United gunned down in Wigan (again)

By Lee Ryder on Dec 26, 07 04:58 PM

NEWCASTLE UNITED were gunned down by Wigan Athletic today as Steve Bruce played the role of party pooper for the 5,000 strong Toon Army.

It was United’s fourth straight loss at the JJB Stadium but Wigan were full value for their 1-0 win as Ryan Taylor bagged the only goal of the game.

Big Sam did not hesitate to wield the axe following the inept performance against Derby County with the Toon boss making FIVE changes to the side that drew 2-2 with the Rams at St James’s Park three days earlier.

Toon owner Mike Ashley watched from the away section as Newcastle supporters lost their cool at the end of a deeply disappointing day.

Geremi returned to the starting line-up along with defender Adboulaye Faye, Turkish playmaker Emre, fit again winger Damien Duff and Steven Taylor.

Alan Smith captained United despite Geremi’s return as United looked to stretch their unbeaten run to five games.

However, there was no place on the bench for Michael Owen who was still not ready to make his Premier League return.

Joey Barton also missed out but an experienced bench included Cacapa, Nicky Butt and top scorer Oba Martins.

The game began in low key fashion but Shay Given had to be fully focused on 12 minutes when defender Paul Scharner’s long range swerving shot went straight at the Irish stopper.

United barely threatened in the first 15 minutes and Wigan enjoyed the better of the play in a cautious start to the game by the Magpies.

Much has been made of the ProZone stats that surround Newcastle’s season so far but the fact that United only made two entries into the penalty box in the first 30 minutes told the real story.

And it was no wonder that the 5,000 travelling Geordie fans pleaded for their side to “attack� as Wigan controlled the opening period.

Newcastle eventually won a corner on 31 minutes but it hardly scratched the surface as far as Wigan were concerned.

Indeed James Milner’s cross was hacked to safety by the home side but Emre’s flag kick was easily cleared by Titus Bramble – booed throughout by Toon fans – before Habib Beye’s blocked shot was claimed by Chris Kirkland.

United were then handed another chance on 35 minutes when Milner was upended by Kevin Kilbane only for Emre to blast the set-piece straight into the Wigan wall from 25 yards.

Newcastle though lacked quality and a cutting edge in a poor first half.

Yet with eight minutes of the second period played a poor Wigan clearance from Kirkland thudded off Viduka and looped towards the empty net until Bramble got back to nod it off the line, it was their first attempt on target but the Aussie knew little about it.

On 64 minutes it was the home side who made the breakthrough.

The goal arrived when Smith fouled Brown on the edge of the box before Ryan Taylor swept home the free-kick right-footed over both the wall and Given to open the scores.

For Taylor the Wigan star repeated his effort in the corresponding fixture after netting the winner last term.

United though couldn’t find a reply and as some fans headed for the exits others turned on both their manager Allardyce and the team.

Toon fans chanted “you don’t know what you are doing� while the name of legendary striker Alan Shearer was also belted out by pockets of supporters on a day to forget for the black and whites.

WIGAN: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Scharner, Kilblane, Valencia, Landzaat, Brown, R Taylor (Olembe 75), Bent, Sibierski (Aghahowa 70)
Subs: Pollitt, Boyce, Skoko

UNITED: Given, Beye, S Taylor, Faye, N’Zogbia, Milner, Emre, Geremi (Martins 67), Duff (Enrique 78), Smith, Viduka.
Subs: Harper, Cacapa, Butt.

Crowd: 20, 304

Ref: Mike Dean


scotty said:

SACK HIM!!! We have never played as poor as this since before SBR. Why does he leave enrique out? Of what i've seen of him so far this season He is far more comfortable there than Zog.

How many times is he going to select 4-3-3? This obviously doesn't work. There's not 1 supporter out there who doesn't think they can do a better job than him. Very very frustrating times for the toon!

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too said:

Are you surprised? With the exception of the games against Arsenal (the first team, not the boys) and Spurs, we've been serving up rubbish week after week after week and no amount of PR or press spin about the 'merits' of individual players - and we saw Smiffy's merits today, again - can disguise this. We're playing worse football than we did under Roeder. Hopefully, we can rally round and put in a good showing at least for our next two games. No-one expects us to win them, so we might as well make a go of it. After that, well, a club's only as strong as its weakest link and ours is the manager.

