Archive for November, 2009

Preston 0-1 Newcastle

November 23, 2009

Newcastle United produced yet another smash and grab away victory in a pretty dour win at Deepdale tonight, courtesy of Kevin Nolan.

 

Nolan narrowly leads to goal scoring competition between himself and Alan Smith this season

Just like Cardiff and Sheffield United, Newcastle defended well and produced very little, but somehow did just about enough to take away all three points. Fortunately, though, there was nothing like the Bramall Lane onslaught at the end of the game and it finished up quite comfortably.

Rather than waffle on, I’ll comment on each player tonight individually…

Harper – 7: Lots of those difficult little long range shots to contend with. You know the ones. The ones that bounce awkwardly and skid along the floor at pace. Harper dealt with each one supremely well. Very comfortable night. To suggest that he should be in the England squad is not all that ridiculous when you look at some of the other candidates.

Simpson – 7: Best player on the pitch in the first half along with Enrique. No idea why he went off in the 2nd half. Presumably injured, but didn’t look it. The more he plays the more I like him. Sign him up.

Taylor – 7: Best defender in the Championship by a mile. Switched to right back after Simpson’s exit. Had a pretty comfortable night ultimately. David Moyes was in the stands tonight. To see his old friend Irvine? Or to have a look at a few Newcastle players? Lets hope its not the latter, as Taylor will be getting scouted by plenty of Premier League teams in December. MOTM.

Coloccini – 7: Looks a different player to the liability we saw for the majority of last season, and much more like the defender who wowed us all at Old Trafford last August. Still had the odd moment of indecisive-ness. If this defence stays put all season, we’ll be guaranteed a finish near the top of the table, and Coloccini is a big part of that.

Enrique – 7: Another night of ease for Jose. The only worry is that he is going to switch off as a result of being so un-tested every week. Quicker, stronger and more talented than every player he has come up against in the Championship. Tonight was certainly no different.

Guthrie – 5: Not a winger. Jesus Christ, why does Hughton persist in selecting him there? He’s a good crosser but that does not mean he should be stuck out on the wing. Obviously, Ryan Taylor’s illness ‘forced’ him out there, but still. Why rush Pancrate’s signing through if you’re not going to put him in the team? Guthrie is a class player though and the sooner he’s in the middle the better. Preferably at the expense of this joker…

Smith – 4: The youngest captain in Newcastle United’s history. Assuming, that is, that he is 13 years old. Because that’s how he behaves. This isn’t playground football, where sliding around on your knees and getting holes in your trousers earns you your midfield stripes. We need a holding midfielder with intelligence. Someone who is going to read the game, win the ball and calmly play the ball out from the defence. Smith is none of those things. Another ridiculous booking before the 15 minute mark meant that he was on eggshells for the remainder of the match. Lucky to not receive a second yellow after a couple of ‘clumsy’ challenges. Still can’t pass for toffee. Had to be told to calm the fuck down by our manager – not what you want to see in a captain.

Nolan – 7: Had been quiet, but yet again, our saviour. Far, far too good for this division. You can’t help but think that, had Nolan been in this sort of form last season, we may not have gone down. Just one goal from him may have made all the difference. Oh well. He’s one of the few quality footballers that we have left in our side. Lets keep hold of him, yeah? We probably won’t get promoted without him.

Gutierrez – 3: Fuck sake man. What the hell? At one point, he absolutely skinned Billy Jones. Literally gained about 5 or 6 yards on him. He should be doing this every time. But his touch and his final ball is sometimes absolutely appalling. Piss poor. Worse than Conference standard. In the dying seconds, Lovenkrands laid on a chance for him – a golden chance. All it took was a calm side food into the far side of the net. But we all saw it coming. He ballooned it high into the stands. Pathetic. Get fucking rid. Someone will probably pay 4 or 5 million for him in January – take their hands off.

