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Newcastle can't get carried away

By Lee Ryder on Dec 16, 07 04:06 PM

In the end it was a win.

But that didn't stop many Toon fans expressing fears that the late victory at Craven Cottage has merely papered over a few wide cracks.

Had United failed to beat a woeful Fulham side in the capital on Saturday, those with doubts over a squad that is lacking depth and is about to get smaller next month would have been heard loud and clear come the final whistle at the Cottage.

We've already heard that the players are prepared to win ugly this season but even ugly would have been a kind word to describe the performance against Fulham.

Anybody who hadn't watched United or Fulham this season and endured this would agree it looked like two poor sides slugging it out for 90 minutes but unable to find a breakthrough.

That United won the game in stoppage time thanks to Joey Barton's first goal for the club wasn't enough to convince some that Newcastle have turned the corner.

But in keeping with the unpredictability of Newcastle United they could amazingly go into the Christmas period on the back of three wins in a row with doomed Derby next up at Gallowgate.

If Newcastle go out and give it a proper crack of the whip like they did against Arsenal that should result in a scoreline that will not only bolster their inferior goal difference but also send out a message that St James's is stadium to be feared for away teams.

However, should United get embroiled in a tactical battle against the Rams - similar to the Birmingham game - the chances are we could be about to crawl to three points for the third game on the spin with both of our last two matches featuring stoppage time winners.

United though will know they have to raise their level of performance after Fulham regardless of the stats afterwards.

Wins and points are buying Big Sam time at the moment and he still deserves a fair crack of the whip - which means United must back him with decent funds in January.

And on the positive side of things if we beat Derby, and something is seriously wrong if we can't at the second attempt, it would close things down in the scramble for a top six place and leave us with the prospect of coming away from Wigan with a nosebleed as we slowly progress up the Premier League table.

Six points from the next two games isn't a big demand and isn't unrealistic.

But one thing is for certain it is needed desperately.

Indeed Chelsea will almost certainly bring Newcastle crashing back to earth at Stamford Bridge and with tough, tough away games at Manchester United, Arsenal and Aston Villa coming up it will be crunch time again.

Toss into that the fact that we lose four players to the wonderful but extremely badly timed African Nations Cup and you realise there is a heap of hard work ahead of us.

29 Comments

Paul Patterson said:

Christmas game for all you merry contributors- Can you spot the pattern?

Wigan- Last Minute Owen goal.
Everton- Owen heads in late Emre free-kick
Tottenham- Emre crosses from a corner kick and Cacapa heads home
Portsmouth- Campbell own goal
Reading- Duberry Own goal
Sunderland- Miss hit Milner cross/shot
Blackburn- Martins heads in a Geremi free kick
Birmingham- Martins penalty and Beye heads home from a last minute corner
Fulham- Last minute penalty kick.

The answer is exactly the same one I used to give my maths teacher at algebra.
I just can’t work it out sir??

We tend to score goals, either: Late, Late from dead balls or other people score goals for us. Now the positive is that we are obviously having a late flourish in games and we are getting by.

I said in a previous post, that things at Newcastle United look fluky and that we are getting by, via chance rather than by tactical expertise - even I didn’t realise the extent of the problem based on the evidence above.

This was part of the worry with Allardyce, he’s getting football a bad name at the minute and this isn’t what I want to see played from Newcastle United- Results are getting him by (AT THE MOMENT) but this won’t sell season tickets next year- I don’t expect Newcastle to play Arsenal’s swashbuckling brand of bombing football, but maybe keeping the ball on the deck and actually passing that bloody round thing wouldn’t go a miss eh?

Allardyce better watch out, because these performances are an absolute scandal to the word football.

Paul.

Charles said:

Yes i admit newcastle ave not been performing up to their level from the start till now. I agree with you paul, newcastle have been scoring last minutes but who's complaining? I love to see them score and win, not score and lose...Sam maybe playing his style or not, who cares? I just want to see us play well and win, not play well and lose like we did in blackburn.

See that game, we were unlucky, not useless and playing a failing brand of football. Watch the past three games properly and watch how their keeper keep out all our balls even from close range, if that isnt luck, i dont know what it is...We play badly againts fulham and it was boring, i admit, but still admit it that fulham was just lucky as with newcastle.

