First of all apologies for the delay but one of the downsides of spending my life in the sun is that sometimes they actually expect me earn my crust.
As a result, I have decided that as part of this weeks alternative assessment I’m going to introduce you to my world.
That’s why its an “Alternative Assessment”
During a job interview today the candidate was asked to give an example of a recent challenge that he faced at work and how he addressed it. A fairly standard question designed to see if the candidate has an internet connection and had the sense to Google “10 most common interview questions”
He didn’t. His answer went “I worked on the fault for 5 hours and couldn’t fix it, so I went to sleep”
Stick with it – we will get round to the match eventually. I just need to familiarize you with the local lingo first.
After “Thank you”, “Please” and “How Much, you thieving taxi driving b*stard?”, “Insha’alla” is probably the next phrase a foreigner learns in the Middle East.
This means literally “God Willing”.
If someone says they are going to do something they always stick an “Insha’lla” on the end. This is intended along the lines of ‘yes, I’m going to do it as as long as God doesn’t do anything to prevent it’. We’re talking plague, volcano, earthquake, stuff like that.
However – If you are expecting the bloke from Abdullahs Golden White Goods Store on Hamdan street to deliver your fridge and he says he’ll be there at “2pm, Insha’alla”, Then you’re screwed. Because that means it aint gonna happen. In this case it’s because he’s going somewhere else, taking a day off, can’t be arsed, watching the match etc.
“Khallas” means “finished”.
Whether the waiter is clearing the empty beer glasses off the table or you are lying face down unconscious on top of the bint you blagged at “Rock Bottom” the night before, “Khallas” is a fair indication that that festivities have ended and it’s time to move on.
“Mafi Mushkellah” is up there alongside “Insha’alla” as a universal get-out clause.
Literally it means “no problem” – but think of it along the lines of “Hakuna Matata”.
It means no problem when somebody has just done something monumentally dumb and your expression suggests you are about to swing for them.
“Mafi Mushkellah” is what the painter said when he put his gloss paint pot down on our Persian rug, just before he headed out to his car to get his magic cleaning fluid, never to be seen again.
“Mafi Mushkellah” is what the Dentist said when he pulled the wrong tooth and tried to persuade me another one might grow back. I was 38.
“Mafi Mushkellah” is what the builder who put a JCB through my mains water supply said as, as he tried to fill up my water tank from my garden tap, which is, of course, connected to my water tank.
“Mafi Mushkellah” is what the Electrician said when the external security light that he had just installed kept me awake all night switching itself on and off like a strobe, because he had mounted the automatic light sensor in front of the lamp.
Don’t get it?
It gets dark – sensor thinks its nigh and switches the light on. The light shines on sensor, so the sensor now thinks its now daytime and switches the light off. Its dark again so the sensor switches the light on again………..
I think you get the drift.
And on to the match.
I have to say that I, like many others, feared the worst.
I had it down as an arse kicking in the making, and it could have been until that “tactical Guru” that is Alan Pardew brought on Shola after 70 minutes. But more about that particular miracle later.
A draw is a good result against Spurs and I don’t think anyone can argue that. And don’t let anything I’m about to say detract from the result. You know what I’m like, so don’t go acting all surprised.
First of all, October is too early to be looking at the table and jumping up and down.
Tim Krul – 7
A good performance with just a single blemish, but made up for it with a tackle outside the box and an excellent save during the scramble, that kept us in it. The difference between us now and 4 years ago is that back then those goalmouth scrambles were going in.
One of these days, when a player kicks the ball out because someone is injured the ref will give the throw and tell the opposition to get on with it. If the referee doesn’t see a requirement to stop the game for an injury, why does a player think he outranks him?
Danny Simpson – 5
Nothing nice to say, so as my mum used to say, if you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t run with scissors.
My mum wasn’t too bright.
Steven Taylor – 6
He’s cost us in the past and he did it again with the same trick he pulled against Wolves. Cost us a goal and possibly even 2 points. I cant understand why someone who is so talented thinks these things are necessary.
In Taylor’s defence, while the rest of the world saw it as a foul, the look on Adebayor’s face suggested that he couldn’t believe the penalty had been given.
Fabricio Coloccini – 7
A solid performance, usual stuff. We get a bit cocky at times and pass our way into trouble. Colo rescued us a couple of times. Played a superb through ball with the outside of his right foot.
Ryan Taylor – 5
As an embryo I remember my football coach shouting through the womb wall “PLAY TO THE WHISTLE”!!
