Don't reach for the panic button just yet

By Lee Ryder on Sep 26, 07 08:19 AM

And so another chance of winning a trophy is gone after Arsenal reserves dump Newcastle United out of the Carling Cup.

Yes, out of the cup and Michael Owen out of the running for the next couple of games at least with Germany calling for the Toon striker as he is finally sent for that hernia op which has been haunting us all for the last 10 days.

OK, being beaten by Arsenal reserves is a bit different to losing to Wigan reserves two years ago in the same cup but let's be honest United didn't look as if they were up to the job last night despite their plucky efforts.

Arsenal's attempts at goal were bound to pay off eventually and not for the first time in the history of NUFC, Shay Given was in fine form to keep things level.

He did his job at one end but United couldn't get the vital goal at the other and the rest as they say is history.

Perhaps if Oba Martins had taken his early chance then United would have put a different slant on the game.

But Arsenal's youngsters instead grew in confidence and the lowdown is with the quality they had out there like Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson they were always capable of scoring and there can be no argument with the quality of the goals that won it.

Where does that leave United?

Well with three strikers fighting to be fit for Manchester City it could be the time to push Alan Smith up front and into a 4-4-2 formation.

Sven Goran Eriksson may have been called all the turnips under the sun but the Swede is no mug.

And he'll have his side compact for the visit of the Geordies.

Geremi was missed last night and if he can keep things steady in front of the back four at City, it has to be time to get James Milner and Charles N'Zogbia up and down the wings with Smith and Oba Martins feeding from them.

It can be done at City and if United are sitting pretty in the top four of the Premiership on Saturday night, this one will be quickly forgotten.

True, it's silverware we want but the FA Cup is still to play for.

And even though that means battling with Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal again and Chelsea for he right to win it, a better and kinder draw could prove to be a different story.

Staying with the positive theme, Joey Barton is surely close to a return even if Man City comes too early for him and if Viduka shakes off his foot injury United know they have a top notch striker on their hands if you feed him the bullets to pierce even the best of Premiership defences.

United were down today and out of the Carling Cup but they aren't out of the 2007/08 season all together just yet, despite a defeat against a bunch of kids and depressing injury news about Michael Owen.

The never ending tour goes on...


Jed Noble said:

Martins and Faye were particularly disappointing.

Blacky said:

Lets not get to down in the dumps that Arsenal youth team we played last nite would finish easily into the top 4.It comes down to the thing thats been bugging me all season theres just no creativity if we have the same players as last nite available for saturday my selection would be


There is more than enough defensive cover with those 2 in the middle do lets play with some width and have a go !

JJ said:

Men against boys - and the boys won. Gutless performance and Big Sam once again blames fatigue like he did against Derby! We are not even into October and already he is blaming fatigue. I would blame lack of quality and not playing to our attacking strengths. I couldn't agree more that we need to have Smith through the middle as Ameobi is a waste of space and get N'Zogbia and Milner down the flanks as quickly as possible. The current central midfielders do not offer enough of an attacking threat and so we need Barton as soon as possible. Getting beat so easily by Arsenals reserves is simply not good enough.

ActionSteve said:

Please stop with all this 'best chance of winning silverware' nonsense. Every year the same sort of story is trotted out for each cup in turn and built up to the point where the players and press seem to have assumed that Newcastle are going all the way to wembley. You don't have a chance to win silverware until you get to the final, and talking about it before we even get past the 3rd round is asking for trouble.
How about that old cliche of 'taking it a game at a time'? Perhaps if we tried that instead of already booking the bus to wembley, the players and press may keep a realistic view on what's right in front of them rather than looking too far ahead, and this in turn might help control fans expectations a bit better so that there isn't such huge backlash after every bad result.

Paul Patterson said:

Now Lee, you know fine well that Sam Allardyce WILL NOT play Milner and N’Zogbia on both flanks, it’s just not his style is it?

Expect Smith, Butt and Geremi in the middle, with Ameobi out left (Why??) with maybe Milner shoved in for good measure.

Im concerned as this was exactly the same tactic that Sourpuss used two seasons ago (ironically against Man City away) where we turned in a shocker and ‘Puss was axed.

Now Sam isn’t going to go the same way, not yet anyway, but any more four at the back and five in midfield nonsense and fans won’t be happy, where’s the entertainment in that??

