Monday, November 27, 2006

New Newcastle?

Yesterday I witnessed a miracle in the happening. While Linda took an afternoon nap I watched as Newcastle United entertained Portsmouth at St. James’ Park and played with much passion and great determination. They won a creditable 1-0, although they could have easily scored 3 or 4 but for Portsmouth’s goalie “Calamity” James, now sporting a new hairstyle that resembles that of Superman’s. Newcastle hadn’t won a league game at home since August and haven’t won a league game, home or away, in 10 weeks.

The hallowed turf at St. James' Park, Newcastle United's home ground

They were briefly languishing in the relegation zone at one stage, however a very good draw against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last Saturday, and yesterdays magnificent performance, meant they have now jumped all the way up from 18th to 17th in the Premiership.

Newcastle have been very unfortunate with the number of key players that have been and are still injured. The team that played yesterday was by no means the “1st” team, and yet they came up with a stellar performance against a team which is in 4th place in the league. The performance of Dyer, Solano, Emre, Martins, Sibierski (the goal scorer), Ramage, and Taylor was very encouraging. Shay Given was hardly troubled in goal. Even the usually unreliable Bramble put in a solid performance. Three players who also played very well were added to the long injury list: Captain Scott Parker, Charles N’Zogbia and James Milner.

Contrary to their league form, Newcastle’s European form has been excellent, coming up with surprising wins against Palermo away from home, and Celta Vigo and Fenerbahce at home. Those wins mean that Newcastle are through to the knock-out stages of the EUFA Cup and top their Group with 9 points out of 9. It’s just as well that they have qualified to the next stage because they travel to Frankfurt for their next match against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday without Parker, N'Zogbia, Moore, Duff, Ameobi, Bernard, Babayaro and of course Owen. James Milner might be a possible for that game and Steven Carr could come back from injury too. Although Newcastle will be happy to have qualified they would still like to win and stay top of their group, because depending on where they end up in the group determines which opposition they face. The higher up they end up in the group the weaker the opposition (in theory) they will face in their first knock-out match.

Maybe Newcastle have turned a corner.


Anonymous said...

Now you see why I was having an afternoon nap!!

Anonymous said...

LOL!!! :)

Anonymous said...

LOL, Linda!

Um, Sarmad...Go Team!?

(I would say the standard sports comment I use here, "How about those Cowboys?", but it "How about those Newcastlers" doesn't sound quite the same.)

Anonymous said...

By the way, Solhi's brain hemorrhage occured in April 2002, because when we came in summer 2002 he was in Jordan. Must have been a typing mistake!

Sarmad said...

You're right Dani, I'll correct the typo.

Debi, Newcastle United's nickname is the Magpies. This is due to their black and white home strip. Their local "battle cry" is "Haway the lads" most often shouted out with beer laden bellies!!