Happy new week to you, you Magpie faithful! Finally a week passes and we get a chance to feel decent about ourselves as the new week starts. Winless in four, an interestingly assembled squad took the pitch at St. James' Park and restored hope for European qualification with a typical 2011-12 season effort. Dominant at times, nervy at times and ultimately sitting back to protect a lead*, Newcastle took 3 points from a team that could have given them much more trouble than they ended up doing on the day.
*Slight aside- I believe it was Einstein who said "Insanity [is] doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."*
*Slight aside from the aside- It was my high school friend Oak who speculated that if you slammed into a wall 1,000 times, you could break completely through it on the 1,001st effort. Take these little bits for whatever they're worth... this time, we managed to sit on it and win.
SO... we venture forward into the final 9 matches of the season with Europe remaining squarely on the table. 2 points behind Chelsea for fifth place (although Chelsea hold a game in hand), we're in an interesting place for supporters- exceeding even our wildest dreams from the beginning of the season, but finding that special anger that lies in just missing out on something major. For my part, I launch into the last 9 matches unencumbered by any interest in that basketball tournament that is going on (shhhhhh... we're not talking about it.) and will do a much better job of being entertaining than I did last week. Jump and read!
There was a moment yesterday, after Hatem Ben Arfa had been substituted and following a Mike Williamson sliced clearance, that a supporter, within earshot of Alan Pardew, berated the Newcastle manager for taking the wrong player off. Pardew turned slowly, with a face like thunder, to stare down his detractor and vociferously tell him to shut up. Afterwards it also felt that he was still defending his side, and there was something to admire in that, if not in the game itself, as he admitted.
Newcastle are two points off fifth place in sixth and this win, however bitty and unpleasant on the eye, stopped a run of four games without one. They have not played well for a while and the fans' unrest - there were pockets of jeers when Ben Arfa was substituted - present once more the paradox of this football club. Sometimes winning is not enough, and Pardew was rounding on that ideology as much as defending his own players.
This is what I was alluding to before the jump. I have to confess that we as a community also felt that it was the wrong move at the time, although I don't think that anger was the general feeling. Interesting place for supporters-- way above where we thought we'd be, but below where we want to be.
The pair are Senegal internationals, but had played little football together until Cisse arrived on Tyneside in January. However, his third goal in four home games was enough to condemn Norwich to a 1-0 defeat as the growing understanding between the two frontmen began to pay dividends. Pardew said: "They were a little bit closer together, and that worked better for us. "If you are going to play two out-and-out strikers like they are, you have got to ask them to work, and they really put in a shift because that extra midfield player Norwich had started to get a grip at times.
Ba and Cisse are looking better and better together as they get more matches together. It seems that, although their Senegal connection has been so ballyhooed, they really have not played that many matches together... so the learning curve is a little steeper than we may have thought it might be. I liked what I saw in the Norwich match for sure, though, even though it only reaped one goal.
Such a scary thing with Fabrice Muamba... hopefully he is able to make a full recovery. I have read of a couple of other cases in which similar things occurred and the player was at least able to escape with his life. It's hard to think of that as a worst-case scenario. Get well, Fabrice!
Perhaps by team sheet Jonas was listed as the left back, but I stand by my assertion that Jonas, Perch and Cabaye were playing a form of zone stretching from the left back position up and across to the right wing position. It was interesting and effective. Also, Tim Krul does not sound what I envisioned him sounding like when he speaks.
CHEIK Tiote’s expected to be fit for Newcastle United’s visit to The Hawthorns – but Ryan Taylor’s unlikely to face West Bromwich Albion. The pair sat out yesterday’s 1-0 win over Norwich City at St James’s Park. Tiote was sidelined with a muscle strain suffered in the defeat to Arsenal a week ago, while Taylor has missed the last two games with a calf problem.
This, then becomes the narrative of the final nine games. Cheik Tiote is likely winding up his Newcastle United career with these matches. We have played nearly half of this season without him at this point (well... 12 without, 17 with.) and Danny Guthrie has looked better and better as his stand-in. How do you manage this situation going forward if you're Alan Pardew? Do you continue to play Tiote and tell Guthrie "Be patient, lad. It's your spot next year." Or do you try to please Guthrie now hoping to increase the likelihood he signs a new deal?
The damage to the garden, which was only opened a few months ago a short distance from Newcastle United’s home ground, happened after the Magpies had beaten Norwich 1-0 on Sunday and has led to an angry reaction on Tyneside. Robson’s popularity in the game was legendary, although his success with Ipswich Town as a manager in the 70s and 80s meant that popularity did not generally extend to their Norfolk rivals. The damage was limited to the drawing of a rude picture on Robson’s face in black marker pen, which was cleaned off by Newcastle City Council workers this morning.
Stay classy, Norwich. Regardless of what you thought of the man when he was managing a rival club, there are just some things that you don't do. This would be one of them.
EDITOR'S LINK: Irish Thighs are Smiling - Jezebel
Newcastle United's Demba Ba, left, has a shot towards goal past Norwich City's Zak Whitbread, right, during their English Premier League soccer match at the Sports Direct Arena, Newcastle, England, Sunday, March. 18, 2012.
This is simply a photograph of Demba's thighs from a website centered around sex, celebrity, feminism, and fashion (it's also one of the best written websites around)... but it was too good to pass up in a mere fan shot. Go crazy, girls! (Sorry, OsotP... I had to do it).
EDITOR'S NOTE: This post was originally titled "I'm Not Dead Yet" Edition... which is OsotP's usual fallback when it comes to the Monday links given that Newcastle is still very much alive in the race for Europa. We apologize for any confusion or offense this may have caused with the very serious situation regarding Fabrice Muamba, it was absolutely against our intentions. CHN's staff and members all very much wish Fab a speedy recovery, and stand behind Bolton fans in this time of crisis.
We have replaced the headline with this, which will hopefully only offend none, except those partial to larches.