Archive for the NUFC Category

The Long (not so hot probably) Summer Beckons

Posted in NUFC on May 23, 2013 by tegtalk

Well season 2012/13 has come and gone and to honest it was on the whole awful.

Injuries. Tiredness. The Europa League. Players out of position. An unhappy and fractured dressing room. Crap tactics. Strange substitutions. Long ball. Clueless manager. Cisse offside again. Bad luck.

These phrases plus many more have been written numerous times as excuses or reasons why this season has been basically a disastrous catalogue of ineptitude and disappointment.

The Arsenal game was a 90 minute summation of the season as a whole for me.

It started well with some quick attacking football but we failed to take advantage and ended with strange substitutions, players out of position and ultimately disappointing.

Since the game ended the Internet has been swamped with rumour and opinion of whether the manager should stay or go. The majority of supporters voicing opinion overwhelmingly wanted Pardew to be sacked. Many also offered alternatives to him with the names of Benitez, Di Matteo, Martinez, McLaren and various French managers among the most popular.

Out of all of these names Rafa would have been the choice for me. Alas when John Terry changed out of his suit and lifted the Europa cup I knew that was never going to happen. I can think of many reasons why I wouldn’t take any of the other options. So it seemed if there was no infinitely better alternative, does Ashley stick or twist?

Then today, as has been reported in the local and national media, Emperor Mike gave Pardew the thumbs up.

Is it such a shock? Yes and No.

No because we have no real idea what Ashey’s relationship with Pardew is like but it seems reasonably strong. Llambias publicly stated earlier in the season that there would be no knee jerk reaction and the club wanted stability. We avoided relegation and therefore the manager will get the chance to put it right with the backing of the board (hopefully and surely?)

Yes. Thc manager has had a terrible season. He can point to not having enough players at the start of the season and a disastrous run of injuries but the ineptitude on the pitch solely lies with him. He has a very talented squad and has not  utilised them to their full potential. If a manger stands and falls by results. Mr Pardew is very lucky to still be vertical.

So what happens now? Well Pardew has gone back on his promise to speak to the fans in person and over the Radio Newcastle airwaves and looks like he is flying off on holiday. He is probably hoping to avoid any vacationing families from the Tyneside area.

Ashley has backed him by not removing him from his position so will he now back him with players? If we retain our existing pool of 15 first team players then add two or three quality ones, that should see us have a better season next time.

That is a damn big IF!

I expect Colocinni to go but I think it will be a long drawn out process. Question marks have to hang over Cabaye who looks like he has played the season with the world on his shoulders. I feel if a club in the Champions League offer him an exit route and more importantly Mr Ashley fifteen million quid, then he will go.

Harper and Simpson have gone and there will be more departures of squad players.

Only adding 2/3 players would probably put us in exactly the same position we were in at the start of this one. It would be folly of the hierarchy not to reinvigorate the squad. They said they learned their lesson in January.

Let”s see them not make that mistake again.

No doubt we will have numerous players linked with us in the upcoming 3 and a bit months. Indeed Andy Carroll has been linked and dismissed in 24 hours!

Two forwards are a minimum requirement. We were very lucky to get Cisse through a season without injury and we still haven’t replaced this season’s top scorer. Whether Shola stays or goes is irrelevant. He hasn’t been a first team player since the Championship season in my opinion.

A pool of Cisse, Gouffran, who I believe will be better next season, a strong forward who can hold the ball up and someone with pace should guarantee more goals than we scored this season.

A dominant centre half and a little more height in the midfield wouldn’t go amiss either.

If the owner delivers the players then the pressure is on Pardew from the first whistle. He also needs to investigate why we had so many muscle injuries this season and he should take a leaf out of Fergie’s book and refresh his coaching squad and his tactical understanding of the game.

I’d recommend he doesn’t spend the summer watching the Lions. We have had enough rugby style football to last us a lifetime.

