Listening to Alan Pardew following the nils draw at Villa Park I couldn’t help agree with the manager that we were the better team. I felt our possession, distribution as well as organisation was superior to Aston Villa’s and at times we looked well in control.
However, what is blindingly obvious is the team lacks a cutting edge and for all of Riviere’s admirable work-rate, strength and running, chances were few and far between. When they did come, we fluffed our lines and so left the West Midlands with a feeling of disappointment at a second game without scoring. This malaise in front of goal, unless remedied will set us up for a season of struggle. I’ll add the caveats unless Ayoze, Cisse and Ferreya come come good but I’m not confident, trying to cover the striking positions on the cheap is going to work.
Quite simply the priority we had to fill in May remains unfilled. The club has done the bare minimum required to equip us to be average in the PL. If the priority isn’t addressed it will simply underline yet again, the complete lack of ambition and commitment there is from Ashley to taking Newcastle United forward. No-one should really be conned by the recycling of the Cabaye and Debuchy money. We are arguably no further forward to where we were this last season at the same stage. Some would argue not that good. It remains to be seen.
As we head towards the end of the transfer window, Pardew has hinted some players may leave the club. I don’t think that is unexpected and I’d be surprised if Charnley and Co. weren’t actively punting Mbwia, HBA, Jonas, Obertan, Bigigrama, Ferguson and a few others to willing suitors. I don’t think those would raise many objections, unless you are one of those who believe HBA’s talent is being needlessly restrained under the coaching of the manager for some hitherto unexplainable reason and that the man from Marseille is really one of us (forget about him knocking the contract offer back from United a while back though) and the genius who will propel us to our rightful place at the summit of English football. Apologies for the sarcasm but the chanting of HBA’s name at aways is just wrong. This kid has talent but an abysmal attitude. That the club can’t give him away, tells you what you need to know about his standing in the game.
What is more intriguing is the apparent desire to sell Tiote. Our popular Ivorian has one of those coincidence injuries common at this time of the transfer window but he seems a knocking bet for a move. Chieck is 28 and has a couple of years left on his contract. He hasn’t been offered a new deal as far as I know it and the club won’t want him entering the last year of his deal and face the prospect of losing him for nowt. I think if we got an offer of £9-10m he’d be away. Steven Taylor is in a similar position though his deal runs out next summer and no new deal has been offered to him either. He’s one I’d expect is concerning the bean counters at United as well.
Whatever happens, if money is raised from any deals, it has to be reinvested in addressing the holes in the squad right now otherwise the club’s drift into a fixed state of depressing mediocrity will be cemented.
For what it’s worth, a striker, a proven goal-scorer is critical. If that has to be Remy, fine, even though he’s holding out for CL football or even the sniff of it. Big money will be needed for him or Wilfred Bony, though I suspect he’s for sale as well. The stories around Lacazette have gone cold but unless he goes somewhere else the tale isn’t told.
There should be money at United. We’ve had a very, very small net spend over an extended period, the new TV deal is enormous and the club is even making a profit. If Ashley won’t invest now, or even authorise the club’s own money to be used, for the team, well, he never will.
Elsewhere, a central defender is critical. Williamson is an honest trier in my opinion and has made the best of himself but if our club wants to kick on it needs a commanding central defender to play alongside Colo. Taylor and Mbwia have had their opportunities and the latter in particular doesn’t look the part to me.
I’d extend my wish list to include a quality Left-back. We’ve never replaced Enrique. Santon is injury-prone, plays on his wrong side and just isn’t up to it. Dummet won’t make it as a PL player I’m sorry to say and Haidara doesn’t seem to have the manager’s confidence.
In terms of the new players who have come in, I have to say, I like the cut of Janmaat’s jib and if anything he looks a more than able replacement for Debuchy at half the price, younger and with a similar pedigree. We really may have pulled off a good bit of business there.
Cabella has loads of talent, pace and work-rate. He needs to settle and he’ll also need to put an end to the histrionics as that will draw the wrong kind of attention. For the same matter, referees are going to have to look after Cabella as are his team-mates as it was obvious from yesterday’s game, there is a plan to attempt to kick him out of games. If that happens, I’d like to see our lads take lumps out of the opposition and not be found wanting in a scrap.
Riviere looks a willing, strong lad but I’m not sure he has it in him to get amongst the goals as per Remy, Ba etc.
We’ve not really seen enough of De Jong or Ayoze. I think it says quite a bit of our poverty in attacking positions the young Spaniard has been pressed into action so early into his United career.
All eyes will be on Gillingham on Tuesday night. The club’s attitude towards Cups has appalled the vast majority of supporters and if there is evidence of United not taking the League Cup seriously, the mood could seriously sour in the days preceding the Palace game at SJP. The Gills need to be put away and we need to be in the draw for the following round. Speaking personally, Pardew, for me, will put his own head in the noose were the unthinkable to happen on Tuesday. That said, I rather suspect Ashley puts the manager under instructions about what kind of team to pick for the Cup competitions such is his mean-spirited approach to the game and Newcastle United.
