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It's tin hat time again for Newcastle fans

By Lee Ryder on Feb 13, 08 11:57 AM

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.

And the fear factor is certainly around for me when it comes to the last 12 games.

It's the away games that worry me the most with Spurs, Everton, Liverpool and West Ham all tricky assignments and that's without mentioning places like Portsmouth or Birmingham.

And whatever you think about the home games, Newcastle will have to win at least three or four of those in order to seal our place.

Failure to do that and heaven knows what happens next season.

Who would stay? Who would go? Who would come in?

It would be all in the mixer.

But if things all go to plan and we don't cause one of football's major shocks and go down -which most of the national Press seem to be hoping happens in the end - Newcastle can start the rebuilding as soon as the final whistle goes at Goodison Park.

Then the hard work will really start and KK can start trying to bring in the players that can finally get the club back on track.

For now though as one of Keegan's old adversaries used to say: "It's squeaky bum time."

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

34 Comments

Anonymous said:

Keegan handled the N'Zogbia situation excellently. 10 million for N'Zogbia.

howway geordies said:

What bothers me is that this season has been so awful that it might well put off some of our transfer targets in the summer. This will then have a knock-on effect next season.
I am beginning to think that the resurrection under The Messiah is going to be a lengthy process.

Paul Patterson said:

It’s been some five years since we dispensed with Sir Bobby Robson and since then, every decision has been to the detriment and failure of the club.

Nothing that has happened in this period seems to have been thought through, never mind the actual idea of fore-sight, maybe just a bit of present clarity would have been good enough.

The time I always pick out in any post-mortem about our steady demise, was in 2003, when we’d just finished 3rd and needed a defender or two and a new striker up top.

Now silly me, earmarked Jermaine Defoe (He went to Spurs that very summer for £9m) as the striker and thought maybe Robbie Keane or Milan Baros would be great, imagine Shearer, Bellamy and either two of Defoe, Keane or Baros, I ran it through my mind time and again in various pubs with various mates.

In the end who did we get?- Lee Bowyer on a free-transfer. Yippee! What a revolution that was.

Is it any wonder we dropped to fifth that season, but enough of the history lessons- The summary of Newcastle United’s Premier League status (If we do indeed fail to avoid the dreaded drop) will be inter-twined by one man and one man only- It’s old ground I know, but that man is- Freddy Shepherd, a walking disaster area if ever there was one- If we were to go down- I’d very much like him to do a guest piece in the match day programme, interesting reading I’m sure.

I don’t honestly think we have yet broken free from his shoddy influence, it may take some time yet.

Currently the safety of Newcastle hinges on a rag-tag bunch of misfits (A few exceptions) I would have playing for the Dog and Gun on a Sunday dinner time.
People have said that the players have been living off their reputations at other clubs- Well forgive me, but what reputations? Did Stephen Carr have a great career at Spurs? Did Alan Smith do THAT well for Leeds? There’s only Damien Duff that was truly exceptional at Chelsea. Viduka is a flawed player, I never agreed with the Owen deal from the start (I wanted Keane and Baros and for £17m it would have made better sense)

The only players that will survive any autopsy in the summer are:- Given, Milner, Harper, Martins, Taylor and maybe Duff and Beye. To be frank and honest, the rest don’t even come into my thoughts as there are questions of loyalty, ability, desire or all three in them all. (N’Zogbia’s rumoured to be wanting away daarn saarf)

And is it just me, or is the improvement in performances and attitude of Mr Owen and Englands lack of qualification for the Euro’s just coincidence?

Certain people (Malcom Macdonald) seems to think that because of the six point cushion we have over the bottom three, means that we won’t go down because that is a mountain that they simply cannot climb- well that is a very dangerous attitude to have, lets just get another ten points AND QUICKLY.

Who’s up for the battle? The vast majority of players at St James’ Park need not apply!

