August 2008 Archives

Howay man he's all we've got!

By Lee Ryder on Aug 31, 08 02:19 PM

More than a decade ago on a cold Tyneside winter afternoon Alan Shearer was lying in a heap on the floor after a heavy challenge with the St James's Park crowd anxiously waiting for him to get back on his feet.

Suddenly the bloke behind me in the Gallowgate corner piped up: "Howay man! He's all we've got."

Too right he was, Newcastle's only real hope of success wasn't an influx of quality youngsters coming through the ranks like Manchester United, it wasn't a bottomless pit of money like at Chelsea and it wasn't through using ProZone and boring fans to tears like Bolton - it was down to the presence, influence and goals of one man - Alan Shearer.

It's a bit like how I feel now when it comes to Michael Owen.

They say that football isn't about one man and is a team game but without certain leaders and lynchpins, you don't even have a team.

That day, Boxing Day 1999, United had been playing Liverpool with Shearer opening the scores and a certain Michael Owen bagging two before Duncan Ferguson rescued a point - two lynchpins (In MO and Big Al) driving their teams on and helping them get a result.

A TOUGH footballing lesson from the mighty Arsenal is all Newcastle United have to stew over for the next fortnight after the Gunners recorded their third 3-0 win over the Mags this year.

Newcastle were simply pinned back from the start of the game and with the transfer deadline ready to slam shut on Monday, the paper thin squad (decimated further by James Milner's exit and an injury to Jose Enrique) have two weeks to lick painful wounds.

United were a million miles behind Arsenal before this game kicked off and while four points from the opening three games still probably puts Newcastle in credit when it comes to pre-season expectations, there are still several causes for concern for the Toon Army.

Arsenal 3 Newcastle United 0

By Lee Ryder on Aug 30, 08 07:44 PM

NEWCASTLE United were easily beaten tonight at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal ran riot in the capital.

Goals from Robin van Persie (2) and Denilson won it for the Gunners on a night when Newcastle just weren't at the races.

To cap off a miserable day for Newcastle Joey Barton was roundly booed by the home fans on his return to the game after a stretch in prison.

Jonas GutierrezANOTHER week draws to a close on Tyneside with doom and gloom splattered around Newcastle United's world after a so far fruitless (fruitless in terms of major signings) last seven days in the transfer window and the revelation that James Milner slapped in a request to leave because he hadn't been offered a new deal.

None of the above is ideal in the build up to a trip to Arsenal of course but while looking for positives the upbeat mood of the Argentine in the Toon camp is notable.

Yes, clutching at straws maybe but while Newcastle are on the brink of a result that will see the national Press come down on them like a ton of bricks, they are also an Old Trafford-esque performance away from making an unpredicted unbeaten start to the season.

James Milner's decision to slap in a transfer request at Newcastle United may well be a fierce topic for debate but with just a few days left of the transfer window it could leave the Magpies in a sticky situation.

Indeed with just days left of the window, how can you replace a player of his calibre or even arrange a transfer that wouldn't be a big money gamble or dare I say it a "panic buy."

The player left Coventry's Ricoh Arena after one of his best ever performances in a black and white shirt clutching the man of the match champagne and snubbed requests for further interviews after telling Sky that he was: "Only concentrating on football."

And clearly it would now appear that he meant football away from St James's Park.

We don't do straight forward!

By Lee Ryder on Aug 26, 08 11:25 PM

Even when Newcastle United went 2-0 up at the Ricoh Arena there must have been part of you that thought the game was far from over and as ever the Magpies didn't let anybody down against Coventry.

True to form, United handed Clinton Morrison a written invite to get the Sky Blues back into the game and then just because there was nothing better to do in Coventry on a Tuesday night, the Mags gave Scott Dann the chance to force extra time.

And even though the PA announcer at Coventry welcomed fans to the Ricoh Arena casino after the game United had already gambled and won when Michael Owen came off the bench to win it.

NEWCASTLE United had to do it the hard way tonight against Coventry City in the Carling Cup as they booked a place in the third round at the Ricoh Arena.

The Magpies had stormed into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Charles N'Zogbia and James Milner - only for Coventry to force extra time after goals on the stroke of half-time and full-time from Clinton Morrison and Scott Dann respectively.

And for the second game running United had to rely on a goal from super sub Michael Owen who won the game for the black and whites against the Championship side.

Let's face it Newcastle United's trophy drought was beyond the joke long before now with some Geordie kids now asking their dads what it was like to go to a cup final (back in 1999 at Wembley remember?) let alone win one.

To talk about actually winning something you'd be better off talking to Grandad with grainy footage and distant memories of 1969 all that exists of Newcastle United's last glorious hour.

Yes it's almost 40 years and counting and as Newcastle United head into their Carling Cup tie with Coventry, once again some people are secretly asking themselves: Can Newcastle United win this?

Back to earth with three points!

By Lee Ryder on Aug 23, 08 07:17 PM

OK hands up who got carried away after Man United?

I'd have to say I was in that group but quickly came back down to earth today at about 15:12 BST.

A home crowd that was 5,000 short of capacity probably didn't get the Newcastle United performance they were looking for against a plucky Bolton side who are again look happy to suffocate their opponents rather than play the beautiful game the way it should be played.

Gary Megson's boys wouldn't allow Newcastle to do that either today but had Newcastle been allowed to play the pretty stuff and not emerged with three points, then perhaps Newcastle's great start to the season at Old Trafford would now count for nothing.

However, despite Bolton's attempts to smother the Magpies in their own nest they were the ones who headed home with nothing to show for their efforts.

MICHAEL Owen made an instant impact on his return to action today at St James's Park after scoring the goal that won all three points for Newcastle United against Bolton.

Owen pounced with 19 minutes left against the Trotters but United had to first survive a penalty scare with Shay Given proving to be the other hero on the day for the Magpies who remain unbeaten.

Keegan fielded the same team that picked up a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford as the Magpies looked to build on their good start.

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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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