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Hope Springs Eternal for Newcastle United Fans


Premiership Countdown: 9 Days to Go.

By Bruce Gottesman, EPL Talk correspondent

I’ve followed Newcastle United since early in the 2001-2 season. A couple of things happened at that time which led to that:

  1. MLS contracted the Miami Fusion. I was a season ticket holder, and have not watched more than a few minutes of MLS play since then.
  2. I moved to Margate, Florida, which had Fox Sports World. That meant I could follow the EPL.

Since I had no club allegiance, I got to choose as a kind of free agent. Sure, I could go with Man U like everybody else in the world. My favorite player used to be Cantona, but he doesn’t play for them anymore. I like Bergkamp, too, but that’s also pretty cliche. I learned that Ray Hudson, former Striker player and Fusion manager, is from Newcastle and played for them. And Alan Shearer is The Man. I checked out the fan site, which was awesome – the hosts there are great. So I chose the Black and Whites. About 2 months in I realized I had chosen the EPL equivalent of the Chicago Cubs. Oh, well…

It’s been a very unusual 5 years. From Uncle Bobby and a Champions League place to 14th two years ago to the well-deserved sacking of Souness to the current squad under Glenn Roeder, it’s been a soap opera.

Now on to the current season. Newcastle’s season started early with a place in the Intertoto Cup. After a rusty opener, they’ve won two straight now, including tonight’s win at Ventspils in Latvia. The lineup today looked like this:

Shay Given
Stephen Carr Titus Bramble Craig Moore Celestine Babayato
Nicky Butt
Nolberto Solano Scott Parker Emre Damien Duff
Shola Ameobi

Goalkeeper: There may be keepers on the same level as Shay Given, but you won’t find anybody better. The backup Steve Harper isn’t a bad choice either, but Given is truly great.

Defense: A serious problem since I’ve been watching Newcastle. Maybe Bramble has figured out how to play, as his late-season form last Spring was a considerable step up from being considered the worst player in the league by many. They have some useful players in the back now, with Peter Ramage, Steve Taylor, and Craig Moore. They probably won’t have Babayaro for too much longer, as he’s rumored to be sent out for more cash to spend on a forward (more on that in a bit).

Midfield: The strength of the team. You won’t find too many sides in the world to compare with the starting 4 of Duff, Emre, Parker and Solano and the strength of the bench. All four can make plays and score. Butt is being used as a fifth defender, but the club can also use attacking players in Charles N’Zogbia on the left, Kieron Dyer and James Milner.

Forward: It looked like the torch was being passed from retiring legend Alan Shearer to new superstar Michael Owen. Unfortunately, Owen’s a bit brittle, and he hurt himself this Summer again (probably not news to anyone reading this). His return this season is extremely doubtful. With Shearer’s retirement – though with his knee injury late last year he would have missed a lot of time too – the team has only 2 forwards on the roster – Shola Ameobi and Alberto Luque. But the latter has been out of favor from the moment he got here, which leaves Ameobi as the sole striker in the current lineup. Is another forward coming in? Who knows:

Transfers: Much talk about transfers has amounted to nothing (nowt in Newcastle-speak) other than Damien Duff, who plays left wing. As much as I like him, it’s strange to bring him to a club that already had N’zogbia and Milner on the left side. It’s almost like the US World Cup squad… but I digress. There has been talk of Dirk Kuyt to come in alongside Shola. Thomas Gravesen is rumored to be on his way from Real Madrid. Other than that, it’s hard to pin anything down. The Intertoto win and another advancement in the UEFA Cup should help bring another forward to the northeast.

Outlook: It’s hard to see where this club can compete regularly with Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal. The best they can hope for, presumably, is to stay close enough to those fourth and finish in UEFA Cup qualification. It’s just too much to ask for a team that may have trouble scoring goals and at the same time has a recent history of spotty defending. But at least the horror story that was the Souness era is fading quickly, and there’s no reason to think Roeder can’t build this club back to where the 52,000-odd fans at ever Saint James’ Park match think they belong.

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  1. Bruce Gottesman

    August 14, 2006 at 11:41 pm

    A) Don’t you read? I don’t HAVE a local club anymore. That’s what started this whole thing. I was a season ticket holder for Ray Hudson’s Miami Fusion(right, Chris?)until MLS eliminated the club. There was no professional club here for several years. What was I supposed to do – watch the EPL without rooting for anyone?
    B) Also, Milner played on the left side when he was at Newcastle a couple of years ago, especially when Robert was in Souness’ doghouse. The team’s official site has him as left-sided, too. He may have to play up front on this team, but it’s not his natural position. But what do I know, I just an American wannabe fan…

  2. Anonymous

    August 11, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    I would like to ask permission from the official guardians of English Football: May I please watch the Community Shield match this weekend?

    Much thanks in advance…

  3. Youngin

    August 11, 2006 at 8:32 am

    What a Load Of Bollox 🙂

  4. riocharlie

    August 11, 2006 at 5:04 am

    Ahh dont let the limies get you down, support whoo you wanna, their still pissed about world cups that they stink up every 4 yrs.

    Problem with Newcastle is they have Harry Potter as manager

  5. Anonymous

    August 11, 2006 at 5:02 am

  6. Gorden A Kelly

    August 11, 2006 at 4:55 am

    We should of sacked Sir Booby, in
    his last full season and appointed
    the now Chelsea boss back in
    January when we had the chance.

