With our boys not in action until this evening, many of us will have spent the weekend looking for something to fill that Newcastle United shaped hole.
I’ve always hated Monday night fixtures – until Monday rolls around, and then I usually have a change of heart and decide that I actually love them. It’s the wait that kills me.
As a neutral, Saturday’s fixture list made for pretty grim reading. The one match that did catch my eye, however, was Sunderland at home to Liverpool.
The Mackems managed a dogged (or lucky, depending on your persuasion) 1-0 win, courtesy of a goal from derby penalty scorer and China Town vandal Nicklas Bendtner. The big Dane side footed home from close range when the ball fell kindly to him after striking a combination of the post and Pepe Reina’s shiny bonce.
I decided to listen to the match on the radio (for reasons entirely Toon related, you’ll understand) and was surprised at my own reaction to their goal. The bile that would usually rise in my throat when hearing the unwashed celebrate was conspicuous by its absence. Of course I didn’t jump for joy, far from it, but I realised then that I actually wanted them to win.
Folly, you might be thinking. But it turned out I wasn’t alone – reaction from Newcastle fans across Twitter and right here on nufcblog.co.uk was mixed.
Now, let me tell you that my dislike for Liverpool often rivals the way I feel about our loathsome neighbours, but this wasn’t a case of Scum vs Scummier. This was a case of league positioning, of European football, of NUFC mattering above all else. The fact is that Liverpool are breathing down our necks from 7th place, and any points they fail to pick up – regardless of who has taken them instead – is good news.
So the Mackems picked up three points. Are they going to catch us up as a result? Probably not. Is it going to help them finish the season strongly? Maybe. But do we really care? None of us want to see them doing well, but in reality they’ve done the Geordies a favour by keeping the gap between us and our nearest top 6 rival at 5 points.
This is something that will always divide opinion, but let me ask you this – which is more important to you; Sunderland’s lack of success, or Newcastle achieving it?
Remember, they’re the ones obsessed with us, not the other way around!