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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Is Newcastle the unluckiest team in the Premiership?

When Newcastle went to West Brom nine weeks ago and comprehensively beat them 3-0, they looked to me a side finally ready to fulfil its potential.

Emre and Scott Parker were tenacious and skilful in the CM.

Steven Taylor was continuing his rapid development in the CB role alongside the first-choice French international Jean-Alain Boumsong.

Michael Owen put on a display of goal-scoring that reminded everyone why he is worthy of a £17m pound tag.

And Kieron Dyer then came off the bench after a long injury lay-off and showed the dribbling prowess that made him an England international squad regular; eventually setting up Alan Shearer for yet another goal to the striking legend.

Add the outstanding Shay Given, plus the mix of talent and experience of Carr, N'Zogbia, Luque, and Solano, and I was reckoning that this was now the time that Newcastle would finally break-free of the injury, disciplinary and general behind-the-scenes problems that had unsettled the club for a prolonged period. But I should have known better.

There seems to be a permanent cloud over St James'. Dyer, Emre, Taylor, and Owen were soon injured after the West Brom match. Taylor then returned against Liverpool last Monday only to re-dislocate his shoulder and put him out for a lengthy period.

And then yesterday at Spurs, Michael Owen broke his metatarsal and is expected to be out for a minimum of 8-10 weeks. As an AFC fan I know this injury is a bad one and will be surprised if Owen does make it back in the specified minimum time-period. Ashley Cole has been out for over three months with this injury, whilst Gael Clichy is expected to have a recovery time of 5 months for the same injury.

To compound this injury woe, Newcastle's most consistently excellent player, Shay Given, damaged his thumb in yesterday's match and it is unclear yet whether or not it is broken.

Newcastle is a heavy-investment side. They are full of players with big price-tags and big potential. But injuries keeps preventing them from fielding their full side and maximising their collective potential. All teams have injuries but Newcastle seem particularly plagued by them over the last few seasons.

Do Newcastle need to overhaul their fitness-training/medical staff? Or is it just a consistent run of bad-luck that seems to have no end?

Whatever the case, Graeme Souness, in my opinion, should not be held solely responsible. Matches against West Brom, Arsenal, and West Ham showed that a team coming close to his first choice is capable of good things. I think its fair only to definitively judge him once he has been able to field his full, first-choice team on a consistent basis; not whilst Newcastle continue to be badly struck down by injuries to key players.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't have put it better myself. It's frustrating for all us Newcastle supporters, but we have to keep things in perspective - it is NOT all Souness' fault. He's done a lot of good things for this football club in a short space of time. FA Cup semi final, UEFA Cup Quarter Final, and he's brought us some of the best players in the Europe - Owen, Emre and Parker in particular. I just hope that Freddy Shepherd doesn't give in to the pressure that a lot of ignorant Newcastle fans are putting him under.

1/01/2006 8:13 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm ignorant. I never wanted this man in, and fully expected the resulting position we find ourselves in. We can look at specific games as mentioned above, but the 3 games mentioned were over a 50-odd game run. The man took over a top 6 team, spent £50 million and has made us mid-table. He has made some good signings, but can't make a good team. His excuses are never-ending, his football has never shown any play or pattern. We have some of the best players in the league, yet get beaten by Wigan reserves. My team, my opinion. Goodbye Graeme - I hope football has seen the last of you as a manager....for football's sake.

1/01/2006 8:58 pm

 
Blogger Skippy said...

The toons have been badly hit with injuries this season. I think they have been unlucky.

They don't have a good enough squad to cope without their key men.

1/01/2006 9:24 pm

 
Anonymous Nturtle said...

Well...that surely is a big blow. Maybe the transfer window can help them. I just wish injuries happen to Chelsea more often! They "bought" lady luck!! HA! Tongue in cheek of course...but they are damn lucky...in almost everything!

Let's hope 2006 makes them more honest...like Newcastle and Arsenal...a terrible run.

Newcastle have been impressive in some matches...but then again key players like Luque need to get fit again to have a good front line. Owen helped....but against Liverpool...there was no service...are Newcastle a little like Arsenal this season? Holding back too much? Lacking passion? Lacking belief? It may be...

1/02/2006 1:46 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Thanx for your comments.

I definitely take on board your opinion and the stats second anon. There has long been talk on EFT that Souness needed a good season or he'd be out because his track record as a coach is not fantastic.

However, although I also have my doubts about Souness's abilty, I still think that he deserves a proper chance fielding the team that is of his own making- not the one that he inherited and that was on the slide. I also know that it is way easier for me to say this as a non-Newcastle fan than one who is passionate about the club.

