As it’s the season of goodwill to all men (and women – we’re not Malky Mackay!) we decided to spoil you all with two Sixy Talk’s in a week.
We got in touch with Alex, from Newcastle United fanzine True Faith to get the low down on (still) the biggest club in the North East.
1) It seems a lifetime ago since Dave Whelan and Mike Ashley were slugging it out to become the number one “stack em high, sell em cheap” sports retailer in the UK… What’s been the Geordie view of what’s happened at Latics since we last met?
Well last time we met was a bad tempered affair at your place when Callum McManaman assaulted our young promising left back in 2013 and me and my merry band of travellers vowed never to return after another defeat in the rain at the DW. That was childish.
The Southern domination of the Premier League has continued and Wigan represented the last great ‘big allocation’ away day of the last decade so you’ve been missed by many mags along with Blackburn and Bolton.
We’re so isolated in the North East (there are no other football clubs of any note within 120 miles) that we’d rather see Wigan back in the Premier League than a Bournemouth (practically in France), Reading, Brighton etc. Getting relegated to League One seemed like bad management at the top. Appointing McKay was bizarre and relegation was probably justified for that alone.
2) Speaking of Mr Ashley, I seem to remember there being quite a few dissenting voices regarding how he was handling NUFC in recent seasons – have those all gone away after Rafa was persuaded to stay on in the summer and your good start to the season?
Yes definitely. To be fair the penny dropped with him a few years ago when he appointed Joe Kinnear to a senior position at the club (AGAIN). He realised he had no idea what he was doing in football (fair play, most billionaires are too stubborn to admit they’re wrong) but then handed control of the club to total morons who possibly knew even less.
Now Rafa Benitez is in charge and is paid 50 times more than the MD, Lee Charnley. So we know who is actually in charge. That’s Rafa Benitez, this time last year managing Real Madrid, two times La Liga winner, two times Europa League winner, Champions League winner, Club World Cup winner, FA Cup winner, Coppa Italia winner, Supa Coppa winner. What that man is doing in the Championship I’ve no idea. How could we be angry with Ashley for pulling that off?
3) That good start isn’t solely down to Dwight Gayle but his goals have certainly helped. Is it fair to say Newcastle fans owe a certain Alan Pardew a debt of gratitude for selling him to you in the summer or is he still public enemy number 1?
I’d say we owe Roy Hodgson a greater debt. Hodgson told Andros Townsend (who was sensational for us for the 4 months we had him) that the only way he’d get picked in future was if he moved to the Premier League as he wouldn’t consider a Championship player.
Pardew wanted Townsend and although the two deals weren’t linked financially, it’s known that we wouldn’t have got Gayle without selling them Townsend. It’s a shame to see Townsend in and out of the side so much and struggling for form under Pardew. It’s no surprise to Newcastle fans, but still a shame. He’s the type of player fans love when he’s managed properly.
4) The media has (until recently at least) tended to portray Newcastle fans as “overly expectant” and there has been talk in recent seasons amongst the Geordies I follow on twitter that you’d love to do well in one of the Cups. Did you look upon our FA Cup win with green eyes and knowing how things have gone since, would you have swapped places with us given the chance?
The ‘deluded/over expectant geordie’ line is illogical. NUFC were relegated with a 50,000 average attendance (again) last season. Surely if we were expectant of anything other than being terrible, people would stop going?
Yes most mags would have swapped places with Wigan’s FA Cup win. We got to the League Cup Quarter this year (battering Hull but going out on pens) and they sold 10,000 tickets….to watch it on TV at St James’ Park. Nothing beats a cup win. We also tasted Europe in 2012/13 and should have won the Europa League that year (or at least got to the final, which funnily enough would have bean against Benitez’s Chelsea), going out at the quarter final stage to Benfica (who we dominated both games). Cup success leading to Europe is another massive bonus as watching your team on the continent is absolutely class.
5) …So how do you think the game will go on Wednesday night?
Newcastle should win as our away form is imperious. We’ve only conceded five goals in ten away games this season and two of those were at the hands of referees. All of them have been from crosses. The team was scarily good against Birmingham and the injustice at Forest has tightened an already United group of players. One bit of hope for Wigan – each time we’ve conceded first in the league we’ve lost, so have a go at us early on.
6) Finally, the important stuff, pies. In preparation for the return fixture in April, where can we get the best ones in toon, what’s your filling of choice, and how do you go about eating them?
Personally I’m a big fan of the Chicken and Mushroom pie served at the Crows Nest Pub in the City Centre. It’s about 15 minutes walk from the station though and the other side of the ground. So I don’t think I’ve ever seen an away fan in, despite all being welcome. If you eat it with anything other than a knife and fork you’re a sunderland fan.
So there you have it, if you use a knife and fork to eat a pie, you support Sunderland – and if you don’t then you’re doing it right. Pies (just like burgers) were designed to be eaten by hand. The lads discuss some Newcastle things (and some lovely pies, thanks to Bowens of Adlington) on the latest edition of the podcast: