Saturday, 27 April 2013

My days in Toon #2

After getting my head down with one of my assessments I received an email from Rob inviting me to the press conference for my 2nd and final day of work experience. Initially it was for the West Brom presser before it was changed to the Liverpool match due to changed travel arrangements.

I met Rob at the Sir Bobby statue once more at 9.30 in my blue coat which I think he was sick of seeing. Once again, it was bloody chucking it down. Marc (@MarcJobling) was running slightly late so we made our way to the office he shares with the rest of the boys. Sky sports news was on in the distance, I caught a glimpse of Dortmund's or rather Lewandowski's goals from the night before. I sat down observing Rob sort out his desktop. Whilst he went to retrieve Marc I was given the opportunity to put something together on Rob's Haris Vuckic video. I attempted to implement a PiP effect and failed, my video editing only stretches to Windows Movie Maker although one of my videos did reach 150,00 views on YouTube!

After this, Marc and I followed Rob pitch side where we waited for the players to come out. He showed us his camera, showed us the features he would use and the different microphone settings before stopping to film the lads coming out. I couldn't believe it. The lads I pretty much worship - okay maybe not as much this season - were stood right in front of me. Then I saw Shola. In the flesh. Smiling. Laughing. jhgkjgkgjd. Rob filmed the lads as they went for a run and told us what sort of shots he could obtain. For example, Pardew was in the foreground and the players were just about to run past in the background. He caught this shot and before seeing that I hadn't appreciated the thought that went into camerawork.

We changed various positions around the stadium and I noticed something. St James' should never be empty, it feels wrong. Artistically, Rob positioned himself behind Ian Horrocks or 'Horrocksy' as he is referred to. The lads were still warming up and for a few seconds I forgot that I was on work experience. The temptation to shout 'I LOVE YOU' was overcoming but I kept shut. Then the lads changed to a crossing exercise and to be honest it was shambolic. In half an hour, they scored 5 goals.  Marc and myself were given the chance to film for a short period of time, Marc caught a goal and I caught a lot of wayward passes.

We went back upstairs and Rob uploaded the footage to his laptop. He showed us our footage and give us some feedback. He told us the focus should be the ball and that it should be central at all times. I anticipated the final destination of the ball rather than the actual pass at times. He edited out the clips that were not needed and gathered about 8 minutes of quality footage. What I didn't realise was that Rob had taken individual footage of players such as Coloccini and Tiote as he was anticipating that Pardew would talk about them in his presser and he was right. Derek Llambias walked in through the door, said hello to everybody, picked up the papers and said 'I wonder who we're signing today'. I wanted to shake his hand, Ashley and Llambias have got a lot of unfair stick and I wanted to say 'cheers' but as a fan.

Marc and I went for lunch and were told to head back for 1.15 as the press conference started at 1.30. We arrived back at 1.17 and were not retrieved due to a text message failing to send to tell Rob we were back. After the press conference Rob asked us why we were late and that in this industry it was unacceptable as it was a time sensitive job. He said it was a lesson we had to learn and don't worry I did. The presser itself was similar to the post-Southampton one but even still I thoroughly enjoyed it. I introduced myself to Lee Ryder and Miles Starforth but I stopped due to the start of the presser. There was so many questions I wanted to ask Pardew or lecture Pardew on but I knew I had no right to and that I'd embarrass Rob. I wouldn't have had the balls anyways.

Rob needed to retrieve a disc from the training ground and so we had the opportunity to visit. We piled into Rob's car with another lass (who's name escapes me) and headed to Benton. It was a much more relaxed conversation in the car then it had been previously. At the training ground, Rob retrieved his disc and introduced us to the analysts. That'd be an amazing job. He gave us a tour of the place where we saw the gym, the ice bath, the boot room and the indoor pitch. Whilst in the indoor pitch I started laughing as I realised it was the place they used to film a scene in 'Goal' where Erik Dornhelm tells Santiago Munez 'the name on the front of the shirt is bigger than the name on the back'. After this, we walked back through the corridors to Rob's car where I clocked the inspirational quotes on the wall and statistics for the upcoming match vs Liverpool.

Rob dropped us back, mentioned en route about the fight you need to succeed and encouraged us to get in touch for any advice or references as long as we're not inundating him! 2 unforgettable days that have spurred me on for more. In a few years, I'll buy him a pint.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

My days in Toon #1

'Sort yourself some work experience and then we'll talk' were the words the careers adviser muttered. 'I'll try my best' I replied. 'Experience is everything, you need a portfolio'. I knew that. I'd be trying for months to arrange something. Just as I was about to give up for a few months, I sent a DM on Twitter to Rob Scanlon of NufcTV and to my surprise he replied with some tips on how to improve my CV as well as a potential placement. 

