Thanks to Yohan Cabaye, Manchester City and Joe Kinnear's gross incompetence in the transfer market, it's been a horrific start for Newcastle; but after victory against Fulham, could signs of life now slowly be starting to show on the pitch?
As I sat down to watch Newcastle’s opening game against Manchester City a couple of weeks ago, I was under no illusions about what was about to happen both that evening and during the season ahead. I knew we’d probably get a hiding and come back with no points, and that given the fruitless summer we have endured in the transfer window, I expected this season to be nothing short of a momentous struggle.
What I had hoped for however, was that during that opening game at City my team might show a little fight and determination. Given the dismal end to last season and the heartless defeats to Liverpool, Sunderland and Man City, I had hoped, perhaps foolishly, that Alan Pardew and his troops had had the time to reflect on last season, assess what the problems were and come back this year a stronger unit. After just ninety minutes of the new season however, it seemed that my hopes were to be unfulfilled and that my fears already realised.
Before the City match had even kicked off I could tell nothing had changed from last year. In his pre-match interview with Sky, Pardew spoke of Arsenal’s bid for Yohan Cabaye, bemoaning its timing and repercussions for his team and their match. The chipper and upbeat Pardew of just over a year ago was gone, in his place stood a fed-up and frustrated figure searching for excuses.
The really annoying thing as a fan was that Pardew's reaction to the bid reeked of double standards. Given the fact that he has spent a majority of the summer talking Cabaye up, backhandedly hawking him about to every so called 'big club' with a potential interest, the bid should not have come as any surprise.
The pressures of managing a club like Newcastle United and all it entails, from the hopes and demands of the fans, to its frustrating and frugal owner, look to have chewed Alan Pardew up and spat him out. All this before a ball had even been kicked in vain this season. Is there any wonder we got whooped when our leader already seemed defeated and forlorn.
On the subject of Cabaye, whilst it was certainly welcome to see him return against Fulham, in my opinion he should have been playing since day one this season. The initial bid from Arsenal came in just before the City game and was instantly turned down, for time being at least, that should have been the case closed.
As a season ticket holder I find it unacceptable that players like Yohan Cabaye refuse to turn out and let down the people who rely upon them just because their heads have apparently been turned. These players are paid thousands of pounds by their clubs to be professional footballers, and for the obscene money they are paid I expect just that - a professional. If they want to move fine, but until that contract is signed you play, and you give your all for your club, teammates and fans.
Since this most ominous of starts to the season there had been little to raise the gloom at St James’. An uninspiring scoreless draw at home to West Ham did little to enthuse the masses, and a league cup victory scraped away to League Two Morecambe, whilst welcome, was pretty depressing viewing.
All of this is of course set to the infuriating and quite frankly ridiculous backdrop of Joe Kinnear continuing to scour Europe for players that the club have no intention of spending money on. Quite what the point is in this embarrassing dinosaur parading around the continent doing absolutely bot-all, all in the name of Newcastle United, I will never know.
Brought in by Ashley to apparently oversee transfers, Joe’s done absolutely nothing this summer but spend two months trying (unsuccessfully!) to sign a French centre-forward with a year left on his contract and to get his mate Harry Redknapp to lend him a crocked forward with a rape charge hanging over him. Who needs Franco Baldini as a Director of Football when you have Joe, eh!?
The man needs to be removed from his position at St James' Park with immediate effect before he can bring any further embarrassment to the club. He has failed massively and it is us, the fans, who will now pay the price for his gross incompetence. Just do us all a favour Joe and go. You are an embarrassment and we do not want you at our club.
Thanks to this summer of failure, Newcastle are now in severe danger of being well and truly left behind by the mid-table also ran’s who they should be competing with for a top seven/eight finish. Norwich, Swansea, Southampton, Cardiff and West Ham have all gone to town, spending big this summer with their increased TV income and strengthening significantly; particularly with regard to their attacking options. As well all know by now, Newcastle have not.
The transfer window aside, however, this weekend finally brought some cheer for the Newcastle faithful as that much needed first league victory of the season was finally achieved at home to Fulham. Whilst the game itself was by no means a classic, the way we have been playing of late means that the three points are nothing short of priceless.
Alan Pardew’s team selection was again called into question with the hopeless Shola Ameobi continuing to start alongside Papiss Cisse. A strike partnership which is about as effective as playing the Chuckle Brothers up front. In the 85th minute however, a game lacking in any real quality, was won by a stunning late goal from Newcastle’s only real match winner, Hatem Ben Arfa. The game changed upon the introduction of sole summer signing Loic Remy, whose quality instantly and visibly lifted his new side and the crowd. Quite what impact a few more quality signings could have made we will now never know.
So with some of the gloom lifting slightly on Tyneside following Saturday’s victory, there are still not many who are naïve enough to believe that Newcastle have turned the corner, not with Joe and Mike running the show anyway. With no further new faces brought in, most are now resigned to the fact that we are in for another season of frustration at Newcastle, the only hope being that there might just be three worse teams in the league to bail us out come May. And with a bit of luck, one of them might just be Sunderland.