Interview with a Citizen
Vital Newcastle: Presently you're hovering just above the trapdoor to the Fizzy Pop League, how have City ended up down there after what seemed to be a promising first season under Pearce?
Andy Leggott: Pearce had an excellent honeymoon period after taking over from Keegan and landed the manager's job on that basis. We ended that season just a missed penalty kick away from Europe and things looked rosy. However that was as good as it got. Pearce was, in hindsight, the wrong appointment but one that could be easily manipulated by a boardroom content with nothing more than Premiership survival. There has been little in the way of investment made in the first team, but what money Pearce has had has been squandered on awful, journeyman acquisitions.
Rumours abound that the squad is split into British and foreign camps and that the manager has lost the team. The football on offer is utter drivel as Pearce tries to assure games are not lost rather than won. Crowds are some 10,000 down on the average when Pearce took over and those that remain are turning. All in all the whole environment is of a club in freefall and going in one direction ..... well that was the case until Middlesbrough decided the cup took priority and handed us 3 valuable points.
VN: On Pearce, how is he being received down at your place? There seems to be a lot of media talk that he's two games from the chop.
AL: I think after the Blackburn cup debacle most supporters expected, and wanted, him out. The press created a 'two games to save his job' scenario on the back of what they were reading on supporters sites and message boards. However if nothing else, Pearce has an incredible knack of getting a result as the axeman stands poised.
It happened at Christmas when they managed three wins in a row and with anything other than a win at Boro meaning the axe it was perhaps no surprise that we managed our first win in 30 years at their place. In all honesty few expect him to go before the end of the season now, but equally so few expect him to be in charge next season. Expect a mutual parting of the ways in the summer as Pearce leaves to manage the U21's.
VN: Are there any players you'd single out to watch this weekend from City? Is Micah Richards worth the hype?
AL: Richards is class, perhaps potentially the best English centre-half of his generation. That said to fulfill that potential he will probably have to leave City. Fortunately for your good selves he will probably be missing on Saturday after he picked up an injury playing for England. Of the others there is little to shout about. We don't concede many but score even less. Joey Barton is the pick of our midfield and is one of the few to have shone in what has been a very poor season.
VN: Who would you single out as our main threats?
AL: I like Martins, a very good buy. French Tony will also present a threat as he seeks retribution against Pearce for what he perceived as shabby treatment whilst at City. Your defence does at times look suspect though and most City fans will be hoping that Bramble starts for you!
VN: Generally what is your perspective on all things Newcastle?
AL: Having a stepfather who hails from Ashington and who is a big Newcastle fan means I have something of a soft spot for the Toon, though obviously not on Saturday. I think your progress over the years is akin to our own. Both are potentially big clubs with large fan bases who should be doing better. That we were more recently boasting winning a major trophy than you were speaks volumes about both clubs, especially since those boasts date from as far back as 1976. Both clubs are experts in the art of self-destruction whose supporters deserve better. I also think both sets of supporters are the only ones left who believe in Kevin Keegan the manager. We saw less of mad Kev's magic than you did but when it touched us it was the best football seen at City over the last 30 years.
VN: Finally a prediction for Saturday?
AL: I fancy something out of this for City. It won't be a goal fest for certain but this has to be one of the few of their remaining games that City can target at least a point from. I think a 1--1 draw is the best we can hope for but that coupled with a result against Charlton in our next fixture should keep us safe.