New blog

Hi everyone. Thanks for following Trequartista but most of my recent attention has gone to my Gegenpress blog. It’s unlikely I’ll make anymore posts here, so please follow gegenpress.blogspot.com.

 

Thanks again. Your support has meant a lot.

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NUFC: 10 Reasons Why Alan Pardew Must Go

For many people, the penny is starting to drop. The local press are beginning to turn the screw on Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and with good reason. As someone who has been anti-Pardew for over a year now, I’ve taken lots of flak from friends and colleagues who support other clubs and just see the situation from the outside. Fans of Charlton and West Ham may sympathise, having seen Pardew’s cycle in full themselves. ‘Warned a pal’ is a relevant anagram of his name, as I was warned by an Addicks fan about what was to come. A mass brainwashing has taken place from the Mike Ashley regime, celebrating mediocrity, financial gains and a ‘jobs for the boys’ attitude over glory and ambition. And fans fell for it. Growing up, what I loved about Newcastle fans was how honourable and honest we are – it seemed like common sense unified everyone into thinking sensibly and speaking their minds when needed. It’s heartbreaking to see what has become of the majority, who see match day at St James’ Park as simply a checkpoint on their Saturday pub crawl, greeting the latest lifeless defeat with a quiet shrug of the shoulders. It’s a form of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, where victims begin to empathise with the abuser and identify with them. They see Pardew as a victim, in the same boat as us fans – abused by Ashley. They fail to acknowledge that he is part of the problem. A huge part! But finally, after Pardew blamed the local press after the Stoke defeat, heads are coming out of the sand. Not yet the national press journalists, who still fall over themselves to brown-nose him at every opportunity, despite his controversial touchline antics. Louise Taylor from the Guardian is an exception, recently claiming: “A new word has entered the Geordie vocabulary: Pardewed. To be Pardewed involves having all the creativity crushed out of you. Increasing numbers of Newcastle United fans believe its victims include several members of the club’s first-team squad.” Incredibly, there is still a small crowd who continually defend the indefensible and, with a bit of luck, the following 10 reasons should definitively and unarguably change their minds.

Click on Page 2 below to start at #10

Premier League: Swansea City 0-1 Chelsea (April 13th 2014)

DEMBA BA completed his week of heroics by scoring the winner at the Liberty Stadium, keeping Chelsea just two points behind Liverpool in the title race.

The Senegalese striker latched onto Nemanja Matic’s wonderful long-range pass, before cutting inside Ashley Williams and drilling past Michel Vorm in the 68th minute.

With Liverpool’s thrilling 3-2 win over Man City earlier in the day, Jose Mourinho made five changes to the team that dramatically overcame Paris St-Germain on Tuesday night.

It was Ba’s first Premier League start since October, with Mohamed Salah replacing calf strain victim Eden Hazard.

But Chelsea were made to work hard for their victory, despite facing 10 men for most of the match.

In a quiet first half, two quick fire bookings saw Swansea defender Chico Flores sent off in the 16th minute – his second dismissal in a month.

Salah missed two great chances whilst, at the other end, Petr Cech pulled off a fine save from Wilfried Bony’s powerful header.

Mourinho brought on Oscar and Samuel Eto’o at half-time, as the Blues looked to take advantage of their extra man.

Immediately, their attacking domination intensified, with Ba glancing a header wide and Eto’o fluffing a golden opportunity.

Of their 26 shots in total, Ba’s goal was one of only three on target and, soon after, he held off Jordi Amat only to blaze over the bar.

Swansea remain in 15th place, just three points off the relegation zone, but couldn’t prevent Chelsea’s watertight defence keeping their 16th clean sheet of the season.

By grinding out another win, Mourinho’s men will be confident of doing the same at Anfield in two weeks time – a match that will surely decide the fate of this season’s Premier League trophy.

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What Happened to Glory?

**WARNING: This is more of a rant than a well thought out post. Forgive me!**

And so, yet again, another year goes by without a cup for Newcastle United. It can’t be argued anymore that the Toon simply lost to a better team, no – this was Cardiff. Cardiff reserves. You don’t even need to look closely to see the pattern. Since Mike Ashley took control at St James’ Park in 2007, we’ve never got past the fourth round of a domestic trophy.

