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Duff just didn't have the stomach to help save Magpies

By Lee Ryder on Nov 12, 10 01:54 PM

Damien Duff will make his return to Newcastle United and probably endure his fair share of boos at St James' Park.

You can count the amount of times that Duff really shone at Newcastle during his three year stay on Tyneside on two hands if you're lucky.

Nobody needs to be told the ability of Duff and what he could do when things were going well.

But I for one, would much rather see what a player has in his locker when the chips are down.

Unfortunately, we didn't see that too often with Duff - in my opinion.

At the start of his career, Duff was happy to do a couple of interviews, but he never appreciated that in Newcastle the fans are hungry for fresh news and views all of the time.

Fair play to him he demonstrated every possible way there is to dodge an interview, he used the "I can't hear you I'm wearing an iPod" method, the "I'm on the phone so can't stop to talk" method (despite the fact there was no signal at grounds such as Liverpool), then there was the time when he tried sprinting down the tunnel after he'd scored the winner for Joe Kinnear's side against Spurs!

As relegation looked more likely, one prankster shouted "exclusive" in a squeaky voice at the club's Benton base as he did a rare official website interview - but it didn't dawn on him!

Ironically in his last ever game for Newcastle I asked Duff if he'd dedicate his goal at West Brom to Sir Bobby Robson in the game between the two sides of the old master, and he did but it was a rare moment where he saw eye to eye with one of the media men.

Too often his moody expressions on the field summed it up for a player that left Newcastle under a cloud.

He probably didn't deserve to score the own goal that sent us down but had we seen a few more performances akin to his Chelsea days in other parts of the season then perhaps he wouldn't have been in that position.

When it came to the crunch and the Magpies were relegated, Duff did hang around - but only because nobody else came in for him.

The infamous dressing room "stay or go" debate amongst players was one of the final acts of Duff's career at Leyton Orient.

He's played 73 minutes before he was hauled off by Chris Hughton after wandering round like he was punch drunk.

Eventually, and after he'd scored what some would deem an important goal at West Brom on the first game of the season, Fulham coughed up the money for Duff.

He couldn't get away quick enough.

In some ways it was one of the best things that could have happened to Newcastle United.

The list of players who quit the club that summer were Habib Beye, Duff, Oba Martins and Seb Bassong - while Michael Owen left on a free transfer along with Mark Viduka as they were never going to take massive pay cuts even if they had been offered new deals.

The players who stayed Alan Smith, Steve Harper, Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton, Shola Ameobi, Andy Carroll, Jose Enrique, Jonas Gutierrez, Fabricio Coloccini, Danny Guthrie, Steven Taylor and Nicky Butt - may well be part of the squad that took the team down.

But seldom in modern football do you get players who are hungry to put things right.

That lot did, but Duff was happy to jump ship at the first opportunity because unlike the above mentioned players, he didn't have the stomach to go to Barnsley, Scunthorpe or Doncaster - or perhaps his ego wouldn't accept it.

Without the likes of Barton, Nolan, Smith, Carroll and Harper - who knows where Newcastle United would be now.

My guess is it certainly wouldn't be fifth in the Premier League.

7 Comments

Bill Booger said:

Hmmm, not the way he was talked about when he was actually playing for us...

"one prankster shouted "exclusive" in a squeaky voice at the club's Benton base as he done a rare official website interview"

'Did' a rare official website interview, surely?

Faustino said:

I enjoy reading your thoughts, Lee but I'm not sure what this particular issue of the blog accomplishes.
Duff had said he would stay if the toon wanted him to, and in the end the club accepted what I thought to be a very generous offer from Fulham. £4mil for a 30 year old, injury prone player was too good to turn down. Duff then proceeded to perform very well for Fulham in the Pl. We'll never know, but if that offer hadn't of come in for him then he would have probably been just as effective for us in The Championship, maybe even one of our top goalscorers or assist providers.
I take your point about the number of good ganes he had for NUFC but surely this was mainly in part to his terrible record with injuries. At least he came back into the team and began to perform either in or out of position, which is more than can be said of some of our other recent injury prone 'stars'.
I don't know, like I said, I usually enjoy your blog but this one seems to be a calculated bitch at a player who has no way of defending himself. It seems a little too personal to me.

Ha'way the lads.

marcusTOON4LIFE said:

Faustino i do agree with you in some sense, and i do agree with Lee as well. The thing is with Duff when he could be bothered to play he did put in a shift but the problem was he was injured most of the time. And while he was injured he knew when he came back he knew the pressure was on him to perform to his very best otherwise he knew how passionate we are for our club and players who don't put it a shift, we let them know how we feel. So I think he didn't have the stomach to deal with the expactations so decided to jump ship. Like Lee pointed out, he actually did us a favour by leaving the club. The only gripe I have with Duff is the comments he made about our club when he left. So he will never be remembered fondly here.

toonagain said:

Lee to be fair from what I can remember he was injured a lot and when he eventually got a good run he was one of our best players. the club was in termoil, who wouldn't want to leave? It looked like Duff wanted to stay but FA wanted rid of the top earners and Duff was one of them. I think a few more would of been sold had CH not stepped in. I agree with the above when he left he should of just kept QT. we could do with a left winger now we've struggled since he left.

Gondolfin said:

Duff was looking for a bit of an easier ride when he joined us. He'd won medals and endured the high pressure of comepting at the top with Chelsea and wanted to wind down a bit. He was OK for us but not the player we thought we were getting.

Lee is being a bit disingenuous about Duff's goal at WBA last season. It was most definitely important, for the team and the fans. We got a good point against a team favoured to be promoted at a time when everyone in football was saying we would "do a Leeds". It was also his best goal for the club.

I wasn't sorry to see him go, and he won't be a player I'll remember when I'm 70 and my mind is starting to go, but he wasn't a bad player either.

Geogaddi said:

Hmmmm. This blog is a little harsh in my opinion. True, we never really saw the best of Duff, but I'm not certain a few others who ended up staying did that purely out of pride and honour. I'm guessing several of our promotion heroes might have bailed as well, if anyone had matched the pay they were on at Newcastle. I seem to remember his reaction to that final goal at WBA was pretty geniune too. No sulking or half-hearted celebration.

I'm not saying Duff was blameless, but equally, I can't find it in myself to be too critical of him either.

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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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