No doubt he will have June 19th circled in his diary and keep his fingers crossed that the old fixture computer doesn’t throw up a trip to the Etihad, Emirates or Old Trafford as two of the first three or four fixtures because I firmly believe if he starts the season as badly as he has finished it, he will see his P45.

Teg

Grim-iver’s Travels

Posted in NUFC on April 30, 2013 by tegtalk

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Saturday 27th April.
I Set off to go and take in the spectacle of a match at St James’ Park involving my beloved Newcastle United and The Forever Victims/ Cannibal Clan who eat from the bin, Liverpool FC. The exhaust started blowing on the motor. I should have known right there and then that the day was not going to go well. So me and pumpy Clyde (the Mrs named him) rattled on down the M62 and up the A1 headed home.

Other than an idiot in a Corsa trying to wipe me out, the trip was pretty uneventful. Got to Teg’s house dumped the car and headed off into the Toon. Due to my umming and ahhing I missed the boat on booking a hotel or anything so I had no digs and was looking at an afternoon out, the match and then a few hours in the evening all with no ale. Not my best decision, but still, I could cope with it, anything for the chance to see the team stride out on the hallowed turf and meet a few of the twitterers I have been chatting to for the last year or so. All good eh? I’ll cut to the chase, met the guys, brilliant, went to the match took my seat. The next 70 minutes were like being circumcised and then castrated without any anesthetic. Our formation as it was, in a phrase coined by Teg, 4- Squiggle- Scribble. I have never seen such a disorganized shower of shit in my life. Now I haven’t watched MOTD of MNF because I can’t stand to look, but from the stands we were diabolical. Everybody was out of position and ball chasing, but not closing men down or playing into space or at times even looking. Tiote appeared to give a shit, but even that was a temporary affair. 2-0 at the end of the first half and I still believed, I believed Pardew would give them the hairdryer and gee them up and we would still be in with a shot of getting something from the game. That first 10 minutes after half time we give them a right good blasting, we were all over the pitch and dominating(ish).

And then someone scored, and it wasn’t us. And that was it, we fell apart quicker than a house of cards in an earthquake. Complete and utter capitulation. When number 4 went in, Teg was just on the verge of leaving, when 5 went in, I was on my way out of the ground. I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t watch while fucking Liverpool gave us such an ass fucking you could have mistaken our collective arseholes for the Tyne Tunnel. Oh and singing “He bite’s who he likes’ about Suarez, you dirty classless fuckers.

Outside the ground it was quiet. Nah it was silent except for traffic, it was odd. Then a roar went up, had we managed to at least do something redeeming and score? No, that was Debuchy getting sent off. Which leads me on to the referee. He was as useless as we were, king of the card and mostly for no good reason other than he wanted to show who was in charge, which incidentally appeared to actually be the linesman. I don’t think a good ref would have made that much difference to the result, but it was just another example of the piss poor performances that referee’s have been giving all season. I’m sure next weekend he will be relegated to the lower league’s like the others who made an arse of themselves, and good riddance to him.
Anyway I digress, I’m strugglingto convey how everyone I met straight after I left felt. Shocked, stunned, disbelief I don’t think even come close, it was more like the instant onset of Post Traumatic Stress. Men, women boys and girls all shuffling along with that 1000 yards stare, silent, lost in the horrors of what they have witnessed. In one of the best places in the world for banter, where laughter is never far away it must have been an hour before I heard anyone crack a joke or risk a giggle. I’ve never experienced anything like it or wish to again involving Newcastle United. There are plenty of articles doing the rounds about who was to blame and what is going on with the team, read them because I was left baffled and still cant form an articulate opinion.