Mike Ashley is a man that craves mediocrity; he will always choose pennies over glory. Last season, he looked into the possibility of withdrawing from the Europa League because the financial rewards weren’t worth the effort. Ambition is a dirty word with this regime; he’s happy to simply collect the annual TV cheque and do nothing of note. In Alan Pardew, he employed a spineless coward of a manager and a man happy to be his puppet, a tool to spout his propaganda.

For what it’s worth, Pardew looked delighted with defeat and why wouldn’t he? Objective achieved, in his eyes. There are, incredibly, some idiots that still support him – the ‘Alan Pardew, Give us a Wave’ crew. That’s what they gleefully chanted as our star-studded team slid towards relegation last season. What they don’t understand is that Pardew isn’t one of us; he’s part of the regime. Always has been.

He’s a small time man full of pathetic excuses, one of the most negative managers I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing. Pre and post-match comments are spent belittling his own team whilst his tactics consist of scraping 1-0 home wins over the Norwichs and West Broms of this league. A Championship manager at best who, to give him credit, stumbled upon a winning team this autumn. When Christmas came, the games were packed tightly and it was time to rotate, which he admitted. He proceeded to keep running the same XI into the ground whilst talents like Hatem Ben Arfa and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa observed from the bench.

Football is all about glory and chasing dreams, everyone is in it to win trophies and create everlasting memories. In theory it is. At a fans forum, club representatives specifically said that winning cups is not a priority for Newcastle. Well what is? The thrilling battle for 8th place? I’m sorry but that’s not how it should be. My parents were barely alive for our last trophy win and I fear I’ll never see one, in an era where Swansea, Wigan, Birmingham and Portsmouth win things. We’re Newcastle United. 52,000 Geordies in a beautiful cathedral of football, known worldwide. And this is what we’re reduced to.

This club is just existing – floating about, doing nothing of note. Another season over by January, another surrender. I know only a few clubs can win things but at least everyone else shows some form of intent. It’s made worse by Pardew’s post-match comments, which feel like constant trolling. “At home, you cannot back off against quality sides, you cannot be negative.” Quality side? This is Cardiff City. It was two sides desperate to lose and they still beat us; you’re the king of negativity. He went on to spout more garbage: “We don’t seem to be able to get through his tie (third round day). For the last three years I don’t know, its science against me!” Yeah, that’s exactly what it is – the science of removing the slightest hint of ambition from fans. Yet in the next breath he complained that there weren’t 50,000 people at St James’.

There’s a reason that Stevenage, Brighton (twice) and Cardiff have knocked us out of the last four FA Cups and it’s directly linked to Pardew’s motives, or lack of. It shows in his comments, in his team selections and probably in training sessions. Why bother winning cups? Why try? All these other teams try but the joke must be on them. Let’s laugh at them. Another trophy-less year of pain and off-field drama, please. The thing is, winning a cup would make Pardew a hero up here – his shortcomings forgiven. But he chooses not to, in order to collect his salary from the regime. He’s a sell out.

Anyone who still supports Pardew is beyond help, probably. Then again, I’m biased. They’ll point to the 5th placed finish and ignore the bigger picture. Most managers in the world could achieve these things with that squad and the likes of Villas-Boas and Laudrup are a breath of fresh air when it comes to Europa League attitudes. Each Thursday night, Pardew made it sound like torture. But he’s not the disease in the club, just a symptom of it. The problem will always be Mike Ashley. I’m just sick of it, to be honest. We’ll never be happy until the regime goes away for good.

World Cup Draw Analysis – Group E to Group H

Yesterday, I was so giddy at the World Cup draw that I posted my immediate thoughts on what transpired. Now, I preview the final four groups for the Brazilian party.

group e

Group E

Considering that France did all they could to NOT qualify and accidently wriggled though qualification, they’ll be ecstatic with how lucky they got on Friday. If they avoid the internal spats that they’ve become famous for over the years, the French should qualify from a group of Ecuador, Honduras and controversial seeds Switzerland. Ecuador looked strong in qualification and, despite the sad death of striker Christian Benitez, have a solid squad of players including Antonio Valencia and the talented Jefferson Montero. The Swiss shockingly beat Spain in 2010, the sole blip on the Spanish path to glory. They’re an unspectacular but well-drilled team coached by double Champions’ League winner Ottmar Hitzfeld. Honduras are most likely there just to make up the numbers.

