Newcastle United vs Liverpool FC – Premiership.

Date: Saturday 30 April 2022 with a bizarre KO at 12:30pm

Media: BT TV, which is why this has an unholy early kick-off time.

Attendance: Sell-out, home and away – every time.

Quizzy Rascal: LFC have won the European Cup / Champions League 6 times – name the years, and the managers for each?

Football Trivia: Liverpool F.C. was founded following a dispute between the Everton Committee and John Holding, club president and owner of the land at Anfield.  After eight years at the stadium, Everton relocated to Goodison Park in 1892 and Houlding founded Liverpool F.C. to play at Anfield.  Originally named “Everton F.C. and Athletic Grounds Ltd” (Everton Athletic for short), the club became Liverpool F.C. in March 1892 and gained official recognition three months later, after the FA refused to recognise the club as Everton.

Preview Ramblings:  

Wow, we’ve done it.  It is literally head-shaking to think of where we have come since Christmas, since January, since losing at home to Cambridge of League One in the FA Cup (blessing in disguise, as I rued at the time).  The top half of the bloody table after being odds-on to be relegated – and with four games to go.

We’re a good side, because we now play for each other and with clear tactics and instructions, and with passion and pride.  Something Ashley had sucked out of the club, something well beyond the capability of Steve Bruce.

Ever since blowing the League in ’96 (perhaps before, perhaps in our DNA), there has always been an element of pant-pissery about our support – with a one goal margin never seen as enough to see a game out.

However, against Palace last Wednesday, I felt calm.  They weren’t gunna score.  They might have chances, but we are solid and strong.

At home we’d done it to Wolves, to Villa, to Everton; good habits, closing games out.  Ever since that Minute 88 slip up versus Watford (back on Jan 15), we’ve held out at home.  Away, we did it at Leeds.  Admittedly there were last gasp 1-0 heart-breakers away at Everton and at Chelsea, that were unfortunate and undeserved, these things happen, as we are not a finished article yet.

Every match NUFC get better at being able to see games out, that is quite simply amazing.  Yes, at such times, the opposition are going to have more of the ball, yes, they are going to press forward.  However, ceding the two-thirds of the pitch which does not have our goal in it is no bad thing sometimes, and when ahead, it keeps us compact in that last third, and the clustering of players means there are fewer gaps for the opposition to exploit.  Howe knows that, the players are learning that – and as a crowd we have to start to appreciate that, and not be howling for the ball to be launched forward, and for our team to be stretched and thus leave gaps at the back.  Gaps = goals = lost points.

Playing compact in the last twenty minutes when ahead, means that last third becomes far too busy, and with the now accelerated work-rate of our players, we can repel attacks, keep the ball out of the box, and even score breakaway goals (as per Bruno vs Leicester).  It is working, because the players are working.  You see it, feel it: team spirit, across the pitch and spreading up across the stands.  It’s a great feeling – it’s why we go, the collective.

And what a player Bruno is: always seems to have time on the ball, and to know where it is going to be.  He can shake off two or three opponents in the tackle, come away with the ball and still have the time, confidence and ability to use it carefully, or play a defence splitting pass.  He’s hard, wants to win the ball back the odd time it goes astray and he is cunning enough to not give away cheap free-kicks.  And he scores.  He is literally an ‘entrance fee’ player: i.e. one who alone is worth the money paid to get in.  A joy to watch.  The beginning, of a journey to silverware.

And silverware is something the team in red we play on Saturday have become very used to acquiring in my lifetime of watching football, they’ve won ‘the lot’ and are attempting to do it all in one season this time around.

They have a world class player in every single position, and then some, and have a better goal difference then Man City, as they both slug it out for the title.  You could do a pen-piece on each one of their squad as all have talent, are hard-working and have a superb team ethic.

Liverpool have everything to play for on Saturday, needing to win every game and hope Man City slip up, as the title run-in comes to a conclusion.

NUFC as a team have very little to play for in real ‘league position’ terms, but each player is playing for his future, and a new contract as part of the ‘project’ here, or for a team elsewhere.  Will the ‘shackles’ be off and our players able to play more expansively and more freely and for themselves – perhaps.  There was an air of that at Norwich.

On the obverse of the ‘pressure’ coin, I don’t think Liverpool will be nervous, they have class and pedigree and have won the League and Cups so know what to do to get to the end.  The ‘busy’ front three will be a handful, whichever Klippity chooses of: Salah, Mané, Jota, Diaz, Origi (noting Firmino is likely down as injured).

Sadly, I think this game will be a step too far for our recent excellent home form.

I love BDB and think he has played superbly since his transfer to SJP, but I do recall him being absolutely roasted at his times in blue & white stripes, and thus fear for him this Saturday.  Schar, my fave player, despite being hated by the cheeky little Jernskaus, also has a tendency to be ‘too cool for school’, so I worry for him too.  Am I pissy-pants? – of course: we all are sometimes!

The crowd tends to be MAG-nificent for these games, so whether its whisky with your Weetabix, Carling on your cornflakes or Pernod in your porridge, you’ll be watching a team ready to emulate the success of these opponents.

It won’t be 0-0 – and hopefully it will be a sunny day out for easy boozing, whatever the result.

Imagine if we win it – perhaps a little payback for ’96, ’97 and also that time the little Welsh diver was rubbing his hands in glee on our hallowed turf whilst bedecked in blood red.

A win over these is always sweet – just ask a 22 year old me, stood on the Gallowgate, watching Pedro put chances on a plate for an Andy Cole hat-trick.  At that point, I thought we’d ‘made’ it and would be Champions within a few years, or at least a Cup or two – it was 1993, and I’m still waiting:

Newcastle’s 10 Greatest Premier League Moments – Page 5 (whatculture.com)

Enjoy the game!

Castle Farm Mag