Paul Patterson said:

To Sam Allardyce,
Merry Christmas (Apologies for the lateness of this present)
From the long suffering Toon Army.

Points at Christmas Newcastle United
2001 36 points, 1st
2002 32 points, 4th
2003 25 points, 5th
2004 21 points, 13th
2005 25 points, 10th
2006 25 points, 11th
2007 26 points, 9th

There you go- a belated Christmas present for Mr Sam Allardyce, as I know all too well he likes his statistics- so that’s what I got him.

What the lovely, nicely folded wrapping paper of these statistics DOESN’T show, is that, unlike the early three seasons in that list, from 2004 onwards, we have actually played some of the worst football in the Premier League, yet somehow managed to keep our drunken, festive heads above complete oblivion setting in come May.

Under Greame Souness, football was dire and yet, he managed to spend like a fishwife on December 26th (His ‘husband’ Freddy Shepherd’s credit card, certainly got the hammer)

Under Roeder, the football, although poor, was laced with the occasional sweet smelling sauce, that goes off far too quickly for consumers liking, the only difference between Roeder and the fishwife, was that the fishwife spent VERY big and Roeder didn’t, and the fact that I think it’s safe to say, very few people even entertained the idea of Roeder getting the job full-time.

And on to ‘Roy Cropper’ Allardyce, he has spent a reasonable amount of money, without blasting ‘husband’ Mike Ashley’s credit card and post Christmas dreams to bits and turned a fairly efficient family, into a monotonous, lumbering, clueless bunch, who seem absolutely impartial to attacking the Christmas Turkey put before them in the shape of Derby County and now Wigan Athletic.

Alright enough with the yuletide comparisons, the squad is good enough to entertain and win games in similar doses and the squad deep enough to cover small injury absentee’s, but sadly the so called ‘easy games’ are now few and far between. Are we going to go defensive at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge etc?

Allardyce has been quoted as saying that James Milner isn’t a right winger- OUT.
Wigan away- he started Duff after only 15 minutes of play in seven months- OUT.
He played N’Zogbia at Left Back (Again) with Enrique on the bench- OUT.
Under the current regime we seem intent on playing ‘percentage football’- OUT.
Against Derby and Wigan we lumped pointless long balls up field- OUT.

I’m bored so I’m going - OUT.

The only way forward is change- this must come from one of two places, one- the man in charge must alter all that he knows and become something of a personal revolutionary or, the man who’s REALLY in charge, must dispense with the man who THINKS he’s in charge and get a more jovial, creative, limitless force in the dugout. A Maverick maybe. A Manager? Certainly!!



The Toon are big club? They have a big fan base and a fantastic stadium. No trophies and a string of mediocre managers. When does it end? It must be evident to Ashley that regardless of how much money he chucks at the problem - things are never going to get better. Prediction - Ashley will sell the club before the end of the season.

Gerry said:

I could say an awful lot here, but I'd just be repeating myself. That fact alone shows that Sam doesn't learn from his mistakes. He only has Owen injured from our first team, yet still manages to serve up shite performance after shite performance.

This 1-0 defeat was entirely predictable, not unlike our tactics. We had the players out there to play with a very balanced 4-4-2, even with the Zog at left-back. I saw the list of 11 players and thought "He's finally woken up!" Quickly I realised that Smith was playing as a holding midfielder, and at that moment I gave up all hope of winning the game, and prayed that we would hold on for a draw. Sadly we couldn't even do that. No shots on target. No clue. No future for Sam I'm afraid, and there can be no logical defense for his position. This is worse than Roeder. Under him we were a defensive shambles. Under Sam we are a shambles. Period.

P45 for Sam please, that would be a nice belated Christmas present.

