At Home with The Benitezes
Mrs B: So have you made up your minds, my love?
Rafa: It's so difficult. I love the Klub, I love the city and the fans, but...
Mrs B: don't say it! Those fools in charge...
Rafa: They just don't understand the game. They don't care like the fans do of success on the pitch. Even if they say they will invest in the Klub, dare I believe their promises?
Mrs B: You've told them what you want, haven't you?
Rafa: Oh yes, I wrote it all down for them.
Mrs B: So what was their reply?
Apr 20th: Toon...3 Southampton...1
Zero to hero! Perez hat trick and fine team effort virtually assures us of Premiership safety. Joy of Easter joys, only one cloud on the horizon...
Apr 12th: Leicester...0 Toon...1
Well this was a surprise, a very pleasant surprise! We deserved the win that almost guarantees our Premiership survival- though in truth we ought to be wishing for more than mere survival. After a sticky opening, we gained in confidence, boosted by Rondon's stinging free kick, which rebounded off the crossbar. We looked the better side after this, and a brilliant cross from Ritchie was deflected in by the once maligned Perez. In the second half, there were a couple of moments when their defence fell to pieces and we really should have added to our tally. As it was, the tension racked up as the minutes ticked down. Their best chance came when their poor man's Harry Kane was through with only Dubby to beat. Thankfully he ballooned it, and at the final whistle the relief on everyone's faces was palpable
Apr 6th: Toon...0 Palace...1
Oh dear. Methinks I hear whispers of the R word anew. Those matches against Southampton, Brighton and even Fulham could be all important
Apr 1st: Arsenal...2 Toon...0
The scoreline was flattering - to us. Yes, we offered a workmanlike performance, a solid defence, every player well drilled in their duty. But no sign of any of the flair that Arsenal occasionally sprang on us! We know our team works hard and does their best, but it's very depressing, realising that even at our best, there is a huge chasm between us and the top teams, Kev's Entertainers are but a distant memory
Mar 16th: Bournemouth...2 Toon...2
Having taken the lead in first half added on time, we conceded two in the second half and looked doomed until a last gasp equaliser. It was the least we deserved. Miggy created our first goal, with a burst forward that drew a tackle, Rondon's resulting free kick was the stuff of dreams. The ref awarded them a dubious penalty, and from then on, their tails were up. But pleased to say, we fought on and with added on time almost up, Ritchie sent home a crashing shot against his old team, for a hard earned point
Mar 9th: Toon...3 Everton...2
At half time all was doom, with the R word returning trembling to our lips. Anger was also there at the ref who failed to red card their goalie for the most blatent foul in history. But our team overcame such grievances, with a much improved second half and three goals offered fair reward for our labours. It was as well we won, since two of our 'Rivals,' Brighton and Southampton, also won, but I rate this our best win of the season!
Mar 2nd: West Ham...2 Toon...0
Reality check, we worked hard creating chances in the second half, but were outclassed by the East London toffs, showing the wide gap between us and the better teams. Best move came nearish the end when two of our subs linked up: Wor Dummy to Diame, good cross, Rondon just foiled
Feb 26th: Toon...2 Burnley...0
Another vital win over R- rivals, so that it almost seems unnecessary to worry about the R word this season any more! A fine goal by Wor Sean sealed a comfortable victory, and everything in the garden looks rosy... only Rafa's contract ending is a blot, and oh, how could I forget, there's always a certain Mr Ash*** to muddy the horizon
Feb 23rd: Toon...2 Huddersfield...0
Though things are rarely straightforward with Toon, this should have been and was an easy victory over the bottom of table side, who were quickly reduced to ten men. We ought to have improved out goal difference by more, hitting the woodwork several times, but the positive was that Miggy looks a fine prospect
Feb 11th: Wolves...1 Toon...1
We surprised Wolves, maybe even ourselves, by going on the offensive from the off. This gave Perez a rare chance to show some attacking ability, even if he fluffed one goal chance. Our million pound Miggy also put in a brief appearance, enough to encourage Ash*** to spend more??? In the end it was two goalkeeping errors that prevented this from being goalless. Wannabee-Out Hayden took a lovely through pass and fired into and out of their hapless goalie's arms. We looked to have secured all three points as the four added on minutes expired, then after over half a minute of extra extra time, they equalised. Whether Dubby fumbled or whether he was pushed, it is too late to worry now, but since the full time whistle ought to have blown, for those two reasons the score ought actually to have been one nil to the Toon
Feb 2nd: Spurs...1 Toon...0
The usual defence game, with just a hint of attack around the half hour and again near half time, when Perez had one golden chance. Wonder what Miggy might have made of that? A bright start to the second half saw Rondon hit the post, before their sustained pressure needed an off the line clearance by Schar to prevent them scoring. Yet it was pretty inevitable that despite our good defending and a slice of luck that their pressure would tell. We tried for an equaliser, but in vain
Jan 29th: Toon...2 Man City...1
Yes, that is the correct scoreline: some idiot had said this match was unwinnable, and probably 90% of Toon fans would have agreed. When they scored in under half a minute, that figure must have risen to 100%, yet we kept going, kept going, and got our reward after an hour with a Rondon equaliser. Miracle of miracle we got a penalty late on, and every credit to Ritchie who had to wait an eternity before coolly slotting in our winner. I could hardly believe it, after the last debilitating performance, this was sheer exhilaration! News of a new signing is in the air, so mebbes we will finish the month on a high. But the questions remain: 1 Rafa don't look that happy, so will he continue to put up with his appalling maltreatment, and 2 how come we can't switch it on like this more often?
