Two years ago Wifey and I gave up our jobs in Newcastle to travel the world with open minds to the possibility of living somewhere other than Tyneside. I think I had a vague notion of a beach house in Costa Rica or an apartment in Rome or Auckland – for reasons that I won’t bore you with I write this from a small rented house in Norwich.
In May of last year I wrote a blog called “Repenting at Leisure” where I rather grandly compared my decision to quit work and travel to Newcastle United’s forthcoming Europa League campaign. Apart from a frighteningly prophetic aside that this adventure might lead to us losing to sunderland on a Sunday lunchtime, the gist was “life is for the living – get on with it and damn the consequences.”
For better or worse both adventures are well over and we all have to keep living with the ramifications.
For my own part I haven’t written a blog for 4 months; this has been for a lot of sound reasons some of which are not drinking too much and jumping out of a tree with a tomahawk while playing Assassin’s Creed 3. One of the better reasons was my being conscious of becoming another voice from the south offering opinion on Newcastle United on the basis of only having seen the team play twice all season – opinion that I always considered entirely unwelcome when on Tyneside.
Consequently I have failed to leap to the defence of Alan Pardew in the face of mounting criticism of him from those of a black and white hue. When Martin O’Neil was sacked someone on Twitter asked how this could happen and Pardew could stay in his job what with both North East clubs being in a similar position? I didn’t write; “because one of them was always a media constructed gas-bag who won ugly at Leicester and Celtic before spending tens of millions of pounds at Aston Villa while accomplishing nothing but a dwindling list of season ticket holders – and the other one is the reigning LMA manager of the year, in the quarter finals of a European Competition, managing an increasingly impressive squad of players through a hideous injury crisis. Roberto Mancini recently stated that Manchester City couldn’t be expected to maintain a challenge for the League while missing Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and Sergio Augero for so much of the season – those three players combined have missed 15 games. Newcastle haven’t suffered “one or two injuries” like Alan Hansen said on Match of the Day. One or two injuries would have been Harris Vuckic and Ryan Taylor being out for nearly the entire season – at times we have had an entire team missing. All our best players have missed significant chunks of the season.” – I didn’t write any of that.
Probably just as well after the hideous catastrophe that was losing to sunderland the pitiful surrender against Liverpool and the predictable defeat against Arsenal. Speaking to friends with season tickets recently they all thought Pardew should go with the sensible detail (that we often seem to forget) “providing we get some one better.”
To which end I have taken to print only to extend my own metaphor comparing my not being in Newcastle to Newcastle United being in Europe. Hence the title “Better Off Out of It” – I positively look forward to a season free of the chore of Europe because we have serious business to attend to at home. And I was never more grateful to not be in Newcastle than the week after the derby because the only abuse I got at work was someone chastising me for one of our tribe punching a horse. Because horses are not for punching – they are for mincing up and jamming into a Findus Crispy pancake, either that or we can force the buggers to jump over fences until they die because we are proper animal lovers in the this country aren’t we for fuxsake.
Why don’t we all just admit that the 2012/13 season was a diabolical abomination and spend as much of the summer as we can forgetting about it. And when I say “we” I don’t just mean Newcastle fans because the whole season was rubbish for everybody. Look at every team in the Premiership and with the possible exception of Swansea (who fell away and have got Cardiff coming to dinner next season) they must all look back on the last campaign with, at least, disappointment and , at worst, undisguised loathing: Man Utd won at a canter with a mostly un-exceptional team and now have to face life without Sir Alex and his magic watch, every other team in the top eight fell short of their ambition. West Brom fans know that they only stayed out of the relegation struggle the rest of the League enjoyed because they had a ringer in from Chelsea and the rest of us were pitiful. Norwich may have finished 11th but I can assure you that apart from a few freak results they didn’t have much fun doing so.
Wigan won the FA Cup but got relegated and Chelsea players and fans pretending they were glad to win their European trophy was so disingenuous as to defy belief. They didn’t want to be in it and they had no business being in it. So The League was rubbish, the cups were rubbish and Europe was rubbish. England were rubbish, even Barcelona, so long an oasis of joy, ended up dogged by regret. Roma, my own traditional bolt hole from a crap season, lost to bloody Lazio in the Italian Cup final so even that was rubbish.
The 2012/13 season was rubbish for everybody it was an utter waste of time and effort – we are all better off out of it.