No ifs or Butts

I’d just like to publicly put on record my thanks to Newcastle’s revelation of the season: Mr Nicky Butt. In his first year at Newcastle, Nicky wasn’t firing on all cylinders and it seemed to a lot of fans he just didn’t seem to care enough. He looked disinterested, like a mercenary who had won his medals at Manchester United and had come across to Newcastle for one last big payday, and pretty much nowt else.

So sure enough, at the end of his first season he was packed off to Birmingham City on loan-to-buy: if Birmingham stayed in the Premiership, the deal was already done. We were that keen to see him packed out of the door, I was even hoping Birmingham would avoid the drop. They didn’t, and Nicky duly came back.

The fans were so underwhelmed at his return that he was actually booed onto the pitch as a substitute during a pre-season friendly with Villareal. But Butt began to win over the Newcastle fans again from that game — in that case by the unexpected method of scoring two headed goals in a 60 second spell to see us come from two goals behind to claim a 3 — 3 draw.

And since then, while he hasn’t always been our first choice in midfield this season (although I’m suspecting he’s certainly getting there now), he has been at worst dependable and at best outstanding in every game since. He’s tackled, harried, chased opposing midfielders and strikers all over the pitch, he’s blocked shots, he’s made our defence a lot more solid as well as being bloody good at distributing the ball too, and in short, he’s looked like the midfielder called Nicky Butt who played so well for such a long time for Manchester United, rather than the pale imitation of him the Toon originally signed.

I’d just like to defend our defence here too. They constantly, constantly, are under criticism from the media for being “suspect”. Yet despite Reading scoring twice, we’ve still only conceded eight goals in our last thirteen games (one of which went to extra time). In that same thirteen game spell, Liverpool have conceded nine, Arsenal have conceded nine, and Tottenham have conceded twelve, and Manchester City have conceded fifteen. I don’t seem to recall the defences of Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham or Manchester City being subjected to the same constant volleys of criticism that have been fired at the Newcastle defence. Are journalists really so stupid that they haven’t noticed this? Or is it just that it’s easier to keep trotting out the same old tired clichés regardless of what the facts would seem to indicate?

Now where was I?

Oh yes, welcome back, Nicky. I was one of your more vocal critics and you’ve won me over, and after another man of the match performance in the gutsy win over Reading last night, I thought it was about time you got some public acclaim.

Oh, and before I go, I must give the Newcastle site True Faith a mention, because their report of last nights game just summed up Kieron Dyer’s injury proneness/terrible luck. I mean, there’s the lad, coming back from a bad injury, nearly pokes his eye out on a corner flag and misses another two weeks. He then returns from that, is back in the team for two games, before sliding off the pitch under a challenge, and somehow crashing into the sharp edge of an advertising hoarding (no, I didn’t know they had sharp edges either) and opening up a horrible looking gash across his thigh (live on telly, obviously) which has caused him to miss the last few games. *sigh*. So. Last night. I’ll set the scene:

Last night there was a rather unusual incident before kick off when the Newcastle No. 9, Obafemi Martins, chased down and retrieved an injured (or possibly just knackered) woodcock on the pitch before handing it to one of the stewards. True Faith were just pleased it had been Martins’ pace which enabled him to catch the bird, rather than the perpetually injured Dyer, stating:

First Martins showed his warm-hearted instincts by saving an ailing bird (if it was Dyer, he would have probably contracted rabies)…True Faith

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