Breaks, Fakes and Who Will We Take?

As if International breaks don’t wreak sufficient havoc on our weekend football we have now bizarrely embarked on an international break where FIFA have actually forgotten to arrange any fixtures. As a result they decided to call it a “winter” break.

I always thought that the FA could use international breaks as a bit of a handicapping system for the game’s elite.  League games could be played as normal during the break with your Man City’s, Chelsea’s and Liverpool’s having to play without their international superstars, giving the rest of us a chance to snatch back a few points.

Obviously I might have to rethink this proposal given recent developments.

My usual cynical self might suggest that this brief break is a bit of a “conditioner” to get us used to the idea that we will be having a longer winter break when the Qatar World Cup comes along.

When Qatar submitted their bid to host the World Cup, they guaranteed that they had the “special technology” to build outdoor stadia that, in their brutal summer heat, could maintain an on-field temperature of a balmy 26 degrees centigrade. Based on this, (and possibly the other contents of those big brown envelopes) Qatar were awarded the World Cup.

A few months after the award was announced Qatar came clean and said “What? Did we say 26 degrees? We meant 46. You might want to consider moving the competition to winter, otherwise the players will be dropping faster than Alan St Maximin getting caught by a gust of wind.”

So here we sit, on an International break, twiddling our thumbs, with more than a dozen postponed games waiting to be played, and not a single International game being played in Europe. It certainly makes you wonder who is making the decisions, or not, as the case may be!

The big talking point at the moment has to be who we can get in during the last few days of the transfer window, but if there is one thing I just flatly refuse to do, it’s to get dragged into transfer gossip.

If I’m totally honest I don’t know enough about what’s going on to be able to comment intelligently.
I haven’t been present at a single discussion between Newcastle United representatives and other clubs, or players, or their agents, and when I had dinner with Mandy the other night, oddly enough the subject of Newcastle United never came up.

Of course, I have my opinions about where we need to strengthen and I think that is fairly obvious – a dozen new players or so should just about do it – but when it comes to the individuals I don’t see the point of getting too excited just because it has been reported that a player’s agent’s brother told an Italian journalist that he might be interested in moving.

We’ve been through it all so many times. Agents leak dodgy information so that their clients can get a pay rise and stay where they are, and who better to try to use as a bargaining chip than the relegation-battling richest club in the world, who are known to be desperate for players?

I think it was Denzel Washington who said in an interview once that the problem with the internet is that it is all about being first rather than being right.

And proving him right, this morning I went looking on YouTube and  I found videos welcoming Zapata, Carlos, Bakker, Gosens, Leno and Lingard to Newcastle United.

Every one of them claiming a first, but not one of them right. And the odd thing is that those posting seem to have difficulty figuring out that this kind of clickbait ultimately only ever reduces their traffic, once they run out of the initial burst of suckers. 

Every fan is interested, wants to know, and can tell you who they would like coming in, but I just don’t think it’s worth climbing  on board that particular emotional rollercoaster, especially with the funds we have available to us.

The way I look at it, come the first of February, I’ll wake up, go online and I’ll know where we’re at with transfers.

Yeah some of you will claim I’m not a real fan, but I don’t see how being a slave to the internet determines your support for the club.

So as I have no intention of talking about transfers what else am I going to fill this page with? Well how about statistics? I hold stats in pretty much the same contempt as transfer gossip.

Quick bit of trivia for you …… sports statistics were invented by American radio commentators who had to come up with a way to keep listeners engaged during baseball games which would last for three hours or more but during which nothing actually happens for 87% of the time.

Here are my thoughts on stats, and in my defence I know at least 2 people who agree with me.
No points were ever awarded in a Premier League match for possession, shots on or off target, passes completed, duels won, turn overs, sprints, corners or Best Dressed Manager.

Some of those may, on occasion, contribute towards the final result but it’s certainly not a constant. We’ve won games with 30% possession and lost when opponents only had one shot on target.
Covering lots of ground in a match really only matters if you’re pushing a lawnmower.

I seem to remember that Sam Allardyce was a big one for his stats. And we all know how that ended.
The only stats that matter are Goals For and Goals Against at the end of the game.

Here are a few bits of Newcastle United related trivia…

  • Alan Shearer, God though he may be, has MISSED the most penalties in the Premier League.
  • Obafemi Martins is one of only 2 players in the Premier League to score penalties with both feet.
  • In 2001/02 we won 34 points from losing positions.
  • Coincidentally in 2008/09 we were relegated with 34 points.
  • Salomon Rondon is one of only 2 players to score a hat-trick of headers in the EPL, though admittedly not with us.
  • Joe Willock scored 8 goals last season, and he scored them from an average distance of 8 yards out.
  • Alan Shearer, God though he still may be, has also SCORED the most Premier League Penalties. 

And finally, here’s one that may be more relevant than it at first appears…

In 2014/15 Leicester replaced us at the bottom of the table and spent 140 days rooted to last place.
After 31 games they were still bottom. They finished 14th, 6 points clear. They survived. And the next season they went on to win the league.

We are nowhere near the point where we should be contemplating life in the Championship, and all this scare mongering about “must-win” games and relegation is all about journalists desperate for views.

We are just a couple of decent results and hopefully a few transfers away from maintaining our Premier League status, and, as ever, it’s all about how the teams around us do, and very few of them will be spending 100 million plus this month.  

But don’t get me started on who we should be bringing in.

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