Friday, November 14, 2008

Mickey Mouse, the star-spangled banner and Ranger the danger

(Yes, OK, it's a shameless round-up post with no coherent topic to compensate for the lack of postage over recent days - rumbled...)

To nobody's surprise whatsoever, JFK has been asked by the FA to explain his branding of Martin Atkinson, the official in charge of Sunday's defeat at Fulham, as a "Mickey Mouse referee". In fairness, given JFK's past form with name-calling, it could have been a lot worse than being labelled a cartoon mouse with big hands...

Amazingly (or perhaps not, if the FA are hovering over him with the threat of another touchline ban), JFK is now actually sounding contrite: "I'm sorry if my post-match comments at Fulham caused any offence, and I'll ring Martin Atkinson in person to tell him. ... I have accepted that some of my comments were inappropriate".

The Guardian's Harry Pearson thinks JFK was onto something, though: "a constant complaint from League managers such as Steve Bruce, Dave Jones and Paul Ince is that they cannot relate to current referees, not something that could be said if Goofy, Droopy and Foghorn Leghorn were in charge of games, surely?"

JFK's appointment on a longer term basis, or alternatively his departure to make way for a permanent replacement, still look no closer, despite speculation this week that we might be going the same way as Man Utd, Liverpool and Aston Villa in raising the star-spangled banner and placing ourselves in Yank hands.

In other news, there's been the usual doom and gloom: JFK claims we need four players to be sure of staying up (and since when have our transfer targets ever worked out?) and, according to yesterday's Sun, Villa are keen to sign Little Saint Mick in the January transfer window and won't take no for an answer. While I'm on the subject of the perenially injured, loan signing Ignacio Gonzalez, whose Achilles heel is proving to be his, er, Achilles heel, won't be adding to his 38 minutes of competitive action for us until March at the earliest following an operation.

On a more positive note, an article in yesterday's Guardian named our very own Nile Ranger among the 20 best English footballers under the age of 18. Prolific striker who formerly lined up for Southampton - sound familiar? Looking forward to seeing him in competitive action.

A trio of ex-Newcastle players have hit the news this week: Craig Moore, who it's been revealed is undergoing treatment for testicular cancer (all the best to him); Darren Huckerby, who's been named Best Newcomer in the MLS since swapping San Jose for Norwich, scoring six times and getting four assists in 14 matches to help his side to "a 4-0-4 record" (whatever that is); and Andy (or should I say Andrew?) Cole has quit hometown club Forest and announced his retirement. Cole, second only to a certain Mr Shearer in the Premier League's all-time scoring chart, has said he couldn't decide between Peter Beardsley and Dwight Yorke, most recently of the Great Unwashed, as the best player he's played with.

And to end on a suitably nostalgic note, yesterday was six years to the day since we recorded that famous last-gasp 3-2 win over Feyenoord in Holland to become the only side ever to qualify for the later stages of the Champions League despite losing the first three fixtures. Exciting times, to be sure. Just look how far we haven't come since then...


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