April 2007 Archives
On a weekend of watching other teams play/fail/succeed or watching managers quit their jobs with plenty left to play for, Newcastle United enter the ring at Reading knowing it really is the last chance saloon if they are to get something out of a campaign many just want done and dusted.
All that is left on the shelf is a place in the Intertoto Cup and not many of us are even excited about that.
True it would be a return to Europe for the Magpies for the second year running via the much maligned route but let's be honest, do some of the players at Newcastle actually deserve to be playing continental football next season?
Time to tell us who is the top man of United's up and down season.
Newcastle United's season has been far from a classic but when it comes to individual performances some players deserve plenty of credit.
There have only been a few sparkling moments in the campaign to date worthy of note.
There was the 1-0 away win in Palermo against the Serie A high fliers, while for many the 3-2 win at Spurs may just be the best away game of the season and what about James Milner's wonder strike against Manchester United at St James' Park.
But when it comes to Newcastle's top man this season - who would you pick?
So there you have it.
The penultimate game of the campaign at St James' Park ends in a goalless draw and I suppose you have to be satisfied with a point.
OK, you can't be punching the air after that one but at least United looked up for it.
Wasted half chances and the presence of the predator we've lacked all season (Michael Owen that is) were obvious and were the reason why United took only point.
But surely this was a bit better?
Better than Pompey, better than Man City at home and a million miles away from Birmingham and 5-1!
Glenn Roeder will continue one of football's hardest jobs on Sunday when he takes charge of Newcastle United's clash with Chelsea at St James' Park.
Many people say that the England job slots into this category too but with the national role as boss, the pressure doesn't come on a daily basis and therefore there is no escape when the going gets tough.
OK, managing in League Two is tough but with low expectations comes less pressure or at least a different kind of pressure.
True every set of supporters want to see good results but not everywhere in the UK or anywhere else around the world is the football team the main thing in the city and the appetite for the club as unfeedable as it is here in Newcastle.
Because, remember a bad result in the Premiership is always just around the corner.
And in the shape of champions and title chasers, sorry quadruple chasers Chelsea, that is exactly the case on Sunday.
The North-East media circus turned up in great numbers at the Riverside last night expecting to see Michael Owen defy talk that he wouldn't be continuing his comeback against Middlesbrough but Saint Michael wasn't around.
That wasn't a big surprise and we now know that there has been no setback in his comeback bid either.
Yet that didn't stop big Andy Carroll shining like a beacon at the Riverside against a team that are supposed to contain some of the most talented youngsters in the North-East, not to mention former La Liga star Gaizka Mendieta.
And even the former Barcelona and Valencia ace must have been opened mouthed by the glittering display from Carroll that was probably worthy of the Nou Camp!
Michael Owen will not be there but Newcastle United will at least welcome Shola Ameobi back into the fray for tonight's clash against Middlesbrough at the Riverside.
The lanky striker has not been involved in a black and white shirt since the clash with Manchester City in the dire 0-0 draw at Eastlands back in November and has been one of the main figures in the treatment room all season.
Now after recovering from hip problems he will continue his comeback against Boro.
Lee Ryder reports from the South Coast
On a hot and sticky day at Fratton Park, Newcastle United fans set off for the second leg of the total 696 mile trip almost resigned to a season of only domestic football next season thanks to another road trip defeat.
There is a slim chance that this could change and Newcastle force their way into the Intertoto Cup once again - but only a mathematical one with the Euro visit to Alkmaar looking like the Toon's last for some time.
And the truth is, Portsmouth's crumbling Fratton Park could be the nearest thing to a continental away trip the Toon Army get next term.
It was hard to take for the travelling fans again on the South Coast though.
It seems a long time ago now but Newcastle United's last win at Fratton Park came way back in 1991 with Kevin Brock grabbing the winner down on the South Coast in the old Second Division.
True, Pompey have often been in the division below Newcastle since then but nevertheless the seasons when the two sides have remained in the same League, have usually resulted in misery.
Michael Owen may well be back on track from injury which is great news for all concerned at NEWCASTLE UNITED.
Owen played 75 minutes in a behind closed doors friendly against Gretna with the ÃÂ£17million striker scoring in his first game back since shattering his knee at the World Cup in Germany for England.
Yet isn't it about time people gave him a bit of time to pull on the black and white shirt before talking about England again?
We may have taken four points from six over the weekend to make sure of Premiership football next term and fire ourselves back into the top 10 but many Toon fans left St James' Park feeling they should have taken six from six.
And the man to blame?
Well that'll be Howard 'the duck' Webb who dramatically waved away protests after Gooch Onyewu was man-handled by Abou Diaby right at the death and right in front of the ref.
Gooch later explained that Webb had warned both sets of players about use of hands and arms in the box but managed to look skywards when the Arsenal man got fresh with the American defender.
And it's not the first time Webb's bottled it either this season.