I might not be alone in this statement - I’d rather have gone to Derby and Arsenal and blitzed the pair but got beat four nil, than just sit back and wait for the inevitable, maybe others can write in and disagree, but that’s the way it is I’m afraid, I don’t subscribe to this “Shut up shop and nick what we can away from home� plan that a lot of managers these days use as it’s only a good philosophy for teams fighting relegation.

Another thing- If we are playing tight away from home to nick whatever we can, this is also only acceptable if you have a side that will batter teams at home, which we don’t, Allardyce seems to want to play it away AND at home, which some days you might get lucky with it (Remember we should have been beaten by Villa, Wigan was a last minute affair and West Ham had more than enough of the game to take something away)

Things need to change, I’d hate to get to Xmas with Newcastle dropping to mid table, just because we haven’t “Went for enough teams throats� ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK.

Maybe I’m a lunatic and barking up the wrong tree, please correct me people.

IF I’m wrong!!!


davecbr said:

fair comment and much more sensible than some on the forum who have been howling for Sam's head and Owen's transfer.
If we only improve our league position this season and nothing else it will have been a concrete improvement on last and previous recent seasons.

Trav said:

Yes its dissapointing to lose to some good kids, but lets not get flustered about it, we need a quality performance at City on the weekend to stay up in a european position and that has to be our focus, i would like to see 2 up front aswell and see Emre get some time...

In my opinion our squad lacks a playmaker type player who can turn a game and the fact is at some point we need to rid ourseves of a midfield consisting of butt, geremi and smith for atleast joey barton, zog/duff and perhaps a new playmaker

brian said:

To loose to a Arsenal youth team is embarrasing.

Ross Perrin said:

We shouldnt be too down. Its a new team that has to gel and our best players arent even back yet. i never expected us to win last night and hopefully this will mean we can get a higher league position. We looked gd against West Ham. N'Zogbia is quality as is Beye and hopefully Enrique will come good too. When u consider we have creative players to come back like Duff and Barton and Emre, things are looking up. Personally i wud play Zogs on the left and Milner/Geremi on the right atm to give us some more width. Then Butt and one other in Midfield.

Paul said:

I think even though it was a disapointing result, we have alot to be optimistic about at the moment. The standard of footbal has improved dramatically since the end of last season, we're in the top five in the league and I strongly feel that Big Sam is moving us in the right direction.

You have to beat the best teams to win any competition and it's just a shame we happened to be drawn against the in-form team in the country right now. We're gonna get better and more confident as we gel.

Roll on Man City!

Sid said:

I am surprised that people are saying we should play to our attacking strengths - until we get the injured players back, we are short of attacking flair and finishing.

Our strength lay in defence last night - borne out by great defending and goalkeeping.

Arsenal youth team? Most have played regular first team, if not then they are French or Brazilian national squad members. Not my idea of the average youth team...

Yes, we need to sort midfield and attack out, but injuries have not helped. At least we no longer have a defence that is laughed at in post match tv analysis. Well done Sam, mission one accomplished I think...

Joey said:

I was there last night, in the Arsenal end and it was nothing short of inexcusable. He had the players to hand to give Arsenal a game but played for extra time for ninety minutes. The is the same lack of ambition we saw at Derby: buig club mouth, small club mentality.

andrew heatley said:

It pains me to say it but again we were second best.Shola is not premier league material either wide or through the middle and if big Sam insists on playing Alan Smith its got to be up front he lacks creativity for a midfield role.Arsenal were superior in all positions on the park.Lets get back to four four two.

Greg Connor said:

"When u consider we have creative players to come back like Duff... "

Not based on anything I've seen of him.

C'mon, it was Arsenal youth team, for God's sake.

andys said:

As usual same old same old. One of top four will win the cups, and league. The near do wells will scrap it out for the uefa spots and all peolpe can hope for is improving league position. Television games featuring the same four for the most part and your team if they are playing them. More money for tickets or t.v. Oh yes and you can watch the champions league with the same four. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
So please can we have some honesty and say the toon are not up to the job just yet and it will take something very special to break the mould never mind having milner and n,zogbia down the flanks. Perhaps the rest of the non entity who are not the top four should tell them to play with themselves and let the rest of us just enjoy some football that has some meaning to it

Eric Lontong said:

I prefer to see more gel and consistent performance rather than win something this season. give 'em the chances and let see another season

Mark in Washington DC said:

Well have to say an indifferent match and once again Big Sam riding his roller coaster. For me 6 negatives came out of that game:

1. Big Sam, who is so full of saying he will get the team fit enough to play in the premiership has failed again as he continues to claim tiredness is always the factor. How about you falied as a manager again. What happen to this fitness guru we are supposed to have. Can't remember us running out of steam so often as he seems to think we do. Still have memories of Parker pushing forward at the end of a match grabing a solo goal. Guts and determination is what we need, fitness problems....behave.