I do not understand why we always critise big sam for his tactics he didnt play, i watch bolton and newcastle, made comparison but saw nothing...if we were playing bolton style football, shouldnt we be at top 8 by now? (according to how many years sam has done it in bolton)

He is now trying to gel players not brabding his football. He needs time and i am willing to give at least till next christmas before judging him.

As for the left back, charles is no good at it. We need a proper left back but then how would we know enrique is fit enough to do the job yet? He needs some practise and experience, being young. Imagine him playing againts fulham and make mistakes cause he isnt much to english football, he'll start blaming himself, lose confidence and our blame on him isnt helping neither...

I admit charles isnt good at left back, i want to see wingers too, like milner playing where his foot is, at right wing. But lets face it, we need another left back to pump some experience into both charles (good to be verstaile) and enrique.

Remember what roeder did last season? He said no panic buys but almost all his signing, except for a few(I dont think i need to name them). January he sign "gooch" on loan knowing we need better defenders, that's just plain stupid to sign a player i never even heard off and only oneee??? I want three at least...

Big sam may not be better than the previous two or not, i dont care. All i know is we need to give him more time, time enough to sign good players and later gel them. We need to be united. When roeder critises Bramble last season at AZ (Though he deserve it), roeder lost the dressing room...and the result is continues losses.

We need to critise the player so they dont get pampered and weak but too much causes lost of confidence (Do you like playing for a team just for the supporters to hate?)

Big sam deserve time and we need to give it at least till next christmas and i know santa will agree.

I am not a B.Sam supporter and even i doubt him when he arrived but still he's here so we give him time, for now...

Siomi said:

Your comments are spot on Lee. But do you think Allardyce really cares about comments on that performance (both neutral and one-eyed) after the last game?

The problem is that I don't think he really does. He believes in his vision and is prepared to stick to it. Although his tenacity and determination is admirable, as is the thickness of his rhino's bum skin, isn't it our club as well? Don’t we have a say in things?

I think Ashley cares, but as we have heard, he has a long term vision for the club. He will be patient and has probably already written off this season. In the long term view of things it probably doesn’t matter what happens against Derby and Wigan.

I don’t believe Mort cares much about the performance though. I could be wrong here, but I read the interviews with him and he doesn’t seem to be interested in football very much, let alone passionate about it. I was going to ask what team he supports, but the depressing answer is probably none! He is interested in the business, and I am sure that a win and 3 points really is all that is important to him.

My point is that although we can see the writing on the wall as far as this management team is concerned, I don’t think anything will change in the near future. We will carry on with the same manager playing the same football with the same organisation and same training and tactics. We will get a few draws, some even against the ‘quality’ teams. We will win a few and will lose plenty to the likes of Wigan and Everton and Man City and Portsmouth. We will finish out of European competition again, probably in about 9th. Nobody will want to watch us because our football will continue to be boring dross. We will become the ‘discounted’ games, like Blackburn v Bolton (with respect). Then, and only then will a decision be made that we need more than this.

The WAY we play defines us as a team and a club. In fact it defines us as a city and a people. Is this really how we want to be?

Nick said:

What a load of rubbish that was on Saturday, I feel ashamed to support it. I was dancing around like a maniac when we scored the penalty but people just brought me straight down to earth when I was "asked why they play like that?"

Its pathetic, we are just being lucky in the games we win, when the opposition takes their chances we get battered. I think what you call “papering over the cracks� Lee is a massive understatement.

I have written this season off already and I hope for the good of the club Alladyce gets NO money to spend in January.

gordon said:

It just shows how stupid people are on here giving big sam no money to spend,if ashley had invested more than 10M on 9 players in the summer what do people expect when sunderland and fulham are spending 3 to 4 times more on players.

MAGPIE said:

Nick, are you sure you want to see a point blank in the transfer window during january?
Remember roeder?
He sign so little we have to use 'bramble'at the heart of defense...
He sign 'gooch', but was he any good? for the good of the club, i think its better for sam to boost the club with more signings.

I see alot of critisism by supporters and some even claimed that supporting it is pointless and shameful, so why did you support it in the first place? I am a newcastle supporter, and i support only newcastle no matter what. Through thick and thin, blood and ashes. I criticise the performance as well but i will never say i'm ashamed to support this club, not even during the bad old days when we use to play horrible football.

Charles' comment is right, sam may not be the best but who are we bringing in if he goes? Maybe we'll see another guilt or danglish...then only then supporters will be asking "why did we sack sam?"