Jan 26th: Toon...0 Watford...2
Fourth round of cup, deeply debilitating, another lacklustre exit. You'd have thought we might have made some effort, specially as our next league game is unwinnable. Monty said at the start of the year he'd have a more positive attitude, but how to maintain this in the depths of winter is impossible. We have no hope. In Rafa we did trust, but he could work no miracle. I wonder how many fans resolved after this dispiriting performance, that That's That until the Big Fat Leach exits
Jan 19th: Toon...3 Cardiff...0
Three glorious goals, and three precious points, lifting us out of the relegation zone! But let's get real, this was against a poor side, surely relegation fodder themselves, yet all the more essential that we beat 'em- and we did! Easily. Yet when all said and done, we are only one point and one place from the drop, and the battle is still to come
Jan 15th: Blackburn...2 Toon...4
Early on, optimism flushed thru our ranks, as Wor Sean then Wor Callum of the reserves shot us in to a two goal lead. There was something inevitable about Wor Adam, once of Toon- a keen player but who had never scored for us, well he got their first and by half time a feeling of angst had spread o'er us as the game was tied at two apiece. Worse followed, with injuries and extra time, but Dinosaur Monty reckons it was all worthwhile when Jos fired us back in front,. even if he should have been ruled offside. Perez added a fourth and all ought to have been fairly rosy on the bus going home: we're still in the cup! Still something to win this season!
Jan 12th: Chelsea...2 Toon...1
Not a thumping, not unexpected, not bad for our goal diff. Some good moments amid the depressing long moments of blackness, Clark's fine headed goal to level scores gave us hope for a while, only for it to flicker away, and we never looked like scoring a second
Jan 5th: Toon...1 Blackburn...1
It looked like another ignominious exit from the cup until we got a late equaliser. Whether this was better than a defeat, is open to question, for it means a replay, but another chance for our second eleven. On the whole, I feel a home defeat would have been even more depressing than watching this match. Question to Rafa: how about going all out for a win in the replay, trying for a trophy this season? Ok, it could result in relegation, a bit like Wigan a few years back, but think of it, to win a trophy...! As you'll be leaving anyway in the summer Rafa (sadly- unless things change drastically), why not go for the cup and to hell with other consequences?
Jan 2nd: Toon...0 Man U...2
Dinosaur Monty's new year resolution is not to get upset by mentioning the A***** word until we are free of him, I'm gonna be positive, like Kev says in his autobiography, the good times outweigh the bad ones. Whether poor Rafa could say that, I don't know, but for Toon fans Kev was one of the few who brought us any good times amidst a heap of bad ones.
Today's match was typical. I thought we played to our strength, excellent defence in the first half. One spell after the ten minute mark showed we had attacking intentions, with Atsu breaking the offside trap, then delightfully nutmegging one of the forwards. But it was a rare shaft of light and the second half saw a rare mistake from our goalie and we fell behind. The introduction of Shelvey saw more attacks with a couple of skilful threaded passes, but in truth we never looked like trouble for their goalie. 2019 could be a long long road, whoops I was gonna be positive, but how can you be?
