I sit bleary-eyed before screen even more confused and befuddled than usual. It’s that strange hinterland betwixt Christmas and New Year where a reality bends, where you can drink yourself sober, where you might not have to get out of bed as early as usual but if you do you can be rewarded by the sight of Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting having a little hissy fit. Like an enraged Penfold from Dangermouse but with hairier arms and a dafter hat. Also there is an air of sick disappointment hovering over me and I can’t work out if its cause is yet another double deflected ball spinning into the Leazes End net in our loss to Manchester City or our team’s collective inability to put their elbows through Nigel De Jong’s f***ing teeth. Like what we would all have liked them to – in the spirit of peace on earth and goodwill to all men.
Hunkered down at Castle Furious, Wifey and I are oblivious to much that is happening beyond our own kitchen and events in 15th century Rome (Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood – Playstation) take precedence over North and South Korea warming up for a nuclear Armageddon. So I have missed much and details from my match crew yesterday appear unreliable. Apparently some people died in Coronation Street and one of our Princes (not the one who looks like James Hewitt) has got engaged to Jayne Middlemiss.
Also in the wake of the sackings of Chrissy Hughton and Sam Allardyce I missed the apology to us Newcastle fans. You know the one from everybody in the bastard world. Surely out of common courtesy everybody got together and issued some sort of statement along the lines of: “Dear Newcastle United supporters we, everybody in the bastard world, have long been of the opinion that you were responsible for the state of constant chaos at your football club, with your impatience, unreasonable expectations and ignorant disregard for the obvious tactical genius of Mr Sam Allardyce. Recent events have proved that you have in fact been innocent victims all along, playthings in the hands of powerful despots even. Also it has now become all too clear that Mr Allardyce is a buffoonish bell-end of a manager and even Blackburn fans, with their limited understanding of decent football, couldn’t stand watching his team’s brand of non-football. In short we are all sorry and would like to buy you all a pint sometime but could you all please put more clothes on. Thank you, yours sincerely, everybody in the bastard world. XX”
That sort of thing.
Amidst the initial outrage of Chris Hughton being sacked somebody said, “It was like when Bobby Robson was sacked,” which seemed daft at the time but in retrospect was right but not for the reasons they meant. In both cases decent men were treated in a shabby fashion but the other similarity is that while other teams’ supporters were quick to condemn us if you replied, “If you think he’s such a good manager put him in charge at your club,” few of them would take you up on the offer.
Like most of you (I think) I had no desire to see Hughton sacked and was very proud of him and what he achieved. I’m happy to admit that he proved me wrong on several occasions; for example given that he was a reluctant manager in the first place I assumed his scouting network would be virtually non-existent but it turns out he had been watching Cheik Tiote for three years. Also who thought playing two strikers at Arsenal would work? On the downside you have to mention Leon Best, making a half fit Shola captain, playing Guthrie on the wing for half of last season and why have we seen so little of Vuckic, Ranger and Shane Ferguson? Not playing Campbell at Bolton, West Brom away and Stoke, Wigan, Fulham and Blackburn at home and never saying anything interesting.
But the biggest plus hasn’t been mentioned as far as I can see (at least not in Assassin’s Creed which is about as far as I’ve looked) – which is for the first time since the pre-Lee Bowyer era Bobby Robson reign – Newcastle United players have been noticeably improving. Since 2003 players have been coming into the team here and getting steadily worse. Hughton changed that and his tactics at Arsenal were impeccable. But doesn’t that make West Brom less forgivable. Like I said at the start, I’m confused but at this stage in proceedings I’m distrustful of anybody who isn’t. The timing does actually make sense if you think Alan Pardew has got a month to look at the squad before the transfer window opens but the timing also makes sense if you consider that at the time of his removal Hughton was 12 to1 to be the next manager sacked and those odds were only ever going to get worse with this hard run of games we are in. Martin Samuel at The Mail has been publicly suspicious of the speed with which Hughton’s sack-race odds plummeted. Suggesting that somebody or somebodies made a lot of money on it.
I’d rather not think about it and obviously hope that Alan Pardew has the time, money and ability to make Ashley’s decision to recruit him be declared brave. Because Hughton had us all happy enough just to avoid relegation now the stakes have been raised.
It seems that for no good reason Mike Ashley has put his head on the block, or hung his arse out the window, or waved his willy at God. Choose your own metaphor because I haven’t got a f***ing clue.
P.S. It’s that time of year again where people offer you their hand and say “All the best”. This is starting to annoy me; all the best what? Venereal diseases, car accidents, house fires, redundancies? Don’t bark half-finished sentences at me you f***ers. It’s like saying “Have a lovely….” or “I hope you die in a….” – think about it and stop it.
Happy New Year. x