Around a week after rumours swept the internet of wrestling supremo Vince McMahon buying the club (for the third time in three years), Pardew decides he wants to impress his prospective employer and decides to stick a nut on David Meyler, I’m not sure how impressed he will be mind,a softer head-butt I doubt you will ever see. Quite rightly he has apologised and has been punished by the club. We are yet to see what the FA will deem a fit punishment, but given the precedent of Mark Yates (Kidderminster manager at the time) head butting an Exeter City player, then around a 5 match ban would seem suitable. However, given the witch hunt that has followed in the media, and incredibly by some of Newcastle’s own fans (I’ll get back to this in a moment), added to his previous misdemeanours then I expect it could be a bit more severe. However, the FA have to tread carefully here in my view. What Pardew did was unacceptable, and not an action befitting of a manager of this football club, but is it worse than racial abuse (8 game ban for Suarez, 4 game ban for Terry) or taking a mouthful of your opponents arm (10 game ban for Suarez). In my opinion, it isn’t even comparable. Having spoken with others, I’m of the opinion that given his history, and the offence, a 5 game ban plus a 5 game suspended ban for 2 years would be a reasonable and appropriate punishment, probably along with a further fine.
The media, and various pundits have gone way overboard with this. Possibly, this is partly to be expected given the club’s treatment of journalists in the last 12 months. However some of the people expressing opinions should take a long hard look in the mirror and have a good think before expressing opinion. Souness, dust ups with players allegedly occurred at pretty much every club he was manager of, and he was hardly a shrinking violet on the pitch. Shearer, knocked out Gillespie on a club pre season tour and used Neil Lennon’s head as a football to name but 2 incidents our former number 9 has been involved with. Robbie Savage, I don’t think anyone pays any heed to what he says anyway, so he is generally just best ignored. All three said Pardew should leave his post, a ridiculous notion, worse acts happen on football pitches up and down the country every week but there is rarely claims they should leave. The pundits and media rejoiced at the return of Mourinho, the man who poked an opposing teams coach in the eye while in Spain. Double standards?
As for our own fans, I notice a small minority are clamouring for the Police to press criminal charges, seriously?? I am no fan of Pardew, but to take your dislike of him as a football manager to this level demanding criminal proceedings against him is just blind hatred. Not only is it a nothing incident, that 9 times out of 10 would result in no action being taken if it occurred on the street, but it would set a dangerous precedent for any serious foul play in sport to be prosecuted. The Remy headbutt was more forceful (marginally) he should also be retrospectively charged, as the offence people want him charged with would cover that as well.
Anyway, the real shame is that the incident took away from what was an excellent display of counter attacking football by the lads on the pitch. Pardew got it very right in both his selection and set up. After our recent run of form, I was very happy that we got a win over Villa at home the week before, it was not a good performance, but when you are in a rut like we were any win is good. We showed determination, commitment and fought right till the end for that result and were rewarded. It gave us a good platform to go from for the next few games, a run which we should be able to do well on, and that was shown against Hull. Yes, Hull had several good chances, but given their home form, and recent good run then they were always going to. But we were excellent on the break, playing some great football, and for once getting men into the box and creating chances in the box. All very positive if we can continue to produce performances like that, it is a big if though.
The Malawi championship was finally decided a couple of weeks ago in a behind closed doors match at Kamuzu Stadium, Blantyre. Silver Strikers ran out 2-1 winners, in a match that was far more comfortable then the scoreline sounds. 2-0 up at halftime, and completely in control of the match Strikers eased off slightly allowing Wanderers to get a consolation goal, but nothing more. Strikers take home a cash prize of 9million Kwacha, roughly $22,500, and their third title in a row.
This weekend sees the annual ‘Lilongwe Giants Cup’ take place at CIVO stadium. This cup involves the four big clubs from the Lilongwe area, Strikers, Civo, EPAC and Kamuzu barracks. The draw occurred on Thursday, with Silver facing Kamuzu, and EPAC facing CIVO, with games taking place on Saturday. The winners will then play on Sunday for the cup. Normally, there is not third/fourth place match, but this year the organisers have insisted that it will take place. The idea of the cup is to bring in money for the four clubs and is a precursor to the start of the coming season. In a similar competition last weekend for the Blantyre clubs, Wanderers were beaten in the final of the ‘Intosports Giants Peace Cup’ by Big Bulets 1-0. Bullets claiming the 5 million Kwacha prize money on offer.
The international week saw Malawi host Zimbabwe at Kamuzu Stadium. Young Chimodzi, Malawi’s new head coach, was taking charge of his first game. Sadly for the former Flames skipper the visitors hadn’t read the script. Zimbabwe ran out comfortable 4-1 winners, with Malawi only really impressing for a short spell just after half time where they managed to equalise before going behind and subsequently collapsing just 4 minutes later. Chimodzi, while downbeat and disappointed in his sides performance was happy to try and take positives from the game and from some of the newer faces involved in the match. It looks a long road to recovery for a side that made it to within a game of the World Cup play offs, although both N’Gambe and Mhango were missing from the squad and will undoubtedly provide the Flames with more threat when they return.
After being away for most of January, it has been a slow reintroduction to playing over here, but things are starting to pick up. I have a match tomorrow against Mzuzu, a University team from up north, which should be a good game. A few hiccups with some of our local players will hopefully have been ironed out, 5 players went on strike for our last match as they were angered they had to contribute to the post match braai (barbecue) and drinks that we were having. They weren’t asked for much, 200 Kwacha, or a bit of meat, and they would have all their drinks paid for, and more meat and other food provided by the ex pat’s on the team. Given a beer is now 500 Kwacha, then 200 isn’t a huge ask from them, but only 4 were willing to pay, and the others refused to play. Disappointing attitude, and daft of them really, as we have 3 trips to play away coming up, and only those 4 willing to contribute for the Braai are likely to be involved (the expats pay travel, accommodation, food and drink for the local players on these trips). Next week I will be partaking in a totally different the of football, in homage to good old St Pat, the Irish expat community have organised a Gaelic football tournament next Saturday, followed by that well established Irish sport of drinking. From the brief training sessions that I have done, it seems a pretty fun game to play, although I haven’t quite got the hang of the rules!! Never crossed my mind to play Gaelic football in the past, who would have thought that it would take a move to Malawi for me to play!