It's getting better man!

By Lee Ryder on Jan 27, 08 11:09 AM

Newcastle's agonising wait for a trophy will reach at least the 40 year mark next season but for Kevin Keegan the challenge is only just beginning.

KK vowed bravely to give it a real go against Arsenal and he was true to his word, Newcastle could easily have been in front at half-time at the Emirates as the travelling Toon fans witnessed their best first half performance on the road all season.

That description may sound extremely specific and very much a case of clutching at straws but anybody who has spent their hard earned dosh going to the likes of Reading, Wigan or Derby (take your pick under Sam Allardyce's stint in charge) will know that the football played against the Gunners was crisp, fresh and encouraging considering the long road that lies ahead.

Forget about the national media witch hunt, forget about anybody else who wants to kick United when they are down and hardest of all block out the fact that Newcastle will end the season without a piece of silverware again - this time there won't even be a trophy-less open top bus parade around the city just because we made it to Wembley.

The only thing to remember after the 3-0 defeat at the Emirates is that there could just be some light at the end of the darkest of all tunnels.

The short term analysis for Newcastle is that they haven't scored a goal in 180 minutes and the season looks as good as over.

But at least United players look like they are going about their jobs in the right manner now.

The wingers in James Milner, who is playing on the right, and Damien Duff, playing on the left, are working their socks of to get to that byline and cut the ball across the face of goal or at the very least earn a few corners.

In central midfield Nicky Butt and Charles N'Zogbia strived to give them some service in order for the wide men to feed the likes of Michael Owen and Alan Smith.

Smith worked hard too and at times resisted the temptation to dive in.

In defence Steven Taylor not only showed his strength in the air but he also looked capable of bringing it out of defence, not losing it and finding one of his central midfielders.

And just to show he can still emulate a certain P Albert, who used to wear that number 27 shirt, he also demonstrated he can threaten the goal as well with a great first half chance.

And then you have the full-backs, Stephen Carr and Jose Enrique.

Both players have hardly set St James's Park on fire since arriving on Tyneside and while Enrique's career is in its infancy, he and Carr bombed on tried the odd overlap to test the opposition.

Michael Owen and Smith will have better days in front of goal but the former Leeds man almost grabbed the lead in the first half only to see the ball cleared.

In the second half, Arsenal's class did show but can anybody be too surprised by that?

No team has won at the Emirates all season but there aren't too many teams who have been brave enough to go there and take them on at their own game.

Credit to Keegan he never intended to put 10 men behind the ball and keep the score down, he went their to play and lesser teams won't be able to absorb that and then hit back three times to kill the game.

In some ways that score flattered Arsenal.

Next up, is a rerun of the whole experience again when vital Premier League points will be at stake once more.

Nobody will dare mention the words "relegation" or "battle" in the same sentence but be sure until we can collect the full complement of 40 points, we're going to be looking over our shoulders.

Life might be pretty somber at the moment but in the words of another man with big links to Manchester City, It's Getting Better Man!


david said:

lee, a superb match report, it gives me my hope back
and thats all we need at the moment.

Daiv said:

3 nil and its getting better. Woopy. No signings in January. Any good news. We are in a relegation fight because our Centre mid is too old and slow. Kevin will improve things greatly next season ....if we don't get relegated.

Campbell Waddell said:

Lee could'nt agree with you more on the light at the end of the tunnel situation, in fact I would just "LOVE IT" if KK carried on till the end of the season with current crop of younsters failing any success signing quality players, it's a blessing in disquise to miss out on signing Jonathon Woodgate it would have been a big mistake in my opinion.

As you say Lee we can begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel, things can only get better and when we get our African players back Keegan properly begin his job of assessing the squad, it's not the end of the world if KK fails to sign players in the transfer window.

KK will see what he has got and offload the rubbish to the nether regions we have just got to be patient.

Paul Patterson said:

I didn’t know you were an Oasis fan, Lee?

And like those cheeky monkeys from Burnage, didn’t we see Newcastle United give it a right good go with one of the big boy’s?

Alright, the second half wasn’t much to write home about, but play like that against the atmospherically challenged from Teeside next weekend and we’ll be more than happy with three points.

It was a joy to behold seeing Keegan’s return, but now things have to backed up with results, which will happen given time, this season was always going to be a write-off, the second we lost at Derby I think we all sensed trouble ahead.

