Like many, I stayed up until the wee small hours watching Newcastle United lurch through yet another pre-season friendly.
As you may already know by now, we lost 1-0 against Orlando City last night, but I won’t go into too much detail as Jobey has assured me that he will cover it in a match report when he finally rolls out of his pit and I don’t want to piss on his chips so to speak.
Anyway, it left me wondering just how helpful this US tour actually is? I mean don’t get me wrong, I’ve been the champion of getting Newcastle United ‘out there’ and into new markets, growing the “brand” etc, and of course it gives our US fans a chance to see their heroes up close and personal, some of whom will be doing that for the very first time. That’s a good thing right?
Of course it is, but there have been many bad things that have also come from this US tour and at times it has been a complete farce. Let’s take a look at the issues that we’ve had to face so far.
– The Visa issue is the first one that springs to mind. We’ve been without Joey Barton, Yohan Cabaye, and slightly less important as he is apparently up for sale, Nile Ranger thanks to them not being able to obtain the necessary paperwork to ply their trade in the States. Of course the US has their way of working and these three fell foul of the rules, but we wouldn’t have had a problem in Europe and all of the squad would be together instead of having chunks of first-team players separated by the Atlantic.
– Injuries are starting to mount up. First we lost Shane Ferguson and Danny Guthrie, then Hatem Ben Arfa and now Ryan Taylor. Yes I know injuries can happen at anytime, but if we’d not been in the States we’d have a bigger squad available to us and wouldn’t have to be forced to name just four outfield subs, as was the case last night.
– Heat and travelling are another two things that are starting to get on my wick. It’s summer, it’s going to be hot. Was this not thought of beforehand? It’s America, it’s big. Was this also not thought of beforehand.
– Facilities are supposed to be top class, which is why we played last night on a plastic pitch. Granted it’s no excuse for just how bad we played (sorry Jobey!) but it’s hardly ideal and is hardly going to replicate the week in, week out feel of the Premier League. To make things more farcical a real pitch was laid for the game last night only for it to be dug up at the eleventh hour because it was, well, dangerous.
Now I don’t want to be down on the US and I realise that it may sound a bit like that to some but honestly I’m not. Most of things that have gone wrong could have been sorted from our end before the trip was even made. Yet they weren’t.
No matter how many times I hear about conditioning and fitness it won’t make me change my mind on this when I say that it doesn’t matter if the players are already knacked before the start of the season.
People will say it’s all about money, but having seen the crowds I think it’s safe to say that public interest in Newcastle United isn’t really that high so it’s safe to assume that corporate interest would be even less. I mean we haven’t even been on TV thus far aside from Orlando streaming the match themselves (and a fine job they did of it too I may add!) so we’re hardly bringing in much from being there.
I’m not saying that the US tour is a bad idea and should never be considered ever again – remember half of the Premier League makes an appearance over there at some point during pre-season. What I do think though is that it has lacked organisation and thought. Maybe if we do it again, and think about it properly, then we’ll have a much better time, but at the moment all I can see is problem after problem.
Still, just one more game to go I guess!