Final push to round off the season

It was great to finally see out strikers scoring some goals during the week, not least the return to goalscoring form of Robbie who, let’s face it, could have had a half dozen by now if it wasn’t for match officials and a little ring rustiness. Not that I’ve changed my mind about the state of our strikeforce, it’s something that clearly needs addressing and I’m sure Rafa has some plans for the summer.

Despite many people clamouring for the return of Owen, I’m not so sure. Many pundits have suggested that if Rafa had bitten the bullet and paid the 17m we’d have progressed in the Champions League and be a good half dozen points ahead of the SCUM in the league. Hold your horses fellas ‘“ bear in mind that ol’ Mikey is injured, AGAIN, and has been for the best part of this season.

Yep, he’s injury prone that one ‘“ always has been, and that’s a lot of money to pay for a player who can only make it out for a twenty games a season. Strangely, the Toon is even being linked with Fernados Torres ‘“ Rafa’s supposed number one target. Why, exactly, do Newcastle need Torres? To replace Shearer? So that you’ve got two world-class strikers at the helm starved for service while you languish in mid-table? And how the hell are they gonna stump up the 15-20m required after splashing so much on Owen?

Personally I’d pick the Spaniard or David Villa over Owen if given a straight choice, and I don’t think that’s being overly harsh towards our olden-day golden-boy. There’s no doubting Mikey scored some great goals for us but fans should remember he wasn’t exactly prolific over the course of a season for the last few of years. Injuries aside there were far too many times we were ‘˜waiting’ for him to get back to goalscoring form for a good eight or ten games before he’d go and hit a hat-trick two games in a row and everyone knew he was back. A large proportion of his goal tally in fact came from three or four games in a season where he’d go ahead and score ten goals, but points mean prizes and winning 3-0 with a Mikey hat-trick has no different effect on the end result of the season than grinding out a 1-0. He’s clearly a big-game player but for me there were one too many barren spells towards the end to assume he’s the answer to all our prayers.

For me though, Nando and Cisse have to go. If you’re fighting for the title there’s no room in your team for players you have to give 10-12 game runs to (despite them not scoring and doing not a lot of consequence) just to try and get their confidence back. We had enough of that with Heskey under Houllier. I honestly think that Cisse has the quality but just won’t fit into Rafa’s system, but credit to both of them against Fulham ‘“ Nando’s face after he scored just read ‘˜yeah it’s one goal but I should be scoring more’ and Cisse’s contribution and response to Warnock’s goal was top class.
Still, prove me wrong boys.

Until we do sort our striker problem out, we’ve got eight league games and the FA Cup to get through before we can draw a line under the word ‘˜success’ for this season. We’ve currently got the same points tally we finished with last season, with 24 more to shoot for so this is a very realistic possibility. Considering our opposition from here on in the Fulham rout couldn’t have come at a better time. If we can pick up that form and run until the end of the season we can truly be proud of our progress, plus we’ve got the added advantage of knowing exactly what we have to do to improve the team next season. Rafa has done well so far in terms of avoiding sentiment and making transfer choices for the benefit of the team, and my money’s on him to follow this up at the end of the season, whatever happens between now and then.

On another note, things have been quiet on the Chelsea front recently haven’t they? Don’t tell me Bryan Robson’s public warning to Moaninho finally got the cocky twat to shut up for five minutes? Sadly his influence in the Chelsea camp has rubbed off so even when he can’t find the words to humiliate himself, his players are more than happy to pick up the baton. Both Lampard and Makelele have accepted a temporary role as missed-the-point megastar during Jose’s silence. Claude reckons they’re enduring taunts based on jealousy and that Chelsea just ‘˜crave success’, and Fat Frank says it’s not jealously by ENVY. Hmmm’¦ Aside from the fact that in this context they’re the same thing Frank, let’s take a look at a definition of envy ‘“ ‘œA feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.’ This is clearly what you were getting at, but you’re both wrong I’m afraid boys. I can’t speak for everybody but if I could choose between our current situation, and an
alternate universe where Roman invested in LIVERPOOL and Mourinho had us winning the league each season, I’d take our situation any day. EVEN IF we end up trailing to you in the league every season for the next decade. See, at least now we can look back on our successes as being genuine accomplishments of skill, tactical acumen, passion and desire, rather than sitting under the shadow of the billions of pounds and the ‘œYeah, but COULD
they have done it without the money?’ factor. Also I think I’d have a really, really hard time bringing myself to support Mourinho as a manager, as much as the Reds come first and you have to support whoever’s at the helm, Jose would just be an embarrassment to our good name. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the misguided one opens his trap and humiliates himself and the team he’s dragging down with him though. I can’t wait.

Until then it’s the Toon tomorrow, thankfully the kid Owen isn’t playing so he can’t ram my comments down my throat, and I’ll be looking for Robbie and the rest to keep the Fulham form going for a win to prepare us for the cup quarters. 4-3 with GOD scoring the winner anyone?

Paul Lester

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