Hammer horror for Newcastle United

By Lee Ryder on Sep 20, 08 07:22 PM

Diminutive Italian Gianfranco Zola had penned in his first programme notes as a manager today that "it would not be easy" against Newcastle United.

Whether the friendly little former Chelsea chappie was being polite is something we'll never know but sadly for Toon fans the truth is, it was far too easy for West Ham to see off bewildered Newcastle.

The game was over as a contest with 52 minutes on the clock.

The politics surrounding United at the moment clearly aren't helping the players and it was evident as the players strolled into Upton Park today, they didn't look happy.

United are lacking a real leader despite the best efforts of Chris Hughton.

Hughton's decision to play Cacapa in the anchor role in midfield caught most hacks out up in the Press box.

But the decision didn't pay off as West Ham ran through United at will in the first half.

The Hammers stormed into a 2-0 lead and it could have been more.

Newcastle lacked invention going forward with their only real magician in N'Zogbia asked to play at left-back once more.

And once the reshuffle came in the second half - at three down - it was clear Newcastle looked much more comfortable pushing on rather sitting deep.

Easy to say now but Sebastien Bassong would go on to prove he was more than capable of slotting in at left-back and he suggested he could be the short-term answer to the void on the left hand side.

All in all another tough day for the Toon Army who had to endure taunts of "3-0 to the Mafia" at one stage.

Mike Ashley watched on from a private box at Upton Park but these are uncertain times indeed in Toonland.


Jimmy said:

what an absolute disaster this club is gonna be, i have no faith anymore. we need a miracle. Championship next, then 1St then its second with leeds.

James 09 said:

Sadly Lee these aren't "uncertain" times - we are heading for meltdown unless something special happens very quickly indeed.

Siomi said:

Things look bleak indeed Lee. We actually have a great squad of players (though too many are crocked at the moment and a few need to be moved on and out). We shouldn’t be beaten 3-1 two weeks in a row. It goes to show how important motivation and belief is. We are missing Kevin, no doubt, but maybe it is time now to move on.

Ashley has to sell the club, but at the moment seems to have no intention of doing so. He has put off any and all potential buyers by asking far too much for the club and refusing any serious attempt at negotiation. How he can expect to double what he has put in is beyond me. He should be trying to get his money back, and no more. If he has any respect for the club and the supporters as he claims in his statement, he needs to enter serious negotiations so the club can be sold and a new manager appointed. Reports of heavy boozing in Dubai with various well known cronies while Emirati buyers wait patiently in a Ramadan tent for a meeting that never happened is beyond belief. How poor is this?

The answer I believe is to forget about rich buyers anyway. Newcastle United need to follow the model of Barcelona – become a collective owned by fans. Not only is there a huge potential investment from the North East, but there is a massive diaspora of support and money from around the world. I for one would invest in a heartbeat! It would be wonderful to have players dedicated to the club and not their pay packet and their expanding garage. It would be fantastic to have Greenpeace or Oxfam or Save the Children on our shirts rather than bankrupt companies. My God, the pride of the North would become the alternative pride of the Nation! A pipe dream? Perhaps, but it would certainly be a club to be proud of.

Tad Caster said:

If this keeps up, imagine the situation. By February: Owen, Martins, Given, Harper, Coloccini, Beye, Jonas and Taylor all employed elsewhere. All those people who've sat on the fence ("Big Mike" indeed...) while Cashley's dismantled this club should be ashamed.

Sandy Love said:

Unless a miracle happens and all our players are magically healed then this is going to be a disaster. Our squad is so thin and we have nly Ashley to blame for it. Something needs to happen like the club being bought to lift everyone fans and players but, that doesn't look like it will happen either. We were a disaster today and I will never understand why whoever is in charge insists N'zogbia plays at left back. He must play well there in training? Bassong looks like a great potential player and seems to have a lot of heart. Steven Taylor however has looked awful lately. To be honest I have always wondered why people liken him to John Terry and other great english central defenders when he makes so many costly mistakes. We weren't very good last season but we had Keegan to lift the players and thats something Newcastle will always need. A hero and a leader.

C J Smart said:

I only watched the game on the Sky extended edition and believe the pessimism about the team is misguided. The result could have been very different if more of the opportunities to score were created.

