Monday, April 28, 2008


West Ham 2 - 2 Newcastle Utd

For most of this season, fans of other teams would have been horrified at the thought that their sides might follow a fashion set by Newcastle Utd. But on an exciting afternoon in the Premier League yesterday, supporters of Liverpool and especially Fulham will have been delighted that we made coming back from a two goal deficit away from home all the rage.

With us relieved to have joined our opponents West Ham in the mid-table comfort zone, neither team had much more than pride to play for. All the same, we seem to have regarded securing top flight survival and beating the Mackems as justifying going on holiday early, whereas the Hammers still had the boos of their own fans ringing in their ears from their previous home game - lest we forget, a win against Derby (a feat we couldn't achieve) - and set out determined to get the crowd on their side quickly.

Abdoulaye Faye's absence through injury meant a starting berth in central defence for David Edgar, and Kevin Keegan's comment that "by the end he looked at home as a Premier League defender" tells you all you need to know about the way he began the game. Ten minutes were on the clock when ex-Mackem George McCartney picked out Mark Noble in the box and while all our defenders played at statues, the midfielder volleyed clinically past Steve Harper. Quarter of an hour later and we were two down, striker and sometime Toon target Dean Ashton proving too strong and tricky for Edgar in manoeuvring into a shooting position and firing into the bottom corner. Things weren't looking good.

But then, from nowhere, a glimmer of hope. ASBO floated a pass over the top and a misjudgement from the Hammers' own inexperienced centre-back James Tomkins let in Obafemi Martins for a neat finish past Robert Green. If that goal was both unexpected and undeserved given our lethargy and doziness, then the equaliser on the stroke of half time was even more so. Habib Beye, who had hitherto found himself largely preoccupied with defensive duties, got forward to deliver a curling cross which was only partially cleared. Martins arrived to smash it from the edge of the area, and the ball flew past Green via Geremi's bonce and McCartney's shoulder.

What was pleasing was that we made sure that, having benefited from extremely good fortune in the first half, we didn't then throw it all away in the second. West Ham continued to dominate in terms of efforts on goal but these were largely wayward, the closest they came to regaining the lead being Ashton's drive that Harper stretched to tip over the bar. In the end, we could even have nicked it had Green not reacted so smartly to the excellent Martins's snapshot.

The point extended our unbeaten run to seven games, but, given events elsewhere on Saturday, extending it to eight on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon is likely to be a tougher test. Suffice to say that a certain red-faced Scotsman would "love it" if we can deprive Chelsea of points. Is Keegan expecting any thanks from his old nemesis? A case of wine, perhaps? "I doubt it! Not a good one anyway. It'll be one of those Chateauneuf du Plonk!" If we're to do Fergie a favour - albeit inadvertently and with gritted teeth - then our defence won't be able to start that game as though they've been on the aforementioned devil's grape juice...

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Luka warm on Toon*

Ah, the magic of football. In mid-March, we were contemplating the very real prospect of relegation from the Premier League. A month later, and we're salivating at the fact that we somehow seem to have stolen a march on the cream of Europe in the pursuit of one of the continent's brightest young talents.

Croatian Luka Modric may not be a defender, but other than that he's exactly what we need - a prodigiously talented creative midfielder with his best years ahead of him. His arrival might potentially mean curtains for our 4-3-3 and Little Saint Mick's new withdrawn role, but it'd be a tasty dilemma to have, and in any case, counting chickens and all that.

My very first thought, though, was (and I'm not ashamed to admit being a realist here) why would he choose us over some of the other clubs who've been credited with a serious interest in him? It's been suggested that it was Dennis Wise who won him and Dinamo Zagreb vice-president Zdravko Mamic over - but (and this is possibly a first) the words of the Sun's unnamed source can be taken with a much smaller pinch of salt. Apparently, Modric's international team-mate Niko Kranjcar has sold him on England (the nation whose Euro 2008 hopes they jointly dashed in November, of course), and their manager Slaven Bilic has responded enthusiastically to the possible move in a way that's unlikely to amuse our old friend Harry Hotspur: "It's more likely that Newcastle will be English champions than Tottenham. Luka wouldn't be making a mistake if he signs for the Magpies".

