Half time: Newcastle
0 Manchester 0
Butt was fouled by Bosvelt and Robert curled a left-footed free-kick just
inside David James' left post at the Gallowgate end. Robert slipped over as he hit it but he
couldn't have hit it any better as James will testify - the keeper stood
rooted to his line and watched it sail past him. 1-0
Carr rode one tackle and made his way into the box. He rounded James but
tumbled under the challenge. Shearer stepped up and hit and forceful penalty
to the "Sorensen side" while James went the other way. 2-0
Wright-Phillips almost re-enacted his goal for England at St.James', picking
the ball up down our right and striding into the box before beating Given
with a low cross-shot into far corner. 2-1
Butt seemed to have won the ball cleanly but referee Dunn pointed to the
spot. Fowler stroked a low penalty past Given with the 'keeper diving the
other way. 2-2
A Robert free-kick was whipped into the box and Elliott glanced a header
towards the far post. With Bellamy waiting to pounce the ball hit the
upright and seemed to bemuse a number of players on the line before creeping
in. Cue the trademark funky chicken goal celebration.... 3-2
A loose ball was cleared only as far as Wright-Phillips on the edge of the
box who hit a low drive past an unsighted and wrong-footed Given. 3-3
A goal that seemed to happen in slow-motion. Bernard beat Flood down the
left before cutting the ball back to Bellamy ten yards out. His first touch
wasn't great but he managed to prod the ball goalwards and it somehow evaded
the reach of James to find the far corner. 4-3
Full time: Newcastle 4 Manchester 3
Graeme Souness said:
There's two ways to look at
it and right now I just want to enjoy the win. I'll look at the video during the
week but we must also give Wright-Phillips some credit."
"I went into the dressing room and told them I've had open
heart surgery. There is no way I can cope with this sort of game every week."
"Craig has made the headlines for the right reasons today. The two of us will
have our moments in the future, but the fact he wants to win is not in doubt.
"I want to work with people who won't lie down and, if he maintains that
attitude, he's a proper player.
"I was happy with all my players, though. It is really encouraging that we came
About ref Steve Dunn and Keegan's criticism of the official:
"I'm not going to get into trouble when we win - only when
“It would be easy for me to blame others, but
I have to look at myself. These are not headlines I want to be involved in.
I’m a 25-year-old with a missus and two kids and I don’t need that and nor
does the club. It’s not nice for the fans to read about the same player
"Refs are asked to make decisions in a game that is so fast and furious that
they are going to get some things wrong.
"I hope I can say that when we've lost a game, but I don't know."
A contrite Bellamy commented post-match about recent events concerning him:
“It really hit home after the last week
and now I just want to get on with playing for Newcastle and putting in better
performances. Emotionally, it’s been a tough week and I’ve been drained by
“Maybe it was just me, but I felt the fans might have been ready to turn
against me. I heard a couple shouting at me from the sides and I’ve never
really experienced that before at Newcastle. Maybe it’s just me being
paranoid, but it was the first time it hit home.
“But the reception at the end was
brilliant. I think it was the Geordie fans saying ‘thanks for the winner and
as long as you try your best, then we’ll stand by you’. People always see me
as someone giving 100 per cent. I probably wouldn’t still be here after the
incidents I’ve been through down the years if they didn’t think I gave 100
per cent. Maybe I would have been shown the door a long time ago.”
"It was a tough, tough morning in terms of getting motivated for the game,
but the way it ended just shows how football turns out for me. It wasn't one of
my best games by any means, but I tried to get myself going and just to get the
late winner like that was just incredible."
A seething Kevin Keegan said:
"I'd said to the fourth official when it was 3-2 that we would get it
back to 3-3 and they would probably get another."
"The referee's off my Christmas card list.
The referee was not strong enough and made too many mistakes that had a major
impact on the game.
