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This Season 
 Match Report 2001-02 - Derby (h) 

This report is in association with a Ginsters' Breakfast Melt (unfortunately no lamb-based products in their range for lampoon value). 
Click on food for details.

 Sat 24th November 2001, 3.00pm 

 St. James' Park 

This global warming is getting out of hand - a mild afternoon that meant shirt sleeve weather for your average geordie male...some clad in attractive new designs from the autumn collection - forget Paris or Milan, Barrack Road is wor catwaak.   


Newcastle United 1 - 0 Derby


30 mins. Robert twisted and turned his way into the box at speed and just as Riggott lunged in for a tackle Robert nicked the ball away and went down in a heap. Didn't look like a dive particularly, but winning a penalty was certainly on the Frenchman's mind. Shearer took the kick and placed it to the keeper's right as he dived the other way. 1-0

Half time: Newcastle  1  Derby  0

Full time: Newcastle  1  Derby  0

We Said

Uncle Bobby said:

"The pre-match conversation around the place was: 'Well, Bobby if you win 5-0 you can go top of the league.'

"But my response to that was: 'I'll see you next Christmas.' It was unrealistic and I'm just happy that we won a game we had to fight tooth and nail to win.

"It just showed again that it's a topsy-turvy season in the Premiership. There were only three goals scored on Saturday and we got one of them. There are no formalities. I'm just delighted we won."

"When we played Tottenham here several weeks ago I wanted to cancel out their extra man in midfield so we played with wing-backs and three in midfield.

"Against Derby we didn't do that, we stayed 4-4-2 but Robert and Gary did very well for us. They are not the youngest of midfield pairings, but they worked hard and were very diligent and tried to shore it up.

"I would have liked to have got a second goal because at one stage I wanted to try to rest Robert ahead of the Worthington Cup tie against Ipswich, but with the game so tight I didn't think that any change would improve the team.

"And I know that if we had changed it, and we had ended up drawing or losing, then I would have kicked myself.

"So we did what Liverpool did for so many years. They used to keep the same players who had the rhythm of the game, who knew their opponents and who saw games out. They could win the league by winning matches 1-0 17 times a season.

"So cries of 'change your tactics' and 'change your team' I put in a paper bag and throw it away. The 11 guys on the pitch knew their jobs, they stuck with it and they won us a difficult match 1-0."

Robson on penalties:

"We talked about penalties this week with Alan and he was happy. We said: "Alan, how do you feel about penalties?" and he just said: "I'll keep on taking them."

"He took some in training on Friday, he practised hitting them in both sides. I don't think he has a favourite side because he can hit them either way.

"He never missed in practice and he was ready to take one if it came along. That's the strength of him as a person and a player."

And the man himself commented:

"Despite what happened at Fulham there wasn't any question that I would take a penalty if we got one against Derby.

"Edwin Van der Sar made a great save against me for Fulham last Saturday and I realised that Derby would probably mention that penalty when they had their team talk before the game with goalkeeper Mart Poom.

"And I also realise that because that penalty was saved, they might have guessed I would go for the other side. So I went for the same side that I went for against Fulham, and I was delighted when it went in."

"We would have settled for being fourth in the table after 13 games at the start of the season and we are doing okay. What we need is a bit of consistency, but so do a lot of other teams.

"Any team, and that includes ourselves, will probably go clear at the top if they can put together an unbeaten run of seven or eight games.

"I honestly believe the top four are nailed on in Liverpool, Manchester United, Leeds and Arsenal, but there is also a cluster of five or six teams below them who can qualify for Europe next season and we are one of them."

They Said

Colin Todd said:

"It was a good performance with nothing to show for it. I feel we deserved to take all three points from the game. When you create one or two clear-cut chances like we did today you need to put the ball in the back of the net.

"We haven’t scored too many goals so far this season but if we continue to create chances we will win games, I think we've shown to the nation that we aren't going to lie down for anybody."

"We withstood the pressure well and then suffered what I thought was a harsh decision for the penalty. We could have gone in at the break a goal up but instead we were a goal down.

"We kept taking the game to them and then missed a penalty - but I wouldn't criticise anyone for missing a penalty like that."

"The players were disappointed - you do get down when you lose - but you take heart from the way you play."

"We have to continue to show that appetite, discipline, and organisation; although we need to improve on the passing in certain areas and the control at times.

"I am convinced that if we can show today's form consistently we can get out of the position we're in."

