My plan for this morning was ambitious. I wanted to watch the eagerly-awaited Tyne-Wear derby with my mates, but I had to pick up my girl from LaGuardia just two hours after the final whistle. But I thought I could do it. I like to have my cake and eat it too, as usual.
So I was going to: Wake up at 07:00. Give my pet turtles a bath and place them in a freshly cleaned tank which dried overnight. Drive my station wagon down to the East Village. Find a street parking spot. And then have a pint of ale and an Irish breakfast at Lunasa Bar, while surrounded by about 20 Geordie supporters, some in costume.
But then I started thinking...what if? What if I couldn't find street parking? I have just $40 in my pocket this week. Would I still be willing to pay to park at a garage? Or what if this was the one day in a thousand that I park on the street (something I do less than six times a year) and someone damages the car? Or what if a pint of ale, plus saussage and eggs, plus coffee results in stinky farts for the rest of the afternoon? That wouldn't be good for the LaGuardia pickup task at all.
Clearly there were too many bad possibilities. So I opted to have a classic Dunkin' Donuts breakfast at home. I paused my DVR, took care of my turtles, brewed my coffee, went out for my breakfast sandwich, and came back ready to watch this match.
I admit, I was hesitant to watch this match. When the season started, I marked it as a probable draw. But Newcastle's recent performances suggested that there would be a result. Would it be a dismal display, further complicating Newcastle's objective to stay in the Premiership? Or would be a well deserved victory and bundle of three precious points?
There is no such thing as a 'perfect' game in football. Baseball has it, but there is no statistic that measures it in the Beautiful Game. In football, a perfect game could be a big win over an arch rival, at home, that energizes the team and fan base, and is a game in which there are no injuries or ugly incidents? Better still, a lot of fans will consider it 'perfect' if a player gets a hat trick, with another player right behind him with two goals. That is precisely what happened today at St James' Park.
And what did Newcastle gain?
The team has gained confidence, stability, spirit, momentum (two Premiership wins in a row), and a clearer picture of what the roles should be for each player. And they still have options for who they can start in future games this season. They have Nile Ranger as a backup striker. They have Steven Taylor set to make his return in defense. They have Ryan Taylor ready as a utility man for both the defense and midfield. And they have their newest acquisition, Dan Gosling, probably making his first start in the midfield in either December or January. That's depth for a team that has no money in their transfer budget for the next six months.
Teams can learn from defeats. But they can also learn from big victories. The overwhelming home wins against Aston Villa and Sunderland both prove that Newcastle can return to the upper half of the table. They can eventually anchor themselves in the top ten of the Premiership if the players put in a complete effort until they leave the pitch, and if the team has confidence to break out of sluggish attacking strategies (like those infuriating little triangular passes) and always remember to pass the ball forward as quickly as possible. Moving the ball quickly is what led to valuable set plays and goals in both home victories.
And Chris Houghton is a keeper. For this prestigious club, he is he right manager at the right time. And he is dazzling in that suit. Give that man a full page photo in GQ UK.