Our disgraceful record in domestic cup competitions under Ashley and Pardew continued as we limped out of the FA Cup at the first possible attempt against a struggling Cardiff side. Changes were made from West Brom but we still started with a strong line up with only Elliot, Taylor and Haidara being what you would class as ‘squad players’ in the first XI.
The first half was dire with the atmosphere flat and neither side really getting into any sort of rhythm and we were lucky not to be one down inside ten minutes when they had a headed goal disallowed for what looked like a minimal push at the back post. Only Ben Arfa seemed to have any sort of attacking intent for us and he came within a whisker of giving us the lead midway through the half, twisting and turning before curling a fierce shot back off the post from the edge of the box. I understand the frustrations that some people have with him, I really do, but when the same people are getting their nuts out over (for example) Anita for his capability to play ‘tidy’ football, I find myself wondering what they are getting out of watching United or indeed football in general.
Nothing much happened for the rest of the half but we started the second half more brightly and for the fourth time in the last two home games, HBA hit the woodwork again, this time clipping the bar with a deflected shot after working a position in the area. We took the lead on the hour with something of an odd goal. Sissoko ran on to a Gouffran pass into the area but his shot was parried by the keeper straight into the path of the onrushing Cisse who dribbled it into the net without breaking stride. Cisse looked visibly relieved and his confidence is clearly shot – there was a bouncing ball a few minutes beforehand just outside the area that 18 months ago he would have cracked home on the half volley from 30 yards but now you saw him weigh it up and think against it. Shame.
From the goal onwards, we were absolutely hideous. Bizarrely, Obertan came on for Gouffran in the immediate aftermath – Pardew was trying to bring him on at 0-0 lest we forget but was thwarted due to the goal itself and if our substitution raised groans, theirs won them the game. After a couple of outrageous decisions from the referee Anthony Taylor, firstly booking his namesake Steven for an absolute non-challenge on the halfway line and then awarding a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box after a Campbell dive that was fired just wide, got Cardiff’s ganders up and when Noone was introduced from the bench, he scored with virtually his first kick with a swerving effort from outside the box that proved too much for Elliott. Who, by the way, is average at very best.
With Pardew salivating at the prospect of using the extra fixture that the replay would bring as an excuse at some point over the next four months, they pushed for the winner and got it ten minutes from time when Campbell headed in at the back post under very little pressure. Remy and Shola were thrown on with minutes to go in a desperate last throw of the dice. Well, it would have been desperate if we looked in any way arsed. Other than Steven Taylor acting like a complete cunt, again, and wasting our time by mincing around in front of their keeper completely needlessly, whooped on by some impressionable teenagers in the Gallowgate. Can we just get rid of him, please? Anywhere will do, the man is an absolute penis.
We did have a golden chance to get a leveller late on when Obertan of all people burst into the box, put the ball on the plate for Cisse but he completely missed the ball from five yards out with the goal gaping.
The final whistle arrived in silence and was met with boos and the way in which we surrendered the game and any notion of success for another season was frankly disgraceful. Let’s be completely blunt. We won’t get relegated this season. We absolutely won’t get ahead of any of the seven teams ahead of us in the league and as such won’t be qualifying for Europe. We won’t sign anyone of note in January – why would we, we are in the ideal position for Ashley – comfortably plodding. We probably will sell an ‘asset’ in this transfer window and it will probably be Cabaye. Oh yes, and we won’t be winning a domestic trophy again. The vast majority of the 31,000 in SJP have never seen us win anything and it would be a brave man who would predict that any of them actually will – they certainly won’t under this regime.
As for Pardew – he has zero goodwill with me and I’ll wager I’m not alone.
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Rob Elliott 5, Davide Santon 5, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa 6, Steven Taylor 5, Massaido Haidara 5, Moussa Sissoko 5 (Loic Remy n/a), Chieck Tiote 6, Vurnon Anita 5, Yoan Gouffran 5 (Gabriel Obertan 5), HATEM BEN ARFA 6, Papiss Cisse 5 (Shola n/a)
Ref – Anthony Taylor – 3 – Three absolutely dreadful decisions in the space of ten minutes in the second half and just looked clueless.
Our Fans – 4 – Flat as a witches tit. Although 10/10 for the owners of the ‘Neville Hope Mags’ flag in the Gallowgate with the picture of Nev and Brenda on it. Absolute class that like. The highlight of my afternoon infact.
Their Fans – 3 – One for every hundred that turned up