Several more glasses of coke later and in the Berry, the only highlight of the day was seeing Teg on the big screen and poking fun at his 80’s style look of windswept hair and his bodywarmer, sorry I mean gilet. Then it was time to head home, the day couldn’t get any worse could it? Some dirty cow threw up on the bus back to Teg’s, and it stank the place out, dirty dirty dirty beast. After a bit of a natter it was time for me and pumpy Clyde to hit the road and get home, hopefully without the exhaust falling off, which thankfully, it didn’t, because I would have lost my shit entirely if it did.
And so it ended. 300 miles round trip. 13 hours out of the house, not a drop of alcohol passed my lips and I had to watch in disbelief as Newcastle United once again broke my heart. That’s the hardest part, they chew me up and spit me out and I still come crawling back for more. I’ll never understand why but I reckon a lot of you feel the same. As to where do we go now, I have no idea, all hope is gone at the minute the only thing we can do is get this horrid bastard of a season done and see where we stand.

Grim

Where do we go from here?

Posted in NUFC on April 30, 2013 by tegtalk

Saturday was the worst I have felt in a long time watching NUFC. Far worse than the derby. At least in that game we created chances but were hit by two fabulous strikes that the goalkeeper had no chance of getting.

Against Liverpool we were truly awful.

Far worse than the second half Reading capitulation at home. After 15 minutes I asked my mate what formation did he think we were playing? “4, f**k knows,1” was his answer. It seemed the players didn’t have a clue either. We veered from 4 at the back to 5 at the back to Cabaye playing behind Cisse to him playing behind the midfield holding players Tiote and Perch. Defensively we were an absolute shambles. Four lads pulled out of the stands would surely have communicated better than our back four. Why was Gouffran dropped for the under performing Jonas? What the holy hell has happened to Tiote?

The finger has been well and truly pointed at the manager and the coaching staff. They have a squad full of talented International footballers who look like they have never met, never mind trained and played together.

What has gone wrong?

The Internet has been rife over the past couple of weeks with rumours of dressing room unrest, players whinging, cliques and Pardew being a dead man walking. Whatever the truth is, it is extremely worrying.

We have hit an abysmal run of form at precisely the wrong time and our rivals in this relegation battle, at least some of them, have picked up points and seem capable of scoring goals.

Villa’s 6-1 tonking of Sunderland last night has taken them above us in the league on goal difference. Even that minor crumb of comfort has evaporated. Like the majority of supporters I am looking at the run ins of the teams around us.

Wigan, five points below us have two away games at West Brom and Arsenal and home games against Swansea and Villa. Because of their annual relegation battles, I feel they are capable of getting two wins out of those four games. This may finally be the year their luck runs out, especially with an FA Cup final appearance on the horizon, but they worry me.

Villa’s win last night was huge and while they are still in as much jeopardy as us, I can see them winning one other game before the end of the season. Probably Norwich away on Saturday.

Sunderland have two home games with Stoke and Southampton and while last night will be a huge dent to their new-found confidence, I expect them to win at least one of them.

Our future, fortunately is still in our own hands.

Surely we are capable of a win at QPR where the fallout is continuing after their relegation? That game to me is our one big chance.

Before that the coaching staff must come up with a plan for West Ham’s aerial bombardment this Saturday. An in form Carroll must be well marked and one of our centre halves has to be up for that physical battle. Colo will return. Steven Taylor seems the most likely to be directly up against Carroll or maybe the much maligned Williamson will be brought in for his height against West Ham’s number 8?

We simply have to defend better than we have been.

Gary Neville on Sky last night absolutely ripped our defending from Saturday to shreds. Rightly so. But as I stated earlier the players he had a go at aren’t bad players. In my opinion they are just being coached badly. Basic errors in positioning should be eradicated by drilling the players on the training field (or SJP away from prying eyes now it seems).

Neville also raised the question as to whether we have too many French players who aren’t in tune with the fans and don’t understand how to cope with the rigours and demands of the Premier League.

I understand his sentiments. Maybe we have gone too far and have lost the core element of a squad who had the nous to deal with the dog fights that some games are?

I would rather think that the players do understand and are hurt by the recent embarrassments. They are professionals. They live in the city. They leave the pitch to the cheers and sometimes the boos.

The buck has to stop with the manager. I tweeted after Saturday’s game that if you lose a game in that manner, you lose the backing of the fans and ultimately you will lose your job.  Today’s local papers are stating that he will be backed until the end of the season and then his position will be reviewed.

