If there is one thing guaranteed to wind me up quicker than having to watch a Mick McCarthy interview, it has to be some grinning oaf wandering round saying things like “cheer up – it can’t be that bad” or “don’t you know it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown?”
If you were to ask me if there was any principle that I would be willing to defend to the end I would have to choose between the right to express my thoughts freely and without censorship, and my right to live out my life as a miserable bugger with no interference from what I affectionately refer to as the “Grinning Oaf Brigade”. I consider myself realistic rather than negative, experienced rather than cynical. While many sit back satisfied, I look for improvement.
Yes. It bugs the hell out of the wife.
After last season’s 5 – 1 laundering of the great unwashed I had the gall to suggest that we hadn’t played particularly well. My mistake, apparently, was in not automatically giving every Newcastle player on the pitch ten out of ten.
This time it was only a 1 goal win but no doubt some of you will still believe we were perfect in every way because we beat the Mackems, so let’s see what your rose-tinted SpecSaver specials think of this.
There are three periods during the game where we have made a tradition of being vulnerable. I’m tempted to say the beginning, the middle and the end, but I’ll stick with the first ten minutes, immediately after we’ve scored, and the last five minutes.
It was a bit of a shaky start on Saturday but when you’ve supported them for 20 or 30 years you become numb to it.
In the recent past our defence has been suspect at best and bloody awful at worst. Now that we have something that actually resembles a defence many of you are easily offended by suggestion that it could be better.
From my point of view, if the opposition are lobbing the ball in from a corner and said ball is allowed to bounce on the penalty spot, you’ve got problems.
If the ball is being pinged across from the left wing and it scythes its way across the box totally unimpeded by what we generously refer to as our defence, not once or twice, but three or four times, then that too, is not good.
Our defence is in need of improvement if we are to stake any kind of claim in this league.
With Wes Brown and Anton Ferdinand running the show for the Mackems it would have been almost impossible to resist the temptation to refer to this game as a Donkey Derby, so I won’t even try to resist.
Tim Krul – 7
Good game. A couple of very good saves, some good catches, and got out to the edge of the box well, but a bit like the Royal Mail, his distribution could be better.
Danny Simpson – 6
Had a reasonable first half but the second half found him playing more like Homer than Danny.
Steven Taylor – 6
Another rather disappointing game. I think I would give him the edge over Williamson but that’s a bit like saying Prudhoe are better than Bellingham.
Fabricio Coloccini – 7
Putting in a better shift than many he impressed with his command of the ancient Geordie art of the Welly.
The Welly is something that modern footballers, and fans alike seem to consider a thing of the past. But anyone watching Cheik Tiote repeatedly giving the ball away 25 yards out, dead centre, will know that it still has its place in todays game as an alternative to those suicidal, not quite long enough little Dairylea triangle passes that we didn’t quite get right on Saturday.
Another decent performance
Ryan Taylor – 7
Having last week suggested that Taylor was a better free kick taker than Barton I have to admit this week to feeling about as smug as a Mackem with a GCSE.
Playing out of position at Left Back he made the best of a bad job, filling in as required. But make no mistake, he’s not a Left Back.
His free kick was a corker, though abetted by some dodgy positional work from the “Minging Ole” in the Manky goal.
He got into the derby spirit pretty early on, somehow managing to execute an elbow thrash and a forearm smash in a single movement. Lucky to stay on but not a bad performance.
Cheik Tiote – 4
A disastrous derby for our Dark Destroyer.
Tiote had the game from hell, being caught in possession so many times I considered checking the back of his shirt to see if it said “Tiote” or “Doherty”.
He was so bad that I would almost have preferred to have to Joey Barton’s there. The last two games would suggest that he’s still seriously short of match fitness.
You know there’s something wrong when a guy who was Yellow carded 14 times last season isn’t even spoken to by the ref during a local derby.
Yohan Cabaye – 6
Lucky to stay on the field after his 26th minute attack on Phil Bardsley. Yohan Cabaye is taking a while to settle. His dead balls are pretty good but elsewhere he’s just not doing enough yet.
Jonas Guttierez – 8
He still hasn’t got the edge he had last season but he gets my Man Of The Match. Can only assume that those spindly legs have titanium inserts considering the battering he takes.
Unfortunately Alan Pardew had him defending deeper which limited his forays forward.
I always try to resist the temptation to give him high marks just for running around a lot and running into brick walls. If I wanted to do that I would give my dog Titus 10 out of 10 every week. That’s all he does.
Joey Barton – 7
As one would expect in a game of this status, Joey was provoked from the outset, but resisted the temptation to react – for a while at least.
It can be no coincidence that the first offender’s name – Lee Cattermole – is an anagram of “clatter me ‘ole!”.
Barton had a reasonable game and continued to take the abuse that was handed him in admirable fashion, until he suddenly flew off the handle reacting to a tackle on someone else. So maybe he’s just oversensitive to the feelings of others?
Shola Ameobi – 8
Excellent first half and a reasonable second half. He was actually putting himself about a bit and in some cases actually continued operations in the vertical plane.
At half time I was suddenly struck by the terrifying realization that I might actually have to consider giving him the Man Of The Match, but his lacklustre second half changed all that.
Gabriel Obertan – 7
Looked good but not quite as impressive as his debut last week. While the pitch looked in superb condition Obertan’s impression of a prancing Lipizzaner down the wing would suggest it was a tad lumpy underhoof.
Mike Williamson – 6
The best thing about his coming on was that Cabaye went off.
Interesting fact – I wanted to confirm the exact time that Cabaye came off, so I Googled “Cabaye Substituted”. Google, being a fairly intelligent engine, suggested I wanted a “Cabbage Substitute”?
Dan Gosling – 6
I wouldn’t normally even mention someone who only came on for the last 5 minutes but he came so close to one of the most memorable substitute appearances ever.
Alan Pardew – 6
Giving dead ball kicks to Ryan Taylor and Yohan Cabaye is a vast improvement while this also puts Joey Barton in the mix in the middle. Good decision.
But I still find it difficult to refer to what our boys do as “tactics”, regardless of the result.
There’s a video on Youtube of Real Madrid playing against 109 kids. There are times when I think the 109 kids are more organized than us.
Obertan’s switch to the left with Jonas going to the right was a bit late in the game to have any effect and can anyone explain why, when trying to wind down the clock, we wanted to bring on Demba Ba with less than 10 seconds left?
It’s generally accepted that the referee adds another 30 seconds to the clock for each substitution, so all we would have achieved there was extending the game.
A win against Sunderland always feels good, but in all honesty, while we may have the first bragging rights of the season, to boast about beating that Sunderland team, even with 10 new players worth 25 million, takes us back to Prudhoe beating Bellingham again.
It’s still early but we need to improve if we are going to stand a chance against “real” Premier League teams.
For 2 hours at least, we were top of the Premier League.
We have the makings of a decent team, but we are not there yet
If Pardew manages to deliver a decent Left Back and Striker before the window closes I might force myself to crack a smile. Otherwise, please do the decent thing and allow me to continue making my way through life using more muscles than it takes to make a smile.
It’s the only workout I get.