The deal-clincher looks set to be a familiar one, though, the source having commented: "The money Newcastle are offering is fantastic"... That no doubt applies to both the player's wages and the transfer fee for his current club alike. The figures being bandied about for the latter are anything from a relatively sober £12m to a club-record-shattering £20m. Is he that good? Perhaps we should just be thankful that we may well have the opportunity to decide...

* If he does sign, we'll be able to wheel out all those old "Look who's talking" puns last used for Albert Luque. Remember him?


Good thing we didn't count those chickens: Modric has signed for Spurs for £15.8m. Bollocks. Interesting to hear that Bilic has completely changed his tune...

Not so long ago we were crowing about beating the North Londoners to the signing of Damien Duff, but, having since lost out to them for both Jonathan Woodgate and now Modric, it seems as though the pulling power of White Hart Lane and Juande Ramos in particular is stronger. Not good news, as we're quite likely to end up going head-to-head with them for defensive reinforcements in the summer too...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Titus ramble

So, who's in Have A Go At Us Corner this week? It's not Graeme Souness. Neither is it the other usual suspect, Sam Allardyce, though he does merit a mention... No, please step forward Titus Bramble. Nice to know that even though he "does not even bother to give interviews anymore", he can still bring himself to slag us off publicly.

According to the Widest Arse in the (North) West, "The Newcastle fans aren’t as good as everybody says". Really, Titus? Would these be the same fans who largely stuck by you, despite having to watch your concentration lapse at some point in nearly every game you played? OK, so you were often unlucky that your only aberration of the whole 90 minutes would be punished, the incident destined to be the only thing anyone remembered about the match and your performance in particular - but the fact remains we were supportive even when you stretched our patience and lost us games we should have won.

And that's the point - it wasn't just the occasional cock-up, it was very much the rule rather than the exception. Which is why Bramble's laughable claim that he needed to leave St James's Park to get first-team football because "you can only really get judged when you are playing week in week out" suggests an extremely short memory - he WAS playing week in week out, pretty much, and certainly wasn't short of opportunities to impress, so we were fully justified in judging him. And judge him we did - as not good enough. I seem to recall Glenn Roeder at one point flinging his hands in the air in despair - no matter how often he'd been told how imperative it is to remain alert at all times, Bramble remained susceptible to calamitious relapses.

It's no great surprise that, despite a decent spell through November and December for his new club Wigan (including our Boxing Day visit to the JJB, annoyingly), Bramble's back out of the first-team frame after a particularly glaring mistake against Everton. Ol' Cauliflower Face's verdict? "The boy has everything he needs to be a top player but the one thing he has to work on is his concentration levels". I believe they call it deja entendu...


Basking in the satisfying glow that only a victory over the Great Unwashed can bring I stumbled across this little ditty, which has been lodged in my head ever since (you have been warned).

Update: Not a song, but any excuse to link to this clip...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Safe and immensely satisfying

Newcastle Utd 2 - 0 Roy Keane's Unwashed XI

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, Newcastle are safe, and the Great Unwashed have been sent back from whence they came having been soundly beaten at St James's Park this afternoon.

Two goals from Michael Owen, to make it six goals in six games for the rejuvenated Newcastle captain, was enough to take us past a visiting team who were second best across the pitch, and offered little to suggest they could ever find a way back after Owen's early goal.

That goal came following an exchange of passes between Geremi and ASBO before the Cameroonian swung a high ball in from the right for Owen to nip past his marker and head home from the edge of the box.

