Time for the spirit of 2008

By Lee Ryder on Mar 16, 09 11:11 AM

Just 12 months ago Newcastle United were fire fighting once again at the wrong end of the Premier League when a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City proved to be the launchpad for survival - this year though it may not be as straight forward.

The point picked up at Birmingham was Newcastle's 29th point of the campaign and with nine games left leaves Newcastle in a similar situation to last season.

And while the performance at Hull failed to inspire it was at least akin to the Birmingham game at this stage.

Unfortunately unlike last year it isn't struggling Fulham who are next in Toon - it's in-form Arsenal who arrive at St James's Park with Andrey Arshavin, Robin Van Persie and Co all in form.

After that Chelsea provide the opposition before tricky trips to Stoke and Spurs before Portsmouth at St James's Park.

By the time Pompey roll up on Tyneside we'll know exactly where we stand and what is needed.

For me the three key games are Pompey, Boro and Fulham at SJP, nine points from that lot and we might just scrape it.

But getting back to 12 months ago it was at this stage Keegan unleashed Martins, Owen and Viduka and played Newcastle out of trouble.

With Viduka seemingly in No Mans Land this year and on the way out, it will be down to Martins and Owen - but only if Newcastle start providing them with service.

That didn't happen at Hull.

In fact Owen especially was starved of the ball and with Jonas suffering an off day it was down to Geremi to provide the bullets.

Fat chance, Geremi's pace left town when text messaging came into fashion.

Ryan Taylor must have been scratching his head wondering what was going on at the KC Stadium while Peter Lovenkrands wasn't far behind him.

It may not provide you with any solace but we're now at the stage where Newcastle turned the corner.

Here's hoping, sorry praying, history repeats itself.


Danny Noonan said:

Key difference from last season being that we had an inspirational figure at the helm.One the players and the fans believed in and respected.One who had us playing good football since he came back to the club,and we approached this point with green shoots of recovery clearly visible.This season we have two failed coaches acting as caretakers,while our caretaker manager,who is a relic from bygone era,is on a leave of absence due to heart surgery.An existing condition we knew about.This isnt a call for Keegans return.This is a call for competency.A call for leadership.Does anyone at the club currently know what they are doing?The players currently dont look like they do.The owner doesnt.The chairman doesnt.The caretaker coaches most certainly dont.Geremi?????Ameobi???Owen starting,Lovenkrands on the bench after his performance in tandem with Oba against Man U? R Taylor dropped.What will they do next-drop Bassong for Cacapa again?If there is a God or Gods then we should pray for their help because no one down here seems to be doing anything for us

Billy said:

The situation is now getting out of hand. Chris Hughton is a likeable guy but he does not know what he is doing. His team selection and substitutions were awful.

Against man u we looked threatening and had pace on the counter attack. Why change this. We had 3 centre mids who couldnt pick out a decent pass between them in smith, butt and geremi. This meant we were reduced to long balls up to the two smallest players in our team. Why would anyone think this defensive approach is what is needed against hull. We needed the 3 points in one of the easier games we have left. Hull have the worst home record in the league yet we play 3 defensive midfielders. How Lovenkrands didn't start I have no idea and how he didnt bring him on after about 60 mins is a total joke.

We need to bring someone in who knows the right way to set a team up, i'm not even sure Kinnear is the right man for this if he even comes back this season but Hughton has proved he definately isn't.

I know it will cost ashley some money but surely it is worth it if we can stay up. He's taking far too much of a risk, and it makes no sense to me and i'm sure lots of other fans.

Al Jardine said:

Yeah, it was all Geremi's fault and Ryan Taylor would've fixed it - not like he did against Man U! Lots of players were poor. Enrique, Guttierez, Owen (we didn't need a talisman, we needed someone to put a shift in, preferably someone with pace), Geremi, Smith (Smith?!), Coliccini, Steven Taylor for a fair bit of the game. Team selection was wrong and Geremi should've been one of those replaced. Louvenkrands and the admittedly hapless Duff were on the bench. Crap coaching.

Dave Robson said:

How on earth can we call on the spirit of 2008, that totally disappeared when KK was forced to cut his ties with us.
Lee we have not got a cat in hell's chance of getting 9pts from the pompey, boro and fulham games, how anyone believes we can, on overall peformances this season is beyond me.
we are gonna have to rely on the teams around us to not get the results they eed, and not on the bunch of money grabbing feint hearts in the back & white stripes,who are giving the worst impression of been professional footballers, to get us out of this disgraceful situation, they have put us in along with Ashleys inability to run a football club.

Arsenal 0pts
Chelsea 0pts
Stoke 1pt ( at best)
Spurs 0pts
Pompey 1pt
Liverpool 0pts
Boro 3pts
Fulham 1pt
Villa 0pts

This is how i see us getting at most, 35pts and i think our goals difference will take a battering against Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, which could be decisive come May 24th.

kieran said:

Billy it makes perfect sense.
Mike Ashley does not want to put his hand down because he doesn`t give a s##t. He didn't before he doesn`t now. He`s already said next seasons transfer budget will be spent paying Keegan off (not the money gained from selling our star assets then) and as far as he`s concerned his "5 year plan" is going perfectly.
I bet you when this is all over (if we can ever be rid of this disasterous leech of a chairman) you`ll see him in a tottenham shirt.