Give him time...maybe next winter we will see the truth, we cannot expect another keegan to come immediately. Look at robson, we gave time and he gave us champions league football...do the same to sam, give him time at least till next christmas...

Carl Wilson said:

Newcastle on saturday evening were nothing short of a disgrace, i can completely understand allardyce trying to bore the opposition to death when we play the "big four" but playing this brand of football against the likes of fulham is simply not acceptable. I still reckon the bloke needs time tho, to be fair he did seem to have to settle for second best in the transfer market this summer, Mike ashley didnt provide anywhere near the funds expected when he took over. I'd quite happily settle for a top ten finish and a decent FA cup run this season, becasue when you compare us now to the souness or Roeder era, at least we seem to have some sort of long term sustainable plan in place. Sacking allardyce will get us nowhere, unless we manages to capture the special one that is.

Bring on DERBY!!!!

jackie w said:

Have not bothered to add to the blog for a bit as it seems to me like its turning in to the Paul Patterson show..But i have read one to many , I have been following these jokers for the best part of thirty years and have to say old Paul is one of the most pesemistic anoraks i have come accross , yeah a lot of late goals and a good rub of the green but who really gives a rats. We would all love to see the heady days of Keegans entertainers but it aint going to happen, I will probably be in the minority of one here but i thought Ossie Ardiles had us playing some good stuff and i enjoyed watching it ..BUT we were on a one way ticket to the conference . The fans seem to be split in two ( well 60 - 40 ) over Sam , and regardless of your side of the fence you have to give him at least a couple of seasons. Analysing every goal and how and by whom it is scored does what exactly Paul ? . Late Late goals never did any one any harm ( ask Alex Ferguson) So come on Paul get behind the team , or get a girlfriend but either way listing all the goals scored recently is boring craick , We all know this anyway as you were not the only one watching. And " performances are an absolute scandal to the word football" ??? You are obviously not a dyed in the wool Geordie as how the hell can you side with the southern rags and call our team a scandal ??? So you can play your Christmas guessing game yourself. I for one will keep taking the dodgy last min goals and descissions ..happy days...........Keep smiling Jackie W

Dalian Smith said:

Gees. It just goes to show, you cannot please everybody. People whinging when we're losing, when we're drawing and now even when we're winning and keeping a clean sheet! Take a reality check lads. The club is in it's biggest transistional phase for many a year and anyone expecting top 4 in Allaradyce's first season is deluded. I'm sick to the back teeth of all these so called supporters gettings on the managers back after a handful of games and demanding his head without actually thinking it through rationally. What do you really want? Another manager (although most of these whingers (Nick, you fall into this category mate)cannot come up with a realistic alternative though!) who will have to start again from scratch? Get real, get behind the team & the manager and stop bleating on like a bunch of mackems!!

medan said:

Charles you are missing the points made by a lot of the funs who are frustrated. We are all for giving Managers a chance but with accountability and check on progress.

Facts:

1] SAM is what he is a coach whose strength is playing direct, hassling, football that does not really allow too much for creativity, entertainment or fluid attacking football. That is a fact as much as SAM would like to deny this the evidence is on how we have played so far.

2] SAM had the oppurtinity as a new coach to start fresh by signing young talented players instead of aging sub players like Geremi, Smith, Cappaca and Viduka. Can you tell me how the hell you build a future team around the players he signed this summer? The sign of a great coach is to bring better players than the ones that left such as Parker and Solano.

3] A coach needs to understand his player’s strength and weaknesses and utilize the knowledge to play players in the right position. So far that has been missing from SAM.

4] If our ambition as a team is to be in the top 4 in the next 3 to 4 years then we are in big trouble. But if our ambition is to be in the top 8 aka Bolton, in the next 3 to 4 years we are in the right track.

Bottom line SAM is a good enough manager to take us to mid table or if we are lucky top 8 position but unless a miracle happens I can not see him taking us to top 4 position.

NORTHSHIELDSMAGPIE said:

For some deluded reason i stayed up to watch MOTD on saturday night, without the big four playing i tended to think all games would have had fair coverage, that was largley true BARRING newcastle v,s fulham. Lineker & hansen didnt even express a view on the game and got straight on with the analysis of boro's game. Now it werent so long ago newcastle were the great pretenders and in such circumstances we would of had good air time. Maybe will return to MOTD when we next let 4 in !

