Newcastle United Need A Level Playing Field
In the new issue of our magazine, columnist Jamie Smith examines our second half problems and something very strange at St.James’ Park.
Here is an extract from Jamie’s latest column, to read the full article and the rest of our 44 page special new issue, visit The Mag online shop where you can get single copies for £3 plus p&p with subscriptions from £23.
Here’s an interesting one for the next match. If you sit anywhere on the west side of the ground, take a look at the East stand at pitch level. If you look towards the Leazes end of the ground the advertising hoardings at the front of the seats are half obscured by the boards at pitch level. Now follow the same ads along to the Gallowgate end, and you’ll notice there’s a good 3-4 feet of space below them before you get to pitch level. This is the best way to fully appreciate the astonishing slope on the pitch at St James’. Now, here’s another thing. These are some of our recent results:
Aston Villa 0-1
Man United 1-3
Hang on, you say, those weren’t the scores! No, they were in fact the scores for the second half of each of the games in question. Each time it has been a poorer outcome than the first, and in total for the period covered we have dropped 8 points from our displays in the latter half of the match.
I was, until recently, extremely concerned about this. There has been a trend of Newcastle being totally uncompetitive in the final third of games, giving rise to suspicion over fitness levels and the training process at the club. Weigh in with some unwise substitutions and the last 20 minutes of matches were becoming sickeningly unwatchable.
Then came the Chelsea game of course, a ripsnorting comeback of stunning brilliance, with superheroes charging around the field like their blood was red bull. This led me to the deduction that perhaps we just had an under-equipped squad with a couple of people devoid totally of confidence. The owner’s decision to part with some effing cash and the subsequent injection of Gallic reinforcements could well have put paid to this one, we’ll see.
I’ll still not be happy until Mike Williamson is not considered part of the Newcastle United first team squad though.
I sincerely hope this is arrested because, going back to the first point of the sloping pitch, it’s obvious that teams are getting wise to it. In each of our last 4 home games the opposition have obviously won the toss and elected to change ends, giving Newcastle the gradient to huff and puff up in the second half. I bet it’s not that simple but could they not just level it out in the summertime?
Football today is populated by OCD lunatics like Sam Allardyce, who probably employs a bloke to study how Coloccini calls the toss. The cat is out of the bag as far as the secret weapon goes of tricking visitors into running up a Cheviot in the second half and they’re after doing it to us all the time.
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