That is understandable. No new coach would accept the job of coming in for three games with the remit of winning one. Certainly not any coach looking for the job to be given to him full time.

If Pardew was sacked now, then the same people would be coaching the players as are doing it now. Questions have to be asked of them in the summer too. Is Carver purely a buffer? Does he actually work on anything with the players? What does Steve Stone do? Certainly not work on crossing if our corners are anything to go by? Is it not sensical to bring a French coach in to get the best out of them. We hire interpreters why not coaches?

Personally I think Pardew will be replaced and we will begin a new era. Hopefully with Ashley releasing more funds to replace the departing players with better players.

One interesting point raised in The Journal today was Cabaye is also under scrutiny from the board. His performances have been way below par and it has been revealed he is one of the players questioning the manager and tactics. Who could blame him to be fair?

Maybe the power struggle in the summer will be between who goes? The Manager or the French midfielder?

Good luck to all who are going to West Ham. No doubt the manager will have called for your support before Saturday. That support is never in doubt and should never be questioned.

Howay the Lads.

Teg

Lay Your Hands On Me?

Posted in NUFC on April 25, 2013 by tegtalk

“Heavy handed” seems to be our manager’s favourite phrase at the minute. He has used it a few times since that disastrous afternoon on April the 14th. I don’t think he is levelling the accusation at the fans (I doubt he would dare with the precarious position of faith he holds with a vast majority of them) but at the media.

This seems rather bizarre.

Granted the national press seem to have forgotten about our neighbours new manager’s unsavoury political beliefs and have hailed him as some kind of footballing breath of fresh air (one I expect to blow out as soon as the pampered millionaires on the Wear achieve safety this season and realise they don’t particularly like doing extra training sessions and being slapped about by an obviously crackers Italian).

I think the local press have been pretty fair with someone they have to work with on a very regular basis. Did Pardew expect to get an easy ride from press or fans when the derby performance was completely lacklustre and unacceptable? It is the job of the local press to not only report on news and matches but report back to the club the feelings and attitudes of the thousands of paying customers of the club.

Constantly harping back to the derby and stating that he wants the players to feel hurt and realise the huge implications that defeat has had on the club is the wrong thing to do.

Negativity breeds negativity.

Nor was the cack-handed vitriol dished out by him in the days following the defeat. I for one am not bothered by thoughts of revenge next season or finishing above them this season, when we have a more important and current problem facing us i.e. survival in the Premier League.

I was more worried about what he didn’t say or do. He moved training to the stadium last week but didn’t even consider looking at a different formation or even tactics for our game at The Hawthorns, apart from the old ‘get in their faces’ malarkey which is fine for 60-70 minutes but players can not sustain that for a full game. Hence we blew ourselves out and were hanging on for a point at the end.

The point of these musings.

I’m worried Pardew has blown himself out. He is struggling to get the best out of a squad of very good players, mainly by playing them out of position or not playing them at all.

Cabaye in my opinion is operating way too deep and we aren’t seeing the killer passes we all know he is capable of. On many occasions in the derby he took the ball from a centre half twenty yards inside his own half.

Sissoko looks a shadow of the player we first bought. Confused as to what position he should be playing or hampered by Pardew’s instructions? Both I reckon.

The substitution of Gouffran for Ameobi is the easy option to take and our plan B of simply lump it to Shola has no place in how we should be playing.

I believe Pardew is under pressure from an owner who’s plans are in tatters if we are relegated for the second time in his tenure. I don’t think he is under immediate pressure of the sack this season though.

We have had a few huge games this season. Saturday’s game against Liverpool without the now suspended biter from Uruguay is the next on the list. Win and we are safe and  likely to pick up a couple of more points this season and maybe jump a few places up the league.

Defeat doesn’t bear thinking about.

Two trips to a West Ham team with an on-fire Andy Carroll and the always clever Nolan and a Premier League leaving do at QPR worry me. Defeat after Saturday with only one away win all season? I have knots in my stomach just thinking about it.

