Recently in Mark Douglas Category
WELL Richard Keys got one thing right. The game - nay, the world - has gone mad.
For the second successive day the BBC was leading their topical news phone-in on 'Linogate' as politicians, social commentators and pundits scramble to hop on this latest bandwagon.
Austere broadsheets and red tops alike have felled forests to cover the number of pages devoted to Keys and Andy Gray and their frankly ridiculous views on the merits of the fairer sex in football.
CAN you have a point but still be in the wrong?
I ask because thats how I read the sad saga of Darren Bent's move to Aston Villa, which leaves me feeling thoroughly conflicted.
Over the past 24 hours Bent has been pilloried by supporters and - privately at least - by his club. They have a point - and a right - to feel deeply wounded by a development that caught them completely unawares.
OF all the people I spoke to in the run up to Sunday's derby, it is Steve Howey's words that stick in the mind this morning.
Not his verdict on the game or the key on-the-field battles, more his reflections on playing in the soulless 1996/7 Roker Park derby. In case you'd forgotten, that contest was put on with no Newcastle fans because of safety concerns from Northumbria Police.
OF all the crazy theories that have gathered momentum since Newcastle's fortunate 2-2 draw with Wigan, it is the return of Joe Kinnear that is the most eye-catching.
Or worrying, if we're going to completely honest about it. Because the thought of applying JFK's 'clunking fist' to a delicate developing situation at St James' Park just doesn't bear thinking about.
THE Nigel De Jong tackle that left Hatem Ben Arfa hooked to a morphine drip in a Manchester hospital for five days must prompt a sea change in the English game.
First things first, United's French magician was the victim of a dangerous and reckless two-footed challenge. That Martin Atkinson decided it wasn't a foul, never mind a straight red card, is frankly jaw-dropping.
But it is not as easy as demanding a kangaroo court and chucking the book at De Jong, however tempting it might be to demand it.
A few weeks ago, to mark the second anniversary of him taking the reins at St James' Park, I asked Chris Hughton whether he had enjoyed his time managing Newcastle.
He paused for what seemed like an eternity before finally replying that enjoyment was probably the wrong word. He enjoyed the challenge - but conceded that the cut and thrust nature of management meant that you never got long enough to enjoy a good result before a fresh set of problems come rushing over the horizon.
And so, just eight days after his managerial masterplan was being lauded following defeat of Everton, Hughton finds a new set of questions surrounding his approach after a dispiriting loss to long ball Stoke.
When Alan Shearer talks about Newcastle United, it's generally worth listening to.
So 5Live's excellent 'Evening with Alan Shearer' - which was broadcast in conjunction with BBC Newcastle - was something close to required listening tonight.
United's top all-time goalscorer was in a relaxed, candid mood as he regaled an audience at the Centre for Life with memories of his playing career both for club and country - chucking in a few revelations for good measure. Who knew, for example, that he once came close to signing for Sampdoria in Serie A? Or that he now gets on really rather well with Ruud Gullit?
AS the World Cup meandered to its dull conclusion in late July, a popular theory emerged to explain the disappointing nature of events out in South Africa.
The Champions League, we were told, had usurped it's global equivalent to become the pinnacle of the sport. The football was better, the spectacle was grander and the fans and players simply cared about it more now.
After what we've witnessed over the last 48 hours, are we still buying that? Or - like me - do you suspect that this feast of football is pretty measly until we get to the knock-out stages?
PREMIER League managers that anticipate their team being engaged in the battle at the wrong end of the table often talk of winning their own 'mini-league'.
Aware that a moneyed elite have annexed the top ten for themselves, the challenge for the likes of Newcastle and Sunderland is to best Bolton, Fulham, Wigan et al and clamber to the top of the bottom half of the league.
Humbling for a club that was taking on Europe's elite a decade ago? Certainly. But let's be realistic - the rebuilding job is in it's formative years and United need to flex their muscles against the middleweights before stepping up their ambitions.
CHRIS Hughton is known as Barack Obama by Newcastle United's dressing room wags - at least when his back is turned.
The nickname has something to do with a supposed resemblance of the 44th US president but the truth is that Hughton is one of the few in the managerial fraternity who doesn't play the politician when it suits him.