Steve Taylor said:

Ashleys hapless assertions that Hughton and his chum can steer the team out of this mess are incredible. The bloke clearly isnt up to the task and has absolutely no tactical know-how. All of his subs since he "took charge" have been inappropriate or ineffective and when he cant even stick to a settled side for consecutive doesnt bode well. Geremi certainly shouldnt be playing another game for us but is he much worse than anyone else??

Good finish from Taylor but too often he's a headless chicken with no composure, the midfield is inept with Jonas a massively over-rated waste of time in most games. Can he cross? Can he shoot? Can he get the ball into areas that hurt teams? Nope. He chases back. Well, thats the wrong direction for a winger for me. Robert may have been lazy but couldnt fault his skill, technique and assist count. As for his compatriot, well, Ive said it since early season, he's bloody rubbish and another massive waste of dough! Cant think of a much worse centre half in the league apart from maybe at WBA! Weak, indecisive, one-paced and cant head the ball! Is Cacapa actually much worse?? Coloccini was commenting in the press a while back that he was "surprised" at our lowly position. Well, this season he's had me wishing we still had Andy O'B and Bramble, never a good thing! Lambias whinges about fans as if they should be grateful to Ashley but these idiots in charge have still squandered big money on crap players and frittered bits here and there on makeweights. If we stay up, heres a suggestion for next season, lets NOT buy players from mediocre Spanish sides! Deportivo have had close to £30m off us for 3 of the worst players to ever grace the PL tho perhaps thats a bit harsh on the lesser spotted Xisco! Im even starting to see Enrique as one of our big hopes!...

As for wishful thinking that Owen will save us, I think it will remain exactly that! He's not an inspirational player like Shearer and looks completely despondent whenever he plays. He at least needs a partner and Martins isnt it due to non-existent discipline to lead the line and theyve never looked like dove-tailing. Last year was different as Viduka tied the thing together. Thats what has cost us this season, nowt to hit up-front and no means of making the ball stay up there. Shola? Ho hum. I cant see him, Carroll, Lovenkrands or 'Smudger' making it happen somehow. 7 or 8 points may yet just keep us up. But I dont see where theyre coming from. Some fans still seem to think points against Fulham and Stoke are a formality. Have they been watching any other teams this season??
Pompey and Boro are very much our level but can we even beat them?...

Teddy Kane said:

Interesting to read see Steven Taylor trying to boost morale and gee up the players. I have two problems with this: a) he's let us down on a number of occasions this season, largely because he still hasn't developed b) more importantly, where the hell are the coaches in all this? Two coaches and they have poor team selections, poor substitutions, poor tactics; they drone on about how we were the better team and we were unlucky and they seem to be doing nothing to raise team spirits; when we do produce a decent performance, they do nothing to build on it.

djc said:

Yesterday, I opened up one of the daily nationals to see a picture of our chairman , and for the first time I saw a look on his face that perhaps he's realised we're in deep deep trouble . Too late you Idiot, your arrogance has cost us badly . I genuinely do not see us getting out of trouble this year , sadly that will mean losing a number of players , but as somebody said to me in discussion over the weekend , perhaps that is what this club needs . At least Ashley's apparent investment in the club is not looking too good , so hopefully having destroyed our hope for this season , he will now endure some of the suffering, his and his cronies incompetence have forced on the suppoerters of NUFC. How he can believe that CC , CH and JFK are the men to 1) keep us up and 2) lead us from the wilderness is beyond comprehension. Having given Manure a good game on the Wednesday we then revert to a more defensive team , will somebody tell our coaching staff that draws away to the likes of Hull , and probably Stoke are not going to be enough to keep us in the Premiership

HenryA said:

In support of Teddy Kane I think!
I'm totally pee'd off with that halfwit Taylor telling us that now is the time to step up and win a game. I would have thought that everytime is the time they should step up and win, what the hell is he trying to do, sound intelligent?
So sad the TOON.

Dave B said:

Firstly let me say I know its bad, very bad. However call me an idiot or deluded or both but there have been times this season when the team have moved the ball and competed well - albeit mostly on the wrong areas against the wrong teams (i.e. teams where a good 50 minutes is no use at all).

What I see in the toon day in day out is the negativity of paying punters like me. I swear that some actually want the team to go down. For God sake you need get a grip. Those who criticise Coloccini - his first season in and he looks better than Vidic did at the same stage with worse players around him - give the bloke a chance. Those who criticise Steven Taylor for being a Geordie (!!!) are you having a laugh? - OK he has faults but I'd take 10 of him any day - you'd think he was a Makem the clog some of you lot give him. Are the days where pulling on the shirt meant you got the backing of the support gone - apparently so. Lets stop the shoe gazing and shout our beedin heads off because its needed (and those of you who think it doesn't make a difference should not be allowed near SJP or any game of football - take up bowls, its nice and quiet)


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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