The naked truth for Toon fans

By Lee Ryder on Mar 25, 08 07:06 AM

The tired old cliche about waiting for a bus before two come out at once could well be the case on Sunday for Newcastle United at Spurs.

I mean after the dizzy heights of beating Fulham at the weekend the Geordie nation rediscovered what it was like to taste that winning feeling once more after a steady performance against the Cottagers.

Mike Ashley reportedly said: "Let's get naked and have a party!" as he entered the director's suite after the win before Toon fans drank the Bigg Market and the Quayside dry!

True, you cannot get carried away by beating the mighty Fulham but on a season of few positives there were plenty that emerged from the 2-0 win at St James's Park.

Also true, this team isn't as bad as critics have been making out.

Yes, it isn't anywhere near the top four or even the top eight at this very moment but it still contains some key players, key players you can build a squad around.

An enforced switch to 4-3-3 by KK in recent games appears to be just what the doctor ordered although he has felt the need to revert to 4-4-2 to see the last two matches out.

Wingers have been sacrificed in favour of a midfield engine room assigned with the task of protecting the back four and generating chances for a front three of Mark Viduka, Michael Owen and Oba Martins.

Nicky Butt did what Nicky Butt does and ran his socks off while both Geremi (who set up both goals) and Joey Barton who played his best game in a black and white shirt.

Owen and Viduka responded with goals against Fulham while Martins is getting closer game by game with his pace scaring the life out of the opposition.

His withdrawal on Saturday was met by boos again but there were no tears this time.

Quite the opposite in fact as Martins responded with a round of applause for the fans who love him.

Talk on Sunday that he wanted to quit the club if he didn't play quickly emerged but Martins has said on countless occasions he is happy on Tyneside.

And with two seasons at Newcastle now in the number 9 shirt and no distractions in the African Nations Cup next term the campaign under KK, with a fresh start to come, could be right up the Nigerian's street.

As far as Michael Owen is concerned, my humble opinion is that he looks as happy as he ever has at Newcastle.

But that's not a huge surprise either.

After all this is the longest he's gone without injury and with a new England manager in place, who takes no c*** from his players, the challenge to be a hero for club and country is certainly one he looks to be relishing.

Spurs next and we're all looking forward to it.

Never thought I'd be saying that a few weeks ago.



harpo said:

Lee, I'm worried about you. My doctor will see you, he has an appointment available this afternoon.
You need medication to stop you feeling dizzy and getting carried away on that famous tide of Geordie optimism. I was cured years ago, I've seen more false Dawns than a French and Saunders lookalike competition and don't fall for it, we've a lot of work still to do.

Ryder's reply: Haha, I did clearly state nobody is getting carried away. As KK said in his Press conference that's the way it is on Tyneside, if you win a couple of games at the start of the season - we're going win the League!
And I bet you've never been caught in August saying: "I'd love a season of mid-table consolidation" have you Harpo?

magpiemarky said:

I THINK WE'LL DO WELL TO GET A DRAW AGAINST Spurs,in fact I would be over the moon,bearing in mind they did get 4 past Chelsea,it'll be interesting

Paul Patterson said:

I’m pleased we have staved off relegation talk for a week at least, we just need another win, two maximum and we can look forward to next season with a fresh start- bet Allardyce isn’t happy, he’s probably hoping we go down.

The squad is littered with faults and needs to be ripped up in the summer (How many years have we been saying that for?) but the ones to keep will be an interesting list getting hoyyed about the Newcastle training ground.

Viduka, Owen, Martins, on paper seems a VERY interesting selection box for Kevin Keegan to choose from, a potential 50 goals a season in them three, but what to put behind them is the real head-scratcher?

I’m not convinced with Joey Barton and the boy’s in blue may take any thoughts we have of keeping him out of our hands, but he certainly is a player I’d like to persevere with as there are some elements to his game I like.

Nicky Butt will always give you 100%, but is that enough to start him every week next season? Maybe as a squad man keep him, but younger legs must be thrust into the middle, maybe if the head-turned Charles N’Zogbia can turn his head back again, we will have those legs, plus a good shot and cross to boot.