Thankfully and fortuitously Rob did get back in touch offering me the chance to showcase my skills in the press box vs Southampton as well as shadow him filming and interviewing fans. Brilliant! I can't remember what I did but I probably did a Stevie T fistpump in excitement. 

I met Rob at the Sir Bobby Robson statue at 11.45 and it was chucking it down. Rob came out and introduced himself to myself, Marc (@MarcJobling) and Jubilee (@JJJubilee) who were also on placement. We piled into the elevator that took us to level 7 and Rob showed us the offices in which he works along with the rest of the media team. He sat us all down and explained the do's and the don'ts such as celebrating in the press box. That was going to be tricky, 3 days earlier I woke up the neighbour's bairn celebrating Shola's penalty vs Metalist.  After this, he outlined the itinerary. Due to it being 'french day' proceedings were different. Rob was required to capture more footage of the fans than usual such as those in fancy dress and wearing French themed face paint. As well as this, we stopped to film the french dancers which I don't think any of us minded. My job was relatively simple, alert Rob if we see anyone he may miss. 

This lad was on fire

After this, we headed to level 7 where my season ticket is located. Luckily, we didn't have to trail the steps like I do most match days, we took the lift. I observed Rob interview families and young children who were more than enthusiastic on camera. After this I was offered the opportunity to interview a boy of about 8 which I grabbed with both hands. I rattled off my first question and the young boy replied happily explaining why he was dressed up and who helped design it. I panicked briefly during it as words escaped me for a second before I regained thought. The young lad enthused about Yoan Gouffran and how he was his new favourite player and then the interview finished. Rob gave me some brief feedback, saying I spoke with clarity but that I started too quickly and that I should always check with the cameraman first. Silly me. Humorously one of the french dancers offered me a free t-shirt; she'd mistaken me for a little lad. Slightly embarrassing but I got a free t-shirt! We headed down to pitch side where Rob filmed some crowd shots before showing us to our seats in the press box. What a view. It was remarkable to see St James' from this perspective with the crowd filing in and the black and white shirts on display. As the teams came out of the tunnel to the french national anthem - which was utterly bizarre - I felt proud. The french flag began to form and I was smiling like a cheshire cat. 

As the game settled down, it was the Southampton fans making all the noise in level 7. They then had more reason to cheer when Schneiderlin fired home early on. A bloody frenchmen, irony at its finest. Here we go again I thought. I checked the replay to see if it was a legitimate goal and made a note of the scorer of the goal and the time it went in. I'd done a fair bit of research for the game and had prepared a sheet with the player's names, numbers, goal time and formation which I added to before kick off. 

In the half an hour before Sissoko's equaliser I imagined what Ryan the fan would be doing right now. More than likely, I'd be going mad, letting my mouth go a bit too much and calling them all useless. But I was calm. When Gouffran raced down the left side menacingly, I could feel the whole stadium creep forward on their seats and when Sissoko poked in, nothing happened on my part. Astonishingly, I sat as if we hadn't scored. I turned to see the lads celebrate and I looked round at the Gallowgate and to the Leazes to see the geordie faithful going nuts. When Cisse hammered home that monster of a volley I did nothing as well. Don't ask how, I don't know! I must've been in the zone; smiling no doubt. 

At half time I was about to start typing the start of my 400 word match report that I'd be assigned to do by Rob but before I could begin I was whisked off to the press room where I was easily the youngest there. I had some tea and tasted the nicest brownie ever. As I looked around me, I couldn't believe who was in the same room as me: Supermac, John Anderson and pretty much all the journos I follow on Twitter. 
Rob told me that he'd like the match report pretty much completed by the 90th minute. I started it and just as I'd formed a decent structure, Lambert equalised for the Saints. Not to worry, we have a game on our hands now I thought. I ended up changing my report 3 times and managed to have it done on the final whistle.

How could I not love these guys?
After the game we went back into the press room and I watched the press interview Pardew and Pochettino which was a really interesting experience. As I walked out with Rob back to his office he explained what he's do with the footage, showed us what he'd made for the Kharkiv match and then went onto explain what our second and final day of work experience would entail. What a brilliant day. I learnt a lot and every question I asked was answered. I was told of the not so glamorous side of this line of work but it's spurred me on more.

I think I thanked Rob about a thousand times. I'll say it again for good measure, cheers Rob.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Pride and Parity Need To Be Restored

Losing isn't nice. Losing to Sunderland isn't nice either and in the manner we did, inexcusable.

In blunt terms, we've been nothing short of diabolical. We've failed to reach realistic expectations and to build upon last season's fairy tale. When we have played well - rare occasion I hastily add - it has only been for one half. We have failed to dominate games, dominate teams nor dominate the derby like we have done in recent years.

