Cisse, Cabaye, Ben Arfa & Shola – Discuss Over a Pint
As Eduardo Salvio’s stoppage time finish rippled Tim Krul’s net, an eerie silence crept over most of St James’ Park. The Argentine’s goal delivered such a deflating blow to the solar plexus that the home fans had no air in their lungs for the usual hysterical profanities.
This breathless ten seconds gave Newcastle fans adequate time to cope with their initial disappointment. While the Benfiquistas’ bench erupted into wild elation, the Newcastle supporters began to rise up from their seats and – instead of heading for the exits – began to courteously applaud their own ITV4 warriors.
Now, not to sound petulant, but despite such a gracious ovation, it felt like amongst those grateful hand slaps, another subliminal – much more serious – rallying cry reverberated around St James’ Park (through gritted teeth): “We’re clapping you, but we’d better beat Sunderland on Sunday now…”
So, when Howard Webb put the remaining Toon fans out of their misery at around lunchtime on Sunday, there was certainly no appreciative applause. While Paolo Di Canio nauseatingly played up to the Sky Sports cameras, Newcastle supporters began to feel alarmingly exposed. No longer were they snuggled tightly in their all-weather European protective shield; they now stood unprotected, embarrassed and with plenty of serious questions to discuss (probably over a pint).
‘How does a team make Alfred N’Diaye look like Yaya Toure’ may have been the first quandary and, moving on from that, issues such as: Cisse’s ability to read the line; Pardew’s decision to bring Shola on at half time; Cabaye’s fitness; Ben Arfa’s weight gain and Howard Webb’s big stupid face, could all have been discussed.
I could go on (David Vaughan, for example) but, unfortunately for Newcastle United, this 2013 Tyne-Wear derby will always be remembered as Di Canio’s introduction to the Premier League – oh, and the day that a grown man threw a right hook at a horse. The Geordies still sit two points ahead of their bitter rivals, but with five games to go, both North East sides still have plenty of work to do.
Saturday’s fixture with West Brom should act as Newcastle’s platform to revitalise their season once more. No more Europa League and derby day distractions; all gimmicks aside, it’s time for Pardew’s side to finish this season in the best possible way.
The standing ovation that followed Salvio’s equaliser is now a distant memory. Sunderland’s emphatic three-nil demolition has tarnished the memory of the Europa Cup campaign and three points at the Hawthorns – as well as a spirited performance – has become a must.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @ElasticoChop
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