The DA’s Dan Green continues his journey of discovery, mystery and away trips to Barnsley.
Now, I remember mentioning last week, in anticipation of the weekend’s FA Cup tie against West Brom, that it may not be in the best interest of Newcastle United to prolong their cup run given the recent good form of Nottingham Forest and how crucial promotion this season is the Magpies. Therefore, imagine my surprise when I was relayed the final score – West Brom 4 Newcastle 2. I won’t pretend it wasn’t painful at the time, evoking all too harrowing memories of a 3rd Round, 2nd Leg 1-5 home defeat to (at the time) the Championship’s Birmingham City. The sublime performance of my new favourite player Graham Dorrans (who scored twice) was of little comfort. Newcastle fans can be forgiven for their feelings of dissatisfaction. These can be summed up by the thoughts of the fabulously named ‘Shola Ama-donkey’ who claimed that, “this defeat will smash the squad’s morale.”
However, having had a few days to mull over the defeat, and examining the two team’s opposing fortunes in the following round of league games, you’d be hard-pressed to criticise Hughton. Firstly, the Newcastle squad that faced off against the Baggies on Saturday was actually ‘pretty…pretty…pretty good’: Hughton made five changes from the previous 2-2 league draw against WBA, but the players brought in were hardly ‘nobodies’ – Tim Krul, Ryan Taylor, Tamas Kadar, Fabrice Pancrate and Andy Carroll came into a squad already brimming with talent, but did give first team starters like Steven Taylor and Steve Harper a valuable rest.
West Brom on the other hand remained unchanged from last Monday’s game. Now, if WBA win the FA Cup, this choice may have been justified. As it stands however, Tuesday’s highly fortunate draw with Ipswich has left the Baggies 5 points behind 2nd place Nottingham Forest. Add to that the fact that Newcastle came out of last night’s game against Crystal Palace with all three points, two goals and a clean sheet (that now puts them 8 points ahead of West Brom), and the Toon Army’s promotion campaign looks all the more likely to succeed. The Baggies, however, now have the unenviable task of catching up with the rampant Forest and hoping none of the chasing pack (Cardiff, Swansea, Sheffield Utd etc.) pull their collective ‘fingers out.’ Adrian Chiles must be bricking it!
As the transfer window comes to an uninteresting end, Newcastle have finally flexed their financial muscles by bringing in such exotic players as Wayne Routledge from QPR (who finished his first game with an assist) and Mike Williamson (?) from the sinking ship that is Portsmouth. A more recognizable face put pen to Geordie paper, with Danny Simpson finally ending his futile Manchester United career and settling for second best (or 19th best if you’re going by league places between the two clubs). So, all in all, a fairly unspectacular transfer window: No Beckfords, no Wilsheres, no Asprillas (if only). Even worse was the news that Newcastle legend Nolberto Solano had signed for Leicester. Just think of the inevitable boost to Leicester City shirt sales in Peru – they may even sell 2 this year!
Peruvian president and newly-converted Leicester City fan Alan Garcia announces the introduction of ‘Gary Lineker Day’ – where all Peruvians are expected to spend the day eating crisps and taunting Scotsmen.
Well the, normal service is resumed and Newcastle are seemingly back to winning ways, just in time for what looks to be a fairly tough run of games as the Championship race begins to hot up. Tough away games at Leicester, Derby and Swansea all await the Magpies in the coming weeks, and without another striking option Newcastle could be in danger of becoming somewhat predictable. So, what say we get on the phone and get Eidur Gudjohnson in for a medical? Three medicals at three different clubs in a week must be some kind of record…
You can get in touch with Dan on the DA’s new Twitter page @matchoftheda. This week Dan wants to know the perfect word to describe Newcastle United….Sunderland fans try and restrain yourselves.