Barclays Premier League, Featured, October 2014

Whiney Limey: Newcastle Corpse Springs to Life For Halloween

Tiote and Newcastle starting to recover from a ghoulish start...

Tiote and Newcastle starting to recover from a ghoulish start…

Guy Bailey

Editor’s Note: Guy Bailey writes columns for The Yanks Are Coming throughout the Barclay’s Premier League season. In those columns, he’ll discuss  the happenings overseas in the world’s most popular sports league, as well as The Championship, where many Americans ply their trade. Guy offers a unique perspective on the league as a Brit who lived for a long while in the United States before moving back to Teeside a year ago. He can be reached at guyrbailey@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter all EPL season at @guyrbailey.

November and the holidays beckon- but first, Halloween. And two weeks of Premier League action. So much to discuss. Off we go.

Newcastle corpse Springs to life in time for Halloween…

Late October and early November are my favourite time of the year for football.

The air is crisp, you need to dig the gloves and hats out of the cupboard where they’ve sat since March, fallen leaves start to choke up the pavements and the league tables start to settle down and sort themselves out, with the exception of the championship where five points cover top to tenth.

Newcastle couldn’t continue to stink the place out indefinitely as they followed up their first win of the season against Leicester City with two more in quick succession, the first a stunner at Spurs on Sunday winning 2-1 after trailing 1-0 at the break. Equalizing seconds after the restart leaving Spurs coach Pochettino wondering if he needs to rehire a translator after all as clearly his message went unheeded.  The previously moribund and deceased magpies then followed it up with the best return to active life turnaround since Lazarus by going to the Etihad and knocking defending champions Man City out of the League cup. To continue the religious theme, as emeritus British boxing writer Hugh McIlvanney described the rumble in the jungle – not only did Newcastle roll away the rock from the tomb entrance, they then bashed city over the heads with it.  Fortunately a swift return to white Hart Lane and a quick chance for retribution by Tottenham awaits.

Chelsea are another team you sense had ignored their managers instructions not to do anything stupid in the red zone at the end of the game as Ivanovic proceeded to get himself sent off in injury time and to add insult to injury, watching helplessly from the bench as RVP equalized from the resulting free kick.  Mourinho still complaining to at the final whistle.   A bad week for Man City could have been worse then, with them losing 2-1 at Upton Park despite throwing the kitchen sink and every other household fixture at the Hammers but the claret and blue bandwagon driven by a resurgent Stewart Downing (more on him below) continues apace.  City’s nerves ahead of the first Manchester derby of the season look set to be tempered by the heat of the result. Win and keep on Chelsea’s tails and people will stay with them but lose, let LVG claim his first derby scalp and be looking down the barrel of a Champions League exit and Pellegrini doesn’t even have a league cup shaped fig leaf to hide the naked truth. 

Newcastle can measure their recovery early on Saturday to a strangely flatlining Liverpool while hoping Sunderland remain becalmed for the first genuine six pointer of the season at Crystal Palace on Monday night. 

A word on the trip of my Atlanta Falcons to London for the first time. 

I couldn’t make it as it was the first week of the holidays and we were going away and it’s just as well given the epic England style collapse as the durty birds turned into early Thanksgiving turkeys in front of Russell Brand and everybody (we’re English, we don’t do God).  The coverage in the ajc was very good and respectful and provided readers back in the ATL with a real insight into British life with only one borderline racist let’s get the Falcons to speak like brits video, this time by the Falcons themselves. 

 If you ever want to see how racist a bit is, flip the protagonists.  Imagine a bunch of brits imitating Julio Jones or Roddy White.  There you go!

Southampton are lighting the league ablaze despite colossal personnel turnover.

Southampton are lighting the league ablaze despite colossal personnel turnover.

10/24 Football Emoticons and getting Shirty before the late, late show

Some games you know are going to be bad.

The portents and omens are there, key players are injured, the opposition are in blistering form and you’re lucky if you can scrape together 11 able bodied players, let alone skilful ones.  Others come like a bolt from the blue. So it was when Sunderland rolled into Southampton, a team that has never really given them much trouble in the Premiership before.  Despite never beating them in this division, most pundits had Southampton down for a banker home win, starting the season in great form while Sunderland are sluttering at the wrong end.   The game began with a lightning strike of a goal from Sunderland’s Santiago Vergini, a superb volley from the edge of the box beyond the despairing reach of the goalkeeper.  Unfortunately it was past his own goalkeeper and set the scene for an historic afternoon.