We could go into the last game of the season needing to beat an Arsenal team still needing points for Champions League qualification. Gulp.

What I want to see on Saturday is a game plan. I want to see the team get at Liverpool from the off. Quick, attacking football turning their ponderous centre halves. I’d like to see Cabaye playing in advance of Sissoko in a front four with Cisse, Gouffran and Marveaux or Ben Arfa.

Most of all I’d like to see a win because if we lose, Mr Pardew will get “heavy handed” criticism from more than just the local media and fans on social networking sites but from his employers too.

And I do not think he would recover from that blow and we will have yet another manager in the hot seat.

Teg

P.S. I apologise for another Bon Jovi reference but it seemed apt as I am sure we will have more “Keep the Faith” pleas to come between now and kick off

I quite like our new right back

Posted in NUFC on February 27, 2013 by tegtalk

Apologies for not writing anything for a while. Life, particularly a nasty bout of glandular fever got in the way slightly. But “shit happens” as the Predator once said and I have been inspired to put a few words down.

Two of the main reasons I have not blogged is that their are some damn fine writers out there consistently writing stuff about nufc and most of my thoughts and issues were well covered by them. Secondly, I always try to remain positive about my team and the disastrous run we were on pre January did not inspire me to write anything positive at all.

Then the transfer window opened and we bought a new right back first. A lot more on him in a minute.

The signings of Sissoko, Gouffran and Mbiwa have improved the quality of the first team immensely. Their impact has been covered hugely by the national and local press and gratefully welcomed by everyone who loves the team. At least some of them should have been brought in last summer but at least the board reacted to the lilly-livered defeat by Reading and got their fingers out.

The football we are playing now is almost unrecognisable to the dull boring fare we had been served for the most part of the season. Pace, power, precision and more importantly confidence has turned our season around.

Those mad few days when we brought 4 players in were probably the most satisfying of many a transfer window but because of that I think the arrival of our new number 26 went a little unheralded. True, we had been chasing him for best part of a year and I guess he was a signing that we all probably expected would happen sometime, mainly due to his close friendship with Cabaye.

He has impressed me immensely, culminating in what was for me his best display yet against Southampton. John Anderson on Radio Newcastle, a man who knew how to defend, nominated him as his man of the match. I wouldn’t disagree.

I played right back as a lad and was coached pretty well by an ex defender. He used to drill into me defending wasn’t all about what you did with the ball, it was what you did when the opposition had it also.

Debuchy’s positioning is excellent. I was with my oldest son at the game on Sunday and told him to watch the difference between Debuchy and Santon. Debuchy get’s it right 9 times out of 10. Santon less so, but he is young and hopefully will be coached to eradicate the errors he is making at present. He has the ability to carry the ball with pace and he has created a few goals lately.

A couple of examples of Debuchy’s defending that show how well he reads the game: Versus Chelsea a ball was lofted out to their left wing towards Mata. Debuchy read it perfectly, sprinted forward and leapt to the ball before Mata had a chance to get there and headed the ball forty yards down the field. On Sunday another high ball was hoisted in front of him for an unrushing attacker. He knew not to go leaping in, took a couple of steps back, adjusted his body shape so to give himself more chance of winning the ball as it came down. He did. He took it on his chest, beat the opposition player and sprinted away to attack.

Instinct or good coaching? Probably both.

I could go on and list more examples, but I think you get where I’m coming from.

His close friendship with Cabaye is evident on the pitch also. They trust in each other’s abilities and are almost telepathic with their passing and movement. He has obviously played with Ben Arfa for the French national team and I am really looking forward to seeing them in tandem very soon.

What has also impressed me is how strong he is. I don’t think I have seen him outmuscled by any opponent and his pace gets him out of trouble too. I reckoned he was man of the match last Sunday because we are starting to see more of his attacking prowess too. I feel a bit sorry for Danny Simpson, as he has been reliable and an ever-present in the team but Debuchy is a different level of player entirely.