Paul Patterson said:

Jackie W- I’m not noted for apologies, so this is a rare one- Sorry!! but you miss the point.

I’m not pessimistic in the slightest- I’m one of the most ‘Glass half full’ sort of people you can meet, but I’ve been watching matches, turning up and waiting for a spark, but it just doesn’t happen. This style were seeing is starting to suck the optimism out of me and no doubt others.

You say we’d all love to see the heady days of Keegan, well I’m not that fussed about all that- I usually switch off when his names mentioned, as it’s pointless, but a few minutes a game, just for once, would it be entirely too much to ask, for some pacey, attacking football and with players in their correct positions please??

Who gives a rats behind? Well a lot of people, (Including people on these blogs- Charles agreed with me!!) who just can’t see past the ‘Hoof and Run’ style of Sam Allardyce, the ‘rub of the green’ will run out eventually and whilst it’s great nicking a few points here and there, it’s not going to get anyone anywhere.

Medan hit the nail on the head and backed up my foresight in thinking that Allardyce can only get us to around the mid-table mark- not good enough for a billionaire’s ambitions, nor mine.

The thing with Alex Ferguson is his style of play backed up his late goals, after all when have Manchester United EVER been boring under him?

I’m ALWAYS behind the team but feel the team itself is getting by, purely on the fact that the team has enough quality in it and not on the tactical ability coming from the dug-out.

I’m sure nigh on EVERYONE will agree that ‘ performance’s this season (HAVE) been a scandal to the word football’ I refuse point blank to retract that- Hands up who thinks performances have been a scandal to the word football so far?

Also I don’t side with the southern rags, as I DON’T read ‘em, but the performances ARE a scandal.

Nevermind, I agree with you on one thing- Time is needed for a manager, but only if he’s the right man in the first place- I don’t think he is- PROVE ME WRONG!!!

Merry Christmas to all at the Chronicle and all contributors. . . .

Paul.

Chris said:

You have to congratulate sam on his skill at being able to win without using a mid-field. (except to score penalties). Saturday was an embarrassment. I have supported Newcastle for 40 years thru thick & thin but watching a tactic of kick the ball as far away as pÃÂŜssible and hope some-one runs on to it is the wost I've ever seen. The players in the team have a lot of skill and must be ashamed to be part of this performance. Anyone remember Gordon Lee, he took out the stars brought in journeymen, took us to 5th in the league and reduced average attendances by 10 thousand a game; Please bring back football !!!!

Charles said:

Medan, i'm sorry if i offended your way of judging managers but think...(I'm not saying you're wrong but rather i'm just sorry you don't agree with me.)

The signing Sam made is perfectly almost all tacklers and defenders. So guess what is he trying to do?

Its true newcastle has probably the worse defensive record i will ever see but still, i think its commendable for someone to try to help ease the pain of conceding

He is now trying to help our defensive problems and based on pure facts, i think he at least done something...As such, we NEED to give him time so he could not only boost our defense, but also attack

And keegan is a good manager, i am a deep supporter of him and i even love the football back on his era, but it took him how many years? I bet there are some supporters who criticise him as well...(at his reign as manager, not now)

Anyway, a top four finish now????When our defense is the laugh of the town? The only reason why i give him time and not the other past two sick managers is not because i am his supporter, (I'm not a B.S supporter) but because he chose to fix our defensive woes first...The free style attacking football later and defense now! Look at what souness did, took out most of the old players and brought in new, but how many defenders?

Sam obviously did nothing to improve our creativity but think; barton, geremi, smith, cacapa, david.R, all defenders and tacklers. As for the aging players, who is going to pump some experience into the younger ones? Cacapa is brought in along with David.R so they could be a model for the young, just like how geremi is to charles.Nz, stupid but still a model

Solano wants to leave, and thats the bottom line. I like solano, he is the only player i seen doing good crosses to martins back last season but if he wants to leave, we cant stop him...A replacement for such a player? in such short time and cash? Possible?, NO

He said it before, he wanted Elano in our team but due to dyer's delay (Even now he messes with us) he was unable to sign him due to the short of funds. He spend very little compared to souness but his main objective is our defense...

Top eight is good enough for me for now...but a top four finish in two years is achievable...