Bad became worse as Pelle doubled the lead  and before Cork added another they saw a stonewall penalty which would also have seen Southampton’s goalkeeper sent off. After travelling nearly 300 miles, you’d forgive Sunderland’s fans for getting an early start back. This looked the best option as Pelle got another then Bridcutt added another comedy own goal before goalkeeper Mannone passed the ball directly to an amazed Tadic who calmly lobbed him to take the score into letter territory.  This is an English term from the days of the results vidiprinters. When a team scored an unusually high score, the result would read Southampton 6 (SIX) Sunderland 0 – the capitals adding insult to injury.  This was bad enough but then Victor Wanyama made it seven and Mane finally put the tin hat on things with an eighth. 8-0. Which as an emoticon is exactly the look on every Sunderland fans face when they saw the result.

Arsenal ruined a lot of people’s bets as they had to rely on a last minute equalizer to rescue a point at home to Hull City. The late late show continued on Sunday as Liverpool won 3-2 at QPR with four goals coming in the last seven minutes although still none for the increasingly frustrated and frustrating Mario Balotelli – more on him later. Harry Redknapp, QPR’s avuncular manager is on wobbly ground and looking for scapegoats blaming midfielder Adel Taarabt for being the worst professional he ever worked with and being 42 pounds overweight.  If that’s the case then there’s a lot of hope for the rest of us in professional football.  

Newcastle managed to win for the first time this season although only after their match was held up for an hour as their newly fitted scoreboard swung from the rafters like King Kong on top of the Empire State Building.

Liverpool had a chance to measure their progress against the best in Europe in midweek when Real Madrid and old rival Cristiano Ronaldo came to Anfield. It was not a flattering comparison as they went into the break three goals down including one from their former Manchester United tormentor. The impulsive Mario Balotelli decided that he couldn’t wait to swap shirts with Pepe and did it as they walked off the pitch at half time. This casual disregard for the fans and the match situation may fly in Italy but definitely not in the home of one of England’s most traditional clubs.  Brendan Rodgers might have had a discreet word with him about the culture of the club but he might do his own fortunes some good if he reminded him of the role goals play in their history and future.

West Ham are playing beautifully right now, led by Enner Valencia and Stewart Downing.

West Ham are playing beautifully right now, led by Enner Valencia and Stewart Downing.

And a word on what’s the matter with Everton… and West Ham’s resurgence…

I’m a big Downing fan as you know – his pace might be going but he can still pick a pass so give him the time that he gets at the apex of the diamond, with targets to hit and he’ll find them. And it helps to have Enner Valencia buzzing around all over the place– a flier who draws defenders is precisley what some players need: America’s Clint Dempsey is similar even though Downing is behind Valencia and Dempsey ahead of Oba Martins. Regardless, Downing and Valencia and Sakho give West Ham real attacking options and have them playing the type of football we’ve come to expect from Upton Park. The Hammers usually entertain, even when they don’t win a great deal- this year is the top end of both.

The problem with Everton now is that he’s sacrificing solidity for flair, making the Toffees more open – which is where the goals against are coming from, but the forwards and midfield aren’t firing just yet so the goals for aren’t creeping in.  Give them a month with Ross Barkley back before you write them off. Or write them off because it makes for great headlines in America, as Grantland have foolishly done. 

Plus, people don’t realise the strain a Europa campaign plays on a team (which that article at least pays 1/2 decent respect to, but I digress).  The year Middlesbrough got to the UEFA Cup final, they came 14th after nearly finishing 4th the year before. Fulham were equally ineffective during their massive Europa run. It is hard on the smaller clubs, even the ones with tremendous youth academies like they have at Everton.

As noted, Guy Bailey writes on the Barclay’s Premier League for The Yanks Are Coming. Want more Guy Bailey? We highly recommend his new book, Blessay From America, a collection of writings on football and life made while living in America, where he married a southern belle and saw his son born, which you can purchase here. 

Guy Bailey