Who would the Toon fans like to replace Souness with?

Nturtle, I think you right to point out that some Newcastle players may lack belief. Their match at Anfield was so one-sided, and it is possible that with so many key players out of that match they already felt beaten before kick-off.

1/03/2006 11:00 am

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

Alan Shearer said Michael Owen makes the team look better, and this is because when Owen is on form and being provided, there seems little one can do to thwart him. OK, Liverpool did a good job of quelling the supply lines of the flanks for either striker but Owen has shown in his little time at St James how prolific he can be, at a side who were not even scoring before his arrival, much less winning. So without him it looks as if Shearer has lost his limb. To partner Owen with his movements, his eye for advancing, and for goal, must be superb for one like Shearer who has been equally prolific in his days, and in moments still does so, and it helps Shearer to feed off Owen and feed him too, like ying and yang. So if Owen is absent and Ameobi partners, the partnership is different, the runs and movement are something else and with respect to Ameobi, who I feel has height, skill and pace to be excellent at Newcastle, he isn't in Owen's class. It is hard to be when one comes off benches and nets goals with almost the same ease that he scores when he is starting.

Shearer is the talisman, Owen is a godsend, equally a talisman in a different mode to the captain. To have two like these two in your side gives confidence, but this shouldn't be the case with Newcastle, Souness must have looked into the prospect of both strikers injured at the same time. In this the alternative would be Ameobi alone with 5 behind him. Ameobi hasn't had enough appearances upfront to sharpen his skill to replace both of them, and with Shearer continuing to insist on retirement come May, there will be hope Owen can remain more injury-free next season.

It is a major kick in the teeth for yet another professional, not to mention yet another England international, to suffer another of this injury. Metatarsal injuries were unheard of in the 80's and 90's and have now become prevalent.

But I forget that this is about Newcastle. Injuries always, always hamper progress and when you have a run of regular numbers missing through injury it is very frustrating to keep form consistently. It's frustrating for fans, it's enraging for the manager. Liverpool had its share of consistent injuries, one of whom was Owen, and we couldn't keep anything consistent, form went down and then so does morale and confidence.

I was one of those on EFT who said pre-season that Souness has this season to produce good form at Newcastle, but to speak of his departure from the Magpies is not the answer. His track record in management is not that good but he has at Newcastle bought players who can form better times for the club, the times when Keegan led them to the heights of the top flight, memorably competing and beating Man Utd at the time 5-0 at home. The current players are some way off that level, but with more time and lesser injuries allowing for regular faces, and a change in defence, Souness can eventually make the club better than mid-table, to match their recent exploit in the Champs League 2002/2003. But that will take more than one season, something which I sense Souness will not unfortunately be extended on.


RedsMan.

1/04/2006 1:34 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newcastle Bad Boys XI (90s-Present)

.............Hislop

...Bermard..Boumsong... Bramble
Bowyer...Ketsbaia...Robert...Ginola
......Bellamy........ Asprilla
.............Kluivert

Newcastle have been unlucky to have more than their share of injuries but you can’t excuse some of the buys in the past years. There were some great moments but without hard work and total commitment you can’t compete.

1/04/2006 4:55 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Thanx Anon- your bad boys XI may not give Toon fans great pleasure but it would sure be entertaining for neutrals to watch!

Redsman, I really liked reading your commentary on Newcastle, in particluar how Shearer will sorely miss Owen. The MOTD when Shearer appeared beaming with happiness about Owen's hat-trick showed that he loved the promise of the partnership. It's a shame for him that his final season is again going awry like it did to him last year. What odds on Shearer opting for one more season to again try to leave on a high note?!

I saw on teletext that Parker is now out for six weeks. It doesn't rain, but it pours....

(P.S. Redsman, shouldn't it be a 'major kick on the foot' rather than a 'major kick in the teeth'! :))

1/04/2006 7:45 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

T, I was aiming to say 'kick on' as opposed to 'kick in', as logically and physically one cannot kick in one's face, perhaps 'kick in' one's teeth or tooth, where the teeth are forced out of their roots inwards. I always find myself in conflict with that phrase, yet decided to roll where everyone else went when mentioning it. Additionally, a punch in the face is actually an assault on the face...!

Besides, mentioning a 'kick on the foot' is adding salt to the wounds within the context of this article, it is practically the kind of conduct that has led to many on the St James's injury list.

1/06/2006 12:04 pm

 

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