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Season 2003-04
 Manchester City (h) Premiership


Date: Saturday 22nd November 2003, 3.00pm  

Venue:  St.James' Park

Autumnal but also hushed for the most part.....



Newcastle United

3 - 0 Manchester City


Half time:  Newcastle 0 Manchester City 0

57 mins: Robert floated a ball from the left to the far post at the Gallowgate end for Ameobi who fluffed his header as he jumped with Steve McManaman. Fortunately for Shola though, the ball hit the City man's back and fell nicely for him to beat Seaman at the near post from close range.  1-0

77 mins: Jenas played a loose pass out to Bernard down the left who did well to keep the ball in. He then beat the defender with some trickery and pace before sending over the perfect cross for Shearer to bullet a header home. 2-0

85 mins: Ameobi and Shearer both beat the offside trap and Shola headed the ball down to Al six yards out. Shearer initially mis-controlled but was able to scramble the ball past Seaman, then get a boot ahead of Distin to touch the ball over the line. 3-0

Full time:  Newcastle 3 Manchester City 0

We Said

Sir Bobby said about the win:

"We needed it. But we have had a terrific response from the players, after the Chelsea game.

"But I cannot say enough of the players, every one of them from goalkeeper to outside left, were superb. We were very good across the back, I thought Bramble was outstanding and Woodgate strolled it.

"The full backs were great, second half Olivier Bernard was outstanding. JJ did superbly in midfield, he played like he had just got his new contract, full of life.

"Gary Speed gave a mammoth performance, Kieron Dyer was dynamic, Laurent Robert was excellent. Up front we played well, Alan got his goals and I thought we produced a simply outstanding all-round performance.

"I think that was our best performance all season."

About Shearer:

Alan was superb. I thought about taking him off today, as we have a game on Thursday, but he had two goals and I just thought he might get a chance for a third for his hat-trick.

"These are the things I have to think about with Alan, to prolong him, but I left him on because I thought he might get a shove or something, to give him a penalty for his hat-trick."

"It's very good. It's outstanding marksmanship, 100 goals in four years when you consider when I came he was out of the team.

"He's had four very good years. He's been a great talisman for us, and he's led the line again with strength, courage, a good personality.

"The two strikers did very well. Alan leapt like a salmon all afternoon, held it up, tough to play against, won a lot of balls in the air. His general play was of a high quality.'

They Said

Kevin Keegan said:

"I don't think we created enough here today. You've got Jonathan Woodgate coming back and there's no doubt he's a class player, but Titus Bramble was outstanding today.

"If you look back over a period of time, he's been criticised for making the odd error, but today he won most things in the air.

"I think we always had a struggle aerially against Alan and Ameobi - mainly Alan. We won't be the only ones to struggle there because he's a master of his trade - that was the big difference in the game for me."

KK is still a fully paid up member of the Shearer fan club:

"There isn't anybody better at what he does, I don't think, in the world. That's why, along time ago now it seems, I fetched him here.

"People thought 15million was a lot of money, but I thought at the time it was a great signing and I think every year that goes by, he just proves more and more that he was good value for his money.

"I don't know how they'll replace him - and they will have to do that one day. He's so clever, isn't he? He doesn't try to do the things he can't do.

"I think he's a leader, and there aren't that many leaders in football now.

"There a lot of players who want to be good players and want to score goals and play in his position. But he's still got that throwback to the past whereby you feel that he's going to make players do things that they maybe don't really want to do.

"I think he's the complete player, and not playing for England was a good choice for him because it means he can actually maximise what he's doing for his club.'

Match Stats

50th senior start for Shola Ameobi who celebrated with his 19th goal and 4th of the current season.

Laurent Robert also collected an assist and a win bonus on his 100th club appearance in England.   

100 Newcastle goals for Alan Shearer since Sir Bobby took over and our number nine has now equalled Nat Lofthouse's record of 255 league goals. Today's were his 11th and 12th of the season in all competitions.

Just to be different, here's Al's pre-Christmas Day goalscoring stats i.e. from the start of each season until the last game before 25th December that year (all competitions)

96/97: 13
97/98: 0
98/99: 8
99/00: 16
00/01: 7
01/02: 9
02/03: 12
03/04: 12 so far. 

Just to keep score, that's now 157 in all competitions for Shearer at Newcastle, who continues to edge towards the magic Milburn 200 mark.

United v City at SJP - last 10

2003/04 Won 3-0 Shearer 2, Ameobi
Won 2-0 Shearer, Bellamy
Won 1-0 Solano (FAC)
Lost 0-1 No scorer
Won 3-1 Ferdinand 2, Beardsley
Drew 0-0 No scorer
Won 3-1 Gillespie 2, Beresford (FAC)
Lost 0-2 No scorer (LC)
Won 2-0 Cole 2
Won 3-1 McDonald, Gazza, Cunningham(Div 1)


The third return of the prodigal son then and the third time his latest charges have left Tyneside with neither a point nor a goal to show for their efforts.