Prediction: 1. France, 2. Switzerland, 3. Ecuador, 4. Honduras

group f

Group F

Forget Spain vs Holland, England vs Italy or anything involving Brazil, the most eagerly anticipated clash of the group phase is Shola Ameobi vs Lionel Messi. Two strikers that have inspired kids all around the world, their clash in Porto Alegre on 25th June will settle the Ballon D’Or debate once and for all. Of course, Argentina and Nigeria are practically siamese at these tournaments – the Nigerians will have faced the Argentinians in four of their five World Cups! Messi’s quest to win a World Cup and complete his trophy cabinet adds an interesting layer to proceedings. He’ll be happy with not only this group, but facing a Group E team in the Round of 16. By winning this World Cup, he’ll become the undisputed greatest player of all time and I sort of hope he does it. If you think he’s good at Barcelona, just wait until you see him play with Sergio Aguero! Bosnia are debutants and will fancy their chances of second place after a superb qualifying campaign. Nigeria are the reigning African champions but often flatter to deceive on the biggest stage, whilst Iran look like the weakest of the 32 teams.

Prediction: 1. Argentina, 2. Nigeria, 3. Bosnia, 4. Iran

group g

Group G

In my eyes, this is the true ‘Group of Death’, comprised of the team 2nd in FIFA rankings, the strongest African threat, the only CONCACAF threat and a team with Cristiano Ronaldo. USA lost to Germany in 1998 and 2002 whilst being eliminated by Ghana last time around. The interesting sub-plot here is Jurgen Klinsmann, the legendary German striker that now coaches the USA. His recent squads contain many German-Americans such as Jermaine Jones, Timothy Chandler, John Brooks and Fabian Johnson. Despite struggling to make the finals, Portugal are usually a good tournament team that give few goals away. After single-handedly getting his country to Brazil, Ronaldo will surely rise to the occasion and be his clinical self. Truth be told, Ghana aren’t likely to get out of this group – their status as Africa’s greatest threat is just an indication of how poor their sides currently are. Germans are the ‘in’ thing in football right now, with a wonderful league, fantastic fan culture and an outrageous generation of talent.  Their second or third string sides could give this tournament a good go, that’s how good they are. I tip them to go far in this tournament, with attacking talent like Ozil, Muller, Reus, Gotze, Kroos and Schurrle. An exciting group, for sure.

Prediction: 1. Germany, 2. Portugal, 3. Ghana, 4. USA

group h

Group H

Clearly the weakest group on paper, Belgium – the hipster’s choice – will be very happy with their selection. Everyone talks about their eye-watering collection of individuals such as Kompany, Hazard, Lukaku, Fellaini, Vertonghen, Courtois, Benteke, Witsel and De Bruyne. Yet their big weaknesses are their lack of tournament experience and their lack of good – or even decent – full backs. I don’t expect Belgium to go far in this World Cup but they’ll still emerge from Group H before losing to a Group F team. I like the look of Russia – a solid team coached by Fabio Capello , although they don’t traditionally travel well. Algeria shouldn’t pose a threat to anyone, but South Korea will be pushing all the way for a top two spot. The Koreans are a talented team but their defence may let them down. One advantage for the Belgians is they barely have to travel and they got lucky by playing in Belo Horizonte, Rio and Sao Paulo. With little travelling and thus jetlag, I expect them to scrape through.

Prediction: 1. Russia, 2. Belgium, 3. South Korea, 4. Algeria

The excitement is set to snowball over the next six months and there’ll be several more blogs in the buildup, looking both to the past and present. Maybe even the future! Make sure to check back regularly and listen to the Kevin Phillips’ Piano podcasts – they’re starting to gather momentum and the quality continues to improve.

Thanks for reading.