Carroll – 6: Poor game by his high standards. Should never have been taken off though…

Harewood – 5: I’d love to know what this bloke has on Chris Hughton, because he certainly isn’t earning his place in the side at the moment. Maybe its harsh to pin the blame on him (he was probably no worse than Carroll tonight) but Carroll at least has huge potential in abundance. Harewood is not going to improve any time soon. I won’t list his faults, we all know what they are. His presence in the side is a mystery. What I will say is that, unlike Heskey, he does not make up for his shortcomings with his work ethic.

Subs:

Ranger (Carroll 62) – 7: Its not a coincidence that we scored after Nile came on. Works his bloody arse off. Can we please, please give him and Carroll another go upfront together?

Kadar (Simpson 65) – 6: Looked very solid actually when he came on, as well as comfortable on the ball. Kadar continues to show huge promise.

Lovenkrands (Guthrie 90) – N/A: Not much time to make an impact, although he did lay on a golden chance for Jonas.

Manager watch:

A couple of baffling decisions, as always. Ryan Taylor threw a spanner into the works but surely Ranger would have been a better option upfront than Harewood? Or leave Nolan as the supporting striker and chuck Pancrate in on the right? Taking off Carroll was even more mystifying. But we won the game after that decision, to be fair to Hughton. His demeanour on the touch line is starting to look more manager-like every game, as exemplified by his word in the ear of Alan Smith to calm our ‘captain’ down.

Preston watch:

A woeful, woeful display. They had their chances but failed to trouble Harper. Mellor, the ‘new Steven Gerrard’, was probably their most threatening player. They were unlucky to lose Mawene at the break due to injury – he might have made the difference. Yet again this season, for the umpteenth time, I’ve not been impressed at all with the opposition. Preston had quite an intimidating record at Deepdale prior to tonight, but I saw absolutely no evidence as to why.

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Newcastle United 3-1 Peterborough

November 16, 2009

NUFC Team: Harper, Simpson, S Taylor, Coloccini, Enrique, Guthrie, Smith, Nolan, Gutierrez (R Taylor 21), Carroll (Lovenkrands 78), Harewood (Ranger 77)

Apologies for the delay since my last effort. Since its so long since the Peterborough game, I’ll simply describe the win with a few lines for each player.

Harper: My mate reckons he’s worth a place in the England squad. Considering the lack of options around, its not the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. He’s not let us down once this season.

Simpson: First goal for Newcastle, and it was a fantastic finish on his weaker foot. I’m really starting to like Simpson. If we can get him on the cheap, we should sign him 100%. He’s a better full back than Ryan Taylor.

Coloccini: Played the full 90 minutes for Argentina at the weekend against Spain. Mental. It was good to see him and Taylor back against Peterborough – they are unarguably the best defensive partnership in the division. If they stay fit all year, and we don’t sell either in January, we will be promoted. I’d sell him in the summer though, no matter what.

S Taylor: Thank God he’s back. We’ve missed him – although credit to Kadar for stepping in to help us to victory over Doncaster and Sheff Utd. A Premier League team will bid for him in January.

Enrique: Best left back, not only in the Championship this season, but perhaps ever in the second tier of English football. Seriously. The ease with which he has dealt with every opponent this year has been frightening. We’ll struggle to hold onto him in January. In a good team with a proper manager, he could become a regular for Spain.

Guthrie: Back in the side and provided the cross for Carroll’s opener. Alongside Nolan, undoubtedly our best midfielder. However, Smith and Nolan works well as a partnership. If I see Guthrie on the bench with Butt starting again, I will punch myself in the head repeatedly.

Nolan: Aside from his goals, he’s been extremely quiet for most of the season. Peterborough is no exception. Goals are goals though, and he’s invaluable in this league.

Smith: Still loves an unnecessary slide tackle. Aggressive? Clumsy? Or stupid? I’m leaning towards the latter.

Gutierrez: Jonas’ shooting coach, Ade Akinbiyi, will have been delighted to see his student notch his first goal in England. Contender for Championship and Newcastle United goal of the season. Unlucky to have to go off injured so early, as it looked like he could have terrorised Peterborough’s defence all afternoon.

Carroll: Best striker in the Championship. MOTM.

Harewood: Not the best striker in the Championship.

Top of the league, but most importantly, 6 points clear of third.

 

ferguson

Sacked for losing to Newcastle. I know we're bad but come on

Darren Ferguson, the Peterborough manager, left the club after this game. A manager who has achieved two successive promotions, sacked because they are bottom of the table after a couple of months? And I thought our owner was bad. What the hell did he expect?! Automatic promotion to the Premier League? Its Peterborough! No doubt, had Ferguson left Peterborough hovering around the playoff places last season and not been promoted from League One, he would still be in a job. Yet again, a manager pays the price of too much success, too soon. Billy Davies at Derby is the most notable one. Phil Brown at Hull, another.

More to come on Ashley, Moat, Hughton and the NUST in the next few days…

Sheffield United 0-1 Newcastle United; Tw@ @ St James’ Park

November 5, 2009

NUFC Team: Harper, Simpson, Coloccini, Kadar, Enrique, R Taylor, Butt, Smith, Gutierrez, Nolan, Carroll.

It wasn’t pretty, or even deserved, but a great three points nonetheless. What we should not do though is think that we can carry this sort of performance into our next away game and expect the same result. Similarly to the Cardiff game, we defended well and rode our luck and came away with a narrow 1-0, but like we saw against Blackpool, Scunthorpe and Forest, these sort of tactics will see us lose more often than not. Had Sheffield United possessed one half decent striker, they probably would have been victorious.

The first half was diabolical stuff from Newcastle. Sheffield United should have been leading 2-0 by half time. I honestly couldn’t tell you what the game plan was. This seems to be a worrying trend (away from home in particular). First half – play like a bunch of strangers and hoof it up to Andy Carroll. Second half – start playing properly, outclass the opposition. Quite why we are unable to play well from the start is beyond me. But anyway, Newcastle came out the better side and it was in this spell that Ryan Taylor scored his deflected long range effort. Its good to see us trying our luck from distance more often this season, as I don’t recall one goal from outside the area in the Premier League last year (I may be wrong).

Ryan Taylor

Wonder goal

As the second half wore on, Newcastle began to sit back and invite pressure from Sheffield United. Again, why we always seem to do this, I don’t know. Sheffield United are an awful, awful side in the midst of a terrible run of form, and we shouldn’t have allowed them the opportunity to draw level. Even more strange is that this happened after Ranger and Harewood were introduced, to join Carroll in a front 3. Not sure what Hughton was thinking there. Good decision to bring on Ranger, but Harewood too? Baffling. Even more baffling was his decision to start Butt ahead of Guthrie. Either I am blind and Nicky Butt’s contribution to the team is invaluable, or Hughton is too spineless to drop Butt because of his ‘big name’ status. Well, I am pretty sure I am not blind. And I say ‘big name’ because the only thing big about Nicky Butt anymore is his wages. The man is finished. Two relegations on his CV since leaving Man Utd is not a coincidence. If Ashley is serious about trying to save his own money, he could have done well to get rid of Butt and Geremi in the summer and save himself £5m+ a year in wages. That they are still here is shocking. Yes, I know that there would barely have been a queue of clubs wanting to sign them, but I’m sure that someone (Hull) would have snapped up either on a free transfer. It is this sort of stupidity (sell Bassong on approx £5k a week and keep Geremi and Butt, both on £50k+ a week) that means I have no sympathy for Ashley whatsoever.

The good points: Harper, Coloccini, Kadar, Enrique and Carroll were all excellent. Carroll is fast looking a class player. Enrique is by far the best full back in this division. Kadar has looked very promising in his first two league starts this season, and Harper won us the game single handedly. At the start of the season I was calling for Harper to be replaced by Krul. I am happy to admit that I was wrong, Harper has been outstanding this season. Nolan did OK but he doesn’t look comfortable playing off the striker. He looks threatening when arriving late from midfield, when the defence are already concentrating on the two strikers. When playing as, effectively, the second striker, he becomes a little easier to mark. Saying that, he is still one of our biggest goal threats no matter where he is playing.

