Half time: Newcastle 0 Chelsea 0
Bennett penalised and booked Faye for catching an opponent with his trailing
foot down the Chelsea right, just outside the box. Drogba opted to stand
over the ball rather than make his way into the Newcastle area and when he
flighted over the free kick, Ballack scored his third goal in a week by
heading unchallenged past Harper in the Gallowgate goal, having stepped away
from the stationary Smith 0-1
82mins: United were left helpless by a passing move involving Essien, Ballack and Lampard
that worked the ball upfield and into the box, Malouda running on to convert
with a grasscutter. 0-2
Full time: Newcastle 0 Chelsea 2
Kevin Keegan said:
"During my time here - and I've got three years left - Newcastle will not be a Champions League club.
"That's what I want to tell the
fans, I don't want to mislead them. We'll try our best and if one of
them (the top four) hits a brick wall and falls by the wayside and we can
jump in there I'll be delighted, but realistically it's going to be
"At the moment we're a million miles
away from them (Chelsea).
"This league is in danger of becoming
one of the most boring but great leagues in the world. The top four this
season will be the same top four next year.
"But what I can say to Newcastle fans
is that we'll be trying to get fifth and win the other league thatís
going on. We should make a run of that.
"Providing the owner backs me - and
I've no proof of that yet, but no doubts he will - I can get three or
four players in and if I can do that - and we have luck and no injuries to
key, key players - then we might be able to win the 'second league' in
"I think it's very, very exciting to
finish fifth in the league for Newcastle. You'd be mad in my position to
say we can get in the top four next season. You can't ask an owner to
spend that kind of money or get the players to come to this club that you
would need to get in the top four.
"We lost out on Modric to Spurs and
that tells you something. It's a blow - it's not the end of the world.
"I'm still optimistic for this club
in terms of where it's been in the last couple of years.
"Six weeks ago I asked the club to tie him (Owen) up, it's not
happened yet. It's disappointing but it's not the end of the world.
I've not told Michael in the six weeks I've been talking to him about
staying that if he stays here he'll get Champions League football or
we'll win the Premier League.
"I'm not misleading anyone there. If
we finish fifth it'd be a massive achievement considering where we are
"I didn't say I hadn't got any
money to spend this summer, I said I haven't got enough to make up that
gap to the top four.
"I think Mike Ashley will support me.
I don't think there will be a problem there, but the problem might be
getting the players. I get on great with the owner because I never talk to
him! Thatís better than some managers at the moment! No communication is
"But however much money he gives me
the biggest challenge is getting players to come to you when they've got
three or four alternatives. And if they're really good players they will
have three or four alternatives.
"Even if someone gives you a
barrel-load of money you have to be honest and say you're not going to get
the best players. There's a pecking order - If I'm a player and I get
the option to go to Chelsea or Newcastle, the Press would slaughter me,
asking where my ambition was (if I chose Newcastle).
"All the great players will go for
where the honours are and if they don't make it there they'll drop to a
want to do a Leeds. It doesn't make sense.
Chris Mort subsequently echoed those sentiments:
"This club had
£100million-worth of debt which has now been cleared and it would be foolish to
stretch it beyond its limits.
Kevin's comments were quite sensible.
"I'm not sure what people's expectations are but I don't think most
Newcastle fans would be greatly surprised by what he had to say.
"There are those
who are naturally optimistic but it does no harm to come out with some realism
and say that if we get fifth we will have done well. He's right.
"I wasn't taken
aback by Kevin's comments. He says what he feels. We have just come out of a
relegation battle so you can't have people surprised when the manager says we
aren't going to get into the Champions League.
"This is a
long-term building project and we are very happy with Kevin. He's a very
enthusiastic character who has got the team playing good football.
disappointed to lose to Chelsea but he's got the team playing well.
"We have started
talking about who we will be bringing in and Kevin will have the final say. He
has to have that.
"We are very
happy with where we are but Kevin is quite right to say we shouldn't expect
Champions League football.
"It's going to
be tough for anyone to break into the top four. Someone might sneak in there
occasionally and there are a number of sides who will have a go but it is
celebrated an early birthday present - he turned 53 the following day - to
"I have been coming here for more than 30 years to visit English
football (we think he meant the country in general rather than
"One thing I learned is that you never know what is going to happen until the end here, not like in other countries.
