The Wear-Tyne derby: don’t you wish it was over?
October 17, 2012 in Premier League
This has been a week full of tension, paranoia and disappointment. Not only have we had to wait an extra day to see if England are really as bad as everyone thinks they are, but the shocking abuse received during the England under-21 game away against Serbia has pushed into all the newspapers headlines, ahead of information on the Wear-Tyne derby.
Of course, it does so quite rightly; the chaos that occurred in Krusevac following the England goal should not be taken lightly by anyone, especially not by FIFA, and I hope firm action is taken to stop this from ever happening again. Nor should we take lightly the Polish FA’s failure to close the roof on the Warsaw stadium, the hour and five minutes fans were left waiting in that rain for the match to be officially postponed, or the huge amount of money some fans will have stumped up to go and support their teams, and then watch as the referee had the majority of the ball.
But having said that, it is bloody annoying that I’m having to wait for these fixtures to be out of the way before we can get to what I see as the most important game in the calendar year. Yes, every year, it dawns upon me about a week before that the Magpies are coming to the Stadium of Light. I realise that it is our one must-win game of the season and I want some news about it, I want someone to tell me that “yes, we also care!” But also, I just want it to be over. This international break has made that process incredibly frustrating.
This is completely irrational, by the way. I won’t deny it. If someone offered me a season in which we would finish in the European places but we would lose to the Mags twice, I would like to think I’d generally take it. But ask me in the week before a game against Newcastle and no way. I’d rather just take the 42-point, 17th-place-finish if it meant beating them.
What makes it worse is our recent inability to shut the Mags up. The last time we beat them was their relegation season, when Kieran Richardson scored a blinding free-kick to put them to bed. Since then, Newcastle have had things pretty much their own way. The Halloween horror show -which I will not mention again, so you can look it up if you don’t know what I’m talking about – was bad enough in isolation. But put that alongside the fact that we haven’t beaten them since 2008 and only claimed one point against them last season, and it makes for dismal reading. Actually dismal isn’t the word, it’s so much worse than that.
The home game last year was especially devastating. We had finished the previous season above them and had brought in a raft of new players. It was only the second game of the season, so spirits were good and belief in Bruce was still there – just about. But a floated Ryan Taylor ball snuck in at the far post and I wanted to cry. We never looked comfortable in a derby with Bruce at the helm, and his record of one point from three games shows that he was just not capable of preparing his team to beat Alan Pardew’s men.
Under O’Neill, I feel a bit more confident, but nonetheless ill at the thought of the derby. His last game against the Mags ended in 1-1 at the Wonga Stadium, at the time Ashley’s Sports Direct Arena (ASDA). But the scoreline does not show just how agitated the Mags got during the game. Pardew himself was the most visceral of the lot on the touchline, and were it not for Cheick Tiote’s outlandish overreaction to Stephane Sessegnon raising his arms reducing us to ten men, then we had a chance of winning. Even with the man advantage, it still took them until the 83rd minute to finally get an equaliser.
Despite having O’Neill as manager, I still feel dreadful about the game, and if I am being honest I’d rather it just be over. They always say that is the waiting that kills you, and I suppose they are right in this case. If it’s over, I can get back to the imaginary land where I can still take Europe over beating the Mags.
If this is the case, then you would think that this prolonged international weekend has been a distraction; instead it just feels like another hurdle I have to get over before the derby day weekend can finally conclude. The long long flight before the holiday, the commercial break in the middle of an ITV game. I just want it to be out of the way so I can know.