‘I Had The Pleasure of Meeting Joe Kinnear At The Stoke Match’
Credit it where it’s Pardew, Newcastle United have done fantastically in the last 10-15 games.
Many people have quite rightly drawn a line in the sand at half-time of the Everton game when one of last year’s scapegoats Michael Williamson began his transformation into Iron Mike Brazilliamson and steadied the good ship Newcastle.
Humble pie is being eaten and always tastes better after a 5-1 win, or when Newcastle are at the top end of the form table, and it’s no coincidence Arsenal are top of the League and are the only side yet to play us.
We’re scoring goals again – 8 in 2 games together with a marvellous 7 wins in the last 9 games – and are beginning to look and play like a top side. Ask Chelsea, Man United and lastly Stoke, not to mention Cardiff, Palace and Spurs on the road if there’s any lingering doubts about that.
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Pardew is bang on when he says Arsenal will be dreading coming to a “Rocking n Rolling” St James Park and it’s the perfect time to play them so let’s hope it’s a cold Northern day as Wenger’s teams don’t like it up em.
Can our transformation from 16th last year to Top 6 this season be attributed to our new Director of Football, Joe Kinnear?
I had the pleasure of meeting Joe at the last match and he was both a gentleman and a professional, in his demeanour and attitude, and struck me as a serious, almost imperious figure, as he gazed out over St James’ from his position in The Milburn.
Ashley’s motives for owning NUFC are endlessly examined yet he is a highly successful billionaire businessman who appointed Kinnear as our Director of Football, perhaps to replicate his giant killing exploits at Wimbledon.
The regrettable SKY Sports News and Talksport interviews when our former manager returned in the summer justifiably led to protests in the north east.
Yet the caricature that developed around Kinnear masks the fact he was a successful player winning 4 major trophies (the FA Cup, 2 League Cups and a UEFA Cup) with Spurs, 26 Eire Caps and he achieved miracles with Wimbledon as a Manager.
Taking 1990s Wimbledon to 6th, 8th and 9th-placed finishes as well as two Cup semi-finals as he won the LMA Manager of the Year and 4 Manager of the Months is no mean achievement
So if he can impart any knowledge and experience to Alan Pardew and the Newcastle staff about how to maximise the resources of a football club- the tricks of the trade he would have learnt at the ‘coalface’ of Premier League management, to use a Pardewism, might be a good thing for the club.
There may even have been a method in the madness of his controversial arrival.
Wimbledon fan and journalist Ryan Bailey wrote an article for the Bleacher Report entitled “Newcastle: Joe Kinnear Might Be Exactly What the Toon Need” and based on his knowledge of watching every one of Kinnear’s games wrote this 4 months ago:
‘But if ‘BFJ’ has shown us anything over the years, it’s that he knows how to get results when the chips are stacked against him. The current backlash, therefore, might be exactly what he needs to prove himself during his second stint at St James’ Park.’
Maybe he just needed the world against him to replicate the good old days at Wimbledon and the backs to the wall, anti-establishment spirit shared by Ashley, who also loves to upset the odds and beat his critics.
As well as our non-participation in The Europa League and the addition of Remy, something has changed at Newcastle this season and it may or may not be a coincidence that since Kinnear’s arrival we’ve scored from corners finally after two years and are a threat once again at free-kicks, just like the old Wimbledon, although the extra height of Iron Mike 6ft 4in and Shola 6ft 3 in helps.
Of course, if you’re used to tinkering around with a little toy car like Wimbledon, when you finally get your hands near a Lamborghini like Newcastle – maybe one that needed a tune-up and polish – then there’s going to be some jerky starts yet once its up and roaring like now, it’ll take some stopping as we know from the past.
(Bizarrely, I’d written that analogy before Pardew’s compared Newcastle keeping up with Arsenal, to trying to keep up with a Bugatti, yet it’s football not Forumula 1 & while Theo Walcott may bear a passing resemblance to Lewis Hamilton, he’s no Champion driver and in the words of the great Chris Waddle, “He hasn’t got a football brain”. Of more interest is a story from Pardew’s West Ham days that he always had to have the best car in the car park – a competitive spirit to the last)
Newcastle have assembled in The Graham Carr Factory over the last few years, a black and white prototype that is capable of destroying Champions.
Both the current Premier League and Europa League title holders have been burnt off already, at St James’ Park and most impressively at Old Trafford.
Wenger may have added an expensive German engine this season in the shape of Mezut Ozil yet it’s been reported that it was the Welshman, Aaron Ramsey, that Joe Kinnear tried to swap in August for Cabaye BEFORE the season began and his amazing run that put him and Arsenal in the Premier League driving seat.
He’s not playing today yet Yohan Cabaye is, and he’ll no doubt run the show as he has been all season. Wenger knows a player and it sounds like Kinnear does too, if that was the deal he was going to make prior to Ramsey’s rise to eminence.
