Even observers beyond the red and white segment of the North East can see that Newcastle United, “Geordie Nation” and “everyone’s second team” nonsense aside, are not an especially likeable football club.
The self-promotion can verge on the absurd. The babyish bans imposed on locally based reporters bring Mike Ashley into disrepute and make the job of honest communications staff a nightmare (even if, on a winning run, some Mags are at last willing to support the Stasi-like assault on free expression).
Alan Pardew’s conduct, on the touchline versus Sunderland and again at Hull, hardly makes him Mr Respectable. Few of us may warm to his charisma.
Yet it would be churlish to argue with his Barclays Premier League manager of the month award for November. From baying for his blood only weeks ago, some fans are now turning into “we always backed him” loyalists after three victories in four matches and a surge from bottom to somewhere near the top. If Gus Poyet did that, we’d expect even Mags to recognise his achievement. Beyond that admittedly grudging acknowledgement, I cannot bring myself to go.
But I also referred to United’s achievement in my preview of the West Ham match at ESPN. that was before the award, though we knew he was in for it.
At ESPN, I was much more concerned about us. It can be seen in full at http://www.espnfc.com/club/sunderland/366/blog/post/2193286/premier-league-can-connor-wickham-be-the-goal-scorer-that-sunderland-desperately-needs, and commented upon there or here.
But here is an extract:
Along with Southampton and, painful as this is to acknowledge, Newcastle United, West Ham have been the unexpected high achievers in the first third of the season. A string of good results takes them to the Stadium of Light in fourth place.
What, I asked Graeme Howlett, the editor of the Hammers fan site Knees Up Mother Brown, has gone right?
“More money equals better players and equals better results,” he replied. “It helps that most of the summer signings have hit the ground running too — Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia, Alex Song, Cheik Kouyate and Aaron Cresswell — to name but five have proved excellent acquisitions.”
As former Newcastle players, Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan will receive hostile receptions on Wearside, but this is unlikely to worry them in the least. Sunderland undoubtedly have a stiff task on their hands against a team on a run of three successive wins.
Liverpool’s stuttering display against Basel, which eliminated them from the Champions League, applied some perspective to the 0-0 draw at Anfield. It was a good, hard-working point but Poyet’s post-match comments about his team’s attacking deficiencies reinforced the feeling that in view of Liverpool’s current malaise, this was a game that might have been won.
Until Sunderland find a way of capitalising on opposition off-days, those anxious looks over the shoulder at the relegation zone will persist.
Ha’way the Lads. And let us see if you can put two noses out of joint, those belonging to Big Sam and Pardew the Butler.
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