"Sometimes I know I am too positive and too optimistic but I believe in the tradition of English football. First we need to win; it is not easy to play in Wigan and I don't believe Steve Bruce will give the game to Man
"(Manchester) United did a fantastic season. Normally they would be champions well before now but this season they have a team that has given them a good battle. We need to wait and see, but especially in English football anything is
"We played today against a manager, Kevin Keegan, who represents the
beauty of English football in that he always tries to give his best - and I
believe it will be the same at Wigan."
@ SJP - Premier League:
2006/07 Drew 0-0
2005/06 Won 1-0 Bramble
2004/05 Drew 1-1 og(Geremi)
2003/04 Won 2-1 Ameobi, Shearer
2002/03 Won 2-1 og(Hasselbaink) Bernard
2001/02 Lost 1-2 Shearer
2000/01 Drew 0-0
1999/00 Lost 0-1
1998/99 Lost 0-1
1997/98 Won 3-1 Dabizas, Lee, Speed
1996/97 Won 3-1 Shearer 2, Asprilla
1995/96 Won 2-0 Ferdinand 2
1994/95 Won 4-2 Cole 2, Fox, Lee
1993/94 Drew 0-0
Full record against Chelsea:
Since being beaten at Anfield in early March, we'd won four and drawn
the other three of the seven games played going into this fixture.
Fourteen goals had been scored, four conceded.
Our run of three consecutive home wins and clean sheets came to an
end, Ballack scoring to break our defences down after 331
This was Chelsea's 13th away win in the league this season
(draws at Liverpool, Portsmouth, Spurs - defeats Villa, Man United,
Arsenal) The are undefeated in the league since December (20 games).
This was Chelsea's first victory in six league visits to
Tyneside, but they did beat us here in the League Cup last season.
Last season's 0-2 reverse at the hands of Blackburn (12 months to the
day) was the first time that we'd lost our final home game of the
season since going down 1-2 to Hull City in 1990/91.
A defeat that in no way was unexpected or
undeserved made the finale to our home campaign something of a comparative
damp squib, but left players and manager taking the applause from the centre
That there was no post-match lap of honour was a common sense decision from
United and an acceptance that vast tracts of this season have been wretched
and overall unworthy of celebration.
But enough positives have emerged in recent weeks for people to recognise
that there has been a resurgence in our fortunes and an increase in on-field
effort and enthusiasm. Enough to sell the season tickets anyway - which
looked like being a monumental task at the start of this year.
The opening forty five minutes had seen us take advantage of a slightly
listless display from the title chasers, shading the half and seeing two
near misses from Michael Owen, either of which would brought the house down
had they beaten Cech.
Unfortunately, Escape to Victory was the only footballing fairy tale
televised this Bank Holiday - and the crowd were treated to 45 minutes
each of the positive & negative sides we've shown this season.
Our demise began with the withdrawal of
Viduka at the interval and his replacement with the headless chicken that is
Alan Smith, turning back the clock to our victory-free, incoherent
If Nicky Butt was attempting to furnish his former Old Trafford
colleagues with silverware via controlled aggression, then Smith's game plan
appeared to be to start a fight or dance himself dizzy.
Incapable of finding space, unwilling to attempt more than the most basic
pass and routinely out of position thanks to his schoolboy ball-following
antics. Anyone care to guess where was he playing?
And things only got worse when the docile Duff shambled on. With Geremi
having been running on empty all day all we lacked was a cameo
non-performance from Babayaro to complete a trio of Kings Road duds.
It was probably appropriate that Allardyce was present, as his former
charges instantly surrendered the initiative to a resurgent Chelsea, who
encountered little resistance when they raised their game.
A handy reminder though that we remain a work in progress and that the
chopping out of Carr is only the first act in what needs to be a fairly
extensive and ruthless programme of personnel changes.
So to the final whistle and those post-match words of wisdom, dissected as
if they were a major work of theology rather than end-of-season soundbites.
Well, if you can't beat them, join them....here we go:
Keegan is half-right in saying that we're a
million miles away from the top four, after a season when we've taken
precisely one point and three goals from our eight matches against them. But
he seems to be talking about the current form of that quartet and their
performance across the whole season.
While he was handing out Soccer Circus leaflets at Braehead the opening
months of 2007, we faced said big four at SJP - and avoided defeat against
them all, taking six points from a possible twelve. That didn't make us
title contenders (or keep Roeder in a job) but it proved that we weren't
quite whipping boys.
As ever, the problems we have are mostly of our own making and become
evident against teams who have even less chance of breaking into a Champions
League spot than ourselves.