2. Why can't Big Sam keep at least some of the players in the same position week in week out. How can a team even try to Gel with all these changes every week.

3. Can't understand why alot of the above comments aren't concerned that we still have a problem i.e. we finally played one of the top sides (a 'b' team top side) and got battered. Wenger must be looking forward to resting all of his starting 11 when we play them this year.

4. Strikers, Martins our top scorer can't get a regular start because of Owen who even when fit can 't put the work rate in (WHEN he is fit!!!!). Is it any wonder Obe is not on form. If we are not careful we maybe stuck with Owen who is non effective most of the time and Martins will be off to a better team.

5. No before anyone starts screaming, I am not asking for heads just yet but, did Roeder not get sacked for performances like this and he didn't spend any money.

6. Has our manager got dreadlocks (ie rud is back), why can't Big Sam step up and just say he got it wrong (which he has a few times already this season) or just admit we were rubbish and arn't good enough to take on the top 4. I'm sick already of hearing that it is always someone else fault. To be honest the excusses are getting a little pathetic already. (mind you, got to give credit for originality, blaming the police is a new one).

I have been dreading this 'D day' for a while and to be honest (as gutted as I am) if that had been a full Premiership side we played they could have outscored the England Rugby team.

The team and that includes tha manager has been given a taste of what is required to be a top 6 side and we have been found wanting, again! (and by a long way!)

Bottom line if you can't beat a 'B' team forget a top 6 team.


From some of the above postings there are suggestions that Duff is a creative player, Well we did not see any of that creativity last season,and Zoggy is a far better left sided player than Duff will ever be. Charlie has pace,power,crosses a good ball and has an eye for goal. Duff has none of this ability and he was a major disappointment last season,plese folk dont keep suggesting his return will improve things. On last seasons displays all he ever did was hold play up fussing with the ball and eventually make the pass he should have made in the first place only when he did make the pass the moment was lost. I cant see why anyone thinks his return will improve the team to my mind placing him in front of Charlie now would further hinder that players progress ,as I think it did last season and was one of the reasons why he wanted to go. Last word on Ameobi --- He should have come on buckets for playing with Shearer,and as we all know he has not. It is now time after several seasons at premiership level to move him on. He is not and never will be a premiership striker,his all round play is poor and as a stiker he does not have the eye of the tiger in front of goal. It is time for the coaches and manager to recognise this he has had ample opportunity to progress and has failed on many counts to do so.He will probably serve some club well in the championship but he is not ever going to get any better now as far as the premiership goes.

Andy said:

First things first, this was no youth team we were playing, this bunch of lads got themselves to the final last season. So why is everyone crying in their beer cos we lost. I'm sick of fans who critcise and call for the manager's head when we lose, the ones who said 433 wasn't the way to play, so Big Sam plays 442 and we still lose, so FANS what formation would you all like to see now, seeming as they don't work??? 5 Up perhaps.
We're top 5 so far, god only hopes it stays that way till the end, considering our last couple of finishes I'd be happy with top 10. Big Sam has brought in what look to be quality players, so lets get behind those players AND the manager and push this team of OURS into europe next season. Come on the TOON

syakir zainol said:

C'mon guys. We can't expect too win everything in such a short period. Give Sam and the players time, and give him back his injured players. I'm sure we will get something soon.

dukes_of_toon said:

I'm not sure why you are counting on Smith up front to score the goals. He is not a prolific goal scorer in any position unlike Viduka, Owen & Martins.

We need more goals out of the MF and playing Geremi, Butt & Smith in MF will never achieve this.

Thank God for Charlie rediscovering his great form. lets hope Enrique starts and the Zog plays left MF.

As for the Arsenal jnrs, they did make it to the final last year.

President Grant said:

"Give Sam and the players time, and give him back his injured players."

Ha! Where have we heard that before (and how often...)?

On current form, playing Shola is gifting the opposition an extra man - and we're already doing that by playing Smith on the wing...

We didn't merely lose to Arsenal's second team, we played NEGATIVELY.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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