Points and positions
First Team Squad
U19, U18 & U17
Lifts the Lid...
Life with United...and beyond Part I
[What's the current state of the team under Hoddle (injuries, squad snippets etc.)?]
Hoddle's biggest problem is that he's a manager that spends a lot of time dwelling on tactics. He's not one of these managers that says, "We'll let the opposition worry about us". He'll have been working all week on ways of combatting Al (Shearer), Cordone etc., thinking of eleven or twelve different ways of playing and obviously this changes from week to week. With a lot of foreigners at the club, it's obvious that many of them don't understand and when they get onto the pitch it all falls apart. Hoddle then has to quickly change things during the match and players aren't always sure what they should be doing.
[Problems for United?]
Pahars will cause most problems if he's on form. When he's at the top of his game, he's untouchable, even better than Michael Owen, although he is a bit temperamental and may not be up for it. He's also incredibly quick. I had a reputation of being fast but he could leave me for dead. Kachloul is also a dangerous player who is great at getting into the danger areas, making strong runs into the box. Incidentally he's [Kachloul] is desperate to play for Newcastle.
Uwe Rossler hasn't done much and so James Beattie may be on from the start. James models himself on Alan [Shearer] a lot from their days at Blackburn. Beattie can be a big danger, he's very strong - he scored at The Dell when Steve Howey had a bit of a nightmare with a backpass.
[And Le you know who?]
I became good friends with Tiss when I was down there and he'd often bring up Southampton v Newcastle games. Obviously I ended up playing with Matt for Southampton and as we went onto the pitch he said we'd see if Newcastle were jinxed or whether it was all down to me! That day Rob Lee opened the scoring and I thought, hang on what's happening here? But of course Southampton won that day with two late goals from Tiss and I knew the jinx wasn't my fault! He won't be playing this Saturday but might make the bench after coming back from injury.
We couldn't believe The Dell jinx. We'd often go down there and batter them but come away having been beaten. It was always such a long journey back and we couldn't believe that it could happen again. We'd often say to the Boss [Keegan] let's just mark Le Tiss man-to-man for the whole game but we never really did. The jinx would get mentioned on the way down to the game but during the teamtalk we'd just all say it couldn't happen again. But it usually did.
24/10/93 Southampton 2 Newcastle 1
[This was the game in which Lee Clark was substituted and kicked the bucket as he stormed down the touchline...]
Clarkie was in tears all the way home and was desperately upset. He kept asking all the experienced players what he should do and how could he make amends. To start with we all took the piss but soon realised that this was pretty serious and knowing Clarkie's feelings for the club we laid off him. Clarkie kept saying all the way home, "I'm not f***ing going."
That weekend we'd arranged to go to the QuaserLaser game in Bournemouth but once we arrived Barry V, Howey and Mathie decided they wanted to go for a drink. Cleverly they went straight to the first pub they could find! The lads knew where they'd gone and Kevin and Terry went looking for them as they were missing for the Quaser trip. We told them they must have gone for a walk into town. When Keegan found them he was furious. We heard later that the three of them had been sacked and we thought it was some sort of wind-up. Terry Mac and Freddy Shepherd urged Kevin to reconsider and I think it was all down to Steve Howey that Kevin game them another chance. Howey was a fairly young lad then and looked up to Barry V, following him everywhere. Keegan realised it was very out-of-character for Steve to be involved and so gave him another chance, so he had to do the same for Venison and Mathie.
[Later that week Andy Cole went missing before a League Cup tie against Wimbledon.]
Andy was often moody and seemed to be in a particularly bad mood during a training session. We hadn't realised that Keegan had stopped him from going to London to see his mates. He just wasn't trying during a training session and Keegan pulled him up, saying "If you don't want to play for us then you can clear off,". Andy called his bluff slightly and disappeared. We couldn't believe it. The League Cup tie was Ruel Fox's first game for us and Kevin told him that all the previous few days' trouble was not the real Newcastle but if he had second thoughts, he could go back to Norwich and then sign for another club. [Clark and Cole combined to beat Wimbledon in a league game the following Saturday, Fox stayed and the rest is history...]
The Le Tissier goals were incredible. I especially remember the winner. He lobbed it over Kevin Scott and then Barry Venison before stroking it past Mike Hooper. I was chasing back and tried to get to the ball before it went over the line. I never really got close but as it went in (and I was devastated) I remember thinking, "That's not a bad goal, though...".
22/3/95 Southampton 3 Newcastle 1
Paul Kitson gave us the lead and with a minute left we were winning.... ]
This was the biggest bollocking I ever heard Keegan give us. He really laid into us, especially the International players who he accused of looking to International glory instead of concentrating on the most important job - playing for Newcastle. I didn't play that night, with a hamstring strain, but I was in the Director's box and as soon as the final whistle went I legged it(!) down to the dressing room. It was amazing to hear but I was safe in the knowledge that I wasn't to blame.
18/1/97 Southampton 2 Newcastle 2
[Kenny's first game in charge of United and we fell again to a late Le Tissier long-range strike].
When he [Le Tissier] hit it, the ball flew just past my ear and I remember thinking please don't go in. When I turned to see it hit he net, I just couldn't believe it happened AGAIN!!
Before the game Kenny had dropped Ginola to the bench and David was fuming. When Kenny gave the teamtalk David sat cross-legged and put on some earphones. He then started filing his nails while Dalglish spoke to us. I was sure Kenny would blow his top but he just blanked Ginola. David didn't go out for the warm-up and kept on his flip-flops carrying his boots out. When Kenny told him to warm-up Ginola said, "I'm ready". After the game he didn't get changed he kept on his kit all the way from the dressing room and onto the plane. Ray Thompson, the kit man, wanted his strip but couldn't get it off him.
Dalglish got his own back some months later. Ginola was given a rigorous fitness test before a game and by the time we arrived he was in the dressing room with the sweat pouring off him having passed the test. Dalglish didn't even give him a place on the bench.
17/9/97 Newcastle 3 Barcelona 2
This game was the only time I ever broke a rule the night before a game. Oasis were playing at the Arena and I was desperate to see them, being a mad fan. It came to the evening and at about 6pm I decided to go to the gig. Well I wasn't going to be drinking. I put on a baseball hat and a polo-neck zip-up so that no-one would recognise me, bought a ticket from a tout and got into the gig just after the first song. I left just before the end and got a taxi straight back home. I kept it really quiet until after the Barcelona game but after the victory I couldn't help but blurt it out in the dressing room.