Saturday November 4th 2006
NEWCASTLE UTD 0 SHEFF UTD 1
NEWCASTLE: Harper, Carr, Moore, Bramble, Babayaro,Milner (Luque 66), Parker, Butt (Emre 46),N’Zogbia (Solano 46), Rossi, Duff.
Subs Not Used: Srnicek, Ramage.
SHEFF UTD: Kenny, Kozluk, Davis, Jagielka, Geary, Montgomery,Leigertwood, Alan Quinn (Law 90), Gillespie, Hulse,Webber (Kabba 72), Kabba (Kazim-Richards 88).
Subs Not Used: Bennett, Short.
The rollercoaster life of a Newcastle supporter. From the highs of beating the side joint top of the Italian league on their own patch … to the depths of this horror show against a side who are cast-iron certainties for relegation come May. The Blades will be relegated by Easter, make no mistake, and on this showing we won’t be far behind them.
We can make a whole host of excuses, but nothing can defend the half-hearted attitude and limp performance we saw on Saturday. This was simply unacceptable!
I have no idea what Glenn Roeder said to the players before they walked onto the pitch, but if it was anything like his post match interview when asked ‘are you under pressure’, half the players will have been asleep in the dressing room! It took him ten minutes to say ‘yes’! To suggest this man is BORING is the understatement of the decade.
The Blades couldn’t have hoped for a better start. The Magpies sat back, encouraged the visitors to have a go, and apart from one corner I don’t think we got out of our own half for the first 20 minutes. The Geordie public have been brought up on substandard results … for as long as I can remember … but all they ask for is eleven players in black and white to give their all. Get stuck in and at the very least TRY! On Saturday we didn’t see anything like that. We saw too many egos and too many players without the bottle for a fight.
Sheffield United striker Danny Webber piled the pressure on Roeder as his header took the three points, but it was all the Blades deserved. They were better in every department, and from a side that is nowhere near good enough for this league … where the hell does that put us?
Webber powered a 68th-minute Nick Montgomery cross past Steve Harper to hand the visitors their first away goal in the league, never mind first away victory! And dump the Mags second bottom of the Premiership.
This was a woeful performance by a side who have not won a league game at St James’ Park since the opening day of the season, and during that period we have faced some of the poorest sides in the league.
Charles N’Zogbia’s mishit 30th-minute cross hit the bar, and believe me it was more good fortune than good management, and that represented our best effort in the full 90 minutes.
Not for the first time this season, the crowd vented their anger on chairman Freddy Shepherd and his board, and boos once again resounded around St James’ on the final whistle.
The problem we have as regards the atmosphere is very simple. I’m sure the moans and groans can be heard by the players, and that will make matters worse on the pitch. But in the days when the moaners would wash their hands of it and stay away, these people have paid good money for their season tickets and will turn up … if only to have a good shout to get rid of the frustration. That is the what these under-achievers will have to put up with.
Neil Warnock, who let’s face it has the weakest squad of players in the division, sent out his team to chase everything that moved and saw them do just that to leave the Magpies struggling to establish any kind of rhythm.
Even Scott Parker found himself lost in a midfield battle in which the visitors had most of the control. And unlike some, he cannot say he was struggling because the match in Italy took its toll, because he was one of six changes from the side that played so well in Sicily on Thursday.
Giuseppe Rossi and Damien Duff were paired in attack and hardly looked threatening. They are too similar, and both need someone to feed off, and there was very little in the way of scraps for them to do any damage.
Titus Bramble headed a 10th-minute Duff corner well wide and Parker drilled a long-range effort into Paddy Kenny’s midriff two minutes before the break. And that was it.
At half-time Roeder took off Butt and N’Zogbia, who both started in Sicily, and sent on Emre and Nolberto Solano with James Milner switching to the right. But Sheffield United looked the more likely to score, Bramble coming to the rescue after Montgomery was presented with possession in the box after former Magpie Keith Gillespie did some smart work.
Quinn chanced his arm with an effort from distance seconds later, but Harper had to save from Webber’s dipping 58th-minute shot and then saw Leigertwood hammer a left-foot drive over.
Roeder attempted to freshen things further with his final change when he sent on Albert Luque for Milner. But within a minute Montgomery crossed from the right and Webber stooped to plant a firm header past Harper to put the Yorkshiremen in front.
Indeed, they might have lost even more heavily had Harper not managed to get a touch on Quinn’s 86th-minute shot and then claim the rebound as the ball came back off the post.
The reaction when the final whistle sounded was entirely predictable and left Roeder and his players in little doubt as to how their efforts (or lack of it) had been received.
Newcastle Utd 0 Sheff Utd 1
Saturday November 4th 2006