Carl Wilson said:

Well yet more dispointment for us Toon supporters. Big Sam quite simply has to go, is there another manager in the league that would play defensivly against a team 2nd bottom when they have the likes of duff, viduka, smith, nzogbia, milner and emre in their ranks??? Before every game Big Sam goes on and on about "nulifying" the oppositions strenghts, now im sorry i dont mean to be disrispectful but what strenghts do derby and wigan have exactly. We should be taking the game to these teams and not sitting back. Our football is a shambles, but i could accept long balls and boring games IF WE WERE GETTING RESULTS. Fact is that we havnt really got a sniff of a top six place with the likes of Chelsea, Man u Arsenal and Liverpool still to play away from home, theres 4 games already you can bank we wont pick up any points in. If Ashley is serious about wanting to take this club forward, then why doesnt he give Sam the chop and put his money were his mouth is and Get in Jose Mourinho. But one thing is for certain, with Chelsea away then city at home, things are about to get nasty for big Sam. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

bonnielad said:

another inept display by the magpies away.i noticed an interest in another striker.what would another striker do when there is virtually no service to the ones we have now.i cannot understand how martins is continually overlooked unless sam has visions of offloading him.smith runs around a lot but is failing to score.viduka must have b.o. otherwise why do the other players fail to seek him out.we cannot win against mediocre opposition so what chance is there in the coming weeks against the likes of chelsea,man utd etc.come on sam,if your job is safe give the geordie something to look forward to.

Anonymous said:

Remember villa last season. They went thru an awful run of games were they culdnt buy a win for or money. Wat did they do? Stuck by o'Neil an it seems 2 hav payed off. I 4 1 refused to join in the the negative chants because i believe al BS needs is time. And hopefuly wth a bit of patience we can reap the rewards jus like everton an villa r at the moment.

p.s. With 3 of chelsea's back 4 out injured/suspended an no drogba or kalou i fancy our chances of nickin a draw.

James 09 said:

This is not being sensationalist, alarmist, melodramatic, hyper-critical or overly pessimistic – Newcastle United are in serious trouble. That is far from unprecedented, and dare I say, unexpected, and that partly explains why all this is as depressing as it is.

Firstly, the following has nothing to do with the falsely attributed insatiable demand of Geordies for “instant success� and flowing attacking football – those arguments (hardly worth the term itself) have been covered and thoroughly dismantled in previous posts.

I am completely and utterly unsurprised at yet another (YES yet another) truly deplorable performance and poor result to boot. Derby twice, Reading, Portsmouth, Liverpool, Wigan (away). Then add the incredible strain it took to beat Wigan (at SJP), and Fulham. We were pretty darn bad at home to Villa, gutless at City, and not much better at Sunderland. That is NOT opinion – IT IS FACT.

Let me again pose a few questions. Might surprise many “press men� (Allardyce’s term), but hard and unpopular questions are actually quite necessary and useful at times – they often inform and reveal.

Mr LEE RYDER – you stated earlier this term, either in a blog or a comment to someone’s post, that Allardyce would canter to a points total greater than last season’s dismal 43. You still maintain that????
I’ll remind you that we have 6 games against 4 teams yet to play – surprise   – Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool. Throw in Villa and Tottenham away, Man City at SJP, and the likely tough second round of the Tyne-Wear battle – quite the vortex of pain. Can anyone really see our current mess rising from this quagmire of eunuch football management, and collect say 8-10 points from those 30??

We struggle painfully to beat these Brum and Fulham outfits, and so nearly lose to Derby and Sunderland who are rubbish (quite an intricate pattern emerging there aye lads). What the heck does that make us???? And no Allardyce – you’re rather wide of the mark yet again – we DID NOT “completely dominate� Derby or Brum.
We can’t expose a defence with the national joke (we housed for an agonisingly long period) Bumble himself aye – what an appalling indictment.

LEE RYDER (and others) TAKE NOTE (perhaps copy, paste and save this bit) – the tsunami of criticism against this soggy, rotting, festering mess has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with whining about the absence of attractive attacking football and thereby demanding it. That argument is simply baseless and frankly pathetic.
A team DOES NOT have to play like Wenger’s Arsenal or (at least until recently) Rijkaard’s Barcelona to play good football. Capello, Mourinho, and Hitzfeld teams are quintessential of that. Far from consistently enthralling stuff BUT  .. it is categorically in no way shape or form comparable to the stuff that the Allardyce regime has now consistently produced. More importantly, in fact vitally, it would consistently beat Derby, Sunderland, Reading, Wigan, Brum, and Fulham with ease.

In response to my last entry LEE RYDER mentioned Everton not playing particularly good football – even if one accepts that (which I do), they play patently better than us mate, and I for one would feel rather more secure with Moyes – or Dame Edna - at our helm.