However what I am pessmistic about is the ownership and management situation. Is the story that Mike Askley has lost millions on gambling on the stock exchange re HBOS shares accurate? If correct this should raise further questions about bringing the Newcastle Club into disrepute and his continuing fitness to run a football club.

It is not surprising, according to another story, that eight managers have turned down the opportunity to manage the club under the present ownership and management.

It is very important that fans continue to protest in a peaceful way. There is a danger that an attempt will be made to create a violent situation so as to discredit the protests.

This point was made during an excellent discussion about the situation on a regular Sunday TV show this morning. This programme also pointd out that football fans in general should appreciate the action of Newcastle fans in reminding all owners of their responsibilities and problems they will face if they are cavalier with the interests of their staff, managers, players and the paying customers of the club.

It is also in the interests of other owners and managers for Ashley and his agents to be cast out of the Premiership as soon as possible and to ensure that this does not damage the long term interests of Newcastle United.

It is important that everyone remins united, strong and focussed.

Kelly said:

What an absolute discrace we are on and off the pitch, these players should be shamed of themselfs, getting x amount of money everyweek my heart bleeds for them. Im so sick of being a newcastle fan having to watch this every year, this has to be the lowest of the low.

Jack said:

I know it's hardly fair to critisize Chris Hughton so early into his reign of terror but I couldn't help but notice he side stepped any questions about team selection last week stating that the team was picking itself. Perhaps he could interveen. Perhaps he could politley suggest to the team that not starting the only recognised left back for the last two games, putting its faith in Amiobi after his Arsenal horrow show and playing wingers and kids in defence and centre halfs in midfield is not in its best interest. Who exactly is this team in charge he speaks of in our current climate of confusion. Perhaps he refering to the Brazilian womens beach volley ball team? Mabey a team of geneticly malformed laboritory meercats? Perhaps, in a moment of Dubaian cocktale fueled clarity Mike Ashley has apointed 80s popular all action ITV heros 'The A Team'. Wait! Thats it! Thats the only real thing were missing to drag us out of this terrible mess!!

A team.

Haroon said:

I've lost all hope now, this club is sailing rudderless in choppy seas...


surely the premier league need to be looking into ashleys cowboy antics, under their proper and fit mandate to run premier league club.
what is going off here, is a disgrace and embarrasment.
he has been totally faceless and gutless during all this mess he has brought on,
puts out a hard done by statement that appears some people have swallowed.
we will be cast adrift come xmas this is not been negative just totally realistic.
i'am sick of hearing it should not effect the players with what is going on, of course it does, then you hear the likes of o'leary coming in just when you think it could'nt get any worse.
i will take relegation just so it hits ashley were it hurts, because sooner or later he will have to let go of this club, which he appears to be holding to ransom.

bob harvey said:

Unsurprisingly lots of gloom and doom here, but a team of Given, Beye, Taylor,[or Bassong] Coloccini, Enrique, Gutierrez, Guthrie, Barton, N,Zogbia, Owen, Martins, managed by KK could be well worth watching.
It isn't beyond the bounds of possibility.

M. Sebastian T. said:

Unfortunately those of us who thought things were far from right well before now are being proven correct. The problems are much deeper and have existed from long before the tie of Ashley.

Get prepared for a fire sale of whoever can be sold in January, after which Ashley will cut his losses and let the club go bust. Relegation might become a minor possibility fans have to contemplate. Other options include going out of existence and offices and apartments being built where SJP once was.

Howay Gateshead!

Andy said:

Ashley is not going to be able to sell. No-one will want to buy for a price he is willing to accept. Plan B - Ashley keeps the club, gets rid of Wise, put Keegan and Co in charge of everything, even if he has to stick to a budget. I believe the tide will turn, we'll have a chance at staying up and Ashley might have a chance of selling.
We are complaining about the club being run from London, the alternative at the moment is the club being run from the MIDDLE EAST!
Ashley, get rid of Wise and give Keegan a chance to do what we know he can do. I'd rather watch exciting football and possibly no silverware, than watch what we're watching now.

Ivor Clark said:

Time for some calm folks. Weve only played 5 league games, 2 of which were away at ManU and Arsenal. Yes we have a depleted side, but some good players to come back soon. Lets get upset in January if we are still in bottom three!. For now back the team and show the world what being a TRUE supporter is....