You know what you get from James Milner and that leaves us with a problem, the left hand side, if N’Zogbia is going infield, who mans the left wing, Damien Duff? I’m not too sure he’s up to it, he seems to have lost three yards of pace and his first touch as well.

Onto our favourite part of the team- The Defence, Enrique seems to be starting to look a player- shame the seasons nearly up, makes a mockery of Allardyce not bedding him in sooner.

The right back problem needs to be sorted PRONTO- I don’t mean to be harsh, but we’ve never had a great right back in decades, You can bring up Warren Barton, but if you opened the gates at the corners of the stadium, he would backtrack his way out of them- great lad though.

Aaron Hughes was the last really reliable right back and I liked him as well, thank you Sour Puss for selling him, plus I liked Steve Watson, Thank you to the dreadlocked divvy for selling him as well.

Steven Carr has thankfully fell down a hole and never returned in weeks, lets hope he stays there.

Now the really fun bit, the centre backs, (I’d play Titus- only joking!) but Steven Taylor is a good year or two off being a great centre back, so we need to stop throwing him in and expecting him to be the new Bobby Moncur, he needs to have the occasional break from the side, but he’s been the mainstay of the defence for three years now and his youth is beginning to show.

You know what you get from Given and Harper, so the shopping list consists of a flying left winger a creative midfielder (I’d like Jimmy Bullard) a centre back and a right back (Wes Browns going free).

Problems solved.


Lizer said:

Right! You fogotten about our best player all season? Habib Beye has been the one gleaming light in the mess thats been this season!

We need more pace and more creative flair in mid field. I dont think anyone or anything will solve our defence, so lets go with the old keegan tactic of scoring more than the opposition :)

Ryder's reply: I agree Beye has been a highlight of the season, will certainly be one of the favourites for player of the season.

Paulie'swalnuts said:

Paul Patterson, how right You are, what Jimmy Bullard is doing at Fulham is a mystery to Me, the bloke is pure quality, it has been reported that Boro fancy him, better get in quick Kev.

Ben said:

Well a good result and a decent performance as well,It will be interesting to see what team we field on Sunday? I`d also love 2 no why the game is being played on a sunday?????

I hope this win gives us that little bit of confidence that we so desprately need!! I hope in the summer the main priority is to provide us with a spine to the team, we need a centre half and we also are crying out for 2 centre midfielders.

Just two quick questions Lee, Can u explain 2 me why the game is on a sunday? with no midweek for spurs and no tv? and do you think that N`zogbia is definately on his way out at the end of the season?

Ryder's reply: The game is Sunday because of international week, Spurs have the likes of Young-Pyo Lee in the South Korea squad in Shanghai to face China and as well as Didier Zokora's whose Ivory Coast team take on Tunisia as well as a host of other internationals away for the week like Newcastle.
In terms of N'Zogbia he's contracted to 2012 so he cannot really go anywhere unless Newcastle want that to happen.

Simon said:

Great result at the weekend, let's hope a few more results in the next few weeks will put an end to relegation thoughts. If they do come then I look forward to seeing what happens over the summer.
There will be the usual problems with the Euro Champs. No one will want to sign before the end of the tournament as the fees may well go up. English players will not have that distraction however.
Also I hope the latest rumor mill is not true regarding Big Mike as we could do will a few bob to spend in the summer. Net spend over the last 2 years has been low.

So it comes down to who stays and who goes

Given - controversial I know but injuries are coming thick and fast is it time to cash in on him?
Carr - was he ever here
Cacapa & Rozendahl
Butt - possible good squad player
N’Zogbia – undoubtedly one of the best players we have but if he wants to go then why keep him.
Emre – I, like most others, love him but he’s always injured.

harpo said:


I've kicked the cat, sworn at my wife, danced in the street drunk on shallow victories in fact I've been carried away time after time. Every August I think this could be our year, each January I think it's our turn to win the cup.
The back end of March usually finds me wishing the season will end as we limp over the line.

My heart has been broken to many times now, I'm used to it.

However KK's enthusiasm does have a pied piper effect and I can't thinking things could be different next season.

But don't dare to call me fickle.....much!

Dave B said:

Anyone suggesting on this page that Aaron Hughes is a superior right back to Habib Beye needs to ensure better ventilation when using toxic paint.

