March 2012 Archives

As painful as the Kenny Dalglish era was for Newcastle United fans - the Scot never really stood a chance from the minute he stepped into his office at St James' Park.

Replacing a Messiah, can't be easy can it?

And if you are a determined figure like Dalglish - who is only used to being adored by fans no matter what decision you make in football - a combination of his own stubborn outlook on how the job should be done and filling the massive void left by Kevin Keegan was almost going to be the impossible job.

James Perch's rise from fallen full-back to terrace favourite reminded me of when Warren Barton walked a similar path in a Newcastle United shirt.

In Barton's case it was more of a rocky road but one he emerged from with credit.

He arrived as a big money signing from Wimbledon but soon knew the step up and expectations on Tyneside were huge in comparison to little old Wimbledon.

Like Perch, Barton suffered a tricky start to his Toon career and was made scapegoat by some during the 1995/96 season.

As the pressure intensified Kevin Keegan dropped him from the team with Steve Watson taking his place in the run-in.

It was with great sadness to learn that the Sir Bobby Robson memorial on Gallowgate had been damaged by people who can only be described as callous thugs.

Or is it a fresh example that society has now changed for the worst?

Let's not forget, the Geordie public are still amongst the warmest people in the UK when it comes to welcoming folk to such a vibrant and exciting city.

But sadly, there will always be the small minority of idiots that will try to spoil it for everybody else.

I walked up to St James' Park recalling a wonder strike by Peter Beardsley against Norwich City but headed home with memories rekindled of his strike partner Andy Cole.

It was Beardsley's stunning strike against Norwich back in 1995 that lit up a late season encounter agains the Canaries as Kevin Keegan's Magpies ran out 3-0 winners.

Memories of the Entertainers era never run dry, but there were often games when it was the class of Beardsley and the clinical finishing of Cole decided matches.

There wasn't much entertaining going on against Norwich in the Premier League for Alan Pardew's side, but it was one true moment of class that decided it.

Ever since Harry Redknapp started bleating about the release clause in Demba Ba's contract - it was quite obvious that a few managers were starting to have a few regrets about not signing the Senegal international who is looking like one of the bargains of all time.

Today it was announced that Premier League managers had voted him the signing of the season with an award that represents a real feather in the hat for Newcastle United.

When United sold Andy Carroll for £35million to Liverpool there was a lot of talk that Premier League goal-getters don't come on the cheap.

But after a slow start, Ba exploded on to the scene and his 16 goals are the envy of many Premier League sides.

With the likes of Rangers and Pompey KO'd on the financial canvas, there has to be some credit directed the way of Toon board, who for all their credit are trying to live in modern times.

Shola Ameobi is no stranger to being on the end of stick from certain sections of Newcastle United's fanbase - but the moment he fired the ball into the Sunderland net there wasn't one complaint from anybody who follows the black and whites.

Sometimes, Shola has perhaps endured too much stick down the years when donning the shirt of the club he clearly loves.

True, some of his performances lack impact at times, but perhaps his biggest issue is complacency.

The intensity of Premier League life and the expectations to win mean there is enormous pressure on players.


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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