    Big mistake that I’d been saying
    it for months even got banned from
    a few forums but would they Listen?

    Would they balls!

    Im in the Know, (ITK for short)you
    know.Iam a Jornalist that knows
    everything about everything.

  7. The Gaffer

    August 11, 2006 at 4:54 am

    Zac’s comment was removed because it was pretty vulgar. We’ve got some kids who visit the blog, so just trying to keep it clean.

    The Gaffer

  8. Anonymous

    August 11, 2006 at 4:44 am

    Woah dude, what happened to the Zacmeister?

    Did like, friendly fire take him out or something?

    Not cool dude.

  9. Raffles

    August 11, 2006 at 4:17 am

    Indeed, don’t let the likes of Shezza (more than likely a 14 year old Mackem) and the rest of the Merkin hating contingent put you off wor cannae club with their golden diarrhea.

    If ye search hard enough you can find most games streamed live online, or at worst highlights on YouTube if TV coverage dries up over your way.

    I liked the Cubs ref’, but we’re a tad more exciting than that. As an above poster mentioned, it is a rollercoaster (few too many troughs though). To precis; Shezza’s a pillock. You could also try and get a hold of Viz magazine, if you’re unaware of its existence. Barely football related, but culturally relevant/’kin hilarious nonetheless.

    P.S. Milner is more known for playing on the right (or as a forward).

  10. swigham

    August 11, 2006 at 4:10 am

    Unfortunate about that foreskin Zacharia!
    Must say that your feedback sounds similiar too a Spurs fan.
    I hope its not the case for your sake, as I am sure that it is more painfull than losing your foreskin!

  11. Anonymous

    August 11, 2006 at 4:02 am

    Yo Zac (*hi fives) my name is Leo Lardo Di Fattrio and I was like, woah, when I read this and I was like this is cool, way cooler then regular cool though.

    I went to the store and got a gallon of soda, diet of course and then like, sat down and read it all again or something.

    I tried to lose myself in another place, in Newcastle Upon Tyne, London to be exact and I tried to put myself in the shoe’s of Shezza, or something.

    Then my family size pizza came and I like had to stop or something so I cant like, rememeber what I discovered, but I was like yeah, thats cool.

  12. Glenn

    August 11, 2006 at 3:06 am

    Football is all about opinions…unfortunately that allows prats like Shezza a chance to voice theirs……The author of this piece picked the right team but for the wrong reasons.
    Passion & loyalty are the two keywords associated with being A Toon fan, you don’t need to be born in Newcastle to have either

  13. Anonymous

    August 11, 2006 at 2:37 am

    shezza, get a life, your hostility is misplaced, it’s professional sport(s) and as you neither play for the team, work for it, nor own it and as players and managers move from team to team for top dollar, sponsors come and go, stadia change names and locations, etc…perhaps you should beat your head against a wall and continue your unique ownership of nothing more than a fantasy, you perfect, precious brit, you!

  14. Anonymous

    August 11, 2006 at 2:33 am

    Welcome to the rollercoaster! Ignore those inbreds! The more fans the merrier!

    “born yesterday yank football fan wannabe”????? what a comment, what a prat!

  15. Anonymous

    August 10, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    Shezza, get over yourself.
    The writer ‘s enthusiasm for the game and for NUFC is tangible, and just because his opinions may not correlate with yours, doesn’t mean they’re not valid.
    I was born & bred within earshot of SJP, but I welcome all NUFC fans from all over the world because god knows they’re not choosing us for our trophies!

  16. Anonymous

    August 10, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    swingham – much love. im 100% australian but I have been to newcastle (unfortunately no games) but i love newcastle.

    as long as you wear the geordie colors, can locate newcastle on a map, and know that steven taylor is our best defender; doesnt matter where you come from.

  17. swigham

    August 10, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    I commend anyone who show’s loyalty and interest in “Our Great Club” United.

    My father was born in Newcastle, however I was not. I was born in Australia yet I still follow Newcastle daily via internet and the small amount of live telecasts our club has.

    I consider all local Geordies very lucky to be able to support their club week in and week out at such a great stadium. I have only been there 3 times and will relish those moments for the rest of my life.

    I am not as lucky as the local Newcastle supporters, however I am a supporter and a loyal one at that.

    Yes certain comments regarding our club from fellow supporters may seem flawed, but regardless of there geographical postion they are supporters just the same.

    Save your harsh words for the brainless and blind supporters of those lesser clubs in the premiership.

  18. Anonymous

    August 10, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    Shezza… why would you turn away a member of the large foreign legion of newcastle fans?

    I felt the squad description was pretty accurate.. Lucas Neill, and Gareth Barry would be phat full backs, and another centre half that doesnt trip over his own feet in a SHAMBLES never goes astray.

    I too have a distate for americans, but online… you cant hear their accents so its ok.

  19. Shezza

    August 10, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    For the sake of proper Newcastle fans, please do not write any more.

    You don’t pick clubs, this isn’t America. You support your local club. Stick to your local MLS side.

    Your squad analysis is flawed, ignorant and typical of a born yesterday Yank football fan wannabe.

    In short, refrain from writing about things you know very little about.

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