By Simon Meakin
Simon Meakin returns with his completely unique take on this weekend’s clash with Newcastle United.
It seems like an age since the previous preview, thanks to the International break. Normally, this is where having a second team to support usually comes in handy to get my fix of league action. This was foiled by Hereford surely setting a new world record for worst team ever to have to call a match off due to multiple international call-ups.
Not content with cornering the market in St Kitts and Nevis players, in the hope they’ll be the new Belgium, they had a guy who didn’t even get the chance to come off the bench and kick Shaqiri on behalf of Gibraltar. Although, checking the line-ups, ‘Big Shaq’ didn’t even manage to get on the Swiss bench in the first place (resist joke about him just being hidden behind some Micky Droy sized centre back or sitting under the bench) so I’m now wondering whether we’ve sustained yet another injury on international duty
Anyway the league finally returns and things are going pretty swimmingly so far. Still top of the league, still with a 100% record and having defeated our first top six rival with ease. If we beat Newcastle on Saturday that will be our 14th straight league win.
To put that into context, in a century or so of trying, no team in the top four divisions had ever won more matches in a row, until Pep turned up. It almost seems unfair that we won’t be able to count most of them this season purely on the basis that they happened last term. Bloody rules! Can’t Klopp just go the Queen and prorogue the Premier League?
Newcastle aren’t in a good place though. Man City got owners that desperately wanted to plough billions of pounds into an English football club, in order to distract from a record of human rights abuses back home. They also managed to break the only rule of English grammar that never gets broken, by having a country that forgot to put a U after it’s Q. One of these things convinced Jacob Rees-Mogg to make his kids support Liverpool in protest – can you guess which one kids?.
Newcastle, meanwhile, ended up with a bloke who searches his employees underpants when they leave work, in case they’re cunningly trying to make off with the stock by wearing it. Sadly for Newcastle fans, he doesn’t seem to believe in ploughing billions of pounds into an English football club to distract from underpants searches. And, so a club who remarkably became one of only two English clubs to break the world transfer record since the 1950’s with the signing of Shearer (the other one being United’s purchase of Pogba – har har. How’s that one working out then United fans?) now find themselves shopping in Poundland – relatively speaking of course.
This is the Premier League after all, and they have just signed a player from a shop that if you were being picky must have actually been called Forty Million Pound Land (where you can also presumably buy a bumper pack of eighty million Duracell batteries or an old DVD of Andy Townsend football bloopers). Mind you, all of that is not half as remarkable as discovering that the world transfer market was once shattered by Falkirk of all clubs, when they bought the excellently named Syd Puddefoot.
In terms of matches between the two teams it’s impossible to look any further than the pair of legendary 4-3’s in the 1990’s. Great though both games undoubtedly were, they did highlight the notoriously soft centre that prevented the Roy Evans era team really doing justice to the undoubted talent they had.
I was at the second match and while it was brilliant celebrating the last minute winner, I remember the sick feeling immediately beforehand when we appeared to be on the brink of blowing a 3-0 lead, thanks mainly to David James apparently hammering Super Mario Brothers the night before (not an excuse you ever heard Syd Puddefoot come out with I’d wager). That game was part of the run-in in 97, when we had a golden opportunity to haul in a stuttering Man United. If only we displayed a bit more steel. So, bitter-sweet memories there.
Newcastle are of course famous for pioneering the unique “Messiah” management structure. Some clubs might plump for Directors of Football, Head Coaches, or just plain and simple Managers. Yet every time Newcastle sack their manager (so quite regularly) there is am immediate demand to find a new Geordie Messiah.
They even had two of them one year and promptly got themselves relegated. Presumably the Board have to draw up an all Geordie shortlist containing Chris Waddle, Jimmy Nail, Cheryl Cole and at least one of Ant and Dec. Why is this? Bolton never put the call out for a new Boltonian Messiah when Big Sam left them. Florentino Perez doesn’t go looking for a new Madrid Messiah every time he has to fire the Real manager for not winning the Champions League.
To paraphrase Tom Baker’s sea captain in Blackadder (the brilliant Redbeard Rum) when asked whether it was usual practice not to have any crew – “Opinion is divided on the matter! All the other Chairman say you don’t need a Messiah. I say you do!”
Which brings us to the match prediction. So far I’ve got a 100% record in getting the winning margin right. But 0% in terms of the score or pretty much any of the scorers. Anyway, I’m thinking Newcastle being in a bit of a mess will be counteracted by the fact that their latest Messiah is actually a naughty boy called Steve Bruce, who has a very annoying record of generally avoiding getting beaten by us. But not counteracted that much. 3-0 to the reds with a goal apiece from Mane, Firmino and Salah – I’m really trying to make sure I get at least one goalscorer right this time. Oh, and a 14th league win on the bounce too.
Oh, and a message to Mike Ashley. You have a woman’s purse (which you never open). I’ll wager you’ve never had sixteen shipwrecked mariners tossing in it!