My mum, God bless her, always used to tell me, “I know your qualifications would suggest you’re intelligent, but I often wonder how you manage find your way home at night”. Stick me in front of an ATC System or a VCCS with a problem and I’m your man, but I have never been accused of hoarding common sense.
I’ve always been a bit slow on the uptake. That’s probably why I played in goal as a lad. You don’t have to think too much in goal. Here comes the ball……It’s coming…..it’s coming….Got it!
Maybe that’s why I’m not on my knees, weeping and wailing, shouting “boycott, boycott, boycott” at every opportunity.
So where exactly are we, as of July 22nd?
Mike Ashley. Nothing new there.
At the moment we’re still Ashley’s little plaything.
In case you missed it Ashley is a multi-billionaire with a reputation for parking his tank on other people’s lawns.
He doesn’t really care what the 52,000 who turn up for the home games think. All he’s interested in is money.
He has a reputation for buying rather than selling, which tells us he hangs onto his assets until he gets the price he wants.
Possibly feeling a little unloved at the moment, Bruce accepted the position at a time when every other manager was distancing themselves from it at a rate of knots Usain Bolt would be proud of.
Bruce left what was an infinitely more stable position to take up a cameo role in Nightmare On Leazes Road for the same salary, with promises of riches beyond his wildest dreams if it turns out that he can, in fact, perform miracles. The only additional tangible benefit he got compared to his Wednesday package was a complimentary pass that gets him, free of charge, and with no waiting, into the sack race.
So it appears that the only reason Bruce has taken on this job is to fulfil the dream of a lifetime and manage his boyhood club. Slightly ironic as it appears that the only qualification he has for being offered it is that he was born in Corbridge.
I would hope that being a local lad Bruce might be a little more sympathetic towards the development squad and we might see some of the young ‘uns getting a bit more exposure. Let’s not forget that Bruce was at Man U when Fergie’s kids were coming through, so he will be fully aware of what can happen with a well stocked academy.
Note* Rafa has gone. He’s not coming back.
As fans who accepted Roeder, Hughton, Allardyce, Souness, McClaren, Pardew and even Carver (at least to begin with) I find it a little sad that while fully accepting that Ashley is the problem the immediate response of many of the fans is to slate Bruce.
Saint Rafa’s history with the club shows that he got us relegated, brought us back up, only managed tenth and thirteenth in the league, and took us to our worst start ever to a season.
Surely we should at least give Bruce a crack at it before we hang, draw and quarter him?
I say give him a chance.
With everyone fit I still think that we can put out a decent team that should be able to get a result against anyone outside the top 6.
We have at least half a dozen quality players that I would expect other teams to be sniffing around, with a handful more, maybe 8 at most, that I would consider decent players.
OK – brace yourselves boys! OK, boys and girls!
So from my “slow on the uptake” viewpoint Dubravka, Schar, Lejeune, Dummett, Longstaff and Almiron make the core of a pretty good team.
Next level down we have Shelvey, Atsu and Yedlin. The latter two are supposed to be amongst the fastest in the league. If we threw them in with Almiron we should have the capability to travel backwards in time.
What is it about Newcastle United that can suck out a player’s qualities and leave them looking pretty ordinary? I know he came in for a lot of stick but I would ask the same about Kenedy. He was quick with a magic touch. Where did that go?
After those, descending in order of perceived quality I’d have to throw Muto and Ki into the mix, both have shown quality even if they haven’t been given the games.
Further down the list in a group labelled “we’ll keep them but I’m not sure why”. I never climbed onto the Lascelles and Hayden bandwagon, but if they are both still around they are not exactly donkeys, yet.
As for Ritchie, I put him in the same class as Barton, Bowyer and Bellamy. Too many dodgy tackles and run-in’s with players and officials. He’s a liability.
Out of Saivet, Murphy, Lazaar, Colback, Aarons and Gayle I think Bruce might keep Gayle as a back up striker.
For all Rafa was such a genius tactician, I never quite got my head around how we apparently conceded so few goals yet looked so disorganised in defence. I never took to Rafa’s version of zonal marking, which at times appeared based on time-zones rather than areas of the pitch. It was a system that always seemed to leave Lascelles in two minds as to where he should be – usually opting for either underneath the attacker’s elbow, or alternatively a yard away from the scorer.
I look forward to Bruce’s version of how this should work.
Again on the subject of defence I was never a fan of the “back 8” system that we put out against better teams. Rafa’s mantra came across as “If we can limit them to no goals we just need one to win” whereas Keegan’s was “I don’t care if they score 3 goals, as long as we score 4”. Which philosophy would you prefer to watch?
Bruce has said he’s a fan of Shelvey, playing him a little deeper against West Ham. I hope this is an indication that we might see something more Keeganesque this season.
Statistics show (yes, I know, The Devils Algebra!) that for every person who complains about something, 200 just sit there quietly contented. I have said many times that I firmly believe that while the majority of fans would not be unhappy to see the club sold, those shouting for a boycott are merely a vocal minority.
Demonstrations? Boycotts? Good luck with that. The only way to hit Ashley is in the pocket, with season ticket sales, and then you risk driving prospective buyers away, removing the main thing that makes us attractive as a club, the fan base.
As I said, I’m a bit slow. I don’t get this delusional obsession that the fans should have a say in the running of the club.
I always considered it was like me walking into ASDA and insisting they should put the Pork Pies a bit nearer the door for my convenience. Why would they even consider it? “If you want Pork Pies nearer the door, try Greggs!”
With a claimed 12,000 fans not renewing their Season Tickets it appears that the silent minority has left the vocal minority looking a little foolish. The average discontented fan has voted with his feet.
I understand that the Mission Statement for Sports Direct ends with the words “Resistance is futile.”
As I write there are 17 days left to the end of the transfer window, and let me say straight away that I believe life is too short to waste time speculating on which of the hundred plus players “linked” to the club will male it through the door.
That said, hopefully, by the time you read this we will have Gateshead born striker Joe Linton on board for a new record fee. Good Geordie name, that. Probably from Byker. There’s a few Lintons in that neck of the woods.
The only other possibility worth a mention is a deal for Andy Carroll. If we got to the end of the window and were still lacking goals I reckon we should take a punt and get him on a Pay As You Play gig, with bonuses for goals and fines for self inflicted injuries, falling off barstools and Range Rovers going up in flames etc. While he might not win us the league there’s a killing to be made with the video game.
I say this every year. Let’s at least wait until the season starts before we abandon the club.
Even with Ashley and Bruce in charge, I’m still having my annual 100 quid on for us to finish top three or win silverware.
Because that’s what fans do.