Next season, things have to change. Is the manager to blame? Is he tactically inept? Is he stubborn? Does he motivate his players enough? These are the sorts of questions that many have tried to answer on forums, on Twitter and in pubs. Assuming he stays, Newcastle have to hit the ground running in August. We cannot blame the Europa League and we cannot blame lack of depth. Hopefully Ashley will allow whoever the manager is to strengthen in the summer, another striker and creative midfielder would be preferable and I pray that he learns from his mistakes last summer when we failed to strengthen and it cost us.

As a die hard geordie, this week has been torture. Losing 0-3 to the mackems on our own patch was arguably as bad as the feeling Sunderland felt when they were demolished 5-1 in 2010. When the fixture list comes out, I want the players to be eager to make amends. I want them to walk the walk instead of just talking it. I want to batter them.

When you look at our squad of players, it's evident that on talent alone Newcastle don't deserve to be lingering near the bottom half of the table. It's quite laughable when you compare Stoke City's squad to our own, we should be in the top 8 comfortably and consistently. But we aren't and we don't deserve to be. For the sake of this football club, for pride and for monetary reasons we need to be there again as soon as possible. We need to find a formation that suits us, we need to hit form, we need to cut out the silly excuses, we need to have more players contributing goals and we need St James' rocking again. Too much to ask for?

For my sanity, restore parity Newcastle.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Harsh Reality Should Serve As Encouragement

Losing any quarter final is bad but in the fashion Newcastle departed the Europa League, there is a sense of unfinished business. There was just one too many mistake in the first leg which always allowed Benfica that safety net even if we did score one first.

The late goal tells only half the story and evokes painful memories of previous European heartbreak. How did we allow ourselves to be so caught up in it? Probably because we've be so poor domestically that maybe it was 'our year' and that we'd be able to replicate Chelsea's European success in some way. It wasn't to be, naturally.
Good to see this man amongst the goals

There was an air of optimism before kick off that I'm sure translated to the players. Mike Williamson, Danny Simpson, Massadio Haidara and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa all defended superbly in the 1st half. I can't fault Williamson's performance, he stuck to his task well, he won the ball in their every time and didn't do anything daft with the ball. How good was it to see Haidara playing as well? He's a very lucky lad.

We now have a goal for next season, to secure a European spot. Hopefully the departure from the competition will leave them relishing more. Players such as Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Mattheiu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko moved for European football and to enhance their national call up chances so we've got the quality. We finished 5th with a decent squad, come next season we could finish 5th with a brilliant squad.

This season will be forgotten and it's imperative that we make strides net year. Ashley will learn from his mistakes last year and strengthen. If we can get another striker in through the door and arguably another creative midfielder/proper out and out winger I think we could be in for a magical season.

As a closing thought, pretty please can we give the mackems a thrashing? Cheers in advance.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Time To Click Into Gear

Football's unpredictability never fails to amaze and with the latest bunch of results, Newcastle will have to be wary of the teams in and around them.

They'll have to focus more on the Premier League than they perhaps would have liked to as Southampton, West Ham and Wigan all won at the weekend and the teams below are making some ground on Newcastle and Southampton's win over Chelsea took them into 12th. Incredibly, Newcastle are 3 points from 11th and 3 points from 18th. Wigan's 2 successive fortuitous wins have closed the gap and has ignited another nervy end to the season for the teams near the bottom of the table. How is it that when the clocks go forward that Wigan start to play like Barcelona? 

A win against Fulham on sunday is vital for Newcastle. If they win they'll be on 36 points and assuming 3 other teams drop points Newcastle will be in a better position than they are currently. As well as this their next game is Sunderland and this will be no easy task especially with the recent introduction of the fiery character, Paulo Di Canio as their head coach. However, Fulham have won their last 2 games and although their away record is infamously diabolical they will fancy their chances against a Newcastle side that has not made St James' Park the fortress it was last year. 

Newcastle need to click into top gear immediately and have no excuses. The Europa League is there for the taking and many fans including myself will be horrified if they throw the competition in order to focus on Premier League survival. There's 3 worse teams in the league than Newcastle however I am aware of the Toon's past complacency such as when they were relegated a few years ago. The issue is goals and negative tactics. Papiss Cisse works his socks off up top on his own but cannot bang them in every week without willing runners. The loss of Ba and Ben Arfa are obvious factors for the lack of goals however in the league players such as Yoan Gouffran and Sylvain Marveaux need to start scoring in order to move away from the bottom of the table. When Newcastle are clear of the relegation zone they can focus 100% on the Europa League but if they are knocked out then it may be too late. They need to juggle the competitions for 2 weeks and utilise players such as Gouffran in the Premier League who is ineligible. 

If Newcastle can achieve a 0-0 draw in Lisbon/score a vital away goal before win on Sunday then they're in a fantastic position to push on in Europe and the Premier League. As for the derby, north east football fans are aware that form counts for absolutely nothing: whoever wants it, wins it.