With an early lead established, we settled well into a decent rhythm with the whole team working hard to ensure Roy Keane's bunch were never able to settle. Nicky Butt was outstanding in the middle, stifling every move the mackems tried to start and ably supported in midfield, and the defence coped well with the physical threat of Kenwyne Jones (not least because even when he won a header there was nobody near enough to worry us). Up front the pace of Martins, the positional sense of Owen and the strength of Viduka were all causing problems.

A second goal duly arrived following a brilliant one-two between Owen and Viduka, who back heeled the ball back to Owen whose touch was was blocked by the hand of Danny Higginbotham. From the resultant penalty Owen's powerful shot was half blocked by Craig Gordon, but the ball squirmed under the keeper and into the Gallowgate net just on the stroke of half time.

No doubt invigorated by their manager's words at half time, the Unwashed began the second half better and started dominating the middle of the park. However, whatever they tried was snuffed out and with the exception of one powerful Jones header which was brilliantly saved by Harper. At the other end, Martins had a good chance saved by Gordan, and despite some strong running from Habib Beye who continued to get forward and offer a regular outlet down the right we didn't create enough to score the third which would have put the game beyond doubt. However, Owen's two goals proved more than enough to condemn the Unwashed to defeat.

Perhaps tellingly, the Mackems picked up five yellow cards during the game, as they unsuccessfully sought to stamp their authority on a game which continually saw them chasing shadows. This won't be the season which sees them drop out of the Premier League (again) but on this showing they'll need to go up several leaps in class if derbies are to be anything more than occasional fixtures in our calendar.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

Friday, April 18, 2008

The calm before the storm

It's been a very quiet week on Tyneside, but needless to say that'll all change before very long. For there's something in the air - the ill wind that accompanies the Mackems everywhere, perhaps.

Sunday's derby match may no longer be the crucial fixture it looked set to be a few weeks ago from our perspective, but a win for the forces of good coupled with specific results on Saturday would plunge the Great Unwashed right back into the mire. As if we needed any more incentive to send them back across the river with their tails between their legs...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quote of the day

"I feel like I'm just there as a comedy jester to break the ice with Alan Shearer and Alan Hansen who just do run-of-the-mill things. I can't do that anymore. People want something different".

Ian Wright has a pop at Wor Al (and the Scousers' Al), having reportedly quit as a BBC pundit. Court jester - like it, bruv, but I personally had you down as a kid's TV presenter i.e. getting overexcited at the slightest little thing and talking monosyllabic gibberish that made even Robbie Earle seem insightful. Not to mention the immensely irritating way you couldn't talk about anything other than your son if he happened to be playing. Give me Shearer every day of the week.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A date to remember

As has helpfully reminded me, 18 years ago today, I made my first trip to St James's Park in the company of my father and my cousin to see Newcastle play Stoke. We sat in the East Stand, and watched as Benny Kristensen (2) and Mick Quinn secured a 3-0 win for Newcastle, and cemented a relationship that has been a constant in my life ever since.

Four years later, in the company of my father and another cousin, I was at Anfield for my first ever away match. Once again, Newcastle secured all three points, with goals from Lee and Cole on what was the fifth anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy.

Looking back, it seems a bizarre coincidence that my first home and away games should fall on precisely the same day (albeit four years apart).

Since those two days, I've witnessed a large number of Newcastle games, both home and away with a mixed degree of success. Notable lows include consecutive FA Cup finals and a damp Sunday in Cardiff. Highs include the Howay 5-0 victory and the end of the London "hoodoo", not to mention Tino's hat-trick at home to Barca. The beauty of football is that, even after years of winning nothing, it still has the potential to return me to the state of giddy excitement experienced 18 years ago as Kristensen scored his second.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A hair's breadth

Portsmouth 0 - 0 Newcastle Utd

Sod's law, how you mock me. No sooner have I waxed lyrical about Little Saint Mick's rediscovered goalscoring prowess than he's guilty of what must surely be one of the worst misses of his career to date.

