Friday, January 4, 2008

Newcastle United Football Club Is The One For Me, Damn It!

I don’t know know much about soccer (or football for that matter) but for reasons too dull to explain at the moment, Newcastle United Football Club is the team I like, the club I support, the one and only team that truly matters to me (until New York gets its own team—not some swampy New Jersey pretenders out in the Meadowlands.)

I admit it: I’m a total Johnny-come-lately. But at least I didn’t choose any of the so-called big four (Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal). Instead, I chose a troubled, under-performing mid-table team that has suffered for years without winning anything to speak of, aside from the Intertoto Cup, which sounds like a competition of doggies from The Wizard Of Oz and is about as entertaining.

By choosing Newcastle, I expect to suffer a lot, which, in turn, proves my true fan-dom, loser spirit, under-dog loyalty and all that crap.

So there it is. Full disclosure. I’m a newby.

That said, I have a few observations about our most recent game: A two goal defeat at home to Manchester City. With a new manager and a host of new players having just shipped in, Newcastle and Man City have some things in common. What they don’t have in common is success. City are in 4th place, while Newcastle are languishing in 11th. Our new manager, Sam Allardyce, is in deep shit. And their new manager, whatever his name is, ain’t.

So what did I see Wednesday night when I watched the game?

1. Seal look-alike Abdoulaye Faye is one big, rough mother-effer and a hell of a player. Lumbering around like an Ent with better ball skills and passing, he worked his ass off in the midfield, held possession and distributed the ball well to our forwards. Now, suppose we get into a relegation battle? Sam could take some advice from Faye’s long lost twin: "We’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy…" Translation? Stop being so goddamn defensive and play Faye alongside a attacking midfielder for a change. Hmm, then again, that idea is not that crazy, is it?
Faye brings the ball forward.

2. A moment I wish we’d seen: Faye strides purposefully across the field and yanks that fucking preposterous rug off Stephen Ireland’s head, shouting "You shall not pass!" Yes, I know I’m mixing Lord of the Rings characters and moments, but it would have been pretty amusing.

3. Somehow to me, Damien Duff and Obafemi Martins have similar facial characteristics. Yes, that’s complete lunacy, but at certain moments… is it the cheekbones? The deep carved lines on the sides of their mouths? There was some question over Obafemi’s real age and there is that chant that goes "21 or 28, 21 or 28, 21 or 28, Obafemi Martins!" Now, isn’t the Duffer also 28? THEY MAY BE TWINS! What? One’s Nigerian and the other’s Irish? Right. Never mind.

4. More important than the Irishman’s Nigerian twin, Duff played well against City. He and Milner switched off on right and left wing sometimes, which is something they did against Cheslea, and which, interestingly, is something I first noticed Duff doing with Arjen Robben back in his Chelsea days, but to better effect. WARNING: MORE STUPIDITY ALERT: Is Allardyce trying to crib an effective attacking technique from Mourinho’s style?! If Duff, N’Zogbia and Milner got that swirling switching play thing happening for Newcastle, that would be funky. But before that happens…

5. James "Travolta" Milner out on the right wing needs to learn how to pass the fucking ball. The kid dribbles but good. Unfortunately, he’s in love with his own feet. Fork it over, James. Trying your samba moves every time you get the ball might work in the under 21s but City’s defense had your number yesterday, and they’re not the only ones lately either. Cut the shit with the fancy-dancery on every possession There’ll be time for strutting your stuff on the dance floor in the 2018 edition of Dancing With The Stars.

6. Even from left back, Charles N’Zogbia is a force. He was our most threatening and maybe best player last night. Plus his name is fun to say. "n’ZOG-bia!" Sounds like a Superman villain—General Zod’s sidekick. Or a magic spell. Too bad uttering it doesn’t magically create goals. Now what could he do from the midfield proper?

7. Habib Beye is a great new addition to the team. Too bad he’s off to the African Cup of Noodles (no disrespect intended), leaving us with has-been Irish cue ball, Stephen Carr at right back (disrespect intended). Seriously, I’m a new fan and everything, so was there ever a time when Carr was good?

8. Cacapa & Taylor at the back: Why do so many folically-challenged men go for the goatee? That aside, I thought Cacapa was pretty good at the back, though he’s another Ent—slow and lumbering. Taylor was good too. But I was of two minds: Were Man City’s goals just well worked pieces of attack? Or was someone in our defense truly to blame, and if so, how can we avenge ourselves upon them without hurting our prospects for the season?

9. Viduka: He’s big and slow, but he’s got good feet, hasn’t he? Not in a fetish way, mind you. I thought he was close to crafting THE opening a few times, but…

10. Obafemi Martins was as profligate as a Hummer at a stop light. What’s going on? Is your luck just off, or did somebody cast a hex on your cleats? Maybe you need to go home and tear shit up for a few weeks with Nigeria in the African Nations Cup before you can start scoring again. Or maybe you’re just in shock that balls are coming in to your feet lately, after all the crappy hoofing the ball forward in the air that we’ve been doing. Either way, please come back from Ghana with your batteries recharged and your goal gyroscope re-tuned.

11. Nicky Butt! Hey, he’s a good tough, hard working veteran player, right? But why, in the name of god, did we need him on the field alongside Abdoulaye Faye? Where the eff was Emre? That crafty Turkish cat has got some tricks up his sleeve that could release Viduka, Martins et al, no?

12. Yes, we lost three in a row, but the last two games have been major improvements since the Wigan disaster. Is there reason for hope? Or will fecking Stoke City punch our ticket on Sunday?

13. Anybody else noticing the number of mohawks cropping up lately? Gallas, Micah Richards, our very own Alan Smith? It’s the foppish football hairdo of the moment. Thank goodness for silly haircuts.


1 comment:

Thump said...

You need to learn a lot, mate! Our new manager is actually an old manager. King Kevin Keegan has saved us a couple of times and I've every confidence that he will do it again! Don't expect anything from this season, though; Allardyce has killed it for us.