Defender Danny Higginbotham said: 

"We've come out of the game feeling that we performed really well, we can take a lot of heart from that and build on it next week.

"I think we played really well, the lads are a bit down but we are looking at keeping that form going."

"I think it made a difference to start off having a go at them. I think they were a bit surprised and we were unlucky not to capitalise on it.

"Colin Todd said we played very well, so it's something to build on for the big games at home and hopefully we can get something out of them."

"Fabrizio Ravanelli is a great player and has played in some big pressure games but everyone will miss a penalty every now and then."

"When he apologised after the game we told him not to worry because he's already scored some great goals for us and we know he'll get some more."

"It's nice to see people saying nice things about me in the papers but when I first arrived here from Manchester United there were doubters so I don’t take that much notice.

"I take it all with a pinch of salt and concentrate on playing against good players on the field every week."

"Colin Todd has brought his own ideas in to the training ground and the training is excellent. The new players have settled in well and overall things are going along very nicely.

"We obviously don’t want to be in the bottom three but we played really well against a team that is right up there challenging for honours this year. We didn’t get what we deserved from today's performance but now we can start building on things."

Match Stats

Once again a Midlands wipeout at St.James' Park, as Derby joined Villa and Leicester in being sent home goalless and pointless. Last season was exactly the same, apart from the Rams scoring a couple of goals before they lost and of course we also had the annual home win over Coventry that we're denied this season. Unless we get them in the FA cup.

Shearer inched towards 100 goals for Newcastle, with his 98th effort and 19th penalty in all competitions (excluding shootouts).


To quote our glorious leader "the eleven guys on the pitch knew their jobs." 

Well, if Given and Shearer were captains of industry, Robert was more sleeping policeman than artful dodger and Solano appeared to be an extra in a film, with a brief walk on role. LuaLua of course provided some cabaret-style conjuring, while in a seasonal touch the unused Acuna looked to be developing a cut-throat pirate beard, presumably for panto work. 

It's a good job then that Derby's wandering minstrels fluffed their lines and missed their cues, otherwise our well-salaried employees would have been no more than cash test dummies.

If there was such a thing as an uninformed neutral at this game, he or she would probably have concluded that we were the away team and that neither side were within a country mile of the top of the league. A merely workmanlike Derby team with equal measures of youthful potential and fragile confidence were allowed to dominate the opening stages of the game and put their boss through agonies by failing to go one or two goals up before we had strung three passes together. 

Had a great chance to score fallen to anyone other than Darryl Powell, we would have been behind, but as it was Ravanelli and Carbone couldn't conjure up anything more to seriously test Given before we took the lead, despite our "after you, Lorenzo" antics in the centre of the park. 

For once Robert opted to at least attempt to beat his man, and appearing on the right side of our attack he found himself in the area only to crumble at the ankle upon contact from Riggott. We then managed to raise the tempo back to something approaching the intensity of the Villa game and the crowd woke up. Briefly. 

However, after the break we were back to our uninspired and listless alter-ego, where people stopped passing and moving and in the words of Alan Shearer "we were lethargic." Derby had little else to show than they'd exhibited in the first half, and although well-organised at the back weren't exactly being overloaded - this was anything but the Alamo. They'd been walloped by Middlesbrough when young Marinelli simply overwhelmed them with his enthusiasm and willingness to pressurise until mistakes were made. Our lot by contrast seemed smug and content with a single goal advantage. A deadly sin, piety.

That attitude almost began to look like folly when the feather was blown over by O'Brien and most expected an equaliser to follow. Enter Seamus and a grand effort to keep out the spot kick. However he did look to incur a shoulder injury in the aftermath - TV replays seeming to show it was caused (or certainly wasn't helped) by the celebratory neck lock that Dabizas gave him.

Surely now United would come out and fight, move through the gears and power through off the back bend to breast the tape in classic style. Nope.

Just more of the same moribund tosh, save for a brief flicker when Shearer created a chance for himself and a Bellamy rebound was kept out by a combination of defender and keeper. Finally things were changed and LuaLua came on to jink around in his usual manner and encouraged by the crowd, enlivened proceedings immeasurably. Louise Taylor in the Sunday Times said if only he'd been on from the start - well I wouldn't go that far, but something needed to be changed for the second week running.

