As kids there was an unwritten rule in the house that the first person into the kitchen in the morning got to choose the radio station. If it was us it was Radio One. Them (the parents) – Radio Two.
If ever there was an incentive to get your arse out of bed in the morning as a teenager it was the threat of having to listen to Jimmy Young for an hour before you went to school.
We swore back then that we would never grow out of Radio One. That our trendy modern tastes would never change.
Now I look forward to Wogan.
It’s now more than a few years since I left the North East and headed off to warmer climes. I am not up to speed with the latest developments in Albert Square and wouldn’t recognize a single song in the top 20. I have become used to other things. Different music. Different TV shows and definitely different weather.
There’s a hotel in Manama, Bahrain called the Golden Tulip. Every weekend they do a spectacular lunch.
For the price of a Sunday Roast and a couple of pints you get to feast like a king on everything from Lobsters to T-Bones with unlimited alcohol from midday through to five pm.
Many’s the time we have staggered down their steps into the car park, barely capable of coherent speech, and oddly enough, not once have I felt the need to spray paint “St James’ Park ” on any of the hotel walls, but that’s a topic for a different rant.
The down side of the Golden Tulip buffet is the Karaoke. Every week the room is serenaded by the same group of would-be Robbie Williams’s or (god forbid) Celine Dions .
If that’s not bad enough, they actually think they are good enough to do encores, and even requests, despite the odd football style chant reverberating around the room.
Wobbly John used to treat us to his seriously bad Elvis impersonation – every bloody weekend!
“We’re caught in a trap” was always followed by the whole room shouting back “yer singin’s crap!” but on he went, undaunted.
Very rarely do you see such dogged determination to stick with something that obviously doesn’t work, but up there with Wobbly John’s Elvis, and possibly Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, I would have to include the Toon’s almost suicidal tendency of a couple of seasons ago to change tactics when in front and try to defend a lead.
I use the word “defend” very loosely.
Fortunately it’s not so commonplace these days – but it still lurks, raising its ugly head now and again just to remind us how bad our defence can actually be.
Over the years I’ve always been puzzled as to why, when you are kicking serious arse, a couple of goals up and hogging possession, you would suddenly want to go on the defensive.
We just didn’t know how to defend a lead.
And a bit like the wife’s driving, we also don’t go backwards well.
I appreciate that our “goals against” was canny for a while there but the opposition have finally rumbled us.
Now they just sit back and wait. Once we get our hordes up near the half way line and give the ball away, which we do quite often, they just charge forward as fast as they can knowing full well that we don’t “do” backwards.
It reminds me of the old joke about losing 5–0 to five break-away goals, all against the run of play, but a hatful of breakaway goals from Fulham and Spurs weren’t particularly funny, were they?
There was also a certain inevitability about Wolves. A certain “Here we go again”.
I’ve finally taken to Coloccini. I’ve managed to get past the hair and the fact that he is “Fab”. He reads the game well, puts himself around a bit and does well with the heed most of the time.
I have however, gone off Williamson. I find myself cringing every time he tries dancing with the stars in the box. Maybe if he’d been loved just a little more as a boy, he’d feel less inclined to try to hug everyone so much. You just know that there’s a penalty in there somewhere, or even worse, a sending off.
I never thought I’d say it but I’m actually missing Steven Taylor.
While Guthrie impressed (well – most of the time at least) we have definitely also missed Tiote. He has a presence, breaks things up, adds an extra line of defence, and of course there’s always the expectation (or even hope) that one of the opposition might emerge from a tackle minus a limb. Or two.
I realize that it’s very easy to sit here after a couple of bad results and tear our defence to bits, but the truth of it is that there is never a good time to criticize them.
It appears that Ryan Taylor and Jonas are first choice midfielders because they get back and “help out” Simpson and Santon at the back, suggesting that Simpson and Santon are not as solid as they could be.
I’m sure we’ll see a vast improvement against the Mackems, and hopefully give them another drubbing. Tiote and Cabaye will be a game further into settling back in while hopefully Ba and Cisse will be a bit sharper, assuming the latter is over his mysterious groin problem that had him suddenly pull out of the Senegal friendly.
I suppose that’s always going to be the risk when you pull out suddenly.
We’ve been talking a lot lately about getting the likes of Coloccini, Simpson Ba and Guthrie tied up to long term contracts, but at the moment I would suggest that Ben Arfa is the one we should be worried about.
Having learnt his negotiating skills from Carlos Tevez, unless Benny gets more pitch time I’m sure it won’t be long before he “speets ze dummay” and maneuvers for a move. OK, we’ll still be in line with Ashley’s business model, making a couple of million profit and then go out and buy another French 12 year old, but wouldn’t it be a huge waste?
So what are the options? A bit more strength at the back so Benny can roam up front do his stuff?
Or try to encourage him to track back more, like Jonas and Taylor?
If there’s one thing we should have learned by now it has to be that you don’t buy a player for his qualities, try to change him and then wonder why he’s not performing.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him on his way at the end of the season, followed by Guthrie. Two players who I don’t think will be happy to sit on the bench, who are good enough to do something about it.
No doubt, with us playing the mackems at the weekend we’ll see Ameobi at some point during the game, maybe even on from the start in place of Cisse’s groin, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he knocks one in off either his arse ,or his shin, or the back of his head to win the game. A win is a win. But could this it be a no-win situation for our little Frenchman?
The beginning of the end? I hope not.