Kevin has been linked with plenty players since taking over here and one, who seems to be increasingly marginalized under Juande Ramos is Jermaine Defoe, he’d be a great addition, but there are plus’ FOR getting Woodgate as well as plus’ for NOT, so is this really a guy we should be signing?

Players coming in now must be as close to perfect for the club as possible, so don’t get me started on the rumour about Pascal Chimbonda- I think he’s even worse than Stephen Carr (Who had a good enough game against Arsenal)

Talk of Berbatov is silly, but certainly Defoe, Ashton or even dare I say it Kuyt, wouldn’t be a step in the wrong direction, certainly a huge improvement on Ameobi and Viduka, maybe even Owen.

Kev’s decided that Enrique has to get up to speed with the league he’s in (Allardyce bottled that challenge) so he’s done exactly that and put faith in him, Butt and N’Zogbia just need games and with the flying wingers of Duff and Milner, creating shouldn’t be too much of a problem, just those pesky things called strikers to sort out.

Keegan won’t need to ask the crowd to ‘Stand by Me’ ‘I Hope I Think I know’ we will give him time, ‘Don’t Go Away’ because when this club takes off were going to be ’All Around the World’ and everyone’s going to want to ‘Be Here Now’ there will be no ’Fade In-Out’ - ‘D’you Know What I Mean?!’

Couldn’t think of anything to connect with ‘The Girl in the Dirty Shirt’ nor ‘Magic Pie’

Damn My Big Mouth!!


Ryder's reply: Just Don't Look Back in Anger because Keegan will Keep The Dream Alive and Little By Little we'll stop thinking Where Did It All Go Wrong? and let the manager get on with his Masterplan, OK that's enough!

Duncan Baines said:

I don't know when these 'better days' that Smith will have in front of goal will start! His current tally of zero isn't exactly good enough is it?

Ryder's reply: He is yet to have a run of games as a striker in his defence though right Duncan?

Anonymous said:

I'm not going to say that Allardyce is a bad Manager. He walked away with $6 million pounds. But he seemed to be holding something back from the team. From your report, because I didn't have any access to the game from the U.S., Newcastle seemed to have some, as we call it, ooommpphh!! into their game.

Phil said:

Excellent article, Lee - just the sort of positive support KK and the team will thrive on. It was great to hear the commentators praising Newcastle's free-flowing football in the first half. Wenger was lucky that Abedayor was not in the African Nations - he was the match winner. When the team can put 90 minutes together like the first half, we're in for a treat. Even with Beye, Faye, and Martins missing, it was like the "handicap" was lifted from the players. Duff had his best half, and looked great in the first half. KK will buy quality to fit specific needs, not just available "second" choices. Keep the faith!!

STEVE said:

AT least they had a go at the arse but our midfield is championship quality,ok we have players out/away but even so,no-one,not ever jose could make these top 6.....i think keegan has lifted the gloom but ive got to say i am fairly worried that we arent making any signings...he says we might make ONE! for whatever reason we are getting left behind.....i know ive gotta keep the faith but its getting increasingly difficult.....i also agree that woody not signing is a blessing....get van buyten and a world class centre mid in....PLEEEEEEASE..

roy chapman said:

Here's one Toon fan that breathed a sigh of relief when Woodgate said no. The last thing we need is ANOTHER failed injury-prone Real Madrid player in the team. If I remember the last time he played against the Toon our own salad-dodger Viduka left him standing and scored. Let's be honest, if he can't get a game for the Smoggies should we even have been considering him.
Think BIG Kevin!!

Ronnie Lambert said:

Now let's be realistic here, 3-0 away at the best team in the country with big sham's team is about right. Keegan deserves no flak for this as he encouraged the team to attack, and the travelling toon -army deserve medals as usual. But the quality difference told in the second half after a brave 1st. half resistance, a la Man. U. The hard work starts here, to do as well as possible with the squad he has, and to get to know his players and identify who stays and who goes in the summer. Until then, please all you flamin' moaners, stop over-reacting and judging Keegan on this batch of players, it is already better than when big sham was here.

Edmond Dante said:

On the Oasis theme, how about Half The World Away, because thats the difference between Arsenal and NUFC. You could almost make a convincing argument that we were the better team in the first half, Charlie Zog looked dangerous, Damien Duff actually looked like a footballer. Smithy even had a shot! In the second half, Arsenal moved up a gear and left us comfortably in their wake. Yet there's still something to play for, because we're scarily close to the relegation zone. (Yes Sam, the zone I'm concerned with is 'relegation', not 'Pro'. Don't spend your pay off all at once).