And while Solano's shot separated the two teams in the 2001 FA Cup clash and Shearer's lightning strike last season set us on the road to victory, Ameobi's fortunate conversion in this one was enough to ensure we returned to winning ways. No matter that further efforts followed from the man Keegan once persuaded United to pay 15m for - at 1-0 down the City quitters simply gave up the ghost and showed zero guts, fight or spirit. Not like it was in brochure, presumably.... 

Quite simply Keegan's selections gave him the footballing equivalent of waving two fingers - and in the case of Fowler, he came fairly close to a rather more voluble riposte when withdrawn from the play by his manager. 

Post-match speculation in licensed premises centred on the abjectness of this City display and whether it would prompt KK to reprise his England abdication. The background is similar after all - lost the players, gone as far as I can go etc. etc. 

Or maybe it'll take City fans waving mock pension books at Seaman or the refusal of their board to sanction another fifty squillion pounds to buy players in the transfer window. Who knows? who cares? Keegan is now just another manager at another club - the welcome here now is no more than polite and those of us who lived those times here with him retain it in the old grey matter and on video. 

What will really have hacked our former favourite off though will have been the average-ness of the home side for a sizeable proportion of this game. Even a modicum of pressure from City could have deepened our post-Chelsea blues, but instead they were once again content to play second fiddle.

Sir Bobby chose to highlight the contribution of Jenas, when really he was anonymous for much of the game - hardly the rip-roaring, gut-busting display one might have expected from an aspiring youngster who was performing in front of his national team coach in the week he'd just inked an improved contract....

City though remained solidly uninterested, with both Sinclair and McManaman waving metaphorical white flags in the direct of Eriksson in the Milburn stand - both now look destined to join the ranks of Carlton Palmer, Nick Barmby in the "I  played for England once, no really I did" club.

Newcastle's returning England pair though at least look interested and will have benefited from the return to meaningful matches, while Bramble did himself no harm at all in the absence of O'Brien, who misses the trip to Wolves through suspension.

Until the late Shearer efforts though, this game was humdrum and uneventful, with the scoreless half time result looking ominously like it mightn't change as the late autumn sun gave way to gloomier conditions.

Thankfully our French pairing down the left decided to do something about the situation, in stark contrast to their countrymen Anelka and Distin. The former looked to have a case of the sulks, while the latter didn't have a bad game but barely warranted more than a minimum of abuse from his former fans - an insult in itself, really.

These are the times when you look to Robert to give us something that nobody else can provide (at least in the absence of Solano and the continuing mediocrity of Viana) and today he was sufficiently aroused to hurt the visitors, once he'd stopped trying to beat the whole City team on his own anyway.....

Not a great deal else to say about this win - a scoreline that will live longer in the memory than the ninety minutes, but three useful points nonetheless and definite progression from the dispiriting draws on home soil against Bolton and Villa. Had we lost this, then things would have looked rather less rosy, but once again the fixture list worked in our favour.

Quite simply we weren't great, but we at least showed some fight and commitment to the cause and ultimately got our rewards. That sort of attitude (and the goals of the number nine) will take us past a fair few teams in the league but we'll need to show rather more to topple the teams that have that annoying habit of consistently winning matches against us.

Bobby was entitled to take the stage post-match and waffle on about his troops, while glum old Kev sank further into his coat and spoke of former times in the front line, rather than the current deserters he's brought in to fight for him.

Assuming we do nothing stupid against Basel on Thursday (and Bobby picks his team with one eye on the next match) then we should pitch up at Molineux with renewed spirit for Saturday's mission to bury the ghost of last January's FA Cup misadventure. 

What better place to take the old goldies down a peg or two and remind a live TV audience that we still have some fire in our bellies? It'll certainly do this correspondent the world of good to stick their hi-ho silver linings where the sun don't shine - some of us have long memories of times past through that subway in the bad old days.

We've snuck back into the top ten with the minimum of fuss and without looking like hitting top form for more than the odd passage of play. And save for Bellamy, the only selection problems Robson has are based on personalities, rather than broken bones or twisted limbs.

For God's sake though let's not lapse into self-congratulatory mode - as ever with this club, the job is barely half-finished and the time for eulogising is when one of our lot has a trophy lid on their head, not before.

Although it pains me to say it (or even mention the bloody thing), if we can take one thing from the England rugby success of Wilkinson et al. it's in their professionalism and refusal to indulge in half-cocked trumpet blowing until the medals are round the necks. 

One or two Toon players and one or two Toon writers would do well to take note of that.....



Page last updated 14 July, 2016