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Surely Newcastle Fans Could Expect A Little Excitement At This Point….

8 years ago
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Anzhi what?

I’m not kidding, I’ve had several attempts at pronouncing our latest European opponents’ full name and I just end up making a massive tit of myself. It’s not like I’ve never heard of them either, I remember when they signed Eto’o and Christopher Samba. I kept an eye on their games with Liverpool in the group stages as well and, since the draw was made over two rounds in December, I’ve had it in mind that they were a potential opponent if all went well against Metalist.

The thing is, I’d rather have been playing Hannover. I enjoy a trip to Germany and it may have felt a bit more of a level playing field to stay in western Europe rather than venture to the freezing depths of Moscow.

Apparently, Anzhi are intensely disliked in the Russian capital as they don’t belong there, but come from a prison camp in the middle of some badlands on the Kazakhstan border. You’d think that this would hamper their performances but they’ve won all 7 ‘home’ games in the Europa league this year. This can only be attributed to the fact that Anzhi are a shower of expensively assembled mercenaries with a cold air of ruthless efficiency. I’d really rather have been playing Hannover.

I don’t want to disrespect anyone here, but you’d hope by this stage in European competition an opponent that invokes a bit of excitement can surely be expected? The concept of trips to surrogate grounds in Eastern Europe to play recently re-booted teams of modern prominence used to be restricted to the group stage.

Now it seems the last 16 is packed with the playthings of former Soviet carpet baggers sending out Anzhi Makakalaka when you may have dreamed of a trip to Milan, Benfica, Stuttgart, or at least somewhere you could bloody pronounce.

I’m not going to Moscow. With a young family and busy job I have to be considered and realistic about travel at home and abroad these days. I wish the best to anyone going, but fear they may be a relative minority given the fact that we only officially had 13 days notice to book one of the furthest trips in Europe.

I would hope that the mackems won’t be pathetic enough to try and mock our travelling figures at a stage of achievement they can only dream of, but I’m sure we all agree I’d be on a hiding to nothing with the SMB’s there.

Here’s hoping we can throw up a wall in Moscow and get them back to SJP to throw a full strength team out for steady progress, hopefully to a tie against someone monosyllabic.

You can also read Jamie’s excellent column every month in our magazine

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