Paul.

robgibson said:

I read all the chronicle and local stuff about the toon and i am beginning to wonder why everyone on seems to have such a massive chip on their shoulders.
There seems to be a persecution complex led by people like you Mr Ryder, trying to make out that everyone hates newcastle and wants them to go down. You keep moaning about others newspapers and radio criticising the club and it's current terrible plight. Well perhaps you should start to hold some players to account, and the new owners, who i am sure you are desperate to please, for not spending money on players in January. This: "we are Geordies everyone hates us" attitude makes newcastle fans look like a bunch of idiots....

Ryder's reply: You are entitled to your opinion Rob.
But my opinion, as an observer, is that the rest of the national media HAVE stuck the boot on Newcastle this season.
And that has been said by not just me but plenty of the fans who don't need me to play the role of pied piper because they are more than capable of giving their own views.
And that doesn't matter whether they say it on this Blog, the internet, via letter or even in the pub - they will always have their own views.
I think you are wrong when you say I am desperate to please the new owners.
As the local paper do you expect us not to support the football club or get behind it?
One thing we are all desperate to see is a team doing well and challenging for trophies.
And with reference to the transfer window, Big Sam left the club on January 8. KK came back on the 16th with two weeks left to get players on board, is that not more of factor to the reason we didn't sign any senior players?
That's not an excuse but as KK has already said most clubs who signed players had made arrangements up to three or four weeks before the window was open.
So what does that tell you?

Duncan Baines said:

It was Robson who signed Bowyer!

Jonathan said:

There are 36 points available from our last 12 games.

I reckon we can get 21 of those assuming we win them and this includes the game against Manchester United. If we don't prove that we can raise our game in that match then we really do have a big big problem.

No excuses now. Let's not mess with our defense any longer. No more right backs messing around in left back position any longer. Let's have our best wingers *actually* running around on the wing and lets motivate our team to run around like headless chickens toward the opposite goal and at least try to create more chances.

Just Wish we could bring forward the Man U game cos I'm not sure how long I can wait for us to keep sliding toward relagation. We need help!

John Exiled in Staffs said:

Well Lee, I for one couldn't agree more with your latest comments,I am from the please God don't let us be relegated camp, no team has the devine right to be in the premiership and after watching the farce at Villa on Saturday who wouldn't be slightly worried. At one time we could rely on our home displays to add a few points to the pot but thst is not the case this season. It's easy for some people to come on this site and blame individuals and to travel back in time to hen e should have signed this one nd that one, we didn't and the players we have now are the one's who need to pull together and get us out of this mess. I cannot believe that so called professionals would come out and say they are suffering from a lack of confidence, playing for Newcastle United in the bset league in the world should be enought incentive to work their socks off in every game. I only hope we are not going to Everton on the last day of the season needing a result, smacks of Leicester City all those years ago. As for who stays and who goes, KK will have a good idea who will not be here getting those in who he wants may be a lot harder than he thinks.

Ronnie Lambert said:

Worst case scenario....we go down...we survive with the umbrella payments and whatever we make off clear-out sale and what Mike Ashley spends....St. James' still nearly full cos we won't desert in numbers, cos we're loyal and patient...We storm the Championship as champions, with full houses towards rear-end of season....we buy big to reinforce our in-form team...we start again. Ain't that life? No-one dies in the process and we forget about it. I really hope that we survive though, cos I'm getting older and older and older and older............

Jim Currie said:

How about asking Scottish first minister to extend border down to Newcastle? Then the Toon could join the SPL and maybe win something and qualify for Europe. Could Rangers be intesrted in a swop to move to Premiership?
easy trips to Gretna too

Simon said:

Duncan - Paul was talking about the season after we finished 3rd (when instead of striker & defender) we (Robson) signed Bowyer. Robson was sacked the following season after finishing 5th.

Tony Green said:

OK Lee, its tin hat time. So who would you rather have alongside you in trenches - KK or big Sam,?
The first is a proven fighter and winner The second.........who knows?

Carl said:

Well 12 games to go then, and we need to find 12 points from somewhere just to be sure, which would take us to the magic 40 mark. Im not quite sure where these points would come from, there are home games against fulham reading and sunderland, but after the 2 homes draws with Bolton and Boro im not too confident of winning these games. And all are away fixtures are pretty much as tough as they come, with the exeption of perhaps Birmingham. Its certainly gunna be tense.