I would pay some serious cash to know what in the world goes on in Allardyce’s brain post-match!!!!!!!!! If he honestly thinks he is making any progress whatsoever, somebody do the muppet a favour and call the proverbial men in white coats. I expressed exactly the same in relation to Souness.

The major concern and issue – increasingly imminent and fundamentally important – is what will Mort and Ashley do (if anything) and when????? Would it really be the correct move to appoint the divine yet managerial virgin that is Shearer???? Nothing, I mean that literally, could be better than Shearer leading a successful Newcastle United, but I have real concern due to (1) the state we are in, and (2) his almost complete lack of managerial experience.

Finally....Maybe this is just me, but one thing is for certain - come January I wouldn’t let Sam Allardyce within 50 miles of me blimmmin' chequebook !!!!

william p said:

Sorry for this late comment on last weeks performance against derby as Ive just come back on line, I missed the first half but sounds like I didnt miss much and as for the second half I had to have a blood transfusion! because I spat that much watching it,,,
Anyway for today's game I didnt get any running commentary so going off your comments on the game Lee! all I can say

Peter Harper said:

Today was just too bad to be true!!
Allardyce has lost the dressing room.That is the top and bottom of it.
It's time for him to go.Put Terry Mac in charge until the end of the season.Maybe Shearer or even Keegan will lend a hand.

Anonymous said:

I thought it was a good team effort. Besides an avg. goal, the rest of the team looked solid. Result should have been 0 - 0. I wish them luck!

deano said:

DISGUSTING AGAIN!!!! SACK big sam now. We were let down yet again by the team. The large cracks in newcastles season have been papered over in recent weeks with a point against arsenal (a injury hit arsenal) a stoppage time winner against birmingham and also against fulham. The lucky draw against the giants of derby really reminded everyone what we are really like. Now we lose to wigan again, I was there last season when we were a disgrace and it seems the club has stood still. As long as we keep faith with sam then nothing will change, the football is at best shocking and at its worst we make sunderland look entertaining.
Its no good people saying he needs more time, the football will stay the same. I cant remember the last time i went to a toon match and came away with that buzzing feeling you get after a good win and a good footballing performance. Everyone remembers the bad old days under souness but it was no worse than what we are right now.
The newcastle fans dont demand we win every week, we just want a team to be proud of, one that plays good passing football, one that attacks the opposition with no fear. We do have decent players but they are not suited to the current style of play.
Ashley needs to wake up and listen to the fans asap before its too late. Ashley currently has the fans backing and rightly so but many more months of this and that could change. Im hoping that as he was sat with the fans at wigan today, he would have heard and listened to what we think.
Lets hope we can soon watch a team that wants to have more than one or two shots at goal.
One final thought to take a bit of the pain away...... mackums 0 - 4 man u

Ray said:

OMG...What is Sam doing or should we blame the players? It is sad to see Newcastle going down again this year. I would like to blame Freddy. I thinks he mess up everything and never appreciate KK. The is just my 2 cents.

gav said:

i aggree with scotty

today again
tactics . cr**
manager . cr**
performance. cr**
team selection . cr**

you know i do feel sorry for the players as it cant just be them that is the cause of the problem , in fact its one thing and thats big sam , i think now is the time to get rid of him the club is being dragged into a more depressing place even though we have some of the best players in the game the best fans one of the best stadiums and one of the best owners in football .
Im glad we have a down to earth owner with his head screwed on who likes to go to the game and sit with the lads he must be getting a real feel for the atmosphere and be truly feeling how upset and frustrated the fans are right now , hes a good bloke . I can imagine what is ticking through his head if he's considering sacking big sam is the rumoured compensation that he would have to fork out for a manager that wasnt even his choice and then theres the 27 backroom staff or how ever many it is . it must be just as frustrating for him but something has to be done and lets hope its sooner rather than later although were in ninth now with performances like that we could soon find ourselves slipping down the table rapidly but to be honest how many of you would just settle for a 100 % good performance every week

mag in boro said:

where the hell do you start here.....
one point off derby and wigan and that was fortunate outplayed by derby and wigan unacceptable and chelsea away great
Give us a happy new year ashley and get this mackem reject out of our club now
He was put in place by the last bunch of idiots sorry as normal i am placing the blame firmly at the fat scrap man freddies door