Beating Chelsea or Man U is only worth the same as beating Boro or Pompey -
and it can be argued that avoiding losing against the latter trio is more
valuable in a "don't give your rivals the points" fashion.
A lack of preparation, inappropriate tactics and a bad attitude among
certain players have been our downfall more often than a lack of talent.
If KK believes that the way to our hearts is with more mega money
"trophy" signings from God knows where, then he's guilty of
falling into the same crowd-pleasing trap as our former Chairman. Buying the
2008 version of Albert Luque for twice the price is unacceptable, even if
the deal "makes sense".
The problem we seem to have is that football has moved on (not progressed)
in the three years since KK relinquished his position at Man City and that
he cannot work in the same unimpeded way that characterised his previous
reign here - and led to his departure when PLC hired hands sought to
famously convinced Robert Lee to move to Tyneside - nowadays the two wouldn't even
have spoken to each other before the deal was brokered. You lose something
there surely, in terms of the manager weighing up his potential signing,
even if the schmoozing ability of KK is now life-expired.
The reaction of Obafemi
Martins to KK's appointment at SJP is a classic example: the player having to
resort to Google
and YouTube to find out who his new gaffer was. The emerging generation of
players don't know who Keegan is - and the older ones who do don't fit into our
profile of worthwhile signings.
flexing his muscles because the Modric deal went the same way as Woodgate -
and the faces brought into the club to do the all this new-fangled fixing
failed? Only time will tell on that one.
So what do we end up with? A home defeat against the most potent away day
side in the country, followed closely by some slightly unexpected comments
that the manager quickly sought to clarify.
Too late though, as his words were seized upon by hacks impatient at not being able to write
"trouble in Toon" headlines by our recent
unbeaten streak. Showdown, D-Day, crisis talks... you get the picture.
What if we'd won this game? One can almost
hear the soundbites that would have rolled off KK's tongue in his post-match
reverie. Stirring rhetoric about this being a unique, special place that
would be lapped up by those watching on TV in city pubs - and promptly
dismissed in the time it takes to buy more beer.
But would they have any more gravitas and significance than Keegan's actual
comments? No, because they're both transient and liable to alter like the
weather. Remember his departure the last time and the variety of reasons he
gave for leaving, ranging from the "feeling sorry for Gerry Francis as
we beat Spurs 7-1" to the later "revellations" (sic) about
Stick around, there'll be another batch of quotes on the way soon. Thursday
in fact, when KK next speaks to the media.
Post-Allardyce, we need to be in a position where we're challenging Villa,
Man City, Everton and whoever else drags themselves out of the lower reaches
of the league. There's a confidence Keegan can do that.
We already know we're eminently capable of clobbering the beautiful people
of White Hart Lane - who now seem to who have moved on in two decades from
poaching our own talent to copying our wish list.
Woodgate and Modric choosing them over us may have annoyed KK, but we cannot
get overly-excited about missing out on either.
They both join a club routinely lauded as gatecrashers at the Premier League
party by themselves and their friends in the press, but who rather
annoyingly keep screwing things up.
So they've signed a promising young midfielder with the world at his feet -
Jermaine Jenas anyone?
It's for that reason and the masses of other profoundly average players
clogging the league that the opportunity to be competitive in this league
remains open to us. If KK didn't think he could put out a side superior to
those Sven, Moyes or O'Neill can construct then he'd never have unpacked his
Ever since Ian Woan scored at the City Ground twelve years ago, I've not
believed we could win the league - and seen nothing on the field in the
intervening period to alter that mindset.
But there have been great days and near misses along the way - coupled with
some memorable football from some magnificent players.
Much of that was orchestrated and inspired by our current boss - who has a
damn sight more going for him in the recruitment department than his
charmless predecessors (would you sign for Souness, Roeder or
Allardyce if anyone else wanted you and you didn't know all the words to The
There's hope and there's expectation.
We hope to improve, we hope to be challenging for something slightly more
credible than the Intertoto Cup. We expect to get competence, entertainment
and commitment for our hard-earned.
Nothing there is unrealistic, nothing there leaves us open to charges of
mass self-delusion. That applies equally to Keegan's comments. What a pity
that it differs from other people's world view of him. And us.
The one imponderable in all this is what the owner thinks of Keegan's
comments. From where we stand though, the supportive quotes from the
Chairman would seem to render talk of bust-ups invalid.