That was a tough old week and a bit of a come down from the previous couple of results when we’d put Man Utd (League Cup) and Arsenal (Premier League) to the sword at Old Trafford and SJP respectively.
I had feared the worst going to Germany simply because the intensity of games and our injury list was draining the energy and resources available to Eddie Howe. I think we travelled more in hope than expectation on reflection. That said, I thought we were okay v. Dortmund. Had Joelinton been able to direct his header on target from that peach of a cross from Livramento to equalise, we’d have had a different end to that game I’m sure.
Still, despite the defeat I’m in a positive frame of mind regards the Champions League because this is a learning exercise for United on every level and although we’ve lost twice to BVB I don’t think we’ve ever looked like we don’t belong in this competition. I’d love us to get through to the KO stages but whatever happens, I’ll reflect at the end of the group stage that we now have players and a coaching team who’ve competed in six Champions League fixtures and will have greatly benefitted from the experience.
Let’s see what a trip to Paris brings and obviously I’m still looking forward to a special night v AC Milan on Barrack Road.
We were on the bones of our arses at Bournemouth. We didn’t deserve anything from the game and left empty handed. There is early talk about our away results which is understandable given we only have the Sheff Utd win in our back-pocket at the moment. We have picked up points at Wolves and West Ham but they were achieved after we’d been in winning positions. If we harbour ambitions of returning to the Champions League then that needs to be remedied. Everyone knows that.
Losing to Bournemouth is disappointing and I’ll confess to being of that mindset at the FT whistle.
But there is a context and that is the worst injury list I can ever recall at United which at the weekend was exacerbated by Guimarães and Tonali missing through suspension.
How we perceive of defeats such as the Bournemouth one doesn’t have to be binary. We can be disappointed and appreciate the context of the loss. Two things can be right at the same time. We are in a situation currently where a game we should expect to win (and I make no apology for having that expectation of this iteration of Newcastle United now) will cause disappointment but also understanding because we can see how Howe is coping with the circumstances that have befallen us with the sick-list we’re struggling with.
The team travelled to Bournemouth after an exhausting few weeks which has taken its toll. Personally, I wanted the game out the way so we could have a break and catch a breath. Not particularly exercised by international football I hoped a few of our lads would be overlooked (which I accept isn’t a universal sentiment) but that won’t be the case for all of our players. It will help some however.
Far too much has been made of the apparent spat between a supporter and Kieran Trippier as the players left the pitch on Saturday evening. From what I understand the lad involved wasn’t abusive and is a Newcastle United diehard. I don’t like these pile-ons onto people where all in sundry feel the need to be seen expressing strong disapproval while others queued up and relished giving him an absolute coating.
I realise this is very much a social media pattern of behaviour but I did feel for the lad and felt he did the right thing by identifying himself and apologising quickly thereafter. Kieran Trippier, as we’d all expect handled the situation brilliantly in his post-match interviews with the media and that was that, over and done with, something and nothing.
That lad is one of us, a supporter, a Mag you have every chance of sharing an away end with, sing United songs with, going crazy alongside as United score or chatting about the game about at HT etc. He’s not the enemy. They are outside of our support and there are plenty of them. We should move on.
Not that the football media will allow that of course. We know every social media account will see it as a means to generate “engagement” (sic) and monetise a storm in a teacup. Likewise we should know by now it will be presented by those who are straightforward enemies of Newcastle United as an example of “deluded”, “entitled” fans with unreasonable expectations (c) of the club who are getting above themselves.
We know all of this is nonsense (and they do too) but they will run with it anyway. I was reminded of this last weekend when I saw one virulent anti-Newcastle United journalist indulging in the tired clichés of regional class prejudice to lie the club is struggling to attract players to the NE for all of the tired shibboleths we’re familiar with.
On a similar theme the Dortmund fans’ protest against UEFA last week during our game was misinterpreted as being anti-Newcastle United when it was obvious to anyone with the smallest knowledge of football, what the purpose of the display on the Yellow Wall was about. I didn’t spot any correction.
This is the kind of dishonesty and dissembling we are facing but it is also a measure of our growing threat as a football club.
You can only laugh at the obvious biased motivation of the Premier League’s response to the potential of United attempting to bring in a player in on loan from the Saudi Pro Leave in January with the ex-Wolves mush, Neves spoken about.
However forgetting all that, the whole thing misses two fundamental points – one being I’m not sure if Howe really fancies Neves as he lacks the pace critical to play in a United side and his levels of fitness after playing in a league which isn’t known for its intensity would mean he’d take far too much time to take to get up to our levels. If Gordon coming from Everton last season took so long with his natural athleticism how would Neves fair?
The second point is as it is if the SPL (and PIF obviously) see the investment they have made in the Saudi domestic league as a kind of elaborate ruse to get around Financial Fair Play rules for the greater glory of Newcastle United.
Spoiler alert – it isn’t. This UK based vision that nothing matters more in the world than what happens in the Premier League to the Saudi PIF is cognitive dissonance bordering on a clinical level of national delusion.
I saw a news report that a club in the SPL was interested in spending £100m on Man U’s Bruno Fernandes next summer. With that kind of investment and ambition why would anyone think the Saudis view the development of football in their country as amounting to a spare parts box for Newcastle United?
Oh, hang on, there’s a future World Cup awarded to Saudi Arabia just this last week too. These are not people who place their own domestic national priorities beneath those of Newcastle United. We need to accept and understand that. We are secondary in their considerations and we always will be. For the moment, that’s okay.
Should there be rules about players moving between multi-club models? Well, of course there should be. But I won’t be the first to raise my eye-brows as to why it’s happening now?
It’s happening now because we’re a threat and there are serious clubs (aka the Cartel) who will use everything in their disposal to preserve their position at the top of the PL (and its associated revenue). We saw exactly what they are about in their dalliances with the European Super League and every rule change they have worked to implement to their advantage.
It is no different to what they are attempting with related party sponsorship deals or even allowing Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall standing in the technical area together. It is so transparent, it barely warrants debate. These are people who believe football belongs to them.
I say that hardly claiming the long term intention of our own ownership is virtuous either.
On the sponsorship question, this may be the moment where questions are asked as to how legislation in the real world impacts the choreographed resistance of businesses (elite PL clubs) apparently intent upon stifling competition and creating a monopoly. What we read last week seemed to hint at that. We can keep a ready eye on it all.
No Newcastle United until Chelsea at SJP with a 3pm KO a week on Saturday. We all need this break and hopefully over the next fortnight we’ll get some good news on players returning to fitness.
Enjoy the time off.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
Michael Martin, @TFMick1892