Friday, 9 January 2009
Wake up and smell the toffee
Phil Brown took some stick from the half-sighted newspapers for making "sweeping" changes to his side for last week's FA Cup tie, and is expected to reverse these "sweeping" changes when the Tigers resume Premier League hostilities at Everton this weekend.
Of course, if these lax hacks had looked a bit more closely at Brown's selections, they'd have noticed that while he did make numerous alterations for Newcastle's trip down for the FA Cup tie, he didn't exactly fill his side with no-hopers, contract-hoggers, reserves, kids and general loafers with no part to play in the Premier League.
If he'd chosen to do that, then Wayne Brown, Ryan France, Nicky Featherstone and Bryan Hughes would all have started. None did, and only two - France and Featherstone - made the bench. And when the final whistle was blown, both were still there. The changes Brown made were only stark when one clocked that the captain and the first choice goalkeeper were missing from the starting XI, something only injury or suspension would ever force them to do if points were at stake.
For what it's worth, among the seven players beginning the Newcastle game who didn't feature at the start against Aston Villa four days earlier was Geovanni (top scorer, main creator, chap who Alan Shearer adores watching); George Boateng (been in our midfield all bleedin' season); Dean Marney (see Boateng); and Craig Fagan (first choice wideman until his leg was bust, working his way back to match fitness). Four players there who have been first choice in their position at some point this season, and in the case of the first three, pretty much all of it. Hardly playing the stiffs, is it? Given that the other three newbies since Villa were Nathan Doyle, Stelios Giannakopoulos and keeper Matt Duke, all of whom have figured on the bench for some periods of the season (and in Duke's comfortingly reassuring case, all of it) and you begin to wonder how much research these scribes are really inclined to do.
The Cup side did okay, and certainly I'd expect Geovanni and Fagan to keep their places when City face the Toffeemen at Goodison Park. Boateng has looked very weary of late and Marney has gone slightly off the boil but they maintain a decent chance of selection as Brown shuffles the pack in his effort to end our winless streak. There is, of course, zero chance of Doyle, Giannakopoulos and Duke figuring as anything other than benchwarmers. Myhill and Ashbee will be back, of course, and assuming no transfer window arrivals will join up in time to be eligible, I would hope Marlon King and Daniel Cousin will be permitted to resume the partnership which yielded duality, understanding and a good deal of trouble for numerous defences, even if one or two more goals would have been welcomed.
I suspect that Brown may decide that the fabled 4-3-3, the system which won at Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and almost thieved a spectacular point at Manchester United, making City the most appealing thing in club football, needs to make a proper comeback. And whoever is in it, none of them will be stiffs.
Posted by Boyhood Dreams