The bad: I’ve already mentioned Nicky Butt. Some people reckon he did well on Monday night, but only because he was slightly better than he has been in the past. He’s still slow. He’s still a liability. He still can’t pass. I’m not sure why we need two holding midfielders against Sheffield United. Not that the duo of Smith and Butt helped particularly. The only reason Sheffield United didn’t score was because they missed a host of chances, not because our midfield pairing was shutting them out. Marlon Harewood was dire when he came on. He only had 10 minutes or so, but by God, he looked bad. At one point he looked like he might be through on goal but his first touch seemed to take the ball backwards. Appalling. Knowing our luck, he’ll be signed permanently for £1m in January.

Player Ratings:

Harper – 9: Won us the game, simple as that. MOTM.

Simpson – 6: Did fairly well, unlucky to be withdrawn for Ranger.

Coloccini – 7: Not a coincidence that in his first game back we kept a clean sheet. Along with Taylor he is invaluable to our promotion hopes.

Kadar – 7: Promising performance, again. Sheff Utd had a lot set pieces and on the whole, we dealt with them very well.

Enrique – 8: Rock solid at the back and always a threat going forward. An outside candidate for our player of the season.

Gutierrez – 5: Seemed to work fairly hard but… again, nothing. Mystifying.

Butt – 4: Not his worst performance ever. I’m aware that some may think I am making Butt a scapegoat – fair enough. But he’s been his 5 years now. This is no knee-jerk reaction. The man is utterly useless. Makelele was 10 times the player Butt ever was, but even he was dropped eventually by Chelsea when it became clear that his age was preventing him from doing his job properly. We owe Butt nothing. Making him captain and giving him first team football every week out of some mis-placed loyalty, or something, is a big mistake.

Smith – 5: Typical Smith performance. 5 is perhaps a tad harsh.

R Taylor – 7: Would be a 6, but for the goal. At the moment his biggest attribute is his set pieces (much improved this season), which he didn’t really get the opportunity to show off in the game. If everyone was fit, I’d have him as first choice on the right of midfield.

Nolan – 6: Not his best game but worked hard for the team and you can tell that he’s better than the vast majority of the players at this level.

Carroll – 7: Showed some wonderful touches in the second half, and did well to lead the line on his own in the first.

Subs:

Ranger – 5: Struggled a little to get into the game to be honest.

Harewood – 2: Not good enough for the Championship.

And now, on to the disgrace that is Mike Ashley. It didn’t take him long, did it? One week after announcing that the naming rights for St James park would be up for grabs next season, our stadium has been renamed for the next six months, ‘Sports Direct.com @ St.James’ Park’. Apparently this is to ‘show case’ the package to any would be sponsors. This man is shameless. How he has the nerve to pull this shit again and again is just criminal… Presumably, Newcastle United will receive no money over the next six months from Sports Direct for this ‘honour’. Six months free advertising for his shit hole of a company. Ashley is probably pissing himself.

St James Park

Mike Ashley is a c*** @ St James' Park

I have no doubts that this is what will happen…

If Newcastle get promoted, Ashley will try and sell the club for an increased amount in the summer. If he is successful, the new owners will probably abandon the naming rights idea, and Ashley would have had 6 months free advertising for Sports Direct.

If Newcastle are not promoted, Ashley will sell the naming rights to any crappy brand that will take them. Pampers, Mars Bar, Greggs, whoever. Probably for a fee as low as £1m a year. Greggs @ St James’ Park. Great.

If Newcastle get promoted, but Ashley is unable to sell the club, he will probably keep the name Sports Direct.com @ St James’ Park. Money will not be as vital, as we will be back in the Premier League, but he’ll keep the free advertising.

And anyway, aside from the fact that this whole situation is a disgrace, who the hell came up with the idea to call it Sports Direct.com @ St James’ Park? It really is the worst name ever. The whole @ thing is cringe inducing. Is it supposed to be cool? Why don’t we just call it Sports Direct.com @ $t J@m£z’ P@rk?

Sadly, its Mike Ashley in a nut shell. Tacky, shameless, clueless. We deserve better.