Saturday, July 04, 2009

A Month Of Saturdays: June 2009

This essentially being a monthly round-up of news concerning Newcastle Utd, it should be shorter than your average Bigg Market lass's skirt. Quite simply, there's been very little to report at all over the last four-and-a-bit weeks - nothing much more than the fact that the fixture list was published, confirming that we really are in the Championship and that it wasn't all just a bad dream, and that we've unveiled a suitably garish - sorry, "stylish" - confection of an away shirt for the forthcoming campaign. Perhaps the hope is to induce instantaneous and chronic vomiting in the opposition so their home advantage is neutralised and we have a chance of getting out of there with a point?

No news is good news, or so the old adage goes - and when we're concerned, that's largely true. We don't usually want our club to be splashed all over the papers, whether front or back (or middle - we're probably the subject of a fair few agony aunt letters); we don't usually want our side to feature so regularly in the yellow Sky Sports scrolling newsflash banner that we can claim to own it through squatters' rights; we don't usually want to be the talk - or, rather more likely, the butt of jokes - the length and breadth of the land. No, we'd generally prefer a low profile, a bit of quiet time.

So it feels strange to be complaining about it now. But complaining we most certainly are. Our one crumb of comfort following relegation was that some people might at last awaken and smell the aroma of hot, percolated, caffeinated beverage; that a stiff broom might sweep and a gale-force wind of change might blow through the club; that demotion would serve as a highly effective enema.

But no.

As ever, our club has made us look rather foolish. Instead of there being any positive change - or indeed change of any kind whatsoever - we've stagnated, continuing to fester and stew in the same old filth.

OK, so Fat Mike, in his finite wisdom, decided it would be sensible and in no way undignified or laughable to solicit offers from prospective buyers of the club via email and throughout the month there were rumours of interest - first from Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman, and then from a Singapore consortium. But there was no sign of any serious, positive developments that might hint at even a glimmer of a brighter Ashley-free future. (Naturally we at Black & White & Read All Over flatly refuse to countenance the prospect of Fat Fred getting his trotters back under the table and his snout back in the trough as being in any way or in any possible universe a serious, positive development.)

Neither was there any news on the managerial front. The longer Wor Al is forced to spend in limbo, the weaker the club's pull is likely to be (and no doubt the better his golf handicap becomes). What odds on him happily taking up the reins now, if at last offered the opportunity to do so? Instead, by default, we've got Laurel and Hardy aka Chris Hughton and Colin Calderwood once again in nominal charge - hardly what we need if we're going to have any hope of escaping this division. But, I suppose, at least we can be sure we're not going to be landed with a certain cauliflower-faced "Geordie" any time soon - unless, that is, he displays some of the diehard loyalty for which he's famed and decides to swap sinking ships...

And while the one man we want at the club was conspicuous by his absence in June, several others we certainly don't stubbornly remained, clinging on to their ludicrous weekly salaries with far more grit and determination than they ever showed on the pitch last season. Oh the irony. When agent Barry Silkman cast his eye over our supposedly saleable assets, you could almost hear the sense of relief that he hadn't been given the task of finding buyers for them.

Not everyone wanted to stay, though - Little Saint Mick made it abundantly clear he was not only very definitely not finished but also itching to be off down the A1, even if (at the time) his chief suitors were the Premier League's ugly sisters Hull and Stoke. One place our perma-knacked striker wouldn't be welcome, though, was Wigan, whose owner Dave "Dignity" Whelan took time out from his busy schedule of public attacks on Fat Mike to launch a public attack on Little Saint Mick. Variety being the spice of life, and all that.

Another bunny so unhappy he may as well have been being boiled by Glenn Close was Sebastien Bassong, dismayed by "the madness at the club" to the point of wanting out, while forgotten man/boy the Xisco Kid lifted the lid on life under JFK and subsequently, in a convalescence ward somewhere, the air turned a peculiar shade of purple.

The rest of them? No doubt off enjoying the holidays that, according to Bassong, they'd been so eagerly discussing in the Villa Park dressing room...


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