When the ball fell to him rather fortuitously less than six yards out on 70 minutes, it looked almost impossible to miss, but, despite knowing very little about it, David James somehow managed to deflect the shot over the bar with his hair. "It was a good week for afros", he said afterwards, "I was going to have my hair cut the other day and if I did we would have lost 1-0". Never let it be said that there's not a fine line between winning and losing - or drawing, in this case.

That brought an abrupt halt to Owen's hot streak in front of goal which had seen him score in his previous four outings. In truth, though, we had to be thankful that the in-form striker in the opposition's line-up, Jermain Defoe, arguably had a worse day. Having scored the first goal in Pompey's five previous home games, he spurned two or three very presentable opportunities in the second half. At one point, he even managed to deflect wide a goal-bound shot from his own team-mate, Glen Johnson (who, like his 'keeper James, also seems to have decided to model his hairstyle on The Jackson 5).

As was expected, with Steven Taylor recovered from illness, Kevin Keegan sent out the side that had started against Birmingham, Fulham and Spurs. In a dull first period, though, our front three failed to spark, only Obafemi Martins looking lively and testing James from range. At the other end, the closest Pompey came to grabbing the lead was when Kanu's shot was blocked by Taylor and the ball ricocheted off his hand. There was no deliberate movement on Taylor's part, though, and the shot was no longer goal-bound after it had struck his foot, so referee Phil Dowd's decision to wave away the Pompey fans' noisy appeals for a penalty was a sound one.

After the interval there were a few more chances, most notably those for Defoe, who was profiting from Abdoulaye Faye having one of those afternoons when he looks utterly unfamiliar with the concept of marking. How we managed to record a clean sheet with him repeatedly all at sea I'm not entirely sure.

Geremi continued to frustrate by whipping in some great crosses and free-kicks but still remaining incapable of beating the first man from corners, though he did also hit a fiercesome drive that James acrobatically plucked out of the air at full stretch. Meanwhile, while Nicky Butt toiled to reasonable effect, ASBO's passing let him down again and a lethargic Viduka was replaced by Alan Smith.

Given that we're all but mathematically safe, and Pompey have got one eye on their first FA Cup final for 69 years, it was always likely that an uneventful draw would be the outcome. Not dissatisfying, because we shouldn't ever grumble about achieving a shut-out, especially away from home, but if we'd had a little more drive and determination we could have nicked it. And if James had had a little less hair.

Other reports: BBC, Observer

Friday, April 11, 2008

Signed, sealed and delivered - to one lucky bidder

Fancy getting your mitts on a signed Newcastle shirt and feeling good about doing your bit for a worthy charity at the same time?

OK, over to Simon Twining to explain how...

"I have a current squad signed NUFC shirt, which I'm putting up for a 'reverse bid' auction for charity. There's a £2.50 entry fee (per bid - so if you donate a tenner, you can bid four times). The person with the lowest unique bid wins the shirt. This is the same shirt that retailed in the club shop in Eldon Square for £350, and comes with a certificate of authenticity from the club. The frame alone is worth £100, and stands 1.15m tall and is signed by the current squad.

The charity is for Multiple Sclerosis care - the Merlin Project (registered charity number 1093691). They are a joy to work with, as they are always so genuinely and personally grateful for any funding through events such as this.

The auction is now up, and closes on Sunday May 4, so people have four weeks to put their bids in. With each donation of £2.50 or more, as long as they've given a valid email address, they get an acknowledgement email with instructions on how to bid.

The page is all set up and running here.

If anyone, including your site members, have any questions, I'm happy for them to contact me direct at this e-mail

Yes, Simon's a Spurs fan, but don't hold that against him - don't we owe it to him to treat him kindly after his side virtually gifted us Premier League survival down at the Lane? And, in any case, aren't you desperate to see if ASBO's "signature" really is just a cross?