Dec 29th: Watford...1 Toon...1
Though this felt like two points dropped, since we were winning most of the game, in reality, it was one precious point ahead of a string of matches against The Big Boys. That we are not one of these Biggies, is all down to that eternal disaster Ash***, who, despite all the fake news, is still steering our rudderless ship. Dinosaur Monty hopes that the one and only Rafa lasts the course when we crash, Ash*** leaps off and we are free
Dec 26th: L'pool...4 Toon...0
Stuffed for Christmas. Result never in doubt, sadly.
Dec 22nd: Toon...0 Fulham...0
No goals. No sale- to date. No festive cheer! Though we definitely should have had one penalty, possibly two today. But nothing given. Nothing- in the bleak midwinter this is, ever realised that your friend and mine, Ash***, is actually Dickens' real life model for Scrooge? Look at how he is so miserly with his money at NUFC. Mebbes the Christmas spirit will reform him, like the original Scrooge, they say miracles do happen
Dec 15th: Huddersfield...0 Toon...1
Not pretty, but what a great result against relegation rivals! It keeps our head above water, and that's all we can hope for at present- that we don't drown before our bondage to Ash*** is ended, and we soar as on eagle's wings under benevolent new ownership... Rondon again proved his worth with our priceless goal, and we ought, if the ref had been on the ball, to have been awarded a second
Dec 9th: Toon...1 Wolves...2
Mebbes the most depressing result of the season, for we looked liked holding on, until their injury time winner. Perez, headed a fine goal, but then having surprisingly been named as Man of Match, had a rush of blood and galloped, with the ball down the pitch, only to lose it in typical fashion. Wolves went up the other end and scored a late winner. A killer numbing blow. But let's take some positives: Rondon always looked a threat with his hold up play, and it was he who supplied the cross for our goal. Atsu, whom I quite rate, was a threat down the left, and Dubravaka, whom everybody rates, made one fine save to keep us level. But one red card to Yedlin changed the game, and whilst it was just about deserved, it stopped us from being the better side, which arguably we had been
Dec 5th: Everton...1 Toon...1
A deserved point which felt like more as we took the lead, but couldn't keep them at bay. But we worked hard and though both sides might have got the winner, in the end it was Atsu who really ought to have converted late on. All this amid Ash*** claiming he has some bidders interested in buying him out (again)
Dec 1st: Toon...0 West Ham...3
After the lord mayor's show, our worst defeat this season. It was supposed to be a well deserved protest against Ash*** in the eleventh minute, but instead, it was at this point they scored. This marked the start of an afternoon to forget, with Perez openly flouting chances, and our defence looking fragile. In fact the real protest ought to have been with eleven minutes to go, since the ground began emptying, yep Ash*** has, I think, missed his window to sell, not that he cares
Nov 28th: Burnley...1 Toon...2
As early as the third minute, we had the ball in the net, a deflected shot. We then defended as per usual, but they looked ineffective, their first shot after twenty minutes straight at Dubravka. We sped down the other end and from a corner went two up, a header from returnee Clark. We always looked a threat going forward, specially on the wings, but they got one back and only a good save from our goalie prevented them going in all square. The second half saw us more dominant, Yedlin forced his way into the six yard area, and somehow Richie missed from a yard out. That would have made the game comfortable, but we held on, sub Jos even smashing his shot against the post. Thus we have obtained max points from our matches this month, and if Ash*** is serious about selling, now is surely the optimum time. We'll find out if he really is serious, somehow I doubt it, sadly. He don't look a serious sort of guy does he?
Nov 10th: Toon...2 Bournemouth..1.
After our tough start to the season, it had been predicted that we would get going in October. Well, one month late, we have awoken, not convincingly perhaps, but today's victory was, in the end, fairly comfortable.
Nov 3rd: Toon...1 Watford...0
If we rode our luck, the result was deserved because after three enforced substitutions, including two of our arguably better players, we could have laid down and capitulated. Instead, we battled, scrapped and defended, Diame who has been a shadow of last season revived, and Perez who has been woeful all season, headed the winner, showing a glimpse of what he was once capable of. But this was a team victory, and temporarily at least, lifts us out of the dreaded R zone
Oct 27th: Southampton...0 Toon...0
This was bargain basement football, and did I not detect a smile on Mike Cash***'s face? Certainly we played in the style of his SD store, clinching our third point this season, wow, and each of the points has been thanks to a nil nil draw. Hardly inspirational, but it does lift us off the bottom.
