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Newcastle United, Life, The Europa League and Everything

8 years ago

Archie’s Alternative Assessment – Life, The Europa League and Everything

Sitting in front of the box on Saturday afternoon, the atmosphere at home was just a few degrees warmer than it was on the pitch at City.

Our dogs Titus and Shola know the usual Saturday afternoon routine and can always sense if there’s a storm on the horizon, so  Shola, who is currently 110 in dog years and falls over a lot (not unlike his namesake) wandered off behind the sofa, knowing that the narrow spaces would protect him from ricocheting Heineken cans, while Titus settled down directly under the TV.

We rescued Titus as a pup and part of his charm was the fact that the poor lad obviously has developmental issues.

Almost every day he does something that makes you just look at him and shake your head. A bit like his namesake.

Two minutes after kick-off and Titus ‘remembered’. 3 minutes after kick-off and he was upstairs in the spare room lying on the bed.

With our players going down faster than Seventies Celebrities it strikes me that Pardew must have a priority list. A list of things that need to be achieved before he gets ‘O’Neilled’.

His ‘Bucket List’ if you like.

Of utmost priority has to be our survival in the money league. Finding ourselves being slowly dragged back towards under land (or ‘towards Sunderland’ if you prefer) is a feeling of Déjà vu that we really don’t need again. Our performances this season would suggest that not being too concerned about it and banking on points against West Ham and QPR to keep us up is not the way to go.

We need the points sooner rather than later and getting those points has to be top of Pardew’s List.

Man City should have been a no brainer. With our injury list again looking like the first team selection sheet, taking on Mancini’s All Stars was never going to be a walk in the park, unless it happened to be a park of the large, dark and un-policed variety.

Where muggings usually occur.

So it was quite a surprise when we didn’t just roll out our under 19 team. An even bigger shock was the inclusion of Cabaye, fresh from injury, to face them.

Pardew, despite all of his footballing and management experience, sometimes strikes me as a little clueless when it comes to rehabilitation following injury.

My wife is not a keen follower of the beautiful game but insists that given the opportunity she could have sorted out Cabaye’s groin for him in no time at all.

Admittedly I initially found this a little alarming as she has no medical training at all, and isn’t even an official in the church, but I thought it best to let it go.

I suppose Cabaye could have been just out for a run. After all he’s the ultimate confidence player and games at City and Benfica might give him the sharpness he needs for Fulham and Sunderland.

But on we go. Man City was something we had to do but in such a way that we avoided injury, bookings and red cards at all cost.

City would probably have best been utilised as an opportunity to let the new guys have a run out before throwing the same bunch in against Benfica during the week.

Our better players should have been watching from the sofa, wrapped in cotton wool, being served low fat Ferrero Rocher chocolates and Ovaltine by their Grandmas.

If this had been an article about Chelsea I may have felt the need to qualify that further with “’their respective Grandmas’.

On a totally unrelated subject I see John Terry scored again at the weekend.

So, on to the Europa League.

Apparently if we win the competition we get to take home a whopping 430,000 Euros. 17 extra games and a dozen injuries for less money than we would get by finishing one place higher in the league.

Now there’s a plan! Bail out of the Europa League in the group stage, keep most of our players fit all season and not have to worry about relegation.

As best as I can figure out the Europa League prize money doesn’t even cover the travel and hotel bills for the away games, while our share of the away gate money might just about cover a case of Deep Heat, a Chinese on the bus on the way home and the obligatory daily sculpt of Ben Arfa’s eyebrow.

If we won the Europa League it might make the Hexham Courant but only, I suspect, if there wasn’t a pool competition on at the Battlesteads the night before.

It’s one of those things that ranks up there alongside Twitter, Soap Operas and Ken Livingstone. I just don’t see why they exist.

So, considering our injury list, hoping for a win at City was maybe a bit like Tiote’s shooting – aiming a bit high.

The Europa League, apart from being a complete waste of time and effort, is also putting serious strain on our already limited resources as the Michael Owen Wing of the Rehab Centre is yet again short of beds with a number of players being sent home to be looked after by other clubs. Isn’t that nice of them.

So let’s just do the sensible thing here, keep our eye firmly on the ball and concentrate on the half dozen or so points we need to remain in the Prem.

I’m sure that somewhere in that volumous tome that is  ‘The Top Ten List Of Alan Pardew Tactics’ there is a cunning tailor-made strategy for just such an occasion.

Of course I’m assuming here that Pardew knows enough about tactics to have actually have a top 10 but in all honestly I’m beginning to wonder.


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