High half past noon

And along come Newcastle.

Saturday afternoon’s coming, the Villa are at home and the weather forecast’s looking good not bad. What could possibly spoil the fun?

Well, we could be playing someone a bit less horrible than Newcastle. Much has been said about them, much more will be said. For some reason the national media seems to think there’s something intrinsically special about Newcastle United; sleeping giants, loyalest supporters ever and all that. They haven’t won a trophy in colour, which makes them not so much sleeping as dormant, and any club would have as many supporters if the only competitors within a hundred miles were sheep and Sunderland.

Talking of their supporters, has there ever been a thinner-skinned, selfer-obsessed, smaller-time collection in history? They love to go on about what a ‘big’ club they support (see above: Trophies, Newcastle United and the lack of) then camp out in Trafalgar Square the night before a cup final. Does anyone else do that except for the Freight Rover Trophy or whatever it’s called now? I think not. And we’ve changed managers nine times since that banner yet you can guarantee they’ll still be working themselves into a ferment about it.

Now they’re dreaming of emulating Kevin Keegan’s all-conquering team of the nineties and don’t seem particularly bothered that to do it they’ve sold their souls to the devil in human form. You’d like to think we’d have a few reservations if Wes & Nas had journalists murdered and anybody who booed the team off the pitch was rounded up and tortured. Not so the lovable Geordies. But of course, it’s all down to jealousy.

They’re, sadly, doing well this season. We’re picking up, to the point where neutrals are starting to notice that we exist. Two months ago this would have been a problem fixture; now we think we can beat anyone. We’ve stopped talking about tempting fate and expecting the worst. We’re even, and this is most Un-Villalike, started to be a bit confident. That’s what winning does for you.