Manager: Rafa Benitez ("Benny T'Wizz"). Owner: it's still just about Mike "Every Penny" Ash***.
Yhe good news is that we are now officially for sale- though I couldn't spot our listing on eBay. The problem is, will Ash***'s greed be too great, or will we inherit an even greedier bedfellow? At least if they inject cash, they'd be better than the current tenant, but for sure, they are most unlikely, sadly, to be Toon diehards- though we can but hope they will become adopted Geordies. Buyer beware is a sound maxim
Nov 18th: Man U 4... Toon...1
Gayle fired us into the lead, Murphy should have made it two nil...
Nov 4th: Toon...0 Bournemouth...1
It all started so well! We had two strikers and dominated the first half, Gayle's goal being utterly wrongly ruled offside. But in the second half we went on our familiar back foot and seemed to be settling for a point until they pounced with an injury time winner. Alas, poor Rafa, second narrow defeat in a week, and our early season euphoria has dissipated. Even if we had put three up front, without one having a killer finishing touch, we might as well play with no striker at all
Oct 30th: Burnley...1 Toon...0
A very similar match to the last versus Palace, except that this time we conceded the one goal. We were generally solid but once again unspectacular. The few shots we had on target were mostly easily saved, Perez's being the pick of the crop. Shelvey made one delightful through pass, but on the whole was more wayward than usual. We found their defence even harder to break down than they did ours. Atsu looked the most likely to do the trick, but apart from a last minute surge on their goal, we didn't really look like scoring. Rafa is doing the best he can with who we have, but we cerainly lack one incisive striker, as has been admitted since last summer
Oct 21st: Toon...1 Palace...0
Our unbeaten run stretches to three, but unlike our previous two well fought and hard earned draws, this was a turgid affair, with a thankful late winner to make it sweeter. But nothing to write home about
Oct 15th: Southampton...2 Toon...2
Our second long trip to the southern coast yielded a point, that might have been more. We soaked up their pressure, as usual, then attacked, a fine long distance shot from Hayden giving us the lead. They hit back soon after the break, but all credit, we had regained the lead within two minutes. Perez, rather aligned by me I admit, forced home the ball from a narrow angle. Alas, though we continued to resist, Jeune panicked unnecessarily, giving away a soft penalty. I didn't see the resulting goal, but I heard it well enough. At the end we might have nicked it, but perhaps a draw was fair. Shelvey's passes weren't quite as incisive today, and Atsu, whom I usually admire, seems to have taken to a flight of showboating, but generally this was a fine team performance
Oct 1st: Toon...1 Liverpool...1
I had thankfully found the Australian Bar to watch us kick off for a dominant start. But their superiority gradually forced us into our familiar On the Break routine and all credit, we defended resiliently. However their Barcelona bound striker was clearly one big difference between the two sides and he proved it with an unstoppable piledriver. But we kept it going and Shelvey's through ball down the middle was well taken by Jos. The fact that the ball ricocheted off his ankle summed up the differences between us. Nevertheless, we held on for a well earned point.
Oh, the Bar was in Newquay Cornwall and I am glad to report the Toon equaliser got much the bigger cheer even though we were 400 miles away!
Sept 24th: Brighton...1 Toon...0
Perhaps here is the proof that spending can win you Premiership points- last season we beat Brighton well, but during the summer they spent and we hardly did, result- they beat us! If you play on the break, and that seems our most valid option, you need two things: 1 the ability to defend well, and that we did for most of the game. One slip however was our undoing. 2 you need forwards to put the ball in on the break. We had one excellent break, swiftly downfield, but muffed the final shot. Once we went one down, we did press more, but did not have the guile to unlock their defence
Sept 16th: Toon...2 Stoke...1
Is this deja or is it deja vu? Remember last season when we lost our first two games? Same again this year, and the pattern has been repeated with three straight wins to follow! If this continues, we might even win the title- like last season!! But more realistically, tougher games lie ahead, but congrats to Rafa and the squad for lifting gloom since the debacle that was the window. As it stands we are in fourth place (Champions League spot!), and while nobody really expects that to be our final position, at least a certain feel good factor is swooning around SJP
Sept 10th: Swansea...0 Toon...1
After the gloom of the non event that was the summer transfers, something to cheer about. Admittedly the first third of the game was pretty dire, our defending resolute, but possession limited. However we gradually emerged from our shell and new boy Jos had several on target headers, including one that look goalbound for sure. In the second half our captain first made a goalline save, before heading in our winner from a corner. It was enough to lift the spirits, and certainly those of that impecunious owner, this is the way to play to grab Premiership survival. However is it what fans, or indeed Rafa want?
Sept 1st: Today is the Unutterable Day of Shame.
Ash*** and his cronies have failed us yet again, why had we hoped for anything different? Yes, players have been sold, but none brought in during the final days of the transfer window. No marquee inspirational signing, zero ambition, invisible vision, complete lack of competence.
My predictions are inevitable if depressing: We will be in the relegation zone in January. Rafa will have gone. No light at the end of the tunnel unless Ash***'s gang have sold out. Now is the time to get the best price Mr Ash***!
Our Championship winning team will need to give 110%, except mathematically that is impossible, and 100% will not be enough. Let this be said of Ash*** (from Habakkuk 2:9 you'll recognise the translation as that of GA Smith) "Thou hast planned shame for thy house. Thou hast cut off many people."
So what can true and honest Toon fans do:
* Dinosaur Monty says a boycott of matches is sad but the only way not to line Every Penny's profits.
* Buy out Ash***- Ant and Dec need to form a consortium.
* Nothing illegal.
Aug 26th: Toon...3 WHam...0
Some lightening of the gloom that had descended over SJP, with a convincing win, though it must be said against a demoralised team. New man Joselu scored, and Mitro made some impression, as did Perez and Atsu. However, even though it was great that Rafa's praises were sung, a sense of foreboding hangs over us- all will be revealed after the transfer window closes
League Cup Aug 23rd: Toon...2 Forest...3
Boos rang out at the final whisle- deservedly- but who were they aimed at? Mostly I hope at Mike 'Every Penny' Ash***, though this was an inept performance, and that's being kind. Mitro got us off to a perfect start, from thereon it was down downhill. Last Saturday we were beaten by a promoted Championship side who have strengthened well, tonight we couldn't even beat a Championship side themselves playing below strength. Dark days indeed
Aug 20th: Huddersfield...1 Toon...0
No surprise really, though we tried our best. Ritchie had one good shot saved, what we need, repeat, is a top striker
Aug 13th: Toon...0 Spurs...2
What a contrast with our last Premier League match 15 months ago! Then we were relegated but showed guts in our stunning 5-1 crushing of the same opposition. This time, with virtually the same team that won us The Championship, we knew it would be tough, and so it proved to be. In the first half our shining stars mostly found they couldn't control like last season, and Hayden, Shelvey and Ritchie were largely anonymous. Only Atsu showed glimpses of his £6 million fee. Shelvey's frustration boiled over and, though goaded into it, he deserved the order of the boot, and from then on it was as painful as awaiting the end of the world, our defeat as certain as death itself. One positive: despite losing two defenders early on, we didn't let our heads drop and capitulate utterly. We badly need resurrecting before next week's match, maybe a star signing could be our salvation from joining the Mackems next season