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Newcastle fans (like all others) only want two things…

6 years ago

Simples, isn’t it.

Put in a proper shift, play with pride, support your teammates and sometimes you will be rewarded.

Yes, we were lucky. A linesman wrongly denied Liverpool what might have been a match-turning equaliser. No doubt emphasised by some of the Newcastle-hating members of the press, who will, oddly enough, forget to mention the even worse decision at Stamford Bridge that gave Bournemouth their win when another errant ‘referee’s assistant’ failed to notice Murray was two yards offside.

In isolation, beating Liverpool does little to ease our desperate plight. It is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But perhaps, just perhaps, it is the end of the beginning, the end of a depressingly miserable series of performances that had made me think there was no longer any reason to look forward to the next match.

I watch nearly all my live football via radio commentaries these days; the pictures really are better and the ball hits the back of the net far quicker that way than when watching satellite television.

Incidentally, a surefire way to annoy your mates at the pub is to take along a tranny with an earpiece (that’s a little radio, in case you were wondering) and tell them what is about to happen while they stare at the gogglebox, several seconds off the pace. My daughter gave me dog’s abuse for that little trick years ago, in the days I was foolish enough to pay Keith Rupert Murdoch for the privilege of watching live Premier League action at home.

Listening on Five Live on Sunday I could visualise the action, even though the Liverpool-loving Alan Green ranks high in my all-time list of annoying commentators. He hid his bias reasonably well without always remembering to engage brain before opening mouth.

Just one example: he was accusing Rob Elliot of timewasting long before half-time and then repeated for the umpteenth time this season his favourite rant, demanding to know why there was one minute added to the 45 when there had been no stoppages in play.

And he must have been the last person in the stadium to realise Moreno’s goal had been disallowed. The noise was all wrong: there was no massive cheer from the Liverpool supporters, who had been far too audible in the first half, when the ball hit the net. What I did hear was that special noise a home crowd make when they realise, despite prima facie evidence, that their team have not conceded a damaging goal.

And Green’s excuse for being the last to know: a gentleman in a bobble hat was obscuring the commentator’s view of the linesman’s flag.

Anyway, even with Green being his usual pain in the arse there was lots to enjoy at St James Park. Yes, Coloccini went off-message more than once, deserting his post in central defence to charge forward, but he was the exception to the rule. And by the final few minutes he was winning balls in the air.

Remember that game at Sunderland when he came back from injury and, in the words of Pardew, played like Bobby Moore? I felt deflated before this season even kicked off, when McClaren hailed the new contract for our curly-haired one as a great triumph.

If the manager had watched Newcastle regularly or even occasionally over the previous two years he would have known how much of a liability Colo had become. How much would we give for our lambasted captain to rediscover the form of 2011-12, when he was named in the PFA Premier League team of the season? That’s almost certainly too much to ask. But at least he put in a proper shift on Sunday.

Listening to the post-match interview with Wijnaldum gave further reason for optimism, or at least lifted the gloom a little. He seemed to acknowledge the causal link between effort and reward. You don’t always get what you deserve but only rarely are you given more than you deserve.

Football is a simple game. Stop the opposition playing when they have the ball, try to play constructively when you have it. And most of all sweat blood for the cause.

Whenever Newcastle United are in the mire the so-called experts are quick to blame the “ridiculous expectations” of the team’s supporters. The press, whether reporters, commentators, pundits or columnists, perpetuate this myth, saying it heaps pressure on the players and is part of the reason we have won nowt of note for 46 years.

Regardless of whether Jenas likened his time at Newcastle to living in a goldfish bowl, his comments served to feed that myth. As did the latest tripe from Pardew, who told the pompous Henry Winter in The Times last week that some of our fans felt the team and manager had failed when we finished fifth. Utter bollocks.

The supporters I meet, from almost any club you could name, want two things from their team: 100% effort and an attempt to play attractive football. Why would we have any expectation of trophies? Our cabinet is as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s.

Look at any press coverage of the Liverpool match in the hours and days before kick-off. Liverpool were certain to win, Newcastle had no chance, McClaren was on his way out.

There’s a reason for this uniform approach. Don’t put your head above the parapet and you’ll remain a member of the self-preservation society.

Imagine you’re a football writer on a national newspaper. Your sports editor wants a preview piece. Do you follow the pack and say Newcastle are in for a stuffing? Or do you realise Liverpool were flattered by the Man City and Southampton results, when they were allowed to play almost unhindered, and dare to forecast another outcome?

The first option is, for two big reasons, the only option. If Liverpool win, nobody bats an eyelid. If Liverpool lose, you tell your boss that nobody predicted that outcome.

Only the bravest of the brave dares to be a voice in the wilderness. So you shouldn’t have expect ed many national newspaper reporters to say we deserved to win against Liverpool. At least Herr Klopp had the honesty and good grace to say that.

Top guy, Herr Klopp. Even with that hair transplant.

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