What Bobby chooses not to appreciate is that half of the reason that people moan and groan for a change is that they want something to cheer or something to cling on to (we're of course many miles past wanting to be entertained - that's for the likes of Chelsea fans). Shay Given was greeted like the prodigal son for his penalty save, before we all went back to sleep and only stirred when Lua appeared (or someone tripped over our feet when making for the exits).

Of course our manager has undergone something of a change in policy over the last twelve months, when he threw his cards on the table like a wild west saloon gambler and on came the likes of Glass, Lua and Cordone, often as a trio. To my jaundiced eyes, we had players who were not only contributing nowt in this game and at Fulham and worse still were actively undermining the efforts of their colleagues by failing to move into space or playing daft balls just to be rid of that accursed bouncing object. A look at a video of Robert's performance in the second half will give you examples of the latter - if he was injured or sick, why on earth wait until the last minute before hauling him off.

Never has a side with two wingers produced less in the way of width or positive crossing. That is, since Fulham last week.  

Bellamy never quite got going in this game, but after his recent contributions that's excusable. Indeed he was so quiet that he didn't even get booked. It looked as if Shola might get a runout, but he remained in the back of the dugout, and the misfiring wingers also stayed on despite the constant warming up of LuaLua. Even the introduction of Acuna might have been a positive move, Speed at times waging a one-man war to prevent Derby funnelling through the centre circle towards our goal. Lee was later revealed to be carrying an injury.  

Like we always say, churlish to moan about a clean sheet and three points collected. Needless to say a repeat of this performance and scoreline at Charlton or Arsenal next month will result in fountain-dancing celebrations of a ferocity unseen since VE night.

However as we also tend to mention, a look at our upcoming fixture list suggests that we should enjoy the rarefied air we're breathing while we can. Quite simply we'll be exposed as the frauds we are and quietly slide back down to a level where we can safely post that letter to the Intertoto qualifying committee. That is, unless we sort out our worrying inconsistencies, defensive shortcomings and patchwork quilt of a midfield. Dyer may soon be back to provide Bobby with a nice selection teaser, but in reality there are at least three shirts going spare at the minute.....

We now have a sideshow match against Ipswich that even George Burley would probably like us to win, so he can concentrate on his big San Siro night and on preventing his side emulating the unwanted relegation / League Cup winning double that rivals Norwich managed in the 1980's. After that of course, it's our Nemesis (and I don't mean the gut-wrenching ride at Alton Towers).

To misquote that nice old bloke from 1966:

"There's some people on the piss, we wish it were all over....."

A partly political broadcast on behalf of the Geordie Nation. Please put us out of our bloody misery and win at Charlton by any means possible, fair or foul. 

Now we're no longer sponsored by the brewery, take pity on the collective liver of the Geordie nation. Yes there'll be drink supped in celebration, but more does tend to get spilt after a victory, especially if someone is dancing on your table. Come on.         


PS - An extra piece of waffle, courtesy of a Derby fan:

A walk in the (Car) Park

After an absence of some 30 odd years, this correspondent was invited by one of your genial hosts to visit the North East's football Mecca. It is true to say that your new vast arena undoubtedly took my breath away. After squeezing my ample frame through a turnstyle which was designed for the kids enclosure, I arrived in an almost comatose state on level 7. 

After being offered succour by what I perceived through my blurred, oxygen starved vision, as a trained St Bernard, but actually turned out to be a female steward, I then climbed another 20 odd steps to my seat on cloud P, to find that I not only had an uninterrupted view of our game, but of most others being played north of Sheffield (with the notable exception of Teesside). 

This vast new edifice which at first glance, obviously the brainchild of people more akin to NCP than NUFC, has obviously replaced the local Cathedral in the hearts of the regulars, as the almost reverential silence with which they watch the game would testify.

Having identified Ravanelli and Powell because of their glaringly different physical characteristics and from your team Solano and Shearer, because he was the one constantly talking in the ref's ear, I settled in to watch what appeared to be a giant Subbuteo game. I was afterwards grateful to your weekly waffler for pointing out that substitutions had been made, I totally missed them as I watched a tanker pass the lighthouse at Tynemouth.

On my last visit we took away two points, courtesy of Mr McFarland, this time I thought we were a tad unlucky to return home empty handed. Still never mind, I at least had spent an afternoon with a view of the North East usually reserved for seagulls. And who knows if ever the team need altitude training, the club won't have to spend much money on travel, they can send them to sweep out the stands.


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