I look forward to seeing him pelt down the pitch in front of me in the East Stand for many a season to come.

Teg

Grim’s Grumble’s

Posted in NUFC on December 26, 2012 by tegtalk

Hey People. I know its been awhile but I thought I’d put a little something up for you good folks to read. But first a quick update on Teg and I. You may or may not know I started Uni in September and I’ll be honest the pace has been much more punishing than I ever expected. So I slacked off the blog totally. #LazyGrim . Sorry about that. Teg is dying of some strange lurgi and may never again be able to wipe his own backside. He did write an outstanding script for a sit-com that got right the way through to final judging at BBC3. In my humble opinion, they missed out on what should have been THE outstanding pilot of 2013. Their loss.  Anywho to footballing matters…………..

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It wouldn’t be Xmas if I didn’t let fly about something, so if you are unlucky enough to be reading this, be aware it might be you. I said I have been busy this season basically with work, but I have been paying attention to everything, and frankly my piss is starting to boil. So onto Grim’s Gripes…

1)    Vurnon Anita. He’s great, he’s shit, he can play, he can’t play. Give your heads a fucking wobble. Signed from Ajax as a product of their academy since he was a sperm, playing typically Dutch football and people expected him to walk straight into our Newcastle squad and be the next playmaker extraordinaire. Well he didn’t, and if you expected him to, more the fool you. EPL football is unique in the world, Pace and power rule, if you have that you can survive, add technique to the mix and you become good. Vernon has pace and technique, the power bit takes sometime to develop and adjustments need to be made to a style of play he knows nothing about. Last season it was Davide Santon who copped the flak and look at him now? Anita is going to get better and better this season and next season, then lets really start to see how good he can be.

2)    Defending. Where do we start here? At the top I guess. The club dropped a serious bollock in my opinion in the summer window and didn’t bring the faces in we needed in defence for the sake of whatever it was, money, pride, stubbornness. We were always going to struggle with the personnel we had. We needed to get stronger, more robust, not stay the same or weaker. Krul’s injury on international duty certainly upset the defence, and even with the Dilsh putting in some good performances in his absence, the defence never looks the same with out Krul in it. Davide Santon has been one of the high points of the season so far as far, in my opinion. Best thing is , I think he’s going to get even better. My biggest worry is that someone will start sniffing around him with big money to spend very soon. To be honest if I could fine a dog that would sniff around Mike Williamson, I’d sell him on the spot. He tries hard, can be good in the air, but spends more time on his arse than a footballer with no legs. He will be a excellent Championship defender, but that’s his limit. It pains me to say it, but it’s the truth. Speaking of being pained to say. Coloccini.. He’s hasn’t been the lynchpin he was last season, he’s made some shocking decisions and the team have suffered for it. The ink is probably not even dry on his new contract. I think we might have dropped the ball there. As for Tayls….. he’s Tayls, he’s a moron but he’s our moron. What I’d give for one full season out of him though. Finally Danny Simpson. I couldn’t care who is is bonking, nor how he flaunts it on twitter, but if he approaches women like he does a winger coming at him, I’d be amazed he ever gets laid. Back off, back off, back off …oh shit, its too late. I’d be amazed if he signs any contract put in front of him from us.  Oh well

3)    The Double Demba Dilemma. Well,  ‘sigh’. What a load of bollocks this has been. Ba in, sell Ba, Cisse is shite. I honestly don’t know what to think. I think its fairly safe to say Ba spat the dummy out in the close season about being sent to the wing to do a job. So we started the season for too many games at 4-4-2 and that didn’t work so well. At all. I haven’t done the math, but I’m betting despite today’s valiant effort we are bang on target for relegation form. Which sucks. I like Cisse more than Ba, but Ba is the one scoring all the goals. I think in 30 something days Ba will be somewhere else and the problem might have resolved itself. I honestly really don’t know on this one.

