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Newcastle United v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 22nd May 2015
By: Preview Percy

And so we reach the final game of the season which means that we cn go a whole three months without having to speak to Preview Percy. What's that you say? Europa League? Oh for pete's sake.....

Next up and for the final game of the season we make the looong trek up the A1 & A1(M) to Geordieland where our hosts will be Newcastle United. Kick-off on Sunday is at 3pm and there’ll be a bit of tv coverage given Newcastle’s current position.

Although the East Coast main line looks to be free of men digging it up over the weekend there are works going on between Dagenham East & Aldgate East on the District and Hammersmith & City lines so you may want to leave a bit earlier for Kings Cross. Thankfully the proposed strikes have been suspended so you won’t get stuck behind a long queue of mobility scooters from us lot here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home for the Bewildered as we go on our annual outing to the secure unit we use as our base up there.

When I asked my Geordie chum - and fellow inmate here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered - Preview Alastair for a few words on his beloved team he simply shook his head and started weeping uncontrollably. It’s not hard to see why. Much has been made of our form since the turn of the year but in comparison we’ve got little to complain about.

The Magpies have picked up but the one point in their last ten matches – that coming courtesy of a 1-1 draw with West Brom. Some of the stats, supplied as ever by the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips, do not happy reading make. You have to go back to 28 February for their last win (a 1-0 win over Villa) and their only other win in 2015 came at the end of January when they did Hull 3-0 on their own patch. All of which wouldn’t be quite so bad if they had been picking up the odd point here and there which, basically, they haven’t.

The blame is, of course, aimed squarely by the supporters at the club’s owner “the not actually a cockney, you idiots” Mike Ashley. Ashley was to blame for the tenure of Alan Pardew, the inclusion of whose name in this sets off a million electronic sensor alerts on the computers of certain law firms. After months of stick from the fans, Pardew took the opportunity to leg it down to Palace, the irony being that he used to get dog’s abuse from their support when he was a player down there.

Pardew left at the turn of the year and was replaced by John Carver under whom the team’s record has been unarguably worse. Maybe it’s me but it certainly appears from the outside that whereas Pardew used to get equal billing with Ashley in the abuse stakes. Carver, on the other hand has been spared much of the aggro that Pardew got, most of which seems to have been diverted in the direction of Ashley. Presumably the reason for this is that , not coming from anywhere south of Gateshead, Carver doesn’t qualify as a “cockney”, their definition of which seems to be “anyone who was born south of Gateshead that isn’t otherwise a Mackem”.

You’ll observe then that there is more than an element of regional xenophobia over the fans’ disdain for Ashley. When he took over, the fact that he didn’t come from that part of the world meant that he was probably on a loser right from the start. I’m often reminded – and I’ve probably mentioned this before - of the marvellous episode of “Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads” in which, challenged by Bob, Terry comes up with a disparaging one-word description for every country he can think of that isn’t England. Terry then goes on to admit that he doesn’t have much time for southerners, or even people who live the other side of the Tyne, before finally admitting that, when he came to think about it, he didn’t care too much for most of the people in his street.

Having said all that, it has to be said that the fans do have a point. Things like the attempt to rename the stadium after his cheap sportswear company (your average Millwall supporter’s tailor of choice) wouldn’t go down too well with the likes of Chelsea fans, let alone a proper club with an actual bit of history like Newcastle. It is also claimed that the sportswear company pays not a penny for the prime advertising space it gets around the ground. If that’s the case this represents something of a double loss of income to the club, which is denied any income either from Ashley’s bazaar or from (the presumably higher) fees that could be charged to an external advertiser.

It might help his cause were Ashley to actually communicate what his grand vision for the club actually is, asuming that there is one. However, you’re more likely to hear a quote from Orville the duck than see a published interview with Ashley. Our owners may drop the occasional clanger on the communications front (cough twitter) but at least they chip in with a word or two from time to time.

Ashley might (if he were to actually speak to anyone) claim that he’s might have expected a bit more out of his coaches. Joe Kinnear, you will recall, won the World Cup, a dozen Nobel prizes and a Blue Peter badge according to one or two of the more lucid interviews he gave during his time in charge. It seems that John Carver is cut from similar cloth, claiming as he did that he was “the best coach in the world”. Even if, as he later claimed, he was taken out of context it wasn’t a comment that he’d not really thought through, coming as it did after a 3-0 defeat to Leicester.

That game saw the sending off of defender Mike Williamson who Carver accused of getting dismissed deliberately. There were subsequent (unsubstantiated) rumours of a bit of a barney on the team bus on the way home and Carver’s recent invitation to players to leave if they didn’t fancy it this weekend suggests that the club is as far from being in harmony as it is from London.