"I've been in the
dressing room and told him so. He wants to sit down and take a look at the video
and analyse it. He had one - a shocker. All my players to a man are livid with
the referee, but I'll be their voice and get fined.
"Everybody has a bad
day, but this is a hard enough place to come without that happening, but I'm not
taking anything away from Newcastle.
When Graeme Souness, one of the most volatile managers around, tells you 'I know
how you feel, but don't get into trouble' that says a lot."
About Shaun Wright-Phillips:
"He's the best young player in the country and just waiting
for his chance to start for England."
"He's got to be patient, but once he gets in, nobody will
keep him out. "I only hope he's not 30 when he gets the chance."
Nine games undefeated since the loss at Aston Villa, eight of
those under Souness.
First Newcastle game since
1961 that has seen seven goals in one half. That was a 1-6 loss
to Chelsea, which was also goalless at the break.
The last time we scored four goals in one half was at SJP against
Blackburn on 22nd March 2003: HT was 1-0, FT was 5-1. Souness was
there that day as well.....
team to score four in one half at SJP? Man Utd, 12th April 2003, 1-4
HT, 2-6 FT.
For City, Wright-Phillips and Fowler both scored in the
Leazes goal - reprising their goals at the same end of the ground when
playing at SJP for England (SWP v Ukraine in Aug 2004 and RF v Albania
in Sep 2001.)
Keegan's poor record as a manager at SJP continues:
2004/05 NUFC won 4-3 Robert, Shearer, Elliott, Bellamy
2003/04 NUFC won 3-0 Shearer 2, Ameobi
2002/03 NUFC won 2-0 Shearer, Bellamy
2001/02 NUFC won 1-0 Solano (FAC)
A first goal of the season in any competition for Robert, ending a
barren run stretching back to the visit of Mallorca in March - this
being the 26th game. In terms of Premiership goals only, his
last success was at SJP against Fulham in January - that record going
at the 24th attempt.
Our four-goal haul means that with 21 Premiership goals
this season, we lie second only in the scoring charts to Arsenal,
who have 29. However, with 17 having gone in at the opposite
end, only Fulham and Blackburn have conceded more (Charlton and
Norwich have also let in 17.)
Only Robbie Elliott's second goal since returning to
Tyneside from Bolton in 2001 - his other one also came in a 4-3
victory, when we won away at Leeds in December 2001. Note that we
don't refer to his goal in the 4-4 Intertoto draw with Troyes in 2001
which has gone down as a Hughes effort despite our protests......
And for his last goal at SJP one has to go back to the final game of
his first stint in black and white, as Forest were beaten 5-0 in May
1997 and he hit a fine effort, again at the Gallowgate end.
Toon seven-goal thrillers: Premiership
03.04.96 Liverpool 4 NUFC 3
30.09.96 NUFC 4 Villa 3
02.02.97 NUFC 4 Leicester 3
10.03.97 Liverpool 4 NUFC 3
03.04.99 Derby 3 NUFC 4
15.09.01 NUFC 4 Man U 3
22.12.01 Leeds 3 NUFC 4
26.12.02 Bolton 4 NUFC 3
24.10.04 NUFC 4 Man City 3
After an arid 45 minutes in which we seemed to be feeling the effects of our
Athens excursion, Tyneside was somewhat unexpectedly treated to a rip-roaring second
period in which it simply rained goals.
And by the end it was easy to believe that the
whole thing was being played out by automatons in a full-size computer game or
had been scripted and filmed for that accursed "Goal" movie. Only here
there was nobody to shout "cut" and go for another take (luvvie.)
No, this was the real deal - warts and all - and a spectacular reminder of the
potency of this game to enthral spectators and involve them to an extent that
other pastimes can only aspire to.
To say that this didn't look likely at half time is almost an understatement - if anything,
this seemed to have all the hallmarks of a fixture that got decided by an 89th
minute deflection off a defender's backside from a mis-hit corner, rather than a
Despite all the crap that gets thrown at the punters, it's matches like these that
make it all worthwhile - the farting round airports in the wee small hours, the
over-priced tickets, whatever - just for those seconds when the ball hits the
back of the net and the world seems a happier place.