4)    Injuries. We are getting too many. Simple as that. Ref’s are being shit, but there has to be something else at play. One or two of our Gaelic contingent seeing a lack of signings and ‘having their heads turned ‘in the summer?.  Or maybe the training pitch needs relaying again.

5)    Tiote. He just hasn’t got going this season has he? Or rather he has embraced being ‘The Beast’ a bit too much and forgot how to actually play football. Either way he needs to shape up, from Titan to Toerag over a summer sucks.

6)    Mike Ashley. Here, I’ll say it. He is doing a good job for us and not everything in NUFC’s world is his fault. He might have been a little looser with the purse strings in the summer, but he wasn’t, he’s still learning this ‘how to run a football club’ game, and his curve has been a steep one. In all honesty I expect these next 12 months to the most important in his ownership. He’ll either get it right or …well I don’t even want to think about the alternative.

7)    Referee’s and football in general. I’ve said it for a while now, but all is not well in the English game. There is an insidious undercurrent of cheating , unsportsmanlike stuff and nastiness bubbling away barely under the surface. The ref’s are blind whenever it suits them, some managers are touchline tyrants and can get away with anything they see fit and some players are not fit to wear the shirt of any club with their behavior. It’s bullshit and it is ruining the game. Someone at the FA needs to stand up and be counted and start to put this right, otherwise I can see a) players getting really hurt and b) the next big footballing corruption scandal coming from the EPL.

8)    Twitter. I believe in communication. I believe it’s a force for good on the whole. It has made me some good friends I have never met. Yet  there are stupid people out there who say things to people that they would not dream of saying in person to those they are addressing. Before you start, yes I’ll happily say any of what I have wrote here or anywhere else to the person involved. So why do people think its OK to abuse our players? Or even other players? I’m not just on about the banter and occasional affront. I’m talking about the nasty vile shit some people spout, just to get a reaction or because they enjoy trolling others. I dunno, it bugs me and if you see it happening, pull the fucker up about it and click unfollow afterwards.

I think that’s about enough, other than to say I expect some interesting things to happen in this January window, Ashley is a gambler and there is a hell of a lot of TV money at stake this season. Predictions? In: Remy, Douglas, Debuchy and a mystery man. Out: Ba, Simpson and Tiote. Feel free to add your thoughts or transfer predictions in the comments section below, hope y’all had an excellent Xmas and all the Very Best for the New Year.

Grim

Evolution not Revolution?

Posted in NUFC on November 1, 2012 by tegtalk

Can the manager see it is time for a change maybe?

We have played nine games in the league now and a few in the Europa League and Credit Card Cup. How would you assess the season so far?

At home: Won 3, Drawn 1, Lost 1 against a bang in form Man United. I’m fairly happy with that.

Away: Won 0, Drawn 3, Lost 1 against a Chelsea team that is resurgent. We are unbeaten apart from that, but need to start turning draws into wins. Not a bad start either

Europa League: Top of the group, yet to concede a goal. Smashing.

Then why do I feel uneasy still? Why aren’t I as confident as I was a few weeks ago? I should be. The injury time winner against West Brom was the most mental I have gone in SJP this season. I should be really looking forward to us pushing on now. Shouldn’t I?

Well yes, but the feeling of uneasiness is purely because we have not played anywhere near the levels we played last season yet. The Europa game at home to Brugge (or however you bloody spell it?) was the most fluent and positive we have played.

The supporters know it. The players know it. The Manager certainly does.

Jonas gave an interview yesterday saying other teams know how we play now and set up against us to nullify our strengths, especially at home. Then surely we change, evolve and force opposition managers to rethink their tactics and how they set up their team?

Curiously it was West Brom away last year that first saw the 433 formation and it clearly rattled Hodgson enough for him to scratch his head. Several times.

We have the players to do it even during the game. Pardew admitted on Sunday that he changed the team during the second half because we looked jaded and one-dimensional.. Shook it up. Threw players with pace on and went at The Baggies. Then why not do that from the start?

