October 2012 Archives
Like most football reporters in the country, I've scribbled down the term: "He just needs one off his backside" more times than I care to remember - but for Papiss Cisse and Newcastle United it is a phrase that could not have been more fitting after the win over West Brom.
Cisse's long run in the Premier League since May, was one of the longest of his career but as they say with strikers form is temporary, class is permanent.
Cisse knew little of his deflected strike against WBA and it was far from class, but if it restores his confidence in front of goal nobody will complain.
Nobody who was present at Whitley Park to witness Xisco dramatic hat-trick against Stoke City reserves genuinely expected to see the Spaniard jump into Newcastle United's starting XI against Brugge tonight in the Europa League.
We all know football isn't as easy that.
In fact as romantic as the idea of Xisco ever adding to the one goal he scored at first team level on his debut, the Spanish striker has the odds stacked against him in many ways at United.
I said before the game that the biggest factor of all in the Tyne-Wear derby would be all about pressure and how the two sides would deal with it.
And yet again Newcastle United were the team that coped with it a lot better than Sunderland.
Even despite being up against it in terms of the intensity of the Wearside crowd and even down to 10 men.
For some reason Sunderland just can't seem to improve their wretched record on Wearside.
When the Newcastle United fans head to the Stadium of Light on Sunday, amazingly they will still be singing the name of a man who won hearts and minds two decades ago in Liam O'Brien.
Catching up with the Irishman this week certainly brought memories of his stunning free-kick flooding back.
And many loyal members of the Toon Army would love to see a repeat on Wearside this weekend in some shape or form.
NEWCASTLE UNITED will regard themselves as winners following Senegal's exit from the African Cup of Nations.
But football was almost definitely the loser in Dakar as the game was abandoned due to crowd trouble and fires in the stand.
The Lions of Teranga suffered defeat against the Ivory Coast in Dakar which sparked ugly scenes as Senegal fans rained missiles on to the field and set off firecrackers as their side tumbled out of the African Cup of Nations at the play-off round stage.
The Tyne-Wear derby is still over a week away - but even before Newcastle United's players return from international duty the debate over who should lead the line of attack for the Magpies is alive and kicking.
The main topic of debate has been whether to select Shola Ameobi ahead of number 9 Papiss Cisse.
It will be interesting to see who Alan Pardew goes for in this game and the manager has already hinted he wants players who fully "understand" what the occasion is all about.
Newcastle are desperately trying to get Steven Taylor fit for battle, while Ameobi has a strong case to get the nod from the start on Wearside.
Apart from Kevin Keegan, every Newcastle United manager that Shola Ameobi has played for has singled him out as one of the best professionals they've ever worked with.
Now given that Ameobi has worked under Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder, Sam Allardyce, Joe Kinnear, Chris Hughton, Alan Shearer and Alan Pardew, you have to wonder if they can all be wrong when it comes to judging the Nigerian-born homegrown Academy product.
Keegan felt that Ameobi - who celebrates his 31st birthday today - had ran his race for the Magpies when he came back for a third coming in 2008.
That's not having a pop at KK, at the time he probably felt he would be able to persuade Mike Ashley to sign more high profile players to give Newcastle the lift they needed then (the fact United's aging squad were relegated makes a case to say Keegan was right on that score).
There was once a period in this country when watching stars from Serie A was only available on a Saturday morning taking in Channel Four's old Gazzetta Football Italia programme.
The popularity of the Italian game, around the start of the 92/93 season, at that time coincided with Newcastle United side that had just Pavel Srníček and Benny Kristensen on their books as overseas players.
Just for old time's sake I've included the start of the programme that became as much a part of a Sunday afternoon for football fans as Yorkshire pudding back in the day.
These days, the Premier League, in my opinion, has overtaken Serie A in terms of overall quality and glamour and the Serie A stars are now hungry to ply their trade in England.
At St James' Park we have our very own Davide Santon flying the flag for Italy, and the good news is he is happy and up for the challenge that lies ahead of him.
My heart went out when I heard the news that Haris Vuckic had suffered a bad injury at Villa Park last night.
Injuries are sadly part of the parcel in football but for Vuckic it comes at a crucial time for him and like most Newcastle fans, you can only wish him a speedy recovery.
The Slovenian was going to get chances in the next few weeks with Europa League action coming up so to suffer the knee problem in the reserves is cruel luck.
ALAN PARDEW watched on from the stands at Villa Park last night as his Newcastle United squad was ravaged further through injuries.
Both Haris Vuckic, who left the second city on crutches after a serious knee injury, and Dan Gosling, who suffered a knee problem, meant the 2-1 win over Aston Villa was marred in the Professional Development League.