Hughes could out moon-walk Michael Jackson and had an unnerving sheep dog like ability to run around opposing players without actually touching them or the ball.

I mean a nice lad and all that but come on


Fredrich Nietzsche said:

Rozendahl's not coming back
Cacapa's shot it
So's Carr
Ameobi would benefit from a move But SHAY GIVEN !?!
As for the rest of them we need to be building a decent squad
By the way surly with KK's messianic charm we can be aiming higher than Jimmy Bullard.....

Paul Patterson said:

Lizer- yes I did overlook Habib Beye, he has been a solid performer, but I still think someone should be bought for the position, if only as cover.

Dave B- I never said that Aaron Hughes is a better right back than Habib Beye, but he got us into the Champions League, was hardly EVER injured, never disgraced the club on or off the field.

I’m not saying Beye has, just Hughes was a young kid, learning all the time and Souness in his infinite wisdom decided to get rid of him.

Also Hughes was only 24 when he left, Beye is nearer 30 now and has the experience that Aaron Hughes was building very nicely.

If Fulham go down I’d poach him, certainly as a squad man, as he wouldn’t want to play in the Championship surely?

Rather startling, but we got into the Champions League with a back four of Bernard, Hughes, Dabizas and O’Brien, not a great bunch, but solid enough. I cringed at the sight of O’Brien and Dabizas half the time, but a Champions League place is a Champions League place at the end of the day.

Also Fredrich, I suggested that Bullard would be a good signing as he is a good solid player who can shoot, score and pick out a good pass, so he’s four times the player Alan Smith is and again, if Fulham go down, we could pick up Hughes and Bullard for £6m and give the squad a nice fuller look to it.

It’s going to be hard for Keegan this time round to attract players, certainly until we get more established again- after all we can’t go and get Kaka and Ronaldinho yet? For a few seasons Bullard and Hughes might just do really good jobs for us.


Gazza said:

I'd hardly call Shay injury prone unless he threw himself in the way of that blokes boot and perforated his guts. For me I'd like to see Kev clear out Smith, Duff, Viduka, Rozenhal and Carr. Get a new striker in, a couple of midfielders and two more defenders. Of course clearing out those 5 players and getting 5 in isn't exactly getting a bigger squad is it and we could swap Barton for Bullard perhaps so we'd need at least 5 new players in the summer plus some more in January.

richy said:

toon all the way

stevie said:

I've always believed that we had the players to do ok in the league but they were either injured or were not being played. Keegan has to stick to the 4-3-3 and I hope this is the last we see of Smith, Duff, Carr etc in the starting line up.
I'm actually optimistic for next season (as long as we stay up), because Keegan usually buys well. I wonder who will buy our cast offs though?

M Sebastian T said:

I'm not too convinced about this latest new dawn (how many have there been this season alone?).

My humble opinion is that Toon will come back to reality with a bit of a bump against Spurs. They surprised a bit while beating Fulham but they will be up against a far better team next time.

Probably not a good thumping but people should expect a scoreline like 4-1 (to Spurs who have now stopped celebrating knocking Chelsea off).

John Best said:

Its nice to see the optimism coming back; other than Michael Owen, who else is involved with these meaningless Internationals ???. Spurs this weekend, will be a good test, after our win against Fulham. They are not the best defence in the Prem. and if our forward trio can get it together, particularly Owen, who has missed a hatful; a draw is not beyond the realms.At least we are begining to create chances.

Dave B said:

Paul Patterson – I accept your points re Aaron Hughes possibly being a solid potential squad player. On the other hand I’m not sure someone who has been recognised as captain material would be happy warming a bench? Don’t get me wrong about AH, I liked him as bloke, and clearly he’s respected by past managers, but as a defender I think he’s a limited.

In his defence (and to the sight detriment of my argument) he was not helped by the obsession then and now of Managers being fixated by players being flexible. An argument exists that emphasis should be on defenders who excel in one position as opposed to players who perform averagely across the back four. As mentioned on this page Steve Watson is the most blatant example (he should have been challenging Neville for ownership of the England right back position for the past 10 years – a true travesty for the lad).


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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