We have the perfect opportunity to do this on Sunday at Anfield against their lumbering centre halves and a probably nervous Enrique (unless he is playing in goal again?). I know our record there is shocking. Even last season we went there in good form, scored first and then fell apart.

We have most of the first team back from injury apart from possibly Ba, who is rated 50/50 and the suspended Tiote (more on him a little later).

The back four probably picks itself apart from who gets the nod between Taylor and Williamson. I have given Williamson stick in the past but to be fair to him, he has played very well with Coloccini back alongside him in the last couple of games. I’d still play the stamp collector though.

Cabaye and HBA will be definite starters and let’s say if Ba does miss out then Cisse has to play after his worldy against West Brom. (hehe)

Jonas has had a lot of stick recently, some of it possibly deserved as he seems to be as ineffective as I have seen him for a while. Maybe he is toiling under new instructions from the boss? Maybe he has a niggling injury we don’t know about? But, the fact that the manager has named him vice captain suggests if he is fit he plays.

Perch has to play for me. He has been outstanding in his last few appearances. Especially at the Dark Place (or the Rat Hole as Mr Barton called it. Genius).

We will probably see a midfield of Jonas, Cabaye, Perch and HBA with Cisse and Shola up front.

My first thought is: Are Shola and Cisse a compatible striking partnership?

When Shola plays with Ba he tends to play behind Ba flicking on balls into Demba, as was perfectly demonstrated on Sunday.

Does Cisse play the same way as Ba? Or is he more of a number 10 than a number 9? I’m still not sure. He is an instinctive and deadly predator who is going through a barren spell. It happens to them all. Even the Lion of Gosforth went through them sometimes.

Shola has also played a lot of football recently and maybe could do with a little break.

Is it not time to shake the team up radically, as I earlier implied?

More pace in the team could mean switching to more traditional wingers. Obertan right, Ferguson left? Would that work? Would they track back and help the fullbacks? In my opinion, yes.

Ferguson was poor against Man U but he did play at full back. Free him of that and let him attack Liverpool’s right back, flashing balls across the box. He has already shown he is capable of pin point accuracy from the left wing.

Obertan needs a few games. Maybe for the manager to make a decision about him and decide whether to keep him as a squad player or move him on. The Brugge home game showed the complex character he is. Nervous and unsure before his goal. Positive and direct after. Never have I known a player who must need an ‘arm around the shoulder’ more.

In this 442 formation we could play the wingers with HBA floating behind Cisse with Jonas probably the one to miss out.

Alternatively we could revert back to the 433 system that worked so well last season but with added pace in the front 3. I would like to see at least one of these two players get a game.

We could play 433 with Cabaye/Perch/Jonas and then HBA/Cisse/Obertan or Ferguson.

Or maybe Sammy, who came onto the pitch on Sunday, ‘bought a ticket for the raffle’ and won us the game will see action from the start? I wouldn’t personally, but keep him on the bench to run at the Scousers as they tire.

These are all questions the manager will be pondering in the next few days I hope and it makes for great debate in the pub or on Twitter.

I think if we play with pace, controlled aggression and determination we can win. I really don’t want to see Brendan Rodgers giving a smug interview to Geoff Shreeves after the match. He irritates me immensely.

I hope one of the names in the three envelopes is his.

Oh and one line about Liverpool. Stop Suarez scoring

‘Controlled aggression’ brings me back to the subject of Tiote. I firmly believe his red card in the derby was because of who he is not because of what he did.

But.

He needs to stop picking up these silly bookings. The coaching staff need to get him to alter his game so he is not making Cattermole-esque challenges in areas of the park that he does not have to.

The last few days have brought rumours of a move for Mo Sissoko. Surely it is Tiote’s position in the team he will threaten most (if he does indeed arrive). Personally I don’t want to see him leave and I think his disciplinary record would put off a lot of potential suitors.

Plus the rumoured £20M Mr Ashley wants for him.

Well let me know if you agree with me or if in your opinion I am talking complete bollocks.

Comments and debate are always welcome.

Enjoy the game. Howay the Lads.

Teg