It was a disgusting move by Arsenal and Wenger – who must have sensed Newcastle as rivals to the 4th placed Champions League spot they’ve come to call their own – to bid for Cabaye and unsettle him on the day of our season opener to Man City and it’s time for payback tomorrow .
If anyone saw the film ‘Rush’ this year – considered by some the best sports film ever made – about the story of the legendary driver James Hunt and his rivalry with Nikki Lauda, it’s as much about the driver’s attitude as the car and he who dares wins.
Pardew’s and Wenger’s rivalry is long established and they almost came to blows when he was West Ham boss in 2006, so today’s game will be another heated battle though Alan’s already seen off pretenders Moyes and Mourinho in early races, before leaving AVB on the ropes for Brendan Rodgers to finish off.
Yet we’re going to need a strong referee like we had on Boxing Day – Martin Atkinson recovered well from his early interception on the halfway line of our first promising counter-attack – to teach Mark Hughes it’s best to play football by the rules rather than timewasting anti-football.
It’s Lee Probert tomorrow – he gave us an important penalty away to QPR in the game that ultimately kept us up last season – though is certainly suspect when teamed with Gus Poyet with two debatable decisions in both our FA Cup losses to Brighton and a bad decision in the recent derby leading to their winner (Look out for a dodgy early Tiote booking as it’s a way to render him and us less effective).
Yet my Top 6th sense says that after Atkinson’s decent display, we might be on the receiving end of even more fair officiating since Sissoko ‘accidentally’ bloodied the nose and wiped the grin off Cheshire official Mike Jones’ face vs Southampton.
Football is modern civilised warfare and having the likes of Joe Kinnear and Mike Ashley, ruthless men and fighters, may be no bad thing for the club.
At a recent fans meeting, Lee Marshall, the Fans Liaison Officer said:
“Mike Ashley doesn’t do failure.”
Looking at the Rich List, I believe him.
If he continues to translate that attitude onto the football world – and we’re currently knocking on the door of The Champions League, we are laughing.
Many people think Ashley is just in it for the money, yet even if that’s the case then there’s a hell of a lot more of it on The Champions League gravy train so it makes absolute sense for him to help us in that, plus the CL TV and prize money would mean it wouldn’t be as detrimental domestically as the Europa proved to be.
We were among the last 16 teams in the whole of Europe competing for the 2 silver pots at the end of the last season and beat moneyed Anzhi among others and if Martin Atkinson had been refereeing the Benfica game we’d have beaten them then Chelsea in the Final after the 3-2 up here.
We weren’t as bad as 16th place suggested and Kinnear’s added something to the mix as well, and players like Debuchy have settled in fully after difficult starts, and Faye Downey’s contribution on the fitness, injuries and motivation front – we’re bottom of The Injury League – meant she was as major a signing a Remy.
It’s the Xmas and Festive period so I hope everyone’s enjoyed it, yet I’m sure when we beat Arsenal and go into the Top 5 it will be the best present anyone has received so in the spirit of goodwill to all men, raise a glass to Wor Mike and Uncle Joe who have helped make it possible(even if we fall to a respectable 7th or 8th).
While a bit of conflict is healthy sometimes and gives people a point to prove, a United Newcastle of fans, owners, players, local media and everyone connected with the club is better. After all, we all share the same dream of a successful NUFC.
The enemy is not within our own walls, it’s out there in the FA and at every other club who would love it if Arsenal beat us as there’s one thing the country hates, its Newcastle United doing well as it absolutely terrifies them.
Hence the Top 6 normally shown shrinking to a Top 5 in the national media recently, no recognition of us anywhere among pundits or experts – unless of course they simply haven’t realised what they’re dealing with yet in the shape of the Tiote-Charged, Pardew-driven with Shola-Exhausts Fer-Remy F12…you get the drift.
Our magnificent club and city with all its fans co-operating, brothers in arms with the media, fanzines and staff at the club may be a fanciful dream at present, yet Joe Kinnear helping to guide us to the Top 6 was not a script many saw coming in August.
Maybe one day we’ll have a city where the Newcastle chairman is welcomed with open arms once again in nightclubs and before 2020 is out, every major piece of silverware going, done and dusted for all to see in the St James’ Park trophy cabinet.
Its Pardew’s 666th game as Manager. Expect Hell to be unleashed today at a Fortress St. James’ Park which is beginning to live up to its name again. FHWTL
You can follow Stuart on Twitter @ultrastartime
(If anyone has any information why Newcastle United have had two massive stadium expansion plans blocked – in the late 1950s after we’d won The FA Cup three times and the mid-1990s when Sir John Hall ambitiously planned ‘to make us the biggest club in the world’ as we competed for the title and suspiciously lost a 12-point lead to suspected cheater named Ferguson – do get in touch.)
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