Some strange things are happening with Ashley. After the relegation of 2009, it seemed that the man in charge wanted out and wanted out quick. He appeared utterly disenchanted with his brief involvement in football and wanted to go back to expanding his retail empire. Well, something seems to have changed. Ashley, we are told has not only increased his stake in Rangers to 20% of the Ibrox club he is also reported to be interested in taking an interest in Australian club, the Newcastle Jets.
It’s easy to see the logic in both moves. In a few years’ time, Rangers will be one of the UK’s pre-eminent clubs again. They will be taking part in a 2-horse race with Celtic in Scotland and we all know interest and affiliation in Rangers is enormous. They are a fantastic bill-board for him, particularly when they get in the Europa or even Champions League. It will take a lot less investment for Ashley to get Rangers into the CL than it would for United, so I can kind of see his logic. Rangers on the European stage will provide fantastic opportunities to promote his brands across the continent and with the UK market absolutely dominated by his companies the next obvious move is the continent. He clearly doesn’t want United to promote his companies for him and I suspect that because to do so would take too much money to compete in the PL and this is a man making cold, hard decisions with naked self-interest at their very heart.
What his involvement with Rangers could possibly mean, if he takes a controlling interest, for Newcastle United is debatable but the danger of United being held back in the PL to allow Rangers the advantage of playing in Europe (current UEFA rules would not allow two clubs owned by the same person to compete in the same competition) is just too awful to consider. It would be corrosive for United but also compromise the Premier League too if it was felt a major club such as ours wasn’t competing as strongly as it might.
Ashley’s interests in the Newcastle Jets has a certain logic too. We understand our trip to New Zealand was wrapped up in Ashley’s plans to expand in New Zealand and Australia so a certain increase in profile would fit with his strategy to expand his companies over there. I don’t see any immediate risk for United in that though what we essentially become is a component part of a holding company and a MASH franchise by any other name. I don’t see any benefits in that to United but I see plenty for Ashley.
There is no question this humble, gobshite fanzine has not held back in laying into United over the years occasionally with a ferocity I come to reflect upon and regret. However, I would like to think we give United credit when it is merited and I would again like to pass on appreciation for the manner in which the institution of the club and various individuals have conducted themselves in connection to the sad deaths of John Alder and Liam Sweeney. I was gratified to see a big turnout from United at St Mary’s Cathedral for Liam Sweeney’s funeral with Lee Charnley, Alan Pardew, John Carver and Fabricio Coloccini amongst others in attendance. That was excellent.
If there is an award for the Man of the Year though, I would like to nominate Liam Sweeney’s father, Barry for the prize. As fans we are all incredibly sad at the loss of two of our fellow supporters. But this is miniscule compared to the loss felt by their friends and family. As a parent myself, I can only imagine what Barry Sweeney is going through at the loss of his son, Liam. However, Mr Sweeney has carried himself with a great dignity and projected a marvellous sense of warmth. When I’ve seen him on TV or heard him on the radio I’ve felt for him but I’ve also been immensely proud that this man follows the same club as me, is from the same community as me, breathes the same as me and exudes everything that I have always felt is good about our Geordie identity – warmth, sincerity, dignity and class. I am sure his son, Liam was every bit of proud of him as he evidently is in return.
It was gratifying to hear Barry Sweeney tell how comforting the response of the Newcastle United and indeed wider football family has been to him and the families.
Obviously, everyone here wishes the Sweeney and Alder families all the best.
At the other end of the scale, the news regarding ex-Cardiff manager, Malky Mackay and former Head of Recruitment, Ian Moody is deserving of a similar Twat of the Year award. I was genuinely shocked at the casual racism, anti-semitism, sexism and homophobia reported in those tweets. It’s not that I’m any woolly liberal living in some kind of cotton wool paradise where everyone is nice to each other. I grew up on Tyneside and still live here so I hear plenty shite of the type spewed by Mackay and Moody. We are no different to anywhere else in the country. But those kinds of attitudes and that kind of discourse I’ve long associated with the thick, ignorant and meat-head tendency, rather than by a key employee and leader working in a multi-million pound and global industry. Maybe I’m naïve but I just didn’t think anyone as much as an absolute whopper as Mackay would be able to progress in any kind of modern, multi-cultural and progressive society. Maybe I’ve been simplistic and overly optimistic. Maybe football on the inside, is as nasty and regressive as people like Sol Campbell have claimed?
I don’t really know but what I do know is that people like him should never work in football again.
Bloody well, we’ve been busy this last week.
