In my line of work there is no such thing as “optimism”. There’s no room for a “positive attitude”. There’s no “near enough for government work”. You have to get it right. If it’s not right things can get very sticky very quickly.
It’s like the old joke about 2 kids, Miles and Geordie, standing in the playground talking, and Geordie asks Miles what his dad does.
“Oh daddy is a nuclear scientist,” boasts Miles, “he works to a tolerance of less than a micron. That’s a thousandth of a millimeter!”
“That’s impressive,” says young Geordie. “but my dad works as a welder at Swan Hunter’s, and he says, there, they have to be bang on!”
I told you it was an old one.
But which Newcastle fan, on this big spinning rock, with everything that’s happening in the world, doesn’t feel all warm and fluffy about the way things have gone with our team these last few weeks?
I wanted to have a look back at last month’s league tables, to see how long it is since we were on the bottom. The Premier League site is usually good for that. You give it a Match Week number and it’ll show you the standings from that week. No matter which Match Week I selected it came back with the current table. It was like even the
Premier League website was saying “what are you doing? You’re 14th now and that’s all you need to know!”
Doing things manually I’m guessing that we were bottom, or pretty close, at the turn of the year.
Oh how things have changed!
It would appear, when it comes to results at least, that the planets have been in alignment, though we can’t claim quite the same good fortune on the injury front. That said, the improvement our new players have given us in defence, combined with a new found belief (or maybe that should be “fear”) in the old guard, has certainly raised our game to the point that it’s not too much of a stretch to believe that extending this winning streak a couple more games is do-able. And I stress the word “believe” here, because this is a much stronger wave we’re riding here than the “hope” we were talking about at the beginning of the year!
I didn’t get too involved in the “who’s in”, and “who’s out” stuff in January. That’s a roller coaster that I just don’t buy a ticket for any more. Yes, I’ll tick them off as they come in, but all the articles listing the 115 players we were “linked” with, well, where do you draw the line?
One thing I would be interested in, though, is knowing just how much input Eddie Howe had into the transfer decisions that were taken? Did he identify the players he wanted, or was he given a list of who might be coming in, and he got to approve or reject suggestions?
One thing is for sure – we can be fairly certain that today’s recruitment process is a vast improvement over the model Ashley adopted, which appeared to revolve around random players turning up at the training ground and managers receiving a YouTube link by email.
I have to admit that when Targett, Burn and Wood turned up I felt a bit “Simon Jordan” and wondered what the hell we were doing. The richest club in the Milky Way has pinned it’s survival hopes on defenders from Brighton and Villa, and an off form striker from a relegation rival? What on earth were they thinking?
But the new selection method appears to have been surprisingly successful. The results so far would suggest that the selection committee were not entirely clueless, though if we are brutally honest with ourselves, making improvements on our pre-Christmas squad was never going to be difficult.
I say “so far” because despite rocketing up the table to the dizzy heights of 14th we are still only a couple of bad results above 18th placed Burnley. It turns out that being “safe” with 13 games still to play isn’t really that safe at all! And watching the Cup Final, the passing from Liverpool and Chelsea was so slick you can’t help thinking that we are going to have to ramp it up a bit when we play the big boys.
That said, on the flip side we are only a couple of wins behind Crystal Palace in 11th.
The silver lining here has to be the fact that as fast as we are climbing the table, coming down towards us, apparently gravity assisted, at an even greater rate of knots are Everton, Leeds, Brentford and Leicester, and I think there has to be some law of physics somewhere backing up the fact that the longer they continue heading down, gaining momentum, the harder it will be for them to turn it around.
It’s a science thing, so it must be true.
Reminds me of another old classic. Fred decides to have a go at skydiving. He jumps out of the plane and very quickly finds out that his parachute won’t open. Yanking on the cord furiously, plummeting toward the ground, he’s a bit surprised to see a man coming up towards him wearing blue overalls, carrying a blow torch.
Fred shouts, “Oi mate! Do you know anything about parachutes?”
On his way past the other bloke yells, “Naah, mate! And I know bugger all about gas boilers either!”
Despite it not being part of my Job Description, and certainly not in my nature, I think I can feel a bout of optimism coming on.