Im still fully Behind KK though, if the team doesnt start performing and showing heart and desire soon then it shud be the old chant of "your not fit to wear the shirt" echoed around St James's, not a chorus slamming the manager.

Anyways this is NUFC we are talking about here so dont be surprised if Fulham Sunderland and Reading all come up here and win, and the toon go beat Man u, Liverpool at Anfield, and Chelsea at home. Im actually going to go put a bet on that now.

Daiv said:

NUFC are not unpredicatble.
We have won once in FIFTY away games against top four. Truly the best supporters.

Duncan Baines said:

I don't think we are the most unpredictable team in the league - it seems fairly easy to predict we'll always lose away!

However, if we do narrowly avoid relegation on the last day it might give us some momentum to take into next season - like happened in 1992!

damo said:

Have to agree with a lot of what Andy (feb 13) said - no idea why we delight in signing liablities of the Bowyer/Barton ilk (and now Dennis Wise, lol).

But regarding Mike Ashley, I should point out that he has already stated his recent intention to 'get out of the stands and into the boardroom' - and despite our awful recent results I still reckon his luring KK back was nothing short of a stroke of genius. What better way to ensure the fans en masse give him the time needed to REBUILD - and we all know that is the understatement of the century. MA's long-term vision is, or should be, crystal clear already - if only from the fact that he is not panicking which is refreshing in itself and a theoretically good starting point for our muddled and wounded club.

That said, at this moment in time - and what with all the newly squeaky bums north of Gateshead at the mo - he may just be questioning his assumption that we could simply glide through the rest of this season safely and then crack on with the serious business come summer - history shows the toon rarely sticks to the script.

But howay! Whatever anyone says about our mediocre squad, they ARE good enough for mid-table safety. Lets not hit the panic button. Lets not transmit fear and doubt and complacancy down to the players or KK - because its down to them now to justify MA's faith in them.

And I still can't get my head around this 'are the players trying hard enough?' business. Surely every second of every minute of every game to a professional footballer should mean EVERYTHING - because lets face it, it could always be his last. Perhaps one or two of them just need reminding of that fact every now and then before they pull on the sacred jersey.

Dan said:

Am i completely alone in thinking that a relegation battle or even relegation itself would only benefit Newcastle? The problem I see is that Newcastle "should" be challenging for Europe, silverware etc and be a big premiership force but we are not, and alot of teams are better than us at the moment. People inside and out of the club believe we should be signing superstars to bring us out of this shambles, but where is the pulling power, all we'll really end up with players who were good but now have fitness/personal baggage or talented young foreigners who are p****d off about not getting a move to London and go there the second their career starts to take off. We need to get out of this big club mentality, its destroying us, I'm not saying we shouldn't have any ambition but the club seriously needs rebuilding and accepting we are a mid to lower table team and buting players as one will help us maintain that position until the academy starts churning out the players that we bought in January and more I hope. I think that unfortunately we will lose alot of great players (N'zogbia, Martins and maybe even Milner) along the way but if we can replace them with stable, healtthy Premier League players we can stay up until we regain our pulling power and give the push for silverware a real quickstart. There's no quick fix here, and I see things getting a fair bit worse before it gets better, but when it does get better, we'll be the best!

Margaret T. said:

Carl, Beat Man U, Liverpool and Chelsea you say! I think you are a dreamer. Forty points is probably 4 or 5 more than are needed this year. My little Sebastian figures that Toon will get about 35 points and that Reading, Bolton and Fulham will struggle to get more (and Derby of course). So probably it will be a case of still playing North East derbies next year. Fingers and paws crossed!

Aditya said:

The real problem right now is not that we have a very poor squad beacause since Souness time we are having a similar quality squad..the only fact about the current squad is the defence..and even not all of our defenders are poor and that we can see from the performances at ManU and Villa first halfs..It's just that when we go a goal behind our heads really go down..and it seems like suddenly all players recall the nightmare of a 6-0 defeat again..And it's not about the confidence but it's the composure at this critical moment..If KK manages to get this mental point in our game right I guess surviving will not be a big issue..infact we can even get something
out of this season by finishing top half(and I mean it).I am saying this time and again on this forum that Faye should be back..I guess his premiership experience will give a big boost..The players just need to realise by lossing faith in their own abillities and defending deep and deep they are hampering the great reputation of this club..But overall I think the situation can be sorted out..let's HOPE for the best...

