Rafael Van Der Vaart
20 August 2010:
“I could never play for another club in Spain and the truth is that if you are leaving Real Madrid, there is only one club you can join that is not a step down – and that’s Manchester United”
He got wish as in the final minutes of the summer transfer window he completed his transfer to Manchester United Tottenham. Oh.
Nevertheless, he has since updated us:
“I am excited about playing in England. Whether it suits my style remains to be seen but I think a good footballer can adapt and I am very proud of this transfer”
That’s right, ‘excited to be playing in England’ – not playing for Tottenham, as they would be a step down huh Rafael?
29.08.2010 – Saturday 3:00pm
Barclays Premier League
Wolverhampton Wanderers – 1
Newcastle United – 1
MOM: Joey Barton
NUFC Performance: 7/10
When assault became acceptable
I must have not been watching the news enough recently. It seems, providing it’s against a figure of public hate, assault is now legal. News to you as well? I blame Bill Turnbull on BBC breakfast. I’m surprised that dozy prat manages to come to work with his license fee paid suit on the right way round. Regardless, this monumental shift in the British criminal law has remained under the radar. Wolves obviously had their ears sharpened to the news and decided to exercise this new freedom by kicking the living sh#t out of our less than reputable players – messrs Andy Carroll and, in ruthless particularity, Joey Barton. Over the course of the game no fewer than 7 times a football was all that separated a foul and a 3 month stretch at her Majesty’s pleasure, Karl Henry the most merciless and careless in the skeletal structure of his opponents remaining intact. This is nothing new though, Joey himself being red handed guilty of some ridiculous and plain stupid tackles over his years in football. But why does this become acceptable when it is inflicted on him? Does retribution, the stone-age level of justice, make attempting to snap another human being’s leg in 2 pieces acceptable? What if Karl Henry does this to Clint Dempsey or James Milner? Is he all of a sudden a villain then? Utter horse sh#t. Let’s put this in perspective – Joey Barton in his past has been an arsehole – no doubt. But he’s no murderer or rapist. And Mick ‘kickandf#ckingrun’ McCarthy….where do I start with that tedious arsehole. After watching his simpleton tactic of ‘wind up Barton by braying the sh#t out of him until he reacts and gets sent off’ fails he decided on 90minutes to take himself onto the pitch and berate Barton – presumably for the audacity of showing restraint after being battered worse than a Middlesbrough housewife. The final demeanor after giving Barton an earful of dog sh#te was to turn his back on him and walk back to the touchline like a man who was in the f#cking right, in such a manner as to make it look as though Barton had been piling recklessly into his players for the 90minutes… c#ntish behaviour of the highest order – I’ve never seen anyone act like that much of a pr#ck since Piers Morgan did…well anything… Of course though, if it had been Barton he wouldn’t have lasted until half time. Stuart Atwell, a referee so f#cking moronic he gives goals for shots that don’t even go anywhere near the goal line let alone over the f#cker, afforded no protection to any player and took no control over a game from which it was amazing that no player ended up in hospital. The fact he afforded most of his yellow cards for dissent, being ignorant to actual bodily harm says more than my rhetoric ever can.
In the background of this battle somewhere was a football match, a match in which Newcastle started brightly creating a number of clear cut chances and being sometimes ludicrously wasteful in deadly positions. Despite early pressure and numerous chances the home side took the lead via a very well taken Ebanks-Blake goal, using a deft touch to deaden a speculative cross and finishing smartly slotting the ball between the lethargic Harper’s legs. Wolves then had a fairly straight forward penalty shout surprisingly turned down by the incompetent Atwell – the one time in the game his ineptitude did us a favour. I know James Perch is new to the Premiership scene but he really has to try not to give away pens like f#cking Christmas presents… This let off left the door open for Newcastle and shortly afterwards a well executed free kick from Joey Barton, by this point a mass of broken bones and covered in spit, was met by the distinctive head of Andy Carroll who glanced the ball effortlessly into the back of the net to level the scores. This spurred on the away side in a late rally for a winner, coming close with an Ameobi header (probably aimed at the corner flag) which narrowly missed the far post. The scores however remained level, and in retrospect it was a steady score line and a welcome point.
