday, Blackwell discovered that five of his players had been sold by the administrators. Having already endured the administration and points deduction, along with FA enquiries into the dodgy dealings of the club’s previous owners, and not having been paid for two weeks, you can begin to understand how Blackwell reached the end of his tether.

Yet, despite all this misery, the team has continued to show the most incredible spirit in it’s performances on the pitch. Luton’s home record has been one of the most consistent in the country this season. Promotion, not relegation, would be uppermost in their mind without the ten point penalty, and even since it was imposed, Luton have shown enough good form to suggest that survival would not have been a problem. In fact, before yesterday, Luton had lost only once in 13 games, an extraordinary performance by players who, of course, are also not being paid right now.

In addition to this, they knocked Nottingham Forest out of the FA Cup in the second round, before trumping that by earning a magnificent and improbable draw against Liverpool (should that be crisis club Liverpool?) in the third. The latter result has earned Luton a potentially life-saving replay at Anfield, but unless a new owner can be found for the club with some speed, this could prove to be a short reprieve.

Salvation for Luton is currently forming in the shape of a consortium led by (former) TV celebrity Nick Owen, a lifelong fan. Everyone in football should be hoping that Owen succeeds. Firstly, he is exactly the type of owner that a football club like Luton should have; a genuine fan, someone who would perform every action with the best interests of the club in mind, someone who would genuinely be in touch, and have sympathy, with the thoughts of the supporters, and someone who would leave the running of team affairs to the manager and his staff.

More importantly though, clubs like Luton simply must not be allowed to just disappear out of the league. They are part of football’s history, were a trophy winning club in the recent past, and are a hugely important institution in their local community. For clubs of Luton’s stature to suddenly cease to exist has massive implications for football, threatening even to the Premiership royalty that so sadly, and with blinkers firmly fitted, ignores their situation.

Lest we forget, Luton currently find themselves in such dire straits largely thanks to the allegedly illegal transfer activity of the clubs former owners – activity which was brought to the attention of the FA, The Football League and the national media by their then manager Mike Newell. Newell was admonished by virtually everyone in football, he lost his job, and has not worked since. The courage he showed in speaking out, with no support whatsoever from within the game, has been rejected and forgotten. This tale tells us everything we need to know about the way football is being run.

If the takeover goes through at Luton, and stability can be restored, Blackwell might be persuaded to change his mind about leaving (he’s decided to keep working with the players until February). Considering the job he has done with the team in such trying circumstances, this must be regarded as a necessity for Luton.

Although even if they hang on to Blackwell, the depleted squad is going to find it tough going for the remainder of the season, and bringing in new players is a fast-disappearing possibility with the days of January ticking by. Another example of how the smaller clubs are punished by the ridiculous transfer window rules, which were of course imposed in an attempt to curb the spending power of the super-rich.

The owner, directors, caretaker manager, players, and fans of Newcastle United should open up a newspaper today, wade through the ten pages of headlines about their own club, and seek out the small print. Hidden in there, they might find a football story that will make them sit up, take stock, and put their ‘problems’ into perspective.

Lets look at the facts: They will have no problem finding a manager, that manager will have millions of pounds to spend, they will continue to get 50,000+ gates for every league game regardless of how the team play, and they have no chance, repeat no chance, of getting relegated.

Could be worse couldn’t it? Newcastle, if you’re listening, you can’t continue to enjoy the luxury you do without the help of clubs like Luton Town. I suggest that the very least you could do is stop whining for five minutes, and wish them luck in their bid for survival.

Jamie.

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Filed under Alan Shearer, Barclays Premier League, Comment, English Premier League, FA, FA Cup, Football, Football League, Liverpool FC, Luton Town, Next Newcastle Utd Manager, Nottingham Forest, Sam Allardyce, Soccer, Sport, Swansea City

Shearer DOES want the Newcastle job

One of the fine advantages of having an irregular sleep pattern is that I can scout the news channels at night for possible news stories and bring them to people before others. I’m destined for the night-shifts, I think…

Anyway, according to Sky News and their sources, Alan Shearer now DOES want the Newcastle job, providing he is offered it.

In my opinion, how Shearer, even with his beloved Newcastle, could contemplate breaking his managerial virginity with the footballing equivalent of the managerial whore where the unwanted is tossed aside once the minimal amount of pleasure / usefulness is extracted or no longer wanted, scares me.

Or rather, will he attract the whore?

Will Shearer be another seduced (or vice versa)? I think so. The Week in Wagers post will be up in due course (I hope…), but on Betfair, he’s 8.8 back (8/1). If I could afford it, I’d do so right away. Interestingly, however, Harry Redknapp is a nailed on certainty according to BF – he’s at 1.36 back (4/11).

David.

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