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Number 1 Comments
So, at 1pm, Norwich's manager did his press conference the day before their game with Blackburn, and then by 7pm, he's fired.

While they've been crap for most of the time since that game at St. James' Park in September, they seem to have waited too long and then picked a bizarre moment to pull the trigger.
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I thought the Cisse-Evans incident lead to both getting 6 game bans, with Cisse getting an extension for it being another red?
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Not the most exciting game last night. Well played to Reading for having 70% of the ball and doing jack shit with it. And yeah that "13 - Reading Fans" on the back of the match programme was really dumb.

10 games to go, and I'm willing to guess another 5 wins should see us there. So let's bring it on home.
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There's a post-match quote in the Telegraph from Nakhi Wells where he said that he did make some contact with Ritchie after being distracted in appealing the possible Shelvey handball before the incident. My eyesight is shit so took me a while to spot, but there is a little contact from NW on MR. It may well be that the faint touch from Wells was enough to send one of Ritchie's legs into the other, which a few pundits on various outlets have suggested, but its fair both that its a soft award and its conceivable the possible handball could've been penalised first. Both pens were soft, although with the one Shelvey one, my initial thought was "Why be in a position to be penalised in the fucking first place?"

Even accounting for the misconception of hands on the ball, I don't think Ward fully had the ball under control. He seems to try to control what is probably a slippery ball by bringing it into his chest but ends up dragging it against Murphy's standing foot, which leads to the ball pinging off it and away, and it looks like a challenge Murphy is entitled to make. Saying that, as few players challenge the keeper in such a fashion that Murphy did anymore, I was surprised in real time that it wasn't flagged, and I can accept its one I'd be annoyed by. Hefele on the line could've done better, mind.

Its not exactly news the refereeing standard is shit tbf. I thought it was bad in the Prem - and clearly the shenanigans at Man U and Swansea hasn't helped - but fuck me there's been some doozies in the Championship (and lower) this season.
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Several different news sources are saying Alexis Sanchez was dropped for a row with teammates that got physical.

Can't help but think he'll be playing elsewhere next season tbh.
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To be fair, Huddersfield played alright, if a bit long-shot happy. But I guess it played into our plan to hit them on the counter, which we executed very well.

In thinking about it, the issue with our penalty was less the foul by Wells - which I took a few views to spot - and more the possible handball by Shelvey in the build-up. But whatever. Either way the fact we haven't had a penalty since the reverse fixture against the Terriers (I think) means we were due luck like that.

So... 11 clear of 3rd and thanks to Forest mauling Brighton, 5 of 2nd. Path's opened up a bit now.
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Hopefully used up your quota of luck with that Diame goal! That said, you make your own luck with things like that from time to time.

Clearly Lady Luck still hasn't used up the full quota yet. Which for us is a rarity.

It does look like Ritchie trips himself up, although we've had 5/6 more concrete penalties turned down at various points this season. Second does look fair - Ward doesn't get 2 hands firmly on it.
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That is a gloriously appalling bit of refereeing.
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A surprising quantity of people on Twitter seem to think Mings shouldn't have been sent off. I'm not sure - not sure if intent given the obstacle of Rooney, but surely its still dangerous play.
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My presumption is that because the ref spent an age chatting with Zlatan, he's probably not going to be banned in retrospect.
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Are we expecting retrospective bans for Ibrahimovic and/or Mings? Both would deserve it for their stupidity.
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Back to back Champions Leagues... great achievement. Well done.
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Logan. Very watchable and the graphic violence felt justified, but overlong and Christ alive its bleak.
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Just touchline I think.
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Until 15-20 minutes ago I was prepared to co-opt the manner, given how much I think Bobby Madley is a tosser anyway. But as much as the award irks me, the final 10 means I don't really need to go full troll.

Diame's goal was fucking spectacular in its own slightly demented way, and the winning goal was a very fine strike. Psychologically that could also be fucking huge, not least given how formidable Brighton had been at home this season, and the fact its our first win after conceding first.

So... 8 ahead of Huddersfield and 12 on Leeds. Job's not done yet, but the path's getting clearer.
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Interestingly, the referee for tonight's Brighton v Newcastle game is apparently a Huddersfield Town fan. And he's not liked that much anyway by NUFC fans after his officiating of the Tyne-Wear Derby at the Stadium of Light last season.

