Oh How We Suffered – Manchester 26th December 2014

This could’ve been tricky. Newcastle have a lousy record at Old Trafford but on their last visit here, just over a year ago, they beat United at Old Trafford for the first time since 1972. The protests that were raging against Alan Pardew’s incumbency a few months ago have gone somewhat muted in recent times as Newcastle had built up a good run of results which included beating this seasons likely champions Chelsea, a few weeks ago at St James Park. Such was the revival in Newcastle’s fortunes that paper handkerchief manufacturers were in serious danger of laying workers off due to the fact that Geordies weren’t crying in the stands, their broon ale or threatening to burst the banks of the Tyne with their relentless squawking after a bad result. A last minute goal from Adam Johnson the other day for Sunderland and United’s eventually easy win today should see normal service resumed for Kleenex pretty soon.

United players celebrate Robin van Persie’s goal in the 53rd minute (photograph courtesy of Neil Meehan)

Without dominating play, Newcastle made a lively start. Continue reading Oh How We Suffered – Manchester 26th December 2014

Where’s Your Famous Atmosphere – Newcastle 5th Of April 2014

I was surprised in the week approaching this match at the trepidation Newcastle fans were approaching this fixture with. With hindsight, they were right to be worried. After a level opening to the match, Newcastle folded like a cheap pair of trousers once Juan Mata put United into the lead in the 39th minute with a fantastic free kick. Anders Lindegaard stopped picking his nose for the day and he made a couple of excellent saves early in the match, particularly from Papiss Cisse in the 24th minute.

David Moyes took a gamble with this side today, obviously with Wednesday night in mind. That it resulted in United’s best league result of the season thus far is a happy coincidence for Moyes and a bit of long overdue good luck for him too. I’m not sure if he knew just how well Shinji Kagawa and Juan Mata would play together but he will know after todays performance, just in case he had any doubt. Kagawa along with Javier Hernadez were instrumental in United’s 2nd goal, scored with casual ease by Mata. Hernandez and Kagawa linked up again in the 65th minute to make the score 3-0 and finish off any lingering hope of Newcastle getting back into the game. This gave prompt to possibly the earliest exodus I’ve ever seen a football ground from a pathetic and risibly overrated home support. People leave early for all kinds of reasons but never to this volume.

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Milburn Stand rapidly emptying immediately after United’s 3rd goal

We are the Geordies, the Geordie boot boys,
For we are mental, we are mad,
We’re the loudest football supporters,
the world has ever had…

United fans got bored with the nearby mute Toon platoon in the Leazes and the Milburn Stand. We couldn’t hear a peep from the rest of the ground either although to be fair, we were so high up in the Leazes Stand that we could hear passing aircraft before anybody else in the ground. The atmosphere in the ground from reds was quite subdued for the first 15 minutes. I put this down to the fact that everybody in there was so knackered after climbing the seven levels to get there, the last thing on anybodies mind was singing songs of any kind. Reds tried engaging the locals with songs like “where’s your famous atmosphere”. With a wit that the New’astle fans are not famous for, they stated very hurtfully and less than half heartedly that we were “just a shit Man City”. United fans opened the songbook with tunes in homage to Roy Keane, George Best, Jaap Stam, Andy Cole. The confused look on the faces of the knowledgeable locals (© every clichéd commentator) was a picture of vacant confusion. As the Geordies gradually left the ground to virtual desolation, Adnan Januzaj made the score 4-0 in injury time. This was much to the chagrin of the equine division of Northumbia Police.

Bud the horse gets belted by Newcastle united fan Barry Rogerson in April 2013

Ant & Dec, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Nail, Sting, Tory Blair, those Geordies that were always crying on the telly in the 1990’s and Alan Sheeera, your boys took one hell of a beating

In Serene Indifference – Manchester, 7th of December 2013

A Prayer to St Jude – Manchester 6th of May 2012

After Papiss Cissé’s goal of the season strike against Chelsea last Wednesday, there was always hope that Newcastle would make City struggle at St James Park earlier today. I’ve never been comfortable with relying on other sides to do United a favour but, needs must and all that. It quickly became apparent at Newcastle that barring a robbery, City were going to win. They looked dangerous going forward, strong in midfield and watertight at the back. In the second half, Yaya Touré, (the man whose agent, in November 2009 said, “If he leaves Barca, he will not go to Manchester City…he would sign for a more  important club”), took a grip on the game and scored twice to give City a deserved 2-0 win.

 The journey to Old Trafford was more of a subdued stumble than my usual brisk walk. If Newcastle had got a result I’d have been skipping like a kangaroo to the ground. I drove past Old Trafford about three hours before kick off to pick up the Red Issue. When there then, the weather was glorious but the sky seemed to get more grey through the day as the blue moon rose. When the game kicked off, it had all the intensity and atmosphere of a pre-season friendly. United were frenziedly chasing the ball when it went out for throws, corners or free kicks. As laudable as it is for intent, United were trying to claw back a ten goal deficit in goal difference, it all looked like a massive case of too little too late.

Swansea City, the same Swansea City that beat Man City a couple of months ago were, contrary to Roberto Mancini’s risible claim last Monday, not easy opponents. They came to Old Trafford and tried to play their usual passing game, Nathan Dyer in particular giving Patrice Evra a headache in the first half. On 28 minutes Paul Scholes scored, diverting a Michael Carrick shot with a speed of thought that he’ll never lose. Two minutes later Javier Hernandez missed a great chance to make it 2-0 but Ashley Young on 41 minutes doubled United’s lead. In the second half, the game petered out with a stubborn Swansea defence repelling a a United attack with plenty of intent but precious little invent.

Swansea fans were in great voice today. Their rendition of Evan James’s Land of My Fathers had the hairs on the back of my neck standing. They had a very funny song to the tune of Sloop John B about Scotty Sinclair and Rosie Webster but then they came out with all the usual generic bollocks about supporting their local team. United fans were understandably deflated with the result at Newcastle earlier in the day but the truth be told, barring the home game against Liverpool, the atmosphere from United fans at Old Trafford has been lamentable this season (when United fans can’t get wound up for the visit of Liverpool will be the day to really worry). Towards the end of the game, the Stretford End came up with a rousing Red flag. Originally a song adopted by United fans in the wake of the Munich  air disaster (and not originated by Chelsea despite what that pillock John Motson may say) it has become over the years, a song of defiance. It’s a bit like We’ll Support You Evermore, a song of consolation to a team that’s ultimately about to come up short. After the match, I reckon a good chunk of people who were singing the aforementioned anthems with such passion and fervour, left the ground without applauding the players on their traditional end of season lap of honour. Alex Ferguson said in the post match speech, to his adoring masses of a two thirds full stadium that Hopefully next week will be the biggest celebration of our lives. If that happens, he’ll be spot on, there’s no question about that. In the meantime, fellow Reds, especially any with a religious conviction, join me in a prayer to St Jude. AMEN