Wednesday will be very interesting against cup holders Spurs. After all its Ashleys fave team, Jenas and Woody coming back, and weve got Hughton as our temp coach. So ingredients are there for a real humdinger of a game, with loads more at stake than just the next round of the league cup. I really hope the lads can stick it up em Spurs yet again.....

D Dixon said:

- If Ashley is truly determined to sell the club, what's the point in Wise & Jimenez being here any more?
- If Ashley wants to get a decent return on his investment, why does he let this club drift aimlessly towards the bottom of the table, and relegation?
- If Ashley has an ounce of guts and human decency, why doesn't he or someone from his 'management' team (excuse me laughing)talk to his staff face-to-face, and to the fans thru the local press to explain what's going on?
- In short, is there anything really wrong that reinstating KK and getting rid of Wise, Jimenez and Llambias (whom I dislike more by the day) wouldn't put right???

Dave B said:

If only someone could have foresaw that our paper thin squad would give us this type of issue we'd not be in this mess.

Oh someone did, and his name was Kevin Keegan.

The longer this goes on Mike the more of a fool you look.

Peter Wallace Hutton said:

Mr Ryder,
So much has been said previously but we continue to be the joke of the premiere division.
Newcastle are in dire straits, attributed to failing buy new players, the decision to sell Milner, the non-selling of Smith and Ameobi,lack of understanding on how the management's organisation and business requirements were discharged within the club by Keegan and his staff and the poor/lack of communications from within the club etc. have also contributed to the current demise of Newcastle.
Bringing Keegan in as manager was a poor management decision (you can't 'turn the clock back')although he did help stabilise our position to keep us in the premier league at end of 2008. Keegans gone and is history, fans wake up and get real. He was a 'walker' and was not the manager to take Newcastle forwards.
The main objective now, is to support the players on the field lets move on!
Injuries on ther own are no excuse for poor performances.
The current squad of players are not good enough we know particularly Cacapa, and Geremi- both should be released.
The main objective of the club is to stabilise the teams performance until the 'mess' within the club are resolved and we have a new coach or manager.
The team with the players available ex injured would have got results against Hull and West Ham if the team picked was balanced.
There is not much for manoeuvre until Enrique and Beye return from injury but playing Bassong at left back, N'zogbia left wing Gonzales on the right wing would give a better balance to the team and able us to compete.
Houghton must surely realise this stabilisation is critical until majority of first team squad players will be available, otherwise we will be bottom of the table come Christmas.


Beanpole said:

I seem to remember that one of Ashley's justifications for his hierarchy of directors was that, if and when any manager came or went, there would be continuity and stability at the club. So where's that now? Where's the leadership? The sense of direction? Where are the people who will stand up and account for themselves? Give the fans even the tiniest clue as to what's going on and where we're headed?

It would seem that they are either drinking in Dubai, dancing in New York, sitting silently in a director's box, hiding in London or going talent-spotting at championship games!!

Dennis Wise's apparent title is Director of Football. Surely that means he should be providing some sort of input into the team. I know there's a lot of animosity towards him from fans but he could do himself a big favour by at least making some effort to steady the ship and assist Chris Hughton (who seems to have been hung out to dry). I think Wise could win back a little respect if he showed an ounce of the leadership potential and management experience that Ashley must credit him with to have given him such a lofty title. We all know it wouldn't be a long-term solution but we're in a desperate situation here and now! Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of Wise but it's got to be all hands on deck at the minute.

Like a lot of people have said here already: something needs to happen. Fast. We'll almost certainly be knocked out of the Carling Cup at home to Spurs, yet that's the least of our worries. How sad to be saying that about NUFC.

The boardroom looks like a shambles to me. And what's happening on the pitch isn't much better. I'm convinced the turmoil upstairs is denting the players' confidence and with every miserable defeat, more confidence drains away from the team. Where will it end?

rich said:

Keegan is as much to blame as anyone else. In the interests of the club he and ashley should sort out the differences and get on with it. As the club is up for sale he is now free of his previous constraints he cited when he quit. They all need to grow up.

Brian Moorhead said:

So the Nigerians are putting in an offer for the toon, anybody else feel that this might be the biggest scam of all time? you must have had the email where some Nigerian millionaire wants you to help get money belonging to a dead relative out of the country, and you get a million or two yourself, only to find that when you hand over the bank account details all of your money disappears ....

It could only happen in the toon


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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