Right lads and lasses, are we all suitably refreshed after our mid-season break?
Two weeks ago, I wrote about a couple of problems at Newcastle United and proceeded to briefly touch upon our current crop of players jetting off to the sunny climes of La Manga, Spain.
During this week long jolly (Sorry, warm weather training) many in the media (Phil Thompson, Paul Merson etc) have pointed to the trip and ridiculed it for the timing and the general sense behind it.
They are right in saying that in their day, they wouldn’t have been packed off to sunnier shores after a 5-1 walloping, not to mention that the club are in sever relegation trouble and have been since the opening weeks of the season.
On the other hand our very own John Anderson commented (Tuesday 22nd February) on BBC radio that:
“I don’t have a problem with it.”
Well pardon me, but I do.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford to get away from the winter blues, after sunning yourself for a week or two, what’s the first thing you utter when stepping off the plane when it lands back in blighty?
I bet it’s the same common utterance usually heard on the terraces when your team concedes a goal…..
“We were playing against opposition we’re not used to, on a very dry surface, but it was a very good workout to end a good few days of training”
A ‘very good workout’ could have been achieved anywhere and surely playing against opposition we are ‘not used to’ makes very little sense. Top that off with the fact that in March the pitches of the Premier League are likely to be wet and slippery, or hard and frosty, and the confusion heightens further.
“We could have gone to warmer climes and more luxurious places.”
That’s nice to know. Nice to know that the already top class facilities at La Manga and the sunny 20 degree heat that comes with it were second best and more could have been done to prepare the players for a wet 5 degree evening at Stoke this week.
And therein lies the problem. Once again the club has gone about things in a completely inappropriate and incorrect manner. The trip simply defied logic.
Warm weather training should have been replaced with hiking in Norway or training in Russia. Or maybe I’ve just got Rocky Balboa ‘acclimatising’ in the soviet union ahead of his fight with Ivan Drago from 1985 stuck in my head.
You can’t tell me that a club couldn’t have been sourced to play a friendly in more suitable conditions, as Russian and Norwegian clubs are playing friendlies now in the run up to their season starting this month..
The positives to come out of the trip are minimal.
Firstly, we have an away win under our belts (Yipee!) against Lillestrom, but until I see an away win that harvests premier league points, forgive me if I don’t get too excited.
Secondly, and more crucially, we have picked up another injury. It seems a bit perverse to be positive about an injury to a senior player but these are desperate times and if, as it seems likely, that Collocini will miss a game or two, then we can have somebody who is a more inspirational captain (Shelvey) and someone who can actually do his normal job at centre back (pretty much anyone) in his place.
The seeds for this abysmal season were sown last summer, when the scope for hiring a decent Manager was too narrow and didn’t allow us to appoint one that had a decent track record, as there’s only so long you can trade off being the assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson, before you get found out, and that time for Steve McCaren was long ago. Overlooking this vital role was the first part of the downfall this season.
The second was keeping Coloccini as captain when he should have really been jettisoned from the club altogether. However, as always, the club continue to do things on the cheap. A decent centre back costs money and we’d already bought Chancel Mbemba.
This policy whereby we put people who are not fit for purpose in key roles is rife at this club
Owner? Managing Director? Manager? Captain? Top Goalscorer? Commanding Centre-Back?
Then we wonder why the hell things go wrong.
As ever, our fate is left in the hands (or rather feet) of the players and I really hope they stuff these words right up my derriere on Wednesday night at Stoke and again against Bournemouth at St James Park.
However, the overall feeling from me is that, despite being gifted a trip away mid-season, they simply don’t care enough.
You can’t just flick a switch and say ‘Right lads, wasn’t that a lovely week away. Let’s start playing’ and just expect results to alter just like that.
Prove me wrong! Go ahead and prove me wrong!
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