Dan said:

I don't see why people are complaining so much, we've been absolutely terrible on the road, bar Bolton and Blackburn, and have let in sloppy goals in nearly every game this season,so i'd like to celebrate our first away win since Bolton and first clean sheet since Wigan. Sure the performance wasn't great and a bit boring but we defended solidly, Cacapa regained his credibility, and threatened goal quite a few times aswell. If you look at the number of attempts on goal against Birmingham and Fulham, you'll see that on a luckier day, or at least on a day when confidence is fully flowing, that we would have won by a bigger margin, and would have even beaten Arsenal. Barracking the team for winning, but not in the way you would like to watch them will just destroy the confidence they built up and put them back where they were a few weeks ago. The players, the manager and the coaches are all trying to find the best way to playstill so i'm happy to stick with clean sheets and away wins even if the football isn't worth 5 minutes of Match of the Day.

Markus said:

Ive seen better NUFC games but Ive seen worse (OK - not this season). I was particularly worried about how easy we were giving the ball away. It seemed that we wanted to catch them on the break but it really never came off - dont know if it was windy there with long ball going astray so often but will give the players the benefit of the doubt (still it took far too long to compensate). We looked better when we were trying to play touch passes in trying to open them up in the first half but Fulham decided to hoof us from behind and that was that. Really this was a game won by the Toon Army. They knew we could win and 15 mins to go willed their team on. I mean, the ref waited until Milner missed and then pointed to the spot (a very strange interpretation of the rules as I know). The Toon Army can change games and win points. The Toon fans that complain can get the team to improve but only when they do it away from the ground. Nuf said.

alvan said:

Gentlemen, before you lost the big picture: 1) We score last minute goal because the training have make the player better and fitter.2)We are fitter and pressurize opposition to make mistakes at the end of the game.3)We have finally kept a clean sheet!Let's be patient.
It's going to take alot of hard work before we will see the result.

jackie w said:

Paul we will have to agree to disagree , You cant honestly tell me the Sam Allardyce hoof and run style is a suprise?? What did you think it was going to be like?? I said on this blog when he was appointed he would not be my choice and i believed we would be stuck with him for a while. When quoting Keegan i dont expect KK to walk through the door but i am merley stating this is the type of football i would love to see, so if your not that fussed then your loss. Scandal to the word football tickles me as you have no idea , yeah its not great and its not even good but its hardly a scandal.Ashley did not get to where he is using his heart so dont panic as when the time is right Sam will leave or prove us all wrong and crack the code, either way you win win. However who replaces him is another issue. This blog is all about personnal opinions and works well as we all have our own, however Paul you quote ..on half a dozen instances " Charles " " Medan " and statements like ....everyone agrees...agrees with me ....backed up my foresight...Hands up who agrees with me .. etc etc...Come on son make a statement what you mean not what everyone wants to read, your not that insecure are you ?? ........... Keep a hold Jackie W

medan said:

Charles, actually you have not offended me at all, this forum is about expressing opinions. Yes we do disagree on how me and you look at managers specifically SAM.

Everybody knew from last year that our defense was a problem so the fact that SAM is trying to fix it bringing in second string semi-retired defenders does not say much.

We paid 6 mil pounds for Smith can you tell what in the long term he brings to the team and what is he going to teach the young players how to run aimlessly.

SAM himself admitted most of signings were not his first choice could you imagine that.

You buy aging players if all you need is experience and have enough talent to win a trophy not when you are rebuilding a team.

Ok let me see here playing with 3 holding non attacking midfielders against a weak team like Fulham says to me he has no confidence in his players he is playing not to lose instead of playing to win.

Can you explain to me how playing Milner, Martins and N’Zogbia in wrong position will enhance their skill sets not to mention their confidence?

I just can not see SAM bringing the attacking football later, because it is not only about bringing in attacking players it is about belief, style and tactical approach to the game, there are 2 different molds of coaches those who are visionaries and gifted to play total attacking football and those who can get descent results by playing hassling, hard working style with minimal vision, unfortunately from what he did in Bolton and what we have seen so far SAM falls in the second category.

There is a chance he can convert and prove me wrong anything is possible.

