Committing your thoughts to print is a treacherous business at the best of times, especially if those opinions concern Newcastle United FC and I grow increasingly wary of it. The internet is awash with reactionary piffle, why add to it or try to argue with it when whatever anyone says, Newcastle United with their wilfully unpredictable, chaotic and random nature, will doubtless prove everybody wrong anyway.
For example I had an idea for a blog blazing within my skull over Christmas entitled ‘Have the “Pardew Out” Mob Been Grown-up Enough to Admit They Were Horribly Mistaken Yet’ – after a series of cracking results, tactical master classes and focused intelligent performances from our manager’s expertly assembled team. However, drawing on a lifetime of experience, I considered it bordering on the stupid to expect any lasting consistency of performance, pleasure or satisfaction from my team. More importantly I had an episode of Game of Thrones and a bottle of wine to consider, so off I went to Winterfell instead.
I like Mr Pardew, I really do, more than most managers in my lifetime when I think about it, he has done his job with dignity in trying circumstances. Kevin Keegan would have undoubtedly stropped off at least four times rather than stick around and deal with some of the crap Pardew has navigated his way through. However, his attitude towards, and record in, the FA Cup has been reprehensible since taking over at St James’ Park and it really needs to be addressed. I mean here we are again in January with the season ruined when a week ago it was still buzzing with promise and potential.
Newcastle’s record under Pardew in the FA Cup can no longer be considered bad luck or the result of an unfortunate turn of events, after losing to Brighton twice, Stevenage and at home to an under strength Cardiff whose attention really should have been elsewhere. By crediting Pardew with great footballing intelligence the other edge of the same sword is that he might be doing this shit on purpose.
Perhaps I’m wrong, maybe the modern game now dictates that all teams have games where they simply don’t turn up and all fans of all clubs have to deal with it accordingly: for example, off the top of my head this season alone we must consider Man City losing to Sunderland, Spurs annihilations against Man City and Liverpool, Chelsea at Newcastle, Fulham’s 0-6 at Hull and Manchester United…er…pretty much all the time under David Moyes. Also if Newcastle, who can apparently beat anybody this season, do have a tactical weakness it is not being able to put sides away when we score early against them at home. Norwich we got away with it, Southampton and Hull we didn’t and Cardiff was more of the latter. This attitude comes from somewhere, where we finally break a team down, then sit back and allow them a foothold back into the game instead of beating them to a bloody mess. Oh and Stoke doesn’t count because we can’t wait for a team to be down to 9 men and coached by a useless gas-bag like Mark Hughes every other week. Or perhaps it is as straightforward as Newcastle United not being that good without Yohan Cabaye.
It actually makes no sense prioritising The FA Cup, The Times reported that Wigan only made about £4 million for winning it last year. Leaving aside the £65 million they lost following their and odious Chairman Dave Whelan’s welcome relegation, that is money that can be made by Newcastle simply by finishing 8th instead of 12th. I certainly have no problem with teams in The Champions League not wanting to get bogged down in a quest for Jackie Milburn’s old family poo-pot because that makes it a cup entirely winnable for the rest of us. We who would consider an FA Cup win to be a major highlight in our tragic and short lives and the manager and players of our team need to be forced to understand this because at the moment they clearly bloody don’t.
So today I am full or rage and disappointment. My enthusiasm for this season has all but evaporated and I’m only going to watch the FA Cup draw so I can swear about whoever Cardiff get. Perhaps I’ll feel different and wished I hadn’t bothered writing this in a week or two; until then I’m off to Winterfell.