It’s hours before kick-off against Liverpool.
Previous defeats haunt us. 4-3 and Stan Collymore, with Keegan slumped over the advertising boards; the Michael Owen years, rubbing his greedy little paws in glee; 3-0 in the FA Cup final, when thankfully I was only 18 months old and more interested in rusks.
WE do not come out of these memories with smiles on our faces.
And today we face a Liverpool team with more confidence than they have had for years. The sleeping, dying giant is waking up. Either he just needs a wee, or he’s going to grind up the Premier League little team bones to make his bread, but we could not be playing them at a worse time.
But perhaps this is the perfect time. Another confidence sapping crushing against mid table minnows would finish off players who are on their knees, or make some of them care even less. No one expects us to perform this afternoon, sadly including some of the players. Is anything other than a hiding going to be an improvement?
Will twenty minutes of playing well give us hope? But with Bournemouth and Aston Villa picking up points they might not have seen coming, would simply not being abysmal be of any real benefit?
And our mid-week solution to the problems in defence was to recall someone the management deemed not good enough. I like Mike Williamson because he doesn’t hide. Bobby Moore he aint, but I’ll take someone who is willing to chuck themselves in front of the ball. Or just let it hit them.
It gets to something when I’m moderately pleased that we’ve recalled a player who was part of our defence the last time we got relegated. But it makes no difference, because he’s injured. I’ve asked before about why we pick up so many injuries, but this highlights the problem of a pitiful squad and pitiful training.
And it’s going to be on Sky. Woo-hoo.
This week I’ve spoken to Liverpool and Sunderland fans at work and they are licking their lips at this match.
Now, the season doesn’t hang on it. And an improvement would fan the dying embers of hope that a lot of us have at the moment. I’m not asking for a victory. All I’m asking for is for our team to try really, really hard. To get in the way of the ball when it’s in our box. To play like the Barca scout, who isn’t Graham Carr, is watching. Don’t be scared.
Let me talk with a basic element of pride to my mates at work tomorrow.
We’ve played badly and won before, and today I would take that. We’d probably all take a draw. It’s going to take something as dramatic as Stan Collymore to do it.
But please, for once, let a Newcastle United v Liverpool match be a classic I want to watch again.
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