Sunday, August 05, 2007

Being left out again plus Middlesborough and Newcastle United

I still feel like I'm left out by my group. Whenever they are discussing about the exams or how to do the counselling part, they generally leave me out. I would like to jump in and say something but at times I get the blank stare that I am imposing on their lives or the vague silence when nobody responds to what I have just said. I know they are not suppose to be my friends but it generally leaves me thinking that Hong Kong people are not usually the nicest people to make friends with.


Since the Premier League will start in one weeks time and I'm only over halfway through my previews and that my exams are coming up, I feel I should speed out my analysis. Since Middlesborough and Newcastle United are next to each other in terms of alphabetical status and geography, I felt it was right to write about them together.

Boro fans had to reasonably expect that Southgate and Middlesborough would struggle last season. It was a young side with an inexperienced manager but they managed to get by. This season should see a slight improvement but not much. Southgate is still learning the ropes and imposing his character on the team.

Thankfully he is starting to address some problems. Forwards were drafted in in the likes of Tuncay and Aliadere, with Viduka. He started to rebuild the right side of the team with Luke Young but still requires a right winger to bring balance. Probably his worst problem is not a problem - he has too many young centre backs. Don't be surprised to see some going before the transfer window closes.

If Boro can maintain a mid-table position and a good cup run, that would be a reasonable feat. Clubs are built slowly and fans should expect reality instead of fantasy.


Sam Allardyce has a massive job on his hands. He needs to bring instant success to Geordie fans who expect it after seeing the miracles he produced at Bolton. The state of the current team might not be able to produce that yet. He has bought wisely, bringing in the likes of Rozenhal, Barton, Viduka and Smith. Yet the main problem has still not been addressed - a leaky defence. He still needs to boost the numbers and if he doesn't soon, he might be struggling in the beginning.

Also he needs to change his tactics. He cannot use the same stifling tactics that he uses at the Reebok stadium - not with the depth of attacking talent at his disposal. The fans will expect exciting and winning football. I remember that one pundit said that Allardyce should consider sacrificing a good league position if it meant guaranteeing a cup win. I would concur, since it will bring time for Allardyce to gradually bring his team together.

Whether or not Big Sam can weave his magic wand at the Magpies remains to be seen. He might go in the way of Kevin Keegan or Sir Bobby Robson OR could go in the way of Ruud Gullit or Graeme Souness.

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