When Taylor just stopped dead and stuck up his hand claiming a throw in, letting Modric tear off up the wing unimpeded, I found myself inventing nicknames for him, most of which ended with either the words “dick” or “knob”. One particularly creative one included both. When did we stop playing to the whistle?
Gabriel Obertan – 7
When we first got him I thought he was quite handy, but he seems to be turning into another Routledge. He was all over – both sides of the field and even back defending, but give him the ball and a couple of people to beat and he seems clueless. Amazing for a bloke with such pace.
Yohan Cabaye – 6
Terrible game. Got mugged for the first goal and with the exception of an attempt on goal in the 33rd minute, that was about it. He was so far off his game Simpson and Ryan Taylor were taking the piss.
Cheik Tiote – 8
Scott Parker is one of my all time favourites. The fans thought he was a god until one day when playing injured he bottled on a 50 – 50 challenge. That was the end of it.
Tiote is what Parker used to be.
His workrate is phenomenal. He can break up play (and the odd player too – he’s not fussy) keeps his head under pressure and is the starting point for most of our moves.
After a few dodgy games he’s getting back where he was before he disappeared off home to get his visa renewed, or whatever the youngsters call it these days.
He got around so much that at one point Stevie Taylor and Coloccini were passing back to him, with Tim Krul having to get out of his way.
My man of the match.
Cracking shot towards the end. One of only a handful of serious attempts.
Jonas Gutierrez – 7
Jonas wasn’t up to his usual standard. But thanks to our 7-2-1 formation We saw quite a bit of him in defence. His running around and falling over was below par but his left footed cross to Ba was stunning.
Leon Best – 5
Still don’t see it. Some players have special skills. He had the odd moment, but it appeared that his special skill on the day was getting into an offside position and staying there.
Demba Ba – 7
He had a good 20 minutes in the first half but then fizzled out. He got on the end of Jonas’s cross and despite Friedel getting behind it, scored another goal.
I said a few weeks ago that I thought he’d just start scoring, but I don’t think we’re there yet.
Shola Ameobi – 8
Life is full of disappointments. When Shola came on after 70 minutes I groaned “WTF?” His first 2 or 3 touches were exactly what I expected – a bumble here and a fall over there and I thought “here we go again”.
Then something rather strange happened. It was almost as if he acquired spontaneous talent. He was going past people, passes were reaching their intended destinations, he remained upright for whole minutes at a time and then, just to really stick it to me, he banged in a sweet shot following a bit of control and what can only be described as an intended change of direction.
What an absolute git. It’s almost as if he did it on purpose!
Ah what the hell – well done Shola!
All that said, remember Tiote’s netbuster against Arsenal in February? Impressive at the time but it hardly heralded the coming of the new Ronaldo!
I suppose that even a blind squirrel stumbles across the odd nut.
Hatem Ben Arfa – 6
Poor little Benny struck me as the kid who was a star in the juniors then moved up and found the big boys to be a bit too difficult. He kept trying and trying but just wasn’t good enough.
From what we have seen before there is better to come, just not on that day. Maybe next week – Insha’alla
Davide Santon – 6
Santon didn’t appear to do an awful lot in his 14 minutes. Maybe he needs time understand the nuances of the local dialect. Things like forty three thousand Geordies screaming “MAAANONNYAFUKKA!”
Mafi Mushkella – he’ll settle.
Pardew – 7
Tactics are an interesting concept. I was creased up yesterday when I read one blogger insisting that our tactic of keeping possession and moving the ball around was a masterstroke. Wow – what an analytical mind this guy must have.
Even I figured out that the alternative – giving the ball away and leaving it where it is – was never really going to be winner.
So what did we do?
Well, when required the 2 wingers came back from midfield and doubled up with our backs and Tiote got in between our 2 centre backs.
Ah yes – the dreaded 7-2-1 formation. That’s always good for a game of pinball in the box.
The experts claim that we played wide and they played narrow through middle. Until of course we played narrow and they went wide. Oh yes – now I see it!
Frankly dead balls were pretty abysmal and how hard can it be to get within 20 yards and have a shot? OK – it might not go in but surely the brief has to be to at least have a pop?
We didn’t see a lot of Bale’s pace, so maybe we were fortunate there, but Modric was a royal pain.
Pardew gets a 7 because after 70 minutes he brought on Ameobi and it changed the game.
My god, did I just say that?
A good result against Wigan and we could be steaming towards November still in the top 4 – Insha’alla.
Now that’s a much more respectable time to start jumping up and down.