Dunno about you, but before yesterday I would have taken the raw fact of seven points from three matches for Newcastle United.
While I never dared to dream that we would wear our happy hats against Liverpool and Spurs, most of us at least hoped to beat Aston Vile. Or not to be dragged down to their level. Then again, Liverpool fans probably expected not just to win, but to gorge on their goal difference against us. That’s one of the things that makes football interesting, despite what my mam says.
And going into Christmas, few of us would have bet our pocket money on Jose Mourinho scanning the situations vacant page, and Louis van Gaal looking over his shoulder from fifth in the league. Football is, indeed, a funny old game. So what happens next?
I know what I’m asking for in the sales: Charlie Austin, a bucket of magic confidence dust and a right foot for Jack Colback. Or Adam Armstrong back from Coventry City.
Yesterday, with eleven seconds left, it looked like it would be eight points from twelve, out of the relegation zone through the magic of Christmas, and roasting chestnuts on a fire with all risks reasonably accounted for. But no.
We should have had someone on the post to prevent a looping header dropping into what turned out to be an empty net. Did the ghost of Christmas yet to come, point to a gravestone that said ‘Championship’?
A point would have been a decent result given our predicament, but it wouldn’t, in the long run, be much good. The real miracle was that Everton didn’t score in the first half, and some credit should be given to the defence as they snuffed out lots of final passes, and Rob Elliot played well. But why did we let them have so much of the ball? Confidence? Lack of tactical sense? Or are we just not good enough?
The first two problems are perhaps things that can be worked on, but as they’ve been looked at since the summer, progress there is not quick enough. Our little blue and green planet has gone half way around the sun but Jack Colback still cannot use his right foot for anything other than standing on…
…but the cross he put in for Wijnaldum’s difficult to reach header, while lacking pace and a little bit of pinpoint accuracy, was made with his ‘wrong’ foot because, I suspect, he knew he had no choice. Perhaps he knows that without a change, there will be just another link in our chain leading to relegation.
Well, we’re running out of choices all over the place. The midfield don’t keep the ball and don’t create much.
I like Sissoko but I want to see him believe in his strength. I like Anita but he can’t plug all of the gaps. Playing alongside players who really believe in themselves might make our midfield look more like the players they know they can be. But I worry that we won’t buy those players.
We’ll buy someone who Mike Ashley and Graham Carr think will do. Because we’re desperate. They will go to the sales looking for a toaster but I‘m guessing they’ll come back with a kettle. Nice try, but keep the receipt.
The daft thing is, I think we were better than we were against Bournemouth. Mind, that’s not saying much, because if we play like we played against Bournemouth ever again, we’ll be whopped 10-0.
So is there hope in the defeat?
Are the chances that we created a sign that we can change, and that next Christmas will be spent in the cosy fire light of life in the Premier league?
We can, but we need to go and buy the best sales present ever, with shooting, pace and two feet. Otherwise Mike and the other spirits in charge are just forging our own chain to drag us down.
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