Dave B said:

Excellent comment by Andy – almost echoes my sentiment. NUFC are only truly special to those who care for them. However extending the child/parent analogy it’s only natural to spring to the defence of the one you care about. This defence is galvanised by the ill-informed nature of the criticism, off those outside looking in. Some favourites listed below.

• NUFC is not a big Club – In trophy terms yes, but they’re big enough to warrant untold column inches to shift your tabloid units and fill the air time on your talk shows. You discredit your own argument by obsessing about all things Newcastle.

• The expectation at NUFC is too high – What top 6 the odd semi-final and decent watch, I think not.

• Where were the fans when NUFC were crap? – Open your eyes and look around, we are and we’re here. Anyone accusing a NUFC fan of glory hunting has clearly misplaced a vital prescription.

• The fans are too impatient – Have these people been on Mars? We’re the most patient impatient fans in the country if not Europe. Can you imagine any other set of fans putting up with the tripe we’ve had to endure?

• NUFC didn’t give Big Sam enough time – Did any of the hand wringing ex-pros and Managers actually see what he considered football? If I start a new job tomorrow and fail to add value in month one never mind month seven I’d expect the bullet. He wanted five years bless – on his money so would I.

• Keegan will walk away - And he should do if he doesn’t feel he can add anything. I wish other managers would be principled enough to walk away instead of hanging on for the compensation package. He should be applauded not derided.


A bit of balance restored me thinks


.

Richard Clewes said:

Well Lee this is one of the odd occasions when I have to disagree with your thinking. When you say we are the most unpredictable team in the Premiership, surely you mean ‘used to be’. Personally I would go as far as saying that during the majority of this season we are THE most predictable side, and with this in mind I would be astounded if we picked up any more than 9 points between now and the end of the campaign, which I would think would put us in a very precarious position. If you still think we are unpredictable, please be my guest, highlight for me the games where the unpredictable has occurred.

Ryder's reply: So you expected us to out play Arsenal at home and then get a point? Or you walked up to St James's Park predicting a 0-0 draw with Bolton, right?

john said:

Look we know who we are, we know what we want and we know what its like to be a Newcastle supporter. So no matter what happens we will always support our team where ever they are and where ever they go. Howay the lads & divent worry aboot the rest of the land.

James 09 said:

Newcastle United have finished in the bottom half of the table SIX times out of the last TEN seasons - despite the European football we've had, that's one sick joke, not to mention 1955 and 1969. Could it get worse? Oh yes, much much worse.

Lee - undoubtedly many would love to see us crumble into the Championship but man our football club has provided a fair whack of ammunition to the (many) detractors. However, as I've argued here many times before the constant "impossibly impatient overly ambitious fans" rubbish just gets more ridiculous by the day.

We now face a genuine relegation battle and I'm certainly in the yes we are in serious trouble camp. One of the biggest concerns (apart from the daunting fixtures) - there seems to be very, very few current players able or willing to give much of their effort for NUFC.

STEVE said:

In recent years this is the most nervous i have been with regard to the outcome of our season....one thing IS for cerain,we will at least be able to gauge from now till may who is battling for the cause and who isnt fit to wear black n white....i think getting martins back is a real plus,i think we would all take a draw vs manu now...maybe defeat is inevitable with our squad,but we MUST beat the rest at home.Please god we survive,and then next season i really believe we will see some great signings and good kk style attacking football...and build from there...if we do survive we now have no debt and a structure in place to be vying with the best in a few years.