i have stayed fairly quiet over the past couple weeks and said from birmingham fulham derby wigan we had to look for 12 points we got seven
last min beye last min barton couple mins from time viduka those 7 points from what should be 4 of our easiest performance wise should have been 2 points
but how can we forget late winner wigan the mackems outplayed us beaten at derby but hey everyone great we got a point against the gooners

anoymous stay that way because reveal your identity and you would get ridiculed even with all of chelseas back 4 out smith wont score(sorry for all those who defended him after arsenal)...muppets..dirty little git poor scoring record at all clubs and great he leads our line would rather have shola at least he grabbed one every few games

and sams reaction
"You expect a reaction, and I don't blame the fans.

"If I was them I would be singing what they sang because we're not good enough.

"I'm a top man in my field and I know it's not good enough, so it doesn't take much for them to work out it's not good enough. They are not daft.

"The level of form they have dropped to is unacceptable.

"Everyone can have an off day, but our off days are really off."



more classic quotes
"Right now the only pressure on us is what we are putting on ourselves because we are performing at that level.

"We should be big enough and professional enough to cope with what is thrown our way.

"We are professional managers and players and we have to perform under pressure, whether it be good, bad or indifferent. people in positions they are used to playing and are comfortable with(yes repeating this again)

and the best
"It was a poor performance - we couldn't cope with Wigan being high-tempo and hard-working."
We are talking Wigan not Man Utd or Chelsea here

Just admit what we knew from start you not upto the job and go with a nice big pay day

sorry deano even the scum getting stuffed changes anything

Ads said:

Yes I agree with the pessimists that Newcastle have been well and truly shite under Allardyce, I for one welcomed the new regime due to the fact that at the time of his appointment Mike Ashley and Chris Mort were a breath of fresh air at SJP. It was very exciting to see.

I for one did not expect anything glamouros straight away and to be honest I just wanted a fully fit side to compete for europe - the long ball thing didn't really concern me and I was happy with the new signings like Cacapa, Beye, Viduka and Faye - I did question Smith, Enrique and Barton however.

Newcastles main problem lies in defence and also we have no decent holding midfielders like Gerrard or Hamman etc. In January I think we should try to sign at least one decent defensive midfielder other than butt who has been okay. Keep Smith up front with Viduka and place Martins in a floating role with Duff/Zog on the left and Milner on the right with a 3-4-1-2 kind of look - I am no tactician, nor am I a coach of any sort but at least the side would be balanced (the next option would be 4-4-2). A common sense approach and a stick to the basics approach needs to be applied, and like I have always approached most things is that Newcastle should take things day to day or each game as it comes building on positives and addressing the negatives (which there are alot of at the moment).

Lets see what happens over the next two months. If we get tangled into a relegation fight (which if results don't improve we will) then I say sack Sam, if we dont - keep the faith in him.

LythamLatic said:

Wigan fan in peace - agree you didn't play well, but to be fair, we were much more in your face than we have been over the last few weeks. I don't think we'd be so low in the league if we 'd played like this every week.

Just wondered how you felt about Bramble - your fans were booing him a lot of the time, but aside from the daft decision he made at Man City which resulted in a goal, he's been really strong for us. Do you think he's playing better for us than he did for you? If so, why do you think that is?

Anonymous said:

The most important words uttered at wigan yesterday have been massivley under-reported. " we're s*** and we're sick of it" came from the travelling fans. This was massively significant.
We are trying hard to back our team and remain supportive, avoid booing and turning on the team. BUT, yesterday was so bad that, however restrained we tried to be , we had to voice our anger.
This is just not good enough. The players are much better than this so it all comes back to the manager's door. The tactics are his decision, the team set up, his doing. Yesterday those decisions bordered on incompetent. Sam Allardyce has read too much of his own hype and lost all grip on reality. He must go. NOW. It hurts to say it but we ned to see heavy defeats at Chelsea and Man U and get dumped at Stoke City. Any manager who plays Alan Smith virtually as a central defender against a hapless Wigan team, there for the beating given a positive approach, jsu doesn't have a clue. "WE're s*** and we're sick of it" may be the most significant chant ever from the travelling fans. Pleas Mr Mort and Mr Ashley, rescue us from this nightmare.


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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