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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"They are nearer to being out of the FA Cup now than at any other time since the first half of this season, when they weren't ever in it anyway."

'Twas a sad day for the Toon as Uncle Alan faced the prospect of retirement without winning a trophy with his hometown club. A crummy win it was, too, for the Billionaire Boys Club, with the only difference being an early deflected goal. Chelsea lacked the cutting edge so much that the local commentators were saying "Donde esta Crespo?" midway through the first half. (Okay, they always say that....)

There were a few barely consoling positives: the Boumsong-less defense (thank you!) held up well against the Blues, Kieron Dyer worked hard for an entire match, and Steve Carr made a credible return to action. But TDH must ask why Emre, arguably the most talented player in the squad, didn't get the start. Has Bowyer really looked so impressive in practice? If so, perhaps he should have started as a forward instead of Ameobi. The big man won quite a few balls in the air, but with zero end product. He's still a bench player masquerading as a Premier League starter.

TDH wondered, too, why Roeder used only two of his substitutions. The question was answered by looking at the bench. Why take both Lee Clark and Amady Faye to south London? If you want a bolshy midfielder, choose one or the other. The squad needed another striking option, like Luque.

It was the luck of the draw, TDH supposes, that our Magpies had to visit a ground where they hadn't won since 1987. It was always going to be a tough job, and they acquitted themselves decently. Perhaps with Owen on the pitch, the result could have been different. But we can't put all our hopes in one man.

As TDH pointed out at the beginning of the season, Souey got rid of players who'd scored 42 of our 84 goals in all competitions last year. So far this year, we've scored 40, albeit without the European action. We now have exactly eight games left. We must have more scoring power before the next season starts.


Anonymous jonathan said...

I don't know why Bowyer was preferred to Emre either. The Turk was one of the few who enhanced their reputation last Sunday (and did enough tonight to suggest he could have made a difference if given a start)- while the ex-Leeds man continued tonight in the same vein as so often recently: apt to lose posession cheaply, or to throw himself into rash challenges, giving away free-kicks in dangerous areas.

The defence? I thought things got less scary once Moore came on- the debutant looked more assured at centre-back than Ramage or Elliot had done- as might be expected from a specialist in the position. Seeing young Ramage struggle to contain Drogba using tactics more suited to the wrestling ring than the green sward of Stamford Bridge I was almost crying out for the return of Boumsong and/or Bramble. Almost. I was certainly crying out for the return of Taylor.

Up front, I actually thought Shola had one of his more impressive games- gaining and keeping posession intelligently. Fenham's finest lacked support though- and not least from our fabled number nine, who looked more laboured and flat-footed than ever, against this world-class opposition. As the BBC panel pointed out, the 1999-vintage Shearer would probably have prevented Terry's goal, and would certainly have beaten the Chelsea centre-back to Newcastle's best chance- that first half goalmouth rebound off Cudicini following Bowyer's snapshot.

So- a sad end indeed to a proud cup-fighting career.. but I am glad Sounness is not around to coax yet another ineffective campaign out of our increasingly ineffective number nine. Now more than ever, it is time for heads to rule hearts.

1:03 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Yeah, quite right about Uncle Alan, he was mostly a spectator as his cup dream slipped away.

I know Shola has his moments on the ball, but there's just no finishing. I can think of several better players who couldn't get starting places because of the same problem - Denilson would be Exhibit A, followed by Cisse and by older vintages of Mara's favorite, Young Joe Cole. We can't wait forever for Shola to start scoring. Maybe he needs a change of scene, like Lua Lua did.

1:38 AM  

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