We’ve had a canny bit going on. Obviously there is the stuff you lot come to expect online – match reports, this old toffee, previews etc. but also getting back into the swing of the true faith : SATURDAY SPECIAL, our weekly newsletter that comes to you every, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, Saturday morning and is perfect for reading on the way to the match etc on smart phones and all the rest of it.
You can get signed up for the Saturday Special here.
As we’ve gone all bloody multi-media on yo ass we’ve also added the weekly PODCAST as provided by Alex Hurst and Co. Alex is a long established writer of ours who has done countless match reports and all kinds of other things. This weekly PODCAST isn’t the finished article just yet but the lads will iron out the glitches over time and it will improve week on week I’m sure.
Give it a listen here.
That doesn’t mean we’ve ditched Taylor & Besty, our dynamic duo of the airwaves are still a massive part of what we do. If you missed their last session, please have a listen to their incredibly popular and massive PODCAST.
It’s always really enjoyable. I listen to both PODCASTS on the way home from work and have been known to drive around the block listening to them both so I can listen to the lot while my tea gets cold.
Thanks to Matt Flynn, we are able to resurrect our Video Blogs this season and we hope to do a lot more with this format this season. Our first VIDEO BLOG featured Alex Hurst and is online now for you. Matt is a
perfectionist and keen to improve what we’re doing but I think this is a pretty good effort and Alex’s patter is pretty entertaining too. Just click here.
Our next VIDEO BLOG will feature our Blogger, Chris Brolly, newly returned from Senegal and we’ll have that on shortly after the transfer window closes.
Over the season, we’ll be strong arming various writers out of the true faith bunker and
into the sunlight to crack on to the masses.
We all hope you enjoy them – that’s the idea.
As those of you who follow yours truly on Twitter and look in at the Facebook pages as well as this site will know, we have stepped up the merchandising that we’ve been doing.
We are looking to promote some items that we feel are reflective of the culture of our support, our club, its traditions as well as being high quality items that aren’t mass produced tat. You know where you can get that stuff if you want it.
We’ve been delighted with the response. The true faith interpretation of the city crest pin badge has been massively successful and flown off the shelves (if we had shelves) and that has encouraged us to produce a new selection of different pin badges too.
We’ve had to control how they have gone on sale simply because of the demand for them and to enable us to make sure we organise everything correctly as well as the other stuff in our lives.
You can buy the full collection online from the true faith shop now as well as the Northumberland and Geordies pin badge as well individually if you wish.
Just click here for them.
As soon as we are able to lift our heads, we’ll get the other pin badges on sale as well because we know there has been tremendous interest in them. Just watch this space.
We have also been knocking out these fantastic bucket hats as well. These are a tribute to David Kelly and Gavin Peacock who served the club so well in the early 90s. Both are featured with the true faith interpretation of the city crest and have been extremely popular. It’s been great to see them worn at the match so far this season.
You can get at them here.
But obviously, it’s the fanzine itself which is our number one priority. We have had a fantastic response to the new DIGITAL format for the fanzine and there seems to be a real appreciation of the improvements we have made to true faith since we made our dramatic switch last summer. We have been able to increase the size of each issue to 100 pages from 64 as well as move from eight issues per season to ten.
At the same time, we’ve been able to slash the costs and the response we have had from fans at home as well as exiles has reassured us we’ve made the right move.
We are now able to offer more opportunities for supporters to express their opinions on the club but also offer different formats for articles, meaning we can have some big features as well as enhance the design and layout. I’ve always felt what our design lad Glenn does with the fanzine’s layout has been great but now we’ve been able to move up several levels and I really think we’ve got a superb looking fanzine for you and that compliments some of the brilliant writing we pride ourselves upon.
As well as that, we’ve added some bells and whistles which really add to the experience of reading true faith.
We are at the earliest stages of a journey with this format but as each day passes I am more and more convinced we made the right decision and that our best days as a fanzine, a Newcastle United fanzine, a football fanzine as traditional as they come but with all of the advantages provided to us by new technology, are to come.
I’m fond of getting a bit rolling eyed about what we can achieve with this DIGITAL malarkey but there is no doubt we are the pioneers of this new format and together we can breathe new life into how supporters have a voice in the shiny new world of corporate football.
You just need to click here and in a few moments you could have signed up to one of the biggest and best football fanzines in the country … one that is based here on Tyneside.
But back to the football. United has two really big games this week. Pardew needs to take his team to Gillingham and win. Our manager has an abysmal record in Cup competitions though some suspect that is club policy.
We have Crystal palace at home on Saturday. They are somewhat all over the place at the moment and should be there for the taking. We need points and we need goals.
The pressure isn’t all on Pardew though after a woeful six months last season.
There should be pressure being heaped upon Charnley and Ashley to get out there, invest and bring the players in that will kick us on, give us a team worthy of the club’s name and its quite frankly staggering support.
Have a great week.