Ronnie Lambert said:

Let's just see what KK can do with Oba and the Africans this fortnight, I'm certain that if the Villa capitulators don't give 100% improvement against Man.U. , then KK will drop them. He will have an idea of how much the talented youngsters on the fringe could contribute in terms of enthusiasm and dedication. Lua Lua, Edgar, Carroll and co. would probably inject a new spirit into the rest of them. No doubt this will be under examination at this time as Kev's not afraid to drop star names, a la Owen when managing England. Patience and super-support is crucial from us at this time, even if just to show outsiders our true traits. I for one am still chuffed to bits over Keegan's appointment despite what may or may not happen this season. If the worst happens, I'll be first in the queue for my promotion season ticket when the prawn sarnies disappear.

Ben said:

I would just like to make a point to all the people that are talking about Newcastle continuing to be a laughing stock and the club falling into more trouble under Ashley, Yes short term we are paying for SHEPPARDS Appointment, But lets get a few things straight for all those short sighted people out there and we have far to many fans on here and popping up on tv who are so happy to comment on this or that they read in a National paper,Half of whom havnt been inside St James park for the last 3-4 years(IF ever). We are no longer in a critical amount of debt that would have cripiled the club far worse than pending relegation had Sheppard been left to milk the club dry, We are finally starting to bring young players into the club to bolster our Academy, And we now have a manager that understands the club!Lets not forget that Ashley has spent around the 80mil mark sorting OUR CLub out!! .

We just play into the national press`s hands, lets stop giving them an excuse to get at us, for all of us who actually go to games lets get the passion back inside St James Park, because St James`s Buzzing again vocally is the best way to show what kind of club we are and hit back at the Southern press!!

ROBERT SMITH said:

Is Keegan a better manager than David Moyes or Martin O'Neill??? Answers please

STEVE said:

ROBERT SMITH.........yes

Terry Atkinson said:

I wish we would shut up and be quiet. lets play down our chances and have some dignity. Too much talk. We need to have some dignity. The thought of going to Everton to get some points sends shivers up my spine. We are not too big to go down and as far as I'm concerned if we need a win at Everton its curtains

Anonymous said:

There is to mutch negative talk about the past, it has gone. Forget it.Stop the moaning about this or that,past players, what ever. The next match Man U. Believe it or not the pressure is on them.They can be given a shock. It is a must win for them. Dont boo Ronaldo.Chear every tackle Newcastle make.Put pressure on man U to make mistakes.,Newcastle need you.YOU CAN HELP THEM AND YOUR SELVES.HOWAY THE LADS. This is froma 77year old.Beat them lads. Stuff the press.

Duncan Baines said:

I think Keegan is a better manager than David Moyes and Martin O'Neil.

However, I'm only judging him on when he managed us as I didn't pay much attention when he was at Fulham, Man City and England.

It could also be argued that it's unfair to compare managers as the transfer budgets these three managers have had have been so different.

It's definite who played the best football though! - Kev.

Taylor said:

I think that Robert Smith's interesting question about the relative merits of O'Neill, Moyes and Keegan needs to be responded to. The figures for matches won during their respective management careers are as follows:
O'Neill [including Celtic] 48.3%
O'Neill [excluding Celtic] 41.5%
Moyes 44.7%
Keegan [including England] 51.25%
OK, statistics obviously can be misleading, although interestingly all three have managed outside the top layer in England, so comparisons are valid.

jes said:

Newcastle did not so much as capitulate against Aston Villa, but were thoroughly beaten by a much better team!!

Gregg Pasty said:

Looking back at Robson as presiding over some sort of golden age is counter productive. There was some good football then, but, yeah, he bought Bowyer and Cort; he wasted Viana, he overplayed then soild Speed; he persisted with Jenas when he was a liability; he sold Nobby; he bought Bramble and persisted with him; he was unable to deal effectively with the foolishness of Dyer and Bellamy and occasionally Robert. Robson stayed a season too long and then we were saddled with a numpty only because Fat Fred couldn't get Allardyce! Omigod!

John Best said:

The Man. U.match will really ; go a long way to determining our future. I fully expect a good thrashing...3-1.With the Africans back, KK has at last got choices at his disposal.Unfortunately all his choices are third rate. I predict that 6 points , is our maximum projected haul :that would see us relegated and our highly rated super stars, jumping ship.

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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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