The pivotal figure of Tiote returns this Saturday for the Toon.

by Susan Jardine

OK , OK I got it so wrong didn’t I with the predictions – well one of them anyway.

As the weather once again wreaked havoc with football fixtures the length and breadth of the country a certain manager at Newcastle may well have wished that the weather had enforced the postponement of a match at White Hart Lane.

That it was a tea time kick off with cameras at the Tottenham probably made for indigestion for Newcastle fans as the North Londoners cruised to victory. The Tottenham fans no doubt wishing they could have seconds of what was served up.

Granted they had injuries to deal with but Newcastle could have put up a better performance than this, especially given the support that the Toon Army give them on their travels. They now have over a week to get it right before the visit of Wolves to St James’s. This will include the return of Cheik Tiote from the African Cup of Nations. Yohan Cabaye will also be available having served a three match ban. They have a gilt edged chance of Europe. Don’t blow it now guys!!

On paper Wolves should be just the team Newcastle want to face – especially as they have parted company with Mick McCarthy having had five goals put past them by West Brom in what must have been the Sunday from hell- it is bad enough getting thrashed, but to suffer the fate at the hands of local rivals is even worse.

And if Sunderland fans are shifting uncomfortably in their seats I have no idea as to why – Sorry guys, I didn’t mean to remind you – honest!!

They say that experience is a great advantage and surely Sunderland will not be so naive next weekend

To the Black Cats and surely the song they may well be singing today is “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”. No doubt they will be scratching their heads as to where it went wrong especially as James McClean had given them the lead with just twenty minutes left of the match itself. They were to hold out for just five minutes though as Aaron Ramsay hit back to level and then right on cue it was Thierry Henry who fired in the winner in the closing seconds of the match.

Well, they say that experience is a great advantage. And surely Sunderland will not be so naive next weekend when they play… Arsenal in the FA Cup, a match I will be providing solo match commentary on. Let’s see if I can bring the Black Cats a bit of luck on Saturday.

Doing commentary/reporting is brilliant, and sometimes it can bring a wry smile to my lips. I have known people ask me if I can tell them where the toilets are rather than asking me is so and so playing. I am pleased to say that is doesn’t happen now- maybe it is because people know my face and name now.

And I wasn’t asked that question at Victoria Park where I shivered watching Hartlepool v Bournemouth. Having said that I did get two questions asked that did stick in the memory. Victoria Park backs on to the Marina at Hartlepool. At the Marina, there is a ship and I was asked what the name of the ship was. I resisted the temptation to say Titanic and gave the correct answer of the Trincamalee. The second question asked was much more surreal. I was asked what was the sea that Hartlepool backs on to. While I was preparing to answer I was asked “Is it the English Channel” I know some this has been written with the tongue firmly lodged in cheek but this question is completly genuine. I informed the questioner that it was the North Sea.

It is now edging towards two months since Middlebrough won a match in the league.

As far as the match itself is concerned well you have heard the phrase once bitten twice shy. Well there was no way that the Cherries were going to be devoured again as they were by Hartlepool at Dean Court. A 0-0 draw was the result with Hartlepool midfielder Paul Murray turning in a strong performance in a match punctuated by too much of the referee’s whistle.

At least the smattering of Bournemouth supporters who made the long trip north got their money’s worth in terms of ninety minutes. More than could be said for the Middlesbrough fans who made something like a 500mile round trip to Ipswich to see some 37 minutes of football before the match was abandoned. Has the time come for matches which involve a significant amount of travel to be played in months where the weather is likely to be more stable rather than in the traditional winter months when the weather tends to do its worst.

Weather issues aside it is now edging towards two months since Middlebrough won a match in the league. They desperately need a victory over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday. Forest, of course a team whose fans are just coming to terms with the death of their owner Nigel Doughty. It could probably mean that Forest will be harder opponants because of the emotion surrounding the club.

But North Eastern football fans can relax as for once none of our teams is heading for relegation. And that is something of a rarity. Teams either find themselves chasing promotion, or fighting against relegation. Or in some cases seemingly having a crack at both. For once it is not a rollercoaster ride to the finish, more a gentle and sedate conclusion to the season.

You can follow Susan on Twitter at!/northeastdiva