MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: I expect a lot from Newport this term
12:02pm Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in Sport
Newport County Manager Justin Edinburgh thanks fans after 3-0 away defeat to West Bromwich Albion during the Capital One Cup, Second Round match at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 27, 2013. See PA story
I SEE no good reason this week not to directly respond to criticism of both myself and the South Wales Argus this week as pertains to our coverage of Newport County AFC.
The match report I produced after the West Bromwich Albion Capital One Cup clash has been an issue, chairman Les Scadding apparently very angry about my supposed negativity.
Similarly, there is also – judging by the comments on the Argus website – outrage over a reader letter, anger and fury that someone who supports the Newport Gwent Dragons feels that ‘soccer yobs’ have ‘ruined’ Rodney Parade.
I’ll get to that later, but first the West Brom issue. I should make clear, I’ve not received any feedback from the players or club management on this – trust me, Jimmy Dack is the first to complain! – But I am told Les Scadding is angry and I know several people took exception in the comments section of the report.
Honestly speaking, I don’t think the tone of the report has merited such outrage, but it’s not exactly unfamiliar territory.
Generally speaking someone will always take issue with what a club reporter writes, as football is such an emotive sport.
In the past, however, criticism of me has usually been the other way around. I am a club yes man. I never question the board in the right way, I don’t scrutinise the managers enough. Remember, there are some supporters genuinely unhappy at the sweeping changes that have taken place at Rodney Parade in the past 18 months.
I still think County were disappointing at West Brom, though I’ve been grateful to those who have directly debated with me on the subject. It’s far preferable to people just not caring, it’s great for me and it’s great for the paper that there is such an appetite in the city – - and beyond - to discuss the County.
The main criticism centres on me describing a fairytale becoming Grimm and I understand (in hindsight) why that has rankled.
What did I expect? Did I think Newport could go to a Premier League team and win? Do I not realise that West Brom have millions of pounds and international players? Why couldn’t I credit the County fans, who were magnificent on the night?
Yes, I think Newport County could’ve gone to a Premier League team and won. Who knows, they may yet do exactly that in the FA Cup. Yes, I know how good West Brom are.
But there is no goal this season I feel is unrealistic for this group and management team. Don’t be fooled into thinking County only won at Brighton because of the red card. The Exiles were sensational in that clash; they more than held their own, as they have in EVERY League Two clash so far.
If Newport had matched their performance at Brighton, or at Scunthorpe, or even Northampton, they’d have come close to pulling off a shock last week. Had they shown the same level of confidence and composure, they’d have scored. Conor Washington’s one-on-one with the score at 1-0 the defining moment of the game.
All three goals conceded were “disappointing,” Justin Edinburgh’s words, not mine and the fact remains, the Exiles went out with a bit of a whimper which is uncharacteristic.
Even West Brom boss Steve Clarke acknowledged that Washington’s miss prevented what could have been “a completely different game.”
As for not acknowledging the efforts of the fans, that is simply unjust.
The Exiles away contingent is always superb and the Hawthorns was no exception. They were vocal and vibrant.
But that point was made, as it is most weeks.
Justin Edinburgh and his team have set very high standards and that’s to be applauded. I’m as thrilled as anyone by the start they’ve made to this new chapter and I hope that’s understood.
Meanwhile, I can only look on aghast as rage boils over a reader letter.
As explained by the editor, our policy is to print letters as long as they aren’t in breach of defamation laws. I can only imagine the outcry if letters were censored on an individual, whimsical basis.
Frankly, the points made in the letter are inflammatory and in my opinion, ridiculous.
In the past I myself have been guilty of fanning the flames between rugby and football followers in the region, but the truth is, in my eyes, the move of County to Rodney Parade had been beneficial to everyone, for a myriad of reasons, chiefly, that the football (not soccer) fans’ behaviour has been exemplary since they first moved in.
And since when is Rodney Parade ‘our ground’ if you’re a Newport Gwent Dragons fan? The last time I looked, it was owned by Newport RFC...
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