One dictionary definition of magpie is “idle chatterer”. That probably sums up Kevin Keegan quite well. But Pete Sixsmith, writing before news broke that the circus was coming back to toon, found plenty for scope for fun at the expense of KK’s long line of predecessors
There’s a classic Fawlty Towers moment when Basil is having a dialogue with O’Reilly, the useless Irish builder, and O’Reilly says to Fawlty: “Calm down, Mr Fawlty. There’s always someone who’s worse off than you.” Basil replies “Is there? Well, I’d like to meet him, I could do with a good laugh.”
Now, things are not great for us. We are in our traditional relegation place, some of the players we have brought in this summer are clearly not good enough and there are a few people beginning to have doubts about the manager. But there at least 50,000 worse off than us and they are all wearing Black and White as the Great Mag Fiasco Show rides into town again.
For here is a club for which the word Fiasco might have been invented. The owner thinks he is a fan and wears a (Sports Direct bought) shirt to prove it. But he isn’t really; he’s from deepest Manchester United territory – Hertfordshire.
The chairman looks like someone who has wandered in from the accountant’s office and been given the job of speaking for his reclusive master without having any ideas of his own. The late lamented manager had an issue with the BBC, had never won anything in the top flight and played a brand of football that was an anathema to the cultured, educated shirt twirlers who make up the crowd. So he has to go.
They decide to appoint as his replacement a man eligible for a bus pass, who has issues with the BBC and (though entirely innocent) the City of London police, who has never won anything in the top flight and who plays a brand of football that owes as much to gut instinct as it does to any coaching manual I have ever come across. And then, he turns them down. What are they left with – nothing with a big fat capital N (Editor’s note: until a KK pops up).
Now sacking your manager is fine if you have an idea of who you want to replace him and then have a couple of others to fall back on. Sacking your manager surely isn’t fine when you have to ask a mate who was a director at Spurs (a club renowned for their sensitive handling of managerial dismissals) who they should appoint – and then having no other ideas.
The one man that the supporters want is willing to do it despite his lack of formal qualifications (and his clear love and adoration for Sunderland as seen on MOTD) and is even willing to work with a faded Messiah from what seems like the Stone Age of football. But they won’t appoint him. And why not? Because he is too powerful and far too much of an influence at the club to be tolerated by the egos that are Ashley and Mort.
On top of all this they have to play Manchester United and produce 45 minutes of such staggering ineptitude that it makes our display at Everton look like the revival of the Dutch concept of Total Football. It was truly wonderful to see a pair of central defenders who lacked co-ordination and the basic skills of marking and tackling, combined with the most disinterested pair of forwards in Owen and Viduka that I have seen since Swindlehurst and Buchanan turned out for us. The ultimate insult to the Geordie Nation came when their idiotic captain was sent off for disputing the sixth goal in stoppage time. Laugh? I couldn’t stop until I had almost dislocated my jawbone.
The media are loving it. Five Live has been full of debates and phone ins and experts all discussing the merits of this fantastic club with its wonderful fans and how they are or are not a big club. The general consensus appears to be that they are not a big club, the fans are too demanding and that someone needs to sort it out.
But wasn’t that why Allardyce was brought in anyway? He got six months and more grief than any other manager in their history. They say they didn’t want Redknapp, they are lukewarm about Hughes and Houllier and most have never heard of Deschampes – all they want is Big Al.
Well, I did hope they’d get him. It would bring his excruciating performances on MOTD to a welcome end. It would prove beyond any doubt that the owners are idiots and it might even end up with them being relegated.
You get the odd decent, intelligent Mag. I met him once and he knew what was wrong with his club. “It’s the fans,” he said. “We think far too much of ourselves and this makes it easy for owners and managers to take us for granted. If we stopped going, it would let them know that we are fed up with being treated like a comedy sideshow. Your lot might be useless but at least you have a realistic sense of proportion. Our lot don’t – and it’s not as if they know much about the game, most only go out of North East tribalism”.
The Mags – don’t ya just love ’em?