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Opinion

This is what I have been missing with Newcastle United

3 weeks ago
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Newcastle United is my team, nothing I can do about that.

Like the rest of you reading this, once it has you in its grip, there is no escape.

Whether you are born into the black and white faith, or stumble headlong into it at a later age, you can put distance (mentally and / or physically) between you and this ridiculous football club but you will never ever shake it off completely.

Not that I would ever want to of course, though I wouldn’t mind shaking off Mike Ashley, Steve Bruce and Lee Charnley.

Just like your dog, Newcastle United is for life.

I was reminded of this on Wednesday night, very much so.

That I am stuck with Newcastle United and the misery Ashley and Bruce bring into our lives, in stark contrast to what other football fans feast on.

Watching the Euro 2020 matches last night was spectacular, I just wish I could have bottled that excitement, to be able to enjoy again and again.

If you missed it all then I feel sorry for you, switching between France 2 Portugal 2 and Germany 2 Hungary 2 was mesmerising. When you switched over to watch some of the other match, you instantly worried about what you could be missing at the one you’d switched from.

All four teams going for it and it fluctuated again and again between whether Portugal, Hungary or Germany were heading home and whether England would be playing Germany, France, Hungary or Portugal next Tuesday.

Apologies for mentioning England there, they have been the one team at this tournament that have been as boring to watch as Newcastle United under Steve Bruce. Of course I want them to win and progress but dear me, it has taken significant levels of endurance to get through their three shocking games against pretty poor opposition.

Honestly, England have had all the advantages, a really poor group, home advantage and fans all three matches, no having to travel about, no disruption to their daily routine. On top of that, England do have some really exciting players and could potentially be decent…yet Gareth Southgate absolutely kills any proper ambition and excitement stone dead.

Bless the media, all the pundits and presenters, it is their job to sell us the story that England are doing great and through gritted teeth they valiantly attempt to stick to that script. Loathe to admit that England have so far been totally unwatchable, they have switched to a narrative of….hasn’t this been a really professional group stage, England through with a minimum of fuss.

Totally forgetting how they’d all built us up to expect an exciting attacking England team, full of quality platers, who would be taking these Euro 2020 finals by storm.

It all reminds me very much of the media saying how brilliantly Steve Bruce had done, when we beat the likes of Rochdale and Oxford in the FA Cup despite needing replays and a lot of luck to beat lower league teams.

I just had a look at the World football rankings and France are ranked second, Portugal fifth, Germany twelfth and Hungary thirty seventh.

In contrast England had a group with a fading Croatia who are fourteenth, Czech Republic who are fortieth and Scotland are forty fourth. Only two countries out of the entire 24 in Euro 2020 are ranked lower than the Czechs and Scots. Yet England struggled to create even any chances against them, never mind win convincingly. In five hours of football only six efforts on target against the three of them.

How on earth did England manage that? Almost as astonishing as Germany, France and Portugal all together in one group whilst England are gifted that group of theirs.

England had a golden chance when playing at home against three poor teams to really make a statement, blow all three away with great attacking play, you might concede the odd goal but if scoring three or more in each match it doesn’t really matter.

The experts will lecture you that this is international football, things don’t work like that.

I remember back under Kevin Keegan when we first got into Europe again, all the experts warning that he would have to be cagey for this first tie, rather than the usual style of football NUFC were playing, Newcastle went to Antwerp and won 5-0. What a trip!

So I would just like to say thank you to Portugal, Germany, Hungary and France last night, for that feast of drama and excitement. Thanks as well to all of the other teams who so far have made Euro 2020 very watchable.

As for England?

Well, I really hope they join them (in becoming exciting and watchable) but I have grave doubts.

Once you are in this kind of mindset with such a poor manager as Gareth Southgate / Steve Bruce, it is very difficult to snap out of it and start playing on the front foot.

Southgate wants to go safety first and play two central midfielders as extra defenders and stop the full-backs bombing on. Which is totally stupid, especially when Kyle Walker can only attack, he is one of the worst defenders I have ever seen for England.

Anyway, Tuesday is another day.

Plenty of great football and excitement ahead of us, with six of the eight knockout matches to enjoy before we get to England v Germany.

I’m putting Newcastle United and England right out of my head and just going to enjoy the football.

Hopefully it might come home again (to St James Park) one day.

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