February 2012 Archives

It was interesting to hear Scott Parker's name thrown into the mix this week with England seeking yet another new captain.

Don't get me wrong, as a player I actually have a lot of time for Parker's energetic style of play.

And in an era when players often have the raw enthusiasm coached out of them through managers overthinking tactical battles, it's good to see players who just chase anything that moves on a football pitch.

That's what Parker brings to a team, if there were more like him at Spurs then maybe the Londoners might be realistic title contenders.

But having experienced Parker as captain at Newcastle, I beg to differ with those who feel he could offer a magic solution for England.

Newcastle United could experience one of two feelings on Sunday night, either business as usual after avoiding defeat at St James' Park against Sunderland - or the first defeat in this fixture for 12 years.

Down the years, the impact of the derby has been there for all to see when it comes to the two bitter rivals going head to head.

In recent clashes it could even be argued that Sunderland's whole business plan revolves around winning the derby.

It was back in July that I detected that certain sections of Huddersfield Town's followers did not fully appreciate what they had in the shape of Lee Clark.

That day Huddersfield played Gateshead in a friendly but the feeling around about Town fans was that losing the play-off final to Peterborough was an offence that had left the Geordie lad on the edge.

At that time I was stunned by this attitude, knowing that Huddersfield would be up there again this year (which they are) and thinking: "Who else you going to get?"

Perhaps, this is all about Huddersfield needing a "Yes man" to pander to the chairman rather than winning football matches.

It would be easy to stand here and say that I have follwed Clarkie's coaching career from the start when he was handed a coaching role by Glenn Roeder back in 2006 before taking on the role of reserve team boss a few weeks later.

But then those who have known the Geordie lad since his days as a youngster at St James' Park (long before I ever met him), will tell you that even back then Clarkie was doing his bit on the youth coaching circuit and already learning his trade.

As a player Clark never took his eye off the ball when it came to management, and is regarded as a bloke who eats, sleeps and breathes football.

It's been obvious for a few months that Haris Vuckic is far, far too good to be playing reserve team football for Newcastle United.

The Slovenian has also been told to be patient by Alan Pardew when it comes to playing first team football on a regular basis.

In a nutshell, Vuckic is at the crucial stage of his career when he can learn very little more from playing reserve team football.

The only thing that can happen in the reserves is he can take a whack or pick up an injury on a dodgy pitch.

It doesn't get much bigger than playing for Newcastle United.

Not my words, the words of the great, late Sir Bobby Robson.

The former Newcastle United boss was talking about players leaving St James' Park for bigger and better things.

On Sunday we will see two players who are proof of this theory in Shay Given and Charles N'Zogbia.

james perch.jpg

Phil Thompson (from his comfy studio chair) couldn't believe that Newcastle United had won at Blackburn Rovers but for those who have followed the Magpies a little closer this season, the win at Ewood Park was typical of a bunch of players that keep bouncing back.

More than once this season they have been written off when they hit a rocky patch.

And going into the game against Rovers last night they needed a win to stay in touch with the European contenders.

They got it through a combination of luck, hard work, bravery and quality which they sprinkled during a tough night against the relegation threatened side.


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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