So, to summarise, the club has an owner who shows all the signs of not being overly unhappy as long as the club stays in the top flight and who treats the support with at the very least disdain if not outright contempt and there is a coach who seems to have been promoted beyond his ability and who seems at war with many of his players. If that were all happening in N17 it’d probably quite funny. Up on Tyneside, however, it’s all a little depressing even to these cynical and jaded eyes.

So I’ll move on to us, a subject which, at the moment, is slightly less depressing. Last week was a microcosm of all that’s gone wrong in the latter half of the season for us. Defending too deep after taking a lead and the conceding of late late goals has been pretty much par for the course. And of course throw in another unacceptable refereeing performance and you have 2015/16 in a nutshell.

The state of refereeing is, of course, something that I’ve been rambling on about for years. When I pointed out years ago that allowing PGMOL to act as a self-contained dictatorship with positions being determined as much by patronage as by ability, I was roundly slated. “Oh it’s a tough job, they’re only human etc etc etc” was the standard response. However, since PGMOL effectively give people a job for life irrespective of whether they are actually any good at it, is anyone really surprised at the dramatic drop in quality we have seen over the last few years? It rather proves my point. I suppose it’s possible that Jonathan Moss might get an important call right in the Cup Final, but on his record over the past few seasons it’s not a bet on which I’d want to wager the traditional £2.50.

On the injury front, the joy at actually having three centre halves who were able to walk lasted less than a quarter of an hour as Collins hobbled off with a pulled muscle. Burke’s run in the middle will continue with Kouyate being on standby to step back should yet another injury reduce the resources available on that part of the pitch. The rest of the treatment mob will be back next season with the possible exception of Demel who could be off permanently.

We may, of course, be saying farewell to the boss too. Or, possibly not. I personally think that he did an OK job up to a point, taking as he did what was undoubtedly a shambles, getting things organised and the team back into the top flight. However, I think that we’ve got to a bit of a plateau really. We don’t seem to be able to adapt our game to changing circumstances and, though the players must take some responsibility for that, it’s clear from the manager’s post match comments that the bald one and the short chubby one post on here each week that he does expect his teams to adhere to systems. Fine when it works but you need to change things when it doesn’t. So, on balance, I reckon it’d be better for both parties if it were to be “so long and thanks for all the fish” for him. Though the way things are I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he were to be offered a new contract!

So, with all the grief, gloom and despondency up there, and the only slightly better mood at our place, what is the bottom line for this particular match? Well the result at the library the other night did not go down well. It was bad enough their relegation rivals getting themselves the point that guarantees safety. The fact that it just happened to be Sunderland just rubbed sulphuric acid into the wounds really.

This means that the weekend boils down to this: If Hull don’t beat Man Utd the Geordies are safe. If they do win the Magpies will need a win to stay up as they have an inferior goal difference. Now reading the forums around here it appears that some of you wouldn’t lose any sleep if the Geordies were to slip through the trapdoor. Balderdash I say. The prospect of seeing the bitter sour-faced Steve Bruce getting relegated will fair warm the cockles. Besides I’m not sure that the rest home can afford the cost of repairing Preview Alastair’s room again if Newcastle mess up.

Allardyce will want to win this one more than most – it is said that after his less than happy 8 month sojourn in the north east he spent part of his payoff on a villa in Spain which he christened Casa St James, no doubt with a wry imaginary finger raised in Ashley’s direction. Obviously I want us to win so I’m hoping that Bruce’s old mates don’t roll over for him. Prediction-wise the £2.50 from the Preview Alastair room repair fund that will be going on a 1-1 draw which, hopefully, will enable both of us to go home happy.

Enjoy the game - and from Matron, the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips, Preview Alastair, the bald one and the short chubby one who “run” this site and from Cuthbert, the landlord of the Swan & Superinjuction, have a good summer.

From me, wherever you go I hope it rains.

When last we met at SJP: (if Ashley wants me to call it something else he can start by paying for the naming rights like everyone else): Drew 0-0. You know what dull 0-0 draws are like? This was just like that.

Danger Man: Papis Cisse – Top scorer with 11 so, in a side that is having such a lousy time of it, he gets it by default.

Referee: Martin Atkinson. This will be the SEVENTH time that we’ve been saddled with this one this season. Whatever they are doing up at PGMOL it’s not their job.

Daft Fact Of The Week:: Ever wonder why there are so many obese Geordies? The first Greggs in the country was opened in Gosforth in 1951.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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