February 2008 Archives

Remember the last time Blackburn came to Toon?

Glenn Roeder certainly will because it was the straw that broke the camel's back as far as his Newcastle United career was concerned.

That day was a luke warm performance from Newcastle which eventually ended in a 2-0 defeat.

This time around United go into it desperate for victory with Kevin Keegan searching for his first win.

And it's clear that despite the difficult start, that the Toon Army will still be right behind the team.

So it looks like Shay Given is going to miss six weeks of Newcastle United's fight to maintain their place in the Premier League.

And the news today that he will miss a big stretch of the season must have left him in pieces.

Since signing for Newcastle in 1997 Given has pulled off all the stops but mentally he must be distraught that apart from the two great seasons under Sir Bobby Robson, the club have not matched his ambition nor that of the Toon Army.

It's got to be described as the impossible job in football and that is sorting out the Newcastle United defence - but that is the almighty task of Chris Hughton.

To be fair a lot of the stick directed at the Toon's back four at times has been a little harsh since the Premier League kicked off.

And in Kevin Keegan's three full seasons in the top flight, you don't normally associate leaky defences with teams that finish 3rd, 6th and 2nd respectively.

Mark Lawrenson has always been thought of as somewhat of a joke figure by many fans but in his only season as "defensive guru", United finished the season with four clean sheets in a row (including trips to Arsenal and Man U) to qualify for the Champions League in 1996/97.

Newcastle United actually invented the term "12 point cushion" back in 1996 which was of course the advantage they had over Man United in the title race a dozen years ago.

Now after being publicly undressed by Man U again at St James's Park, 12 points is actually what they need to stay in the Premier League.

Kevin Keegan admitted that's what they need and didn't shirk away from the fact Newcastle are in deep trouble.

History shows you cannot rely on other teams to keep getting results and the most successful survivors in the Premier League have always been teams who do their side of the bargain as well.

United outclassed by Man U

By Lee Ryder on Feb 23, 08 07:11 PM

NEWCASTLE UNITED'S Premier League safety was still uncertain tonight after Manchester United pulled off a solid away win St James's Park.

A goal from Abdoulaye Faye with 12 minutes to go was as good as the night got for the Toon Army after two each from Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney and strike from ex-Mag Louis Saha completed somewhat of a rout on Tyneside.

Shay Given was back from a groin injury to take his place between the posts and Keegan selected Abdoulaye Faye in front of him.

entertainers.jpgTime to forget the nostalgia he said.

I mean who did he think he was!

Forget 5-0, forget 12 points clear, forget two attacking wingers, forget Rob Lee scoring a hat-trick of headers in Antwerp, forget the grandad collar and the Broon Ale logo and turn the page on the legends that are the Entertainers and time for new heroes to step into the picture.

Well that person was none other than Sir Les Ferdinand who in tonight's Chronicle told the Toon Army to start having new dreams.

Your chance to quiz James Milner!

By Lee Ryder on Feb 20, 08 10:42 AM

James MilnerIt might seem like he's been around for decades but James Milner is still just 22.

He's probably been one of United's most consistent players this season too and remains a huge favourite with the Toon Army.

Thankfully with Milner under contract with Newcastle until 2011 and the player looking settled on Tyneside, United have a future England winger on their hands with a story to tell already.

And with Blog on the Tyne and the Chronicle, you can ask James your questions.

It's going to get plenty of airtime this week but Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan's famous rant back in 1996 could provide the Magpies with the launchpad to get one over our old title rivals Man U.

Let's be honest you'd take a draw if you were offered it right now, in fact you'd probably snap the hand off whoever was offering it!

We certainly can't turn back the clock - this is a different era with different players - and Newcastle are right up against it but if a packed St James's Park goes into the game as fired up as Kevin Keegan was that night 12 years ago, we've got to be in with a shout.

Man United will have played twice by the time the clash kicks off.

It was Alan Hansen who once infamously spluttered: "You'll never win anything with kids."

Man United then went on to win the title, at Newcastle's expense, with kids like Scholes, Butt, the Nevilles and some bloke called Dave Beckham!

Not for one moment is Blog on the Tyne suggesting the current Toon youngsters are in that class yet.

But with time running out and Kevin Keegan left with only a few permutations of how he can put together a winning side could it be that he has little choice but to chuck in the kids in the last 12 games?

Newcastle fans at Villa ParkNow that you have dusted yourself off from the Villa Park capitulation perhaps it is time to look at the cold facts of what's left of Newcastle United's faltering campaign.

Depending on if you are in the "We're too good to go down" camp or the "Where is our next win coming from" camp you are still likely to need a tin hat between now and the end of the season.

But with 12 games to go Newcastle are probably going to need nine or 10 points just to be safe.

It's up to you if you want to predict the results of the fixtures but with Newcastle's season being the way it is, I honestly couldn't say that we'd steamroller say Fulham at home or say that we'd turn up at Everton on the final day and not pick up three points - we are the most unpredictable team in the Premier League.

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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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