Wonder what chance a controversial call that means a key NUFC player just happens to be banned for the game in West Yorkshire on Saturday?
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Sort of like that clip from 1998 or whenever Barnsley were in the Premier League of Tykes fans who were claiming a ref who sent off 3 of their players in a game was being paid to keep the likes of Spurs, Newcastle and Everton in the Prem at their expense?

Meh. I wouldn't mind seeing Brighton and Huddersfield in the Prem. But I guess now its the thunderdome for us, given those trips to the AMEX, John Smith and Madejski in a week... although ironically I feel more comfortable with them all being away than I would've done with all 3 being home games, given our oddly patchier record at SJP this season. Hopefully there'll be a bit more about Newcastle today than those FA Cup failures at the AMEX earlier this decade.
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Only Premier League defeat so far and it had to be the bottom club's first win of the season. Standard.

Nice to see this carrying on for the moment though.
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So MUFC won the thing.

Southampton did look & sound they gave it a decent go tbf, and very unlucky on the incorrect offside at 0-0.
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Well, given the recovery to get a point and Huddersfield also failing to win, its not as bad as it could've been. Still not great though to lose 2 points to a side who have spent most of their time since October losing.

Makes Brighton on Tuesday even bigger. Even moreso if they can see it home against Reading.
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I guess based on their form since October its understandable and if he hadn't won the league, that would've happened, but its still such a stupidly shit way to put the end on a proper footballing hero story.
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Holy crap what a way to pull off getting the missing piece of the trophy cabinet. Well played.
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Tony Mowbray is the new Blackburn manager.

Given his last job was with SISU in their efforts to run Coventry into the ground, he sure knows how to pick his jobs.
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Just confirmed Blackburn have sacked Owen Coyle and his backroom staff.

So weird that backroom team got 6 points off Newcastle and rarely looked like beating anyone else. May well just be rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic unless someone truly Warnock-like is out there.
Think it's the same issue that occured with Wolves few seasons ago. They've got good players, a rich owner and a decent enough manager to be nowhere near a relegation fight, a complete overhaul on paper but there is still a losing mentality going around at the club. Go 1-0 down in a Championship game and the fans are all over you again, just like last season. Players like Bjanarson for example. I rated him at Basel but yesterday he was absolute pants, couldn't hit a donkey's arse with a banjo and looked low on confidence altogether. Villa didn't look bad last night either, until they made an absolute meal out of two corners which literally fekked them over.

What the solution to this might be? I don't know. Should be trying to get in some consistency and keep Bruce for a while instead of pulling the trigger again.

Oh, and hopefully Hogan's injury isn't that bad but there is little hope imo. Looked nasty.

Clearly its never been historically that easy to bounce straight back, given the historical data suggests more teams fail to get promoted from the Championship than do so in their first post-drop season, and some teams just sink like a stone. QPR last season looked pretty terrible, Derby took years to look like they might be promotion challengers after that 2007-08 collapse, the last few seasons have further examples, and of course, Wolves is something of a biggie given they fell straight through and into League One.

I guess I had fears in pre-season of Newcastle having some of that given how many games we lost in the 4 seasons before the drop, but whatever happened seems to have relatively stabilised things. Maybe its down to the continual hire-and-fire or high volume player trading they were managing even before this season, but they don't look settled, and they never seem to find a solution.

Certainly, if Kodija is out long-term, Villa will have trouble given he's their top scorer, and that's even before the pretty bad looking blow for Hogan, given how shit his luck is with long-term injuries. Although I still don't think they'll go down - they may be having problems, but I'd be surprised if there weren't 3 worse teams.
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The hell's happened to Villa? 1 point from the last 8 matches, just six points above the bottom 3, and seemingly unable to get out of their spiral. I don't quite feel the gloating that Barnsley, Forest and Brentford did for beating Villa after they signed key players from them in January, but still weird.

Still, we won. For all the pontificating, and performances that haven't been as good as some would like, we're still in a great position. Just need to bring it home.
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It would be amazing if that happened. Not to mention would probably send the Arsenal Fan TV mob into fucking overdrive.
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So close to Watford derailing the unbeaten run again. Weird.

Regardless, pootling on nicely once more, especially in the Champions League.
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Wenger has said he'll decide his future in "March or April".

Can't help but wonder who Arsenal fans expect to get if this is the end, which I think it might well be, and who they might blame if next season they fail to even make the top 6.
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Back to back domestic clean sweeps... neat. Well done.
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Its been several years now since their Champions League adventures were anything other than one leg being decent and one leg being a catastrophe.
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