Championship Football and Bitten Nails
Twice this season I have watched on whilst Newcastle were playing Everton and seen the Toffees striker Victor Anichebe coming on as a substitute. On both occasions I have casually murmured, “here comes the scouse Shola”, to the person sat next to me (my mate for the away game, my dad for the home game).
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Also on both occasions, ‘big Vic’ as he is known in certain areas of scouseland, has put the ball firmly in the back of our net. I would blame the slightly poor marking, not my personal insult, as the cause of the goals by the way.
Thankfully in September Demba Ba saved us a point after latching onto the end of Shola’s knockdown. The closest we got to similar heroics on Wednesday was Nile Ranger, who thankfully made the game on time, trying to wrestle Everton defenders out of the way in attempting to get to the ball somewhere near the penalty box.
How times change.
Now we are in the second half of the season. Now I am getting worried. What was particularly scary about Wednesday was the last twenty/ten minutes, injury time especially. Yes I know Everton are a decent side, and I know the lads were tired, but the away side were at walking pace, knocking the ball around with such an ease and relaxing manner that would not be out of place in a summer beach kick around with your mates. Forgive me for getting all passionate for a minute but no side, certainly not in this league, that has a one goal lead in the closing stages of a game at SJP should be able to retain possession that easily.
It was genuinely embarrassing and for the first time this season I am just starting to fear relegation. For the ones who are not yet biting nails and discussing the possibility of Championship football, then great, I envy you.
So what needs to happen?
For my money Pardew can’t really afford to lose another game, certainly not a league one, in January. Reading at home, on the 19th, has a similar air of must-win about it as the Wigan and QPR games had last month. Debuchy, as most of us know, looked a genuinely class right-back at last summer’s Euro championships. So he should be a decent signing and another one for the Graham Carr/Pards scrapbook.
Personally, I would like to also see two more additions in the forward area, preferably wide men who can get the odd goal. Admittedly another two Ben Arfas may be a bit far-fetched, but if we get some more “bodies” (see I’m even using the Pards terminology) then players such as Jonas can be played where they have excelled in the past, and not played out of position which does nobody any favours.
I hate sounding so pessimistic but even if Ashley dug deep and signed up another promising player, giving us a pair of fairly good signings, it still might not be enough. Signings need time to gel, the proof is there from our most recent relegation season, Ryan Taylor and Kevin Nolan could both be deemed to have had fairly successful NUFC careers but even adding them to our motley crew in the January window didn’t stop us sinking without a trace 3 seasons ago.
It could all go well from here on, maybe we will smash January’s winnable fixtures, get Cabaye and HBA back to fitness, win the Europa league, allowing Pardiola to win his second manager of the year award in a row, and maybe Ashley will then reward him with a 16 year contract.
That does seem a tad unrealistic and the tads are increasing with each gut-wrenching defeat. The other day I tweeted, “I am sick of the toon losing”, or something along those lines, makes me sound a bit spoilt on reflection as I am sure many fans before me have suffered much, much worse.
It is clear though that something needs to be done quick. Ashley, Pardew, Colo…. what the hell, Shola, this is your 4 month warning!
Howay The Lads
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