World Cup Draw Analysis – Group A to Group D

So the 2014 World Cup draw was made in Brazil last night and it’s thrown up many stories, as expected. There’s some stunning groups, plus a couple of weak ones. Rematches galore, with climate playing more of a role than in recent World Cups.  Personally, I’m incredibly excited for the tournament and, whilst the English media will be rueing their group, I was very happy from a neutral’s perspective. Here I’m going to sum up the groups, analyse the locations and try to predict what will happen next summer. The countdown has officially begun and I can’t wait to get started!

group a

Group A

Headlined by Brazil, Group A has three fairly weak teams. Mexico, Croatia & Cameroon all struggled to qualify, so the hosts should be pleased with the draw. However, as shown in 1950, the pressure that comes with Brazil playing at home could become overwhelming. It was seen as a national tragedy when Uruguay shocked the Maracana in 1950 and the public will expect Scolari’s boys to come flying out the traps. Yet most World Cup winners seem to pace themselves during the groups, before peaking in the knockout rounds. If Brazil can somehow handle these expectations, they have a very good chance of going all the way. The tournament kicks off on Thursday 12th June, with Brazil facing Croatia in Sao Paulo.

Prediction: 1. Brazil, 2. Mexico, 3. Croatia, 4. Cameroon

group b

Group B

A titanic group and a contender for the ‘Group of Death’ title, Group B is headlined by a rematch of 2010’s final – Spain vs Holland. But what makes this interesting is the presence of Chile, another Spanish opponent from South Africa. The Chileans showed at Wembley how good they are and they’ll be quietly confident of finishing ahead of one of the goliaths. The Dutch have a weak defence and are transitioning to a wonderful collection of youngsters, whilst Spain are ageing and could suffer in the heat. However, Spain have an incredible depth of talent and they’re blessed with outstanding depth in every position. The group is topped off with Australia, who aren’t capable of surprises this time. With no outstanding individuals and no pedigree, they’re clear favourites to finish bottom.

Prediction: 1. Spain, 2. Chile, 3. Holland, 4. Australia

group c

Group C

To me, this is a very interesting group. 4 teams with similar ability but different styles. Seeded Colombia finished second in South American qualifying and have the climate to their advantage, as well as one of the world’s best strikers – Falcao – up front. Their ageing defence is a weakness though, with Mario Yepes, Luis Perea and Aquivaldo Mosquera all over 30 and back-up keeper Faryd Mondragon aged 42. Jackson Martinez, Fredy Guarin and James Rodriguez are fantastic talents who will be looking to meet the most hyped Colombian team since USA ’94. As for the rest; Greece are boring but efficient, whilst Japan are an exciting team that is easy on the eye. Honda, Kagawa, Nagatomo, Kiyotake and Uchida are part of a vibrant team that I fancy to go through. Ivory Coast will be relieved at avoiding another ‘Group of Death’ but their golden generation is ending and they’re carried by the Toure brothers and Didier Drogba.

Prediction: 1. Colombia, 2. Japan, 3. Ivory Coast, 4. Greece

group d

Group D

On the surface, this group is a disaster for England – everything Roy Hodgson didn’t want. He was given two marquee teams, a tricky Costa Rican prospect and a match in the Amazon’s 99% humidity. Luckily for them, the match in Manaus is against fellow Europeans Italy, who prominently features older players such as Pirlo, Barzagli, Buffon and De Rossi. Rather than be a problem, the heat could turn out to be a great equaliser for Hodgson, who has a poor squad full of average players. Uruguay’s devastating strike force of Cavani and Suarez is propped up by a lacklustre team of journeymen and underachievers. The bonus for England is that, even if they finish second in the group, they’ll have a kind draw for the Round of 16 by facing a Group C team. So, whilst England would’ve certainly preferred Groups E or H, their draw isn’t as bad as it first seems. Plus, an 11pm Saturday night kick off for the Italy match will see wild parties throughout the country. Who wouldn’t like that?

Prediction: 1. Uruguay, 2. England, 3. Italy, 4. Costa Rica

Groups E to H will follow soon – I’ve already done it but wanted to split it all into two digestible chunks! Remember to check out the podcasts.