22.08.2010 – Sunday 1:30pm
Barclays Premier League
Newcastle United – 6
Aston Villa – 0
Location: St James
MOM: Andy Carroll / Jose Enrique
NUFC Performance: 10/10
What goes around…
Being a Newcastle fan I learned a long time ago that if you gloat it will inevitably come back to bite you in the arse more viciously than a baboon with roid rage. 16months before this game I, along with quite a few thousand others, travelled to the sh#t pit that is the Aston area of Birmingham to watch Newcastle slip lifelessly out of the Premiership without even a whimper of a fight, even putting into our own net almost showing a willingness to lose which I’d never seen before, bearing in mind a point would have been good enough to save our limp skins. This was insulting enough – but I’ve been insulted plenty of times before by Newcastle performances and, as frustrating as it is, the relationship is like any and time heals the wounds (even if the wounds are like that of a tiger shark attack). The insults that weren’t acceptable started around the 85th minute when a p#ss stained bed sheet with ‘sob on the Tyne’ crudely painted on unrolled from the top tier of the Holte end, followed by ‘who’s your messiah now? Ant and Dec?’. Out right provocation from a team and set of fans I was unaware we had any previous problem with – actions that would have been expected and understood from the makems / smog monsters – they made enemies that day.
Fast forward to the present day and the fixtures had blessed us with our first home game against our new found hatred. In the run up to the game Newcastle had taken an easy and expected beating against Man Utd whilst Villa had eased past a poor West Ham with a comfortable win. A tough game was on the cards but the sun blazing in the Newcastle sky and the lack of hangover despite a 3 o’clock finish and sinking two bottles of wine the night before should have been an indication of things to come. The game started fairly even with Newcastle looking cautious but solid, but a moment of abysmal marking lead to Ashley Young pacing through and felled crudely by Steve Harper who presumably had some clever idea in his head of how that wouldn’t lead to a stone wall penalty. It did. And it looked like again we would be making things difficult for ourselves. John Carew however decided power + more power + lean back with head behind the ball = good penalty, with the resultant spot kick landing in Lapland. He did however manage to keep his divot down when he kicked the ground in frustration straight after…
This seemed to spark Newcastle into real life and the work rate upped across the field – three minutes later Joey Barton picked the ball up on the edge of the area and raked an absolute missile into the net sparking delirium and apparently a Nazi salute… only Joey Barton could attract that kind of ridiculous claim (funny that Alan Shearer’s hand in the air celebration never lead to a single accusation of being fascist, probably on the basis that just like Barton’s it wasn’t in f#ckin’ the slightest…). Villa needed to get back in the game but inexplicably played everything down their right through their weakest winger (Marc Albrighton) against our strongest full-back – Jose Enrique, who presumably had a pocket sewn in his shorts to keep Albrighton in. They even swapped wingers with Stewart Downing leaving his left flank where by this point James Perch was having a BBQ to once again leave Enrique bossing the left side. Newcastle continued to graft like Japanese labourers and grew in confidence, linking ever more intelligent moves together with pace, movement and precision of passing which, frankly, by Newcastle standards was astonishingly efficient and ruthless. They were duly rewarded with a 2nd when Carroll cleverly and selflessly headed back to Kevin Nolan who scored with a placed header after seeing his first effort saved by Brad Friedel. The pressure lead to another – Carroll scoring from close range after Dunne had made an absolute Conservative Government (disaster) of his clearance. Newcastle then had a legitimate shout for, what at first looked like a free kick (but on reflection was outside the area) a foul on Alan Smith – tripped up by Richard Dunne after uncharacteristically hurtling forward to follow a Nolan breakthrough – Smith presumably getting a nose bleed in the process of being that close to the opposition’s goal.
There was the expectation that Villa would return from the dressing room at half time with shards of shattered cups stuck in their heads and severely windswept hair and be a much tougher proposition than that which had presented itself in the first half. This didn’t happen. If anything Villa became more pathetic and Newcastle, by this point enjoying an unscheduled afternoon off work in the sunshine, seized the opportunity and took another 3 goals without reply, or fight for that matter, Nolan adding another, Carroll another two completing his hat-trick for the day.