Ronnie Lambert said:

I watched the match on telly with a nervous stomach, hoping to see a good performance but mostly to see three points in the bag, and not just one. I always have a nervous stomach watching the Toon by the way. Goodness knows why I subject myself to this torture but I know I'm not alone, it's part of being a Geordie I guess. Anyway, on 90 minutes, with a resignation of apathetic acceptance, I rummaged for the zapper to switch channels when shock of shocks, a soft penalty after Smith had passed to Milner. Yes I was over the moon as much as vicious Joey and the marvellous travelling fans, and heartened to see Oba smiling again, but it was a hollow feeling, reminiscent of having a tooth pulled out after a great struggle and pain, but knowing there were another two to come out. I feel under Big Sam, there is a lot of pain to endure before we enjoy success.

Ryder's reply: Some good points Ronnie but do you reckon you could be penning a song for the FA Cup final come May? Stranger things have happened

parag said:

mourinho won two PL titles with chelsea. most would agree that his style of play was not the most attacking or attractive, like ManU or Arsenal. it was built on a solid defence.

there's more than one way to win things. Open your minds and give the guy a chance.

John Best said:

Sam obviously has a master plan, he is using the best 11 players in the squad, on a match to match basis.His big problem; is the lack of skill by the 11 he chooses. None of our 11 would get a seat on the bench of the top 4 clubs, there is a total lack of class.We have clearly settlled for the middle ground; the 2 proposed signings confirm this, TOZER a youngster from Swindon town & the young Darlington Goalkeeper. How long before we get a side worth watching ???...This team have all the hallmarks of a 50 POINTS MAX. potential.

Paul Patterson said:

Wow agreement!! I DON’T find Allardyce’s style a surprise Jacke, it’s exactle what I expected, which is why I was hardly delighted to see him appointed in the first place.

I also said I’m not fussed with regards to Keegan, this has been taken the wrong way- ‘I’D LOVE IT’ if we got him back, It’s just never going to realistically happen is it? I’d love to see that style return as it’s the most obvious way to success, after all Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool all play with an arrogance ‘Why are you on the same pitch as us?’ type of arrogance.

The word scandal is a bit wishy washy I know but, if the style of football were witnessing is used for prolonged periods, will get football a bad name and has no place, in the style- as YOU say (And I agree with) we’d all like to see played at Newcastle.

I don’t much care for agreement with myself from other as I have my opinions and you have yours (Which I have the utmost respect for) in fact I usually have a sharp intake of breath when people do agree with me, as I’ve been told by many, ‘Your in the minority Paul’ ‘You don’t know what your talking about’ etc, etc.

On the subject of Medan and Charles, I merely agreed with their opinions, and I don’t make opinions for other agreement and stuff that people want to read, I prefer disagreement- if everyone agreed, then there would be no argument, it would be a boring world then, or maybe everything at Newcastle would be hunky-dory and we’d all be happy.

Here’s to a victory over Derby for Christmas cheer!!

Lot’s of love.

Paul.

jackie w said:

Paul lets hope we both agree after the mauling of Derby on Saturday that we played some decent stuff and kept another clean sheet, wingers played as wingers , full backs played as full backs , Barton showed the form which had him breathing down Lampards neck and Owen came off the bench and gave a monster performance topped with a couple of quality goals , Sam got it spot on and everyone tucks into the Turkey safe in the knowledge the giant has been awoken and we are on a fast track to Europe...........Far fetched ?? possibly but we were brought up on dreams so fingers crossed All the best Bonny lad and we will no doubt cross swords in the New Year... Keep dreaming Jackie W

John Best said:

Sam, said " I need 2 or 3 players in the Xmas break" He,s dreaming. 5 Minimum, when you consider the African Joke.

Big Al said:

I think if you ask the bog standard toon fan in the street we are not botherd if Germei is on Afican nation duty or not, this is because the majority of the toon fan's want to be led by Given of even Taylor big up one of our own! Let's not belive eveything Sam says after all he is only a big long ball merchant with horrible players such as Diouf playing for him! Lets play 4 4 2 with Charilie on lhe left and Jimmy on the right±

Ronnie Lambert said:

There's one in the bag Lee, but I'm holding it back as big Sam's mentioned in it, and..... well I'm holding onto it for a short while. Did you ever hear my ' Champions ' which I released just after xmas when we were 12 points clear?
We just about recouped our expenses on the strength that musically, it was worth buying to about 500 fans. My garage is still full of tapes, if they'd been C.D.'s they'd have made great table mats.

Ryder's reply: I always remember Les Ferdinand saying that he drove past some guy with Champions 96 on the back of his Toon top! It made me learn never to assume anything in life no matter what!

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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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