Neville Southall was never afraid to speak his mind as a player and his column for the Paddy Power Blog is no different. This week he looks at Newcastle and Everton’s good start to the season
I always loved playing Newcastle. They’re the best fans I’ve ever seen in my life. They turn up whether the team is top of the league or bottom of the league.
It was always a game I looked forward to because their fans were brilliant. To make it at Newcastle, you need a bit of class and you need to graft because that’s what the Geordies appreciate. You need to work for their respect. The team have always played the right way. They’ve had some brilliant players and managers, Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer, Bobby Robson – even if he couldn’t get your name right, he was brilliant – one of the best in the history of British football.
Now they’ve got a good squad, but I have doubts about the manager. Alan Pardew makes excuse after excuse when they lose. Even before they played Manchester City he was blaming Yohann Cabaye because he was supposedly on the verge of joining Arsenal. Obviously playing City away from home isn’t easy, but going into the game he seemed to have made his mind up that they were going to lose.
Note all he’s cracked up to be
He’s one of these managers who writes notes. I don’t understand why managers need to write notes. Can’t he remember 45 minutes of football? I don’t remember Alf Ramsey taking notes in the World Cup Final. It’s a load of bollocks. You’ve got multiple camera angles, a load of coaches – why do you need to write it down. It’s a con. It’s the manager saying ‘look at me, I’m working hard’. It’s very superficial. What are they writing down? Maybe they’re making a list of shopping they need to pick up on the way home. Every time they’ve got their head down making notes, they’re missing what’s happening in the game.
I fancy Everton to win on Monday. They’re unbeaten and there’s still room for improvement. They still don’t move the ball fast enough to create as many chances for the strikers as they could, but they’re playing some nice football. Leighton Baines has got to be the best left back in the world at the moment. If they sell him in January, you’re looking around for players who could replace him and there’s no-one. No-one offers what he does defensively, on the attack and from set-pieces. He’s the best player I’ve seen at Everton in a long, long time.
Around the team you’ve got some real quality players too. Ross Barkley is shaping up to be a top quality player. He’s still got a lot to learn, but Roberto Martinez has given him more freedom than he had under David Moyes and he’s a much better player for it. In front of him, we’ve got strikers who’ve got the potential to provide 10 or 15 goals each this season. Everton need to be thinking about Europe and winning matches like this is crucial if that’s the ambition.
Think you’ve got a bet to take note of? You’re on the write track with this weekend’s Premier League matches