As things stand at present (though things always change), we might yet finish above today's opponents, as well as Huddersfield and Cardiff. That seems the only straw to clutch at- what ambition!! But of course things will change, other managers will get sacked, ironically that's the last thing Toon need
Oct 20th: Toon...0 Brighton...1
This is a new low, bottom of the league, the R word painfully hanging o'er us. We might have tried today, but it seems last year's miracle tenth place was a fluke, this team ain't good enough. Rafa even got boos, unthinkable, but what could he do? We all know who is to blame. Mebbes Rafa wants to be sacked to extricate himself from the Ash*** nightmare, but we all know who it is who really ought to sack hisself
Oct 6th: Man U...3 Toon...2
On the face of it, this looks like another tight game which, as usual, we lost. But when you learn that we were two up at half time (it ought to have been three), suddenly this looks depressing. Ash*** was treating the team to free pizzas this week (whatever next?), but it needs more than a few pizzas to turn around years of underinvestment
Sept 29th: Toon...0 Leicester...2
Really there was nothing positive to take from this. The only plus points are that Ash*** will have to reducing his asking price, and that a new buyer is (allegedly) in the offing. But that we've heard before! Someone with vision and of course cash please
Sept 22nd: Palace...0 Toon...0
The season was supposed to begin here! Well it hasn't really has it?
Sept 15th: Toon...1 Arsenal...2
My comments the same as for the last match, Clark getting our consolation goal. Never mind, our season will bloom in October when the ash will fade from our nightmares and SD will no more parade itself around SJP
Sept 1st: Man C...2 Toon...1
Utterly expected, but with such a scoreline it felt more like a victory- well, at least not a thumping. We even scored on a rare outing upfield from Yedlin via Rondon, but the truth is our fate will be determined by games other than this. Their squad value compared with ours is laughable, if it wasn't so sad
Aug 29th: Forest...3 Toon...1
An abysmally slack start as old Toon striker Murphy headed them into an easy lead after a minute. We did improve after that, we had to, with Wor Sterry and Wor Longstaff not utterly out of place, we even enjoyed more possession, but no shot on target in the 90 minutes. Our play was sometimes the familiar attack v defence, only this time it was us on the attack! If you could describe it thus for it wasn't until injury time that Rondon had a shot on target, and equalised. It was a fine shot from a tight angle and was the most promising moment of the dread night. The rest of injury time, pass a veil over it, with another poor refereeing decision. It says it all that our Championship opponents had spent more in the summer transfer market than us
Aug 26th: Toon...1 Chelsea...2
This ought to have been a 0-0 draw and all credit to Toon for defending so well. Instead, some refereeing decisions that in my view were poor, enriched the match with three questionable goals. The worst decision was the awarding of a penalty for the Blues, but maybe the ref evened it up when Yedlin, our best player today, clearly elbowed their defender before producing a brilliant cross for Jos' second goal of the season. Then a free kick, doubtful in my view, gave them the winner, an unfortunate deflection off Yedlin. Without two of our best players today, Shelvey and Lascelles, we fought hard, though Rondon's lone striker role offered little to encourage us supporters, and Murphy once again failed to impress. But the rest of the starting eleven were solid, hard working against flair players, and deserved a better referee than this one
Aug 18th: Cardiff...0 Toon...0
What began as a workmanlike performance, more aggression on offer, given the opposition, gradually petered out into a lacklustre effort. Perez had three good chances, one an excellent one, but muffed them. Hayden was brought on to counter the effective Murphy (not our Murphy, but his twin brother) and soon got a red. From then on it was backs to the etc, with our Murphy coming on but not proving as effective as his twin. We did perk up slightly near the end, Kenedy, having fluffed one free kick then botched a last minute surprise penalty that might have snatched us an undeserved three points
Aug 11th: Toon...1 Spurs...2
Opening day of the season, and the mild surprise that none of our new signings were starting was quelled by old hand Joselu who got our goal. Our two January loanees, now in the fold again, both impressed: Dubravka's save was world class, and Kenedy always looked likely to trouble Spurs. However after he missed a semi-sitter he did tail away. Diame hit the post and new number 9 Rondon had a shot deflected off the bar, but we couldn't quite clinch an equaliser. Our performance and application for the first three quarters was excellent, but the introduction of our two new bargain basement strikers hardly gave us the zest we badly needed, and, while there was much to encourage, luck was all on their side, with a first goal that barely looked over the line