Monday, September 17, 2007

NUFC Fail To Perform

Apologies to people who read this who can't stand football, this will be an epic rant on the failure of Newcastle United to beat Derby County this evening in the Premiership.

I have never liked the appointment of Sam Allardyce at Newcastle. Didn't think we needed to sack Glenn Roeder, as we should never have had him as the manager in the first place. Roeder was brilliant at being what he was originally paid to be: in charge of the Academy. He only got the manager's job because Fat Freddy Shepherd (FFS, handily) was stupid enough to previously give it to Graeme Souness, a man who once famously declared he didn't believe in tactics.

So, FFS hires Sam Allardyce - who, I'd like to point out, turned the job down before we appointed Souness - just a short time before selling the entire club. I like to think that this wasn't just a parting gesture designed to destroy the club so he could buy it back cheaper than he sold it for, but given the purchases and tactical decisions made by Allardyce so far, I'm not entirely sure.

Maybe I missed the day we bought a creative wide midfielder. I remember clearly the selling of Dyer (not missed, and spectacularly injured playing for West Ham) Luque (not missed either) and Nobby Solano (very much missed, apart from his trumpet playing). I also remember us buying Joey Barton (who may well be unavailable when he stops being injured due to being in prison for assaulting an ex-team mate) Geremi, Alan Smith and Abdoulaye Faye - none of whom are renowned for their creative passing - joining Nicky Butt(!) and Emre, who can pass but doesn't seem able to run.

So at the minute, we have James Milner as the entire creative output of midfield. We could have Charles N'Zogbia on the opposite wing. Could have, but he's currently playing at left-back covering the seemingly permanently injured Celestine Babayaro. Where Jose Sanchez Enrique (bought over the Summer) has gone is something of a mystery. N'Zogbia is not a defender. In much the same way that Titus Bramble (not missed) was not a defender. But N'Zogbia has his uses upfield, so there the similarity ends.

Bought plenty of other defenders as well this Summer, notably at centre-back: Rozehnal (who has looked good but really should have scored three this season rather than the none he has) and the Brazilian Cacapa, both of whom take preference over one of last season's bright spots, Steven Taylor. Habib Beye came in on deadline day to bolster options at right-back (probably due to the injuries sustained by the previous two choices - Stephen Carr and Peter Ramage - in the same game), but started this evening on the bench while Taylor (a centre-back) played right-back instead.

And I clearly remember the signing of the Fat Aussie Bastard himself, Mark Viduka. Never been popular on Tyneside, so it was something of a surprise when he dragged his lardy arse up from Teeside to look out of breath/condition/position in the black & white stripes. Particularly surprising when we had a returning to fitness Owen to partner Obafemi Martins up front. And Shola Ameobi.

So as I say, we may have signed a gifted creative midfielder, but I obviously just don't remember when. Or who. Or why they're not playing when it is blindingly apparent that we need some width. Alan Smith, despite his inability to tackle, strange similarity to Eminem and past affiliations with Leeds & Manchester United - all of which naturally endear him to the Newcastle public - just isn't suited to wing play.

If we have no wing play, then all the attack has to go through the middle of the park, which seems to mean lumping it up to Ameobi/FAB/Martins and hoping Owen's wheel shaped legs are spinning quick enough to get onto a knock down. If we have no wing play, then the opposition's full-backs can get forward and put crosses in for their forwards. If we have no wing play, essentially, we're doomed.

I was hoping that when the new owners came in, they would sack Allardyce and bring in someone that plays the sort of football we in Newcastle like to watch. But no. Given how badly we played this evening, however, it may start to cross their minds.

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