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Season 2007-08
mackems (a) Premiership

Date: Saturday 10th November 2007, 12.45pm
Live on Sky

 Stadium of Plight


Admission: £30 (£30 in 2005/06)




Newcastle United

1 - 1



Half time: mackems 0 Newcastle 0

swiftly taken corner was knocked over to the back post and Danny Higginbotham headed home while the visiting defence played statues. Some questioned the wisdom of Steve Harper diving low, rather than spreading himself higher.  0-1

65 mins James Milner's low looping ball from the left hand end of the box may have been a shot or a cross - frankly it could have been a custard doughnut for all we cared. It went in and it counted. 1-1

Full time: mackems 1 Newcastle 1

We Said

Sam said:

"It is still the best start to a season for us in 11 years. (see stats section for our take)*

"We have nine points more than this time last season. You're all so negative. My glass is half full, your glasses are half empty.

"The objective now is to go on an undefeated run. I'm not bothered if we were fortunate or not. We got a point in a derby. We have not got beat and that is very important.

"After last week's result and our away form we had to put it right. It was very important not to lose.

"Sunderland out muscled and out battled us before their goal which wasn't very good. Their goal was one of the most disappointing things for me. We passed it backwards, passed it backwards again and then gave them a corner. We let them take it quick and they scored.

"Their goal lifted us though and our response was very good - we showed something like we wanted to, attacking wise, and overcoming the high tempo they had set.

"We got into the game, scored a very, very good goal and got a point - and that is fantastic for everyone at Newcastle United.

"Whether it was a shot or a cross for our goal can be debated. I think coming in from the right hand side on his strong foot, it was a shot. I thought we might have gone on from there.

On the Barton / Etuhu coming together:

"There were a lot of incidents like that, but it is only because of Joey's reputation that people bring it up, but it is not good and he should not do it."

Chairman Chris Mort (who did the collar and tie meet and greet in the directors box) said:

"It was obviously another disappointing performance for all but 10 or 15 minutes in the second half. Fortunately, James Milner's goal saved us from what would have been a miserable international break.

"With the next three games being against Liverpool, Blackburn and Arsenal we're about to have some stern tests of how much progress has been made. I'm sure Sam and his coaching staff will be working very hard to have the team firing on all cylinders for those games."

He later added:

"In my role I have to be determined to take a medium-to long-term view and not be the guy texting in to the press on a Monday morning saying everything's gone horribly wrong.

"We have a club that has a massive following and the team and the club is a massive part of people's lives in this part of the world. Because of that there does tend to be a bigger swing in emotions. 

"It would be wrong for me to join the element that swings both ways. I wouldn't be doing my job properly if that's the way my mind went. It should be: 'Hang on, let's wait and see where this is going before we make a judgment.'

"It struck me, even after drawing at Middlesbrough and beating Bolton away for the first time in ages, that there was lots of negativity around. Lots of people are clearly waiting to see where this club is going and, because there were a lot of unsatisfied people around last season, people are perhaps looking to judge it even quicker this season."

They Said

The man with the action man beard commented:

"The disappointing aspect of our previous game against Manchester City was we didn't create chances. Against Newcastle we created them but didn't take them. Maybe next time we'll finally get it right.

"I was pleased with the way we reacted when we conceded. I was thinking to myself 