Certainly anyone who turned out for that recent
fraud football match here between alleged celebs and old timers would have been
left incredulous at the goings on today. Never mind teen idols and assorted
hangers-on being fawned over for lacing their boots up properly, here were the
thick end of 50,000 people going collectively mad over the decisive input of a
striker who often seems to be a rebel without a cause.
And having slumbered throughout this season, at last the ground came
collectively alive as the Blaydon Races swept round the place, habitual
spectators suddenly becoming participants, swept up in the emotion of the
Prodigal sons? Soap opera villains? whatever -
it's all here.
Enough of the scene-setting, what was the game
like? Well, you know really, whether you were there or not. After all, we've
been doing this sort of thing since time immemorial....
At 2-0 up we were in something of a comfort zone, relaxed and thinking of
post-match pursuits. Unfortunately that wasn't just the punters, that was the
Cue Ian Wright's offspring exposing our backline for what it is and we were back
in the room with more of a jolt than Robbie Fowler felt when he tumbled down in
the box. Penalty converted and it's as you were.
Once again we were away upfield and almost too easily had slipped back in front
again, only for another switch-off moment to peg us back again, by which time
City seemed in the mood to go on and win this game themselves - even if their
manager felt weighed down by the tide of history (see KK's quote above.)
And of course, the Bellamy winner is simply the stuff of legend and meant that
we ended yet another difficult week smiling.
As for performances, at times everyone played
well and at others many of them looked as if they'd just woken up - it was that
sort of afternoon. So what.....
It's easy to toss out a line about the City
boss returning to his spiritual home, mentioning 4-3's etc. etc. but frankly,
it's all as much a load of old nonsense as calling the present-day Philippe
Albert a legend was in that recent "match" tripe staged here.
It may make for good soundbites and PR spin for
those who don't know any better, but when all comes to all it's just empty
hyperbole - the past is the past, the half time hero who stayed 90 minutes. He's
almost irrelevant now as...Bobby Robson.
Keegan failed at Newcastle, he's on the verge of failing at Manchester City and
the post-match interview comments were those of a hollow man - parallels with the
defeat by the Germans that closed England's Wembley chapter and KK's
international management career were obvious.
Quite simply, our 90s vintage heart-on-the-sleeve football was great, but it
didn't work, for a whoe raft of reasons too convoluted to be rehashed here
(thankfully, I hear you mutter.)
We need now to be looking beyond Shearer, to be
addressing the failings of the academy and the reserve side - if Souness comes
in and does what we dreamed Dalglish would achieve, in marrying the attacking
flair with defensive common sense, then he'll receive adulation far in excess of
anything he ever received at Anfield or Ibrox.
But as we keep saying, it's the earliest of early days - one of the reasons
we're unbeaten since Bobby left is that we've played nobody - and had the Knight
survived the visit to Villa, this recent set of games should have cemented his
A look at the Blackburn stats from Souness's
opening months in that job shows a similar pattern of early success - and we all know how rotten
Rovers were when his team turned up on Tyneside last
While the fans and players headed off into the
night to bask in the victory, the man with the unbeaten run no doubt underlined
his mental notes about the gaping holes in our defence that may well be
blatantly exposed in the weeks to come, as the calibre of our opponents goes up a
notch or three.
Souness may well be up the Duff as far as his wish list goes, but he knows that
the players he's relying on at the back aren't suitable for the task in hand,
chicken dance or no chicken dance. Unlike Keegan, our present incumbent knows there's no room
for sentiment - that's one thing he has in common with Sir Bobby
Back to the day though and what was
ultimately breathless stuff - a
mini classic and a success to savour. Next week it will probably be 0-0.....but anything could happen and knowing
us, almost certainly will. Twice.