One of the great Northern cities, born from the industrial revolution, founded on the hard work of the working classes, with an identity and culture to be proud of. A city with a special character and dialect and of course a great football tradition plus every reason to be positive about the future. But enough about Leeds, because on Friday The Mighty Whites have to travel up to that cold, coal covered stinking poverty hole that calls itself “the Toon”.
Newcastle – the self-styled boozy weekend student capital, with its fog on the Tyne, Gazza obsession and bizarre rusty angel thing on the motorway – is home to one of the barest trophy cabinets in top flight football, but still 50,000 dedicated fans will pour into St James’ Park every weekend to watch a team that is claimed to be underfunded and definitely starved of success – personally I admire that – feels like us for the last 17 years if only ER had that kind of capacity.
This game could be a real sliding doors moment for our side. Right now, you could split our fanbase in half: 1/2 see the glass half empty and 1/2 see the glass totally empty. I'm not going to judge who's right and wrong, but rather accept either way because I understand those who see the glass as empty are looking at both our league position and our performances so far and in both cases we are far short of what we did last season.
Personally, I’m a glass half full guy because I can see that we’ve played two of the big four (the Champions league 4) where we would not have expected to get anything and I'm mindful that Bielsa himself has said our season will not be defined by those big matches. What we have done is played two teams outside of the big four and not been beaten by either of them. Indeed, Everton have beaten everybody they have played this season except us.
Whichever way you see our start to the season, we can all agree that the game on Friday night against Newcastle is one we cannot lose. If your glass is empty, you may already be getting very nervous. If, like me, your glass is half full then you will be full of hope that this is a game we will win, or at least won't lose.
So – the tale of the tape:
League Position last year
9th Leeds Pts 59 Gd 8
12th Newcastle Pts 45 Gd -16
League Position this year
17th Leeds Pts 2 Gd -7
19th Newcastle Pts 1 Gd -7
Squad valuation in the PL - Transfermarkt
12th Leeds £225.72M
14th Newcastle £217.26M
Wage Bill – according to Spotrac.com
Not sure on the back of those stats why we’ve suddenly become European contenders, but it shows how much our manager and squad overachieved last year.
The Toon’s celebrity fans include:
Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne
Ant and Dec
Tim Healy (the little fat fella out of Auf Wiedersehen Pet)
The rest of the cast of Auf Wiedersehen Pet
The Fog on the Tyne
Sickly Sausage Rolls
Douglas “wa’hay man” Bader
Mouseman – if you read this far many congratulations
Prediction for the weather: -2 degrees Celsius, biting frosty sleet and a strong 40mph wind (well, it is grim up there). Take your Arctic jacket and flask of cocoa if you’re heading into the frozen wilds.
Prediction for the match: Toon Army 1 – 3 The Mighty Whites (Raphinha, Bamford x 2)
Shackleton, Ayling, Cooper, Firpo
Rapha, Rodrigo, Dallas, Harrison
Disclaimer: this is predicted, NOT what I’d like to see…… so over to you lot, the unwashed masses, to stick your twopence in.