BILLY BUNTER

Weblog: The football punter

Best fans in the world set to witness a thrashing

NEWCASTLE bashing has become something of a fun thing for footy fans to get stuck into, but as a club they’ve only got themselves to blame.

Mike Ashley has got to shoulder his share of responsibility. One look at the Sports Direct supremo in the stands and you can’t help thinking of streams of chavs rifling through rows of cut-price Nike trackies, over-sized teacups and bags for life.

It’s an unpleasant image and not an attractive backdrop to any club and then, of course, there’s the great myth.

The myth that Newcastle’s fans are the best in the world. We know so because everyone says so. In fact commentators and observers aren’t allowed into a TV studio to discuss the Magpies without signing a contract obliging them to say, at least once, that their fans are the best in the world.

But are they? Really? Better than Boca Juniors’ fans? Or Mamelodi Sundowns’? Or Arsenal’s?

What’s the measure? As Alan Pardew has been stood in the technical area, week on week, working out which of the opposition players he’d most like to head butt, I doubt he’s been a huge fan of the thousands of Toon Army members demanding his expulsion from St James’s Park.

Until now that is. Back-to-back wins have propelled Newcastle up to the dizzy heights of 14th and brought Pardew a bit of breathing space, though one would imagine that a third-string Man City side will give him and his team a good hiding in the Capital One Cup and see the pressure return once more going into their weekend showdown with Liverpool.

But the fans will keep singing. Best in the world you see.

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Match in Focus

19:45 TODAY BT1

Verona v Lazio

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Both teams have scored in each of the last six meetings
Expert verdict
If history is a reliable guide this will be spectacular with eight of the last ten meetings featuring over 3.5 goals and the last six have produced a truly whopping 37 with over 4.5 collecting five times. Verona’s 6-2 loss at Napoli on Sunday illustrated their strengths and weaknesses and both teams should notch.