A tall order

A tall order is exactly what sorting out our defence is (despite its recent relative solidity, I'm yet to be convinced it's anything more than temporary) - and so it's perhaps little wonder that, according to reports, Kevin Keegan's scouting for players with statures to fit the bill.

Recent trips to Glasgow, while no doubt partly to check on things with his other Soccer Circus, have taken in trips to watch Rangers, his attention reportedly focussed on Spaniard Carlos Cuellar. The 26-year-old central defender (6ft 3ins) only moved to the soon-to-be-Scottish champions last summer, but his performances have earned him a nomination for Scottish Player of the Year and he was outstanding again tonight against decent quality opposition as Rangers beat Sporting Lisbon to reach the UEFA Cup semi-finals.

Meanwhile, we've also been credited with an interest in Real Madrid's German international Christoph Metzelder (6ft 4ins), who at around £10m would cost significantly more than Cuellar. I've watched the former Borussia Dortmund man play a few times and he's the sort of commanding figure at the back we've been missing since Jonathan Woodgate limped off to the Bernabeu, but Metzelder himself has had his own injury problems, and has made only 11 appearances since arriving last summer.

Keegan with his eye on defenders - whatever next?! ASBO having a quiet night in playing Scrabble? Alan Smith scoring a goal?

Anything you can do, Matty, I can do worse...

Further proof that even retirement can't stop our old boys from indulging in bad behaviour: Malcolm Allen - the man who, lest we forget, scored the only goal of our first ever win in the Premier League - has been handed a suspended jail sentence and ban for getting "paralytic" on ten pints and then thinking it was a good idea to drive to a Chinese takeaway.

Ten pints, eh? Couldn't top that, could you Matty? It was only your forgetting to put on any trousers that made YOUR tale of misadventure particularly newsworthy...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Month Of Saturdays: March 2008

Early in March, Michael Owen claimed: "I'm at a club where you feel like a spark will get us back on the crest of the wave and help us move up the league – that can give us a platform to build on". At the time – in the wake of defeats by Blackburn and Liverpool, both as devastating in their own individual ways as the Villa and Man Utd thrashings in February had been – our situation was utterly desperate. Little did we know that we would indeed be back on the crest of the wave before the month was out, and that the spark would come in the form of Owen himself.

Last month, clutching at straws in trying to answer my own question about what difference Kevin Keegan’s appointment had made, I pointed to the fact that Owen had suddenly started scoring again. When King Kev returned to St James’s, much was made of the fact that in his autobiography Owen had referred to his time playing under Keegan for England as a "dark phase" which left him "scarred".

But it was evident from the off that Keegan was determined to patch up any differences, most tellingly in his decision to hand the striker the captaincy. Though an experienced senior professional, Owen is hardly the most vocal of players, but what at first looked like a rather crass and tokenistic olive branch has come to seem a stroke of genius, with him leading from the front and by example in a fashion increasingly reminiscent of a certain sheet metal worker’s son from Gosforth.

March got off to an inauspicious start, Matt Derbyshire wrapping up a classic smash-and-grab win for Blackburn, but those optimistic far-sighted souls able to peer through the gloom could nevertheless point to the positive nature of our performance. And yes, Owen may have spurned a succession of chances, much to his own obvious annoyance – he made a point of apologising to his team-mates in the dressing room afterwards – but at least he and we could be thankful that those same team-mates were once again helping to provide him with regular opportunities. After all, Michelangelo may have been a great painter, but if you’d taken away his brushes and paints he wouldn’t have been able to come up with much...

Disappointingly, those who took the trouble to make the visit to Anfield witnessed a reversion to the dark days of January and February. Once our stubborn resistance had been broken by Jermaine Pennant’s freakish goal, with half-time tantalisingly close, we cracked and capitulated in familiar fashion – but then who among us can honestly say they expected us to wrest any points from the Champions’ League chasing Reds’ grasp?