There may well be light at the end of the tunnel, but by 10pm on Tuesday, it'll be looking like one hell of a long tunnel.

Unlike like Oasis, I can only hope Keegan and Newcastle eventually go on to achieve what they threatened to do in the Mid 90s, instead of turning into a horrible pastiche of their former selves.

Bill said:

Very accurate report of the game. We are definitely moving in the right direction. Two very good 1st half displays agst the Mancs and Ar. However, we are still not scoring goals and rather than buying defenders (and bringing in Wise?!) he needs to look for another striker.
As regards the Emirates: I had great view of players bootlaces! To their "supporters": "You only sing when you're winning".

Peter Dawson said:

I was very encouraged by the first half display. Arsenals late surge did flatter them. There is still a very big task ahead of us. We are very mch relegation contenders. 27 points only 7 above safety. I think the keegan appointment was a good one. I felt Sam allardyce deserved to go. BUT the timing was awful and i cant help but feel that the Sam Allardyce sacking and the Keegan appointment was a smoke screen for the January transfer window. We need players. Its obvious. But yet here we are with less than a week to go and have only signed a bunch of kids and dont look any closer to signing anyone. The headline today is the Wise might be coming. Come on get real. We dont need more coaches. I dont see what dennis wise will add. We need players! Yes we need the right players and shouldnt panic buy. But if Ashley isnt concerned enough now to get his chqeue book out and sign someone. Then when is he ever going to???

bottlodog said:

I'm withKK on transfers - we don't need second best panic buys.
You can't just walk into the nearest 'footballers R us' hypermarket and pick one of the shelf - it takes weeks, if not months to identify, prime, persuade and sign new players
Somehting, unfortunately, KK hasn't had
So 'haad ya watter' it'll happen when it happens
Things are looking up

John said:

just when you thought it was getting better, what the hell do we want with Denis Wise? totally bewildered by this guy coming in, maybe he is being hired as Joey Barton's minder eh?

jackie w said:

Dennis Wise ?!"£:>? i am absolutley gobsmacked. the circus continues , i am off to the shed with my diamond white to work out what is going on...any ideas Lee?

Jinky Jim said:

I'm not so Wise ! Just so confused !!!!

Dave Graham said:

Dennis Wise is recognised as one of the best young coaches in the game by his peers. He is also one of the straightest talking coaches i have seen in the game, so even if he is given an executive managment postion, i think he will give it 110%. i am sure he will make a success of what ever role he is given, but only time will tell.
It was interesting to hear him talk about neil sullivan who decided to spout off about being released by Wise when he took over at Leeds. " He wasnt good enough, i told him that and he didnt like it, life goes on"
we need straight talking people at the club who will give it there all for the cause, and although baffling, i have a feeling this might turn out to be a decent appointment.

STEVE said:

BOTTLODOG,i totally agree things are looking up and youre right we cannot just sign any old so and so just for the crack but i think (and the players have said and you know yourself)that we need a boost,the thing is,i love KK like all of us but,woody IS to me,any old so and so,magnificent defender tho he is,he is a walking it would appear we are gambling a bit.....V.buyten may not be as classy as woody but he is still a cracking player and not so injury prone.i,m trying to haad me watter,but i,m gonna lag mesel......i know its gonna take time and patience. and were all in this together....BUT..JOHN..i am totally with you on this one...WHY.....DENNIS put it nicely i couldnt stand him as a player,who next????julian dicks??????....irritating cockney git....who has brought him in though? i may be only reading between the lines but it sounded like it might be mort....that is v.dangerous,i hope it was KK.......HOWAY THE LADS

LoonyToon said:

Howay lads settle down. I can't see why you are all twisting on about Wise and questioning Ashley/Mort.

I know you're probably sick of hearing this but do you really think Ashley has got where he is by making bad business decisions?

Wise might have been a pain in the @?53 when he was a player but he has always had a certain air about him. To me he seems quite infectious and straight talking.

I'm quite happy we are getting people in who will not bull$*!* us. Maybe the players will really look forward to coming in to "work" now.

Let's stop questioning for a while and start believing (and praying).

Keep the faith.



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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