Carroll in particular had an incredibly impressive day prompting the first of what will presumably be many calls for an England place – not a surprise given the lumbering battering ram Emile Heskey managed to inexplicably hold down a place in the national squad for so many years, and on his retirement being left with the only other option being Carlton Cole – a man with the guile and technical sophistication of a Rhino on heat. As far as I’m concerned England can f#ck right off over the furthest hill away from Carroll. The last thing Newcastle United need is their starlet being thrust in front of the furnace of national ultra impatience waiting to be incinerated at the first average performance and the ashes thrown out of a car on Barrack Road back to SJP for us to clean up the mess. Newcastle owes England nothing – the national abuse surrounding our relegation from the Premiership, most poignantly at that day in Aston, is testament to this.
Long live the Geordie Nation.
16.08.2010 – Monday 8:00pm
Barclays Premier League
Manchester United – 3
Berbaflop, Fletcher, Giggs
Newcastle United – 0
Location: Old Trafford
MOM: Paul Scholes
NUFC Performance: 6/10
Semi-retirement must be a nice thing. Lord knows my fresh age coupled with the seemingly extended-by-10 years-by-the week retirement age, by the time I reach semi-retirement I will have to be wheeled to work by my carer and have the local coroner on speed dial. At present though semi-retirement is still a nice thing. At least it is from what I see in my work. Turn up 3 days a week and p#ss about more than a 16yr old in a managerless McDonalds kitchen.
Richard Keys and Andy Gray seem to have reached this holy grail of working life – something which has been indirectly rammed down our throats with Sky Sports’ reintroduction of Monday night football. By using their almost Stalin-esq strangle hold on the Premiership and following the ‘everything should be f#ckin retro because no creative people exist anymore’ theme of recent times – it has now returned under the inventive title of ‘MNF’ and in a purpose commissioned studio representing something like space f#ckin’ mountain. Both pre and post game Keys and Gray managed to ignore all statistical fact, impartiality and even at points, the away team playing at Old Trafford on the night… The fair opinion pre-game was that Newcastle would struggle to leave with even a point that night, and they duly did so. But the way the two soon to be geriatrics reflected on the game seemed to get more and more generous as the minutes went by. Stats showed that despite Manchester having a higher percentage of possession than the British tax payer has of RBS they only mustered four shots on target – scoring from three of those. How that could transform into “could have easily been 5, 6, 7” I don’t know. It’s almost like they spent the entire game bleating on to each other about age related hemorrhoids then when the full time whistle came… “who-won?? Man Utd?? They must have p#ssed it – howay Andy, lets spout some sh#te and get back to the driving range”.
Still, this can’t disguise what was a comfortable win against a capitulating Newcastle team. Perhaps on a luckier day we might have left with a 1-0 defeat but a 0-0 would pretty much have required luck of gargantuan proportion and a win of any description would have required to be in league with satan (aka Piers Morgan) himself. The game plan was damage limitation and Newcastle spent so long camped outside their own penalty area they may as well have pitched tents and got a fire going – with pretty much every player being guilty of sitting round said fire singing kumbaya while Patrice Evra drove into the box to set up the second. This after cheap loss of possession by Jonas Gutierrez combined with an unlucky touch from Jose Enrique turned into the perfect through ball for Dimitar Berbaflop to score the opener. Given Newcastle’s insistence on not attacking even after going behind the contest was over after the first goal went in, although they remained dogged and organised. The only concern from a tactical point of view was Paul Scholes being left un-harassed to dictate the game, so conspicuously he may as well have had ‘playmaker’ printed on the back of his shirt and ran around shouting ‘EVERYTHING IS GOING THROUGH ME’. Still, a nightmare trip is out of the way and our season starts next week at home to Aston Villa.
On a final note: It was nice to hear Man Utd fans singing their very awkwardly worded song about Alan Shearer (…makes Alan Shearer look f#ckin… eh what? dearer, nearer? – try again lads). Nice in the way it’s funny to see they still care – it’ll always grate on them…
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