No, the next fixture, away to relegation rivals Birmingham represented a much better opportunity to kickstart our climb out of trouble – and so it proved. After a lacklustre first half in which we’d fallen behind to a James McFadden goal, Keegan’s bold three man strikeforce belatedly clicked into gear and opportunist-par-excellence Owen it was on cue to stab a loose ball home from close range for a priceless equaliser.

That goal, allied to the dynamism of some of our attacking play thereafter and the point gleaned as a result, was just the "platform to build on" that Owen had spoken of – and build on it we certainly did, swatting aside Fulham with ease the following Saturday. Mark Viduka may have calmed any nerves with a neat early finish, but it was Owen whose second half header made the points safe and secured a 2-0 win, the first of King Kev’s second reign as manager.

It was worth reminding anyone subsequently giddy with anything more than just relief of the quality of the opposition – but when we then went out and thrashed the free-scoring League Cup winners Spurs in their own "manor" in our next fixture, and that after going a goal down, being giddy with delight was very much the order of the day. Owen scored for the third match in a row, and once again his was the decisive strike that put the game beyond the opposition. Created by Obafemi Martins’ persistence and skill on the flank and Viduka’s clever dummy in the area, it was testimony to the fluidity and coherence with which our front trio were combining, and had us surfing the crest of the wave into April.

So, what exactly WAS the masterstroke that turned our fortunes around? Well, Keegan went against the conventional wisdom that Owen always needs to be the most advanced forward; instead he employed him in a deeper role, sometimes wide rather than through the middle, where he’s harder to pick up than big-boned Mackem Andy Reid in a pair of lead boots, and trusting that his natural instinct to sniff out any scraps in and around the six yard box would still come to the fore, with the added advantage of his being able to arrive late and often unmarked.

In truth, of course, Keegan’s hand for the Birmingham game was partly forced by the injuries to Damien Duff and James Milner (quite where this revival leaves them is anyone’s guess, though it looks increasingly likely that the future of the benched and want-away Charles N’Zogbia lies away from Tyneside). What’s more, the three forwards system was only made possible by the return to fitness of Viduka, without whose physical presence to hold the ball up it simply wouldn’t work. Nevertheless, it took real courage to go with it for such a crucial game – especially with the gentlemen of the Fourth Estate sharpening their knives and willing him to live up to his reputation as tactically naïve bordering on suicidal.

Mention must be made of the contribution of the midfielders, who have had to shoulder an increased responsibility and workload as a consequence of the change of formation – Nicky Butt in particular has impressed, while ASBO has at last started to look like he realises he has to earn both his exorbitant salary and the respect and affections of the fans.

But the final word has to go to that man Owen. Injured for so long and written off so many times since his arrival in August 2005, he’s finally showing – and getting the opportunity to show – why he cost us £17m. If, as now seems likely, he’s fired us to Premier League safety, then that’ll be a substantial return on our investment. Who knows – we might even start talking about that new contract...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Royal romp

Newcastle Utd 3 - 0 Reading

A three goal home win, providing us with our third maximum in as many games all but ensured our Premier League survival for another season on Saturday. Playing host to Reading, Newcastle set about the visitors with the vigour of a side growing in confidence and attacking flair, and sure enough our three man strike force all found their names on the score sheet.

After an initial burst by Reading - typified by a nutmeg on David Edgar (promoted from the bench due to Steven Taylor's illness) - Newcastle began to assert their authority, and less than 20 minutes had passed when Martins cut inside his full-back to take Nicky Butt's ball and beat Andre Bikey before slotting the ball past Marcus Hanneman at the Leazes end.

Shortly before half time, Michael Owen scored his fourth in as many games with an excellent hooked finish from Habib Beye's chipped cross. With Mark Viduka adding a third in the second half, after further good work from Beye, the result was secured.

Looking at the game as a whole, it was really positive to see us pick up another clean sheet, and continue our run of good goalscoring form. As well as Owen's renaissance in a Peter Beardsley-esque role, the excellent performances from Beye and ASBO were strong positives to take from the game.

Going forward, whilst not yet mathematically safe, our future looks secure and it is now a case for Keegan to sit down with Mort and Ashley, and decide who they want and how much they are willing to spend to get them. Keegan himself has highlighted the fact that we only have one left back and one holding midfielder in the squad. With the Zog almost certain to depart (and with Shola and probably Emre also looking for the door) we need to look to strengthen the squad in all departments for the recent renaissance to carry momentum into next season.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

Friday, April 04, 2008

Where are they now?

Not a great deal of news on the Newcastle front of late, so how's about we take a quick check on some old friends?

First up is Laurent Robert, a player for whom the word "mercurial" was invented. After a less than successful spell at Derby, for whom he showed his face just three times, the French w(h)inger has had his contract torn up by mutual consent, enabling him to join our former coach John Carver across the pond at Toronto FC, where he'll line up alongside another old boy, Martin Brittain.

Carver's been quoted as saying: "I've spent a lot of time with Laurent and know about his game. He'll be a big asset to the team". Sorry, John, but those two statements are contradictory - if you know about Robert's temperament, then you'll know he's not exactly what you'd call a team player...

Meanwhile, no doubt also unamused at having to deal with the fall-out of Matty Pattison's drink-driving charge, Glenn Roeder's been uncharacteristically vocal in expressing his irritation over the loan deal that took Shola Ameobi to Stoke: "Lee Clark was told a couple of months ago that first of all Allardyce was not going to loan him then Keegan wasn't going to loan him, but Lee had an agreement with one of the senior coaches that if he was going to go anywhere we'd get a phone call. We never got a phone call, which disappoints me greatly, because I wouldn't do that because I don't break promises. I found out through the back door that Stoke were going to try and sign him on loan until the end of the season and I chased Dennis Wise until I got him on the phone".

And when he did finally get Wise on the phone, what he was told had the unmistakeable smell of bullshit: "If he is telling me the truth, Stoke have paid an incredible amount of money for a short period of time that is attached to potentially a £5m transfer deal". £5m for Shola?! We'd probably all be happy with a fifth of that...

Lastly, spare a thought too for another disgruntled ex-Newcastle manager, albeit one who took charge for only a handful of games as caretaker. Nigel Pearson's Southampton have slipped into the relegation zone, and are up against league leaders Bristol City in their next game...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The boys and the brown stuff

Hope you've been enjoying the sparring in the comments box of Sunday's match report as much as I have.

It seems Harry Hotspur took exception to us drawing attention to his preview, in which he delighted in referring to Kevin Keegan as "Kave-in" and claimed we've "always produced a turgid brand of football".

Rather than point out that our supposedly "turgid" football brought us Champions League qualification, something of which Spurs can still only dream, we left it to regular reader Mosh to mention the "Entertainers" tag we earned in our first season in the Premiership - when, incidentally, we finished third, something of which Spurs can still only etc etc.

Un'appy 'Arry's reply? "Frankly son, your club has always been more synonymous with Gravy and Toplessness amongst it's male fans". (Note capital letters for emphasis.)

Now, I'm not denying that sections of the Toon's away following, some of whom are on the rotund side, have a propensity for baring their wobbly bits - but the fact that we're also synonymous with gravy is a new one on me. I had no idea, so thanks for informing me.

Of course the implication is that Geordies - simple gravy-eating folk - are inferior to sophisticated Cockney types. Yes, that'd be sophisticated Cockney types who consider such delights as jellied eels a culinary delicacy. Give me gravy every time.

(Or did you actually mean that our club is "synonymous with the gravy train", Harry? If so, then I grudgingly take your point...)

Anyway, to bring this post belatedly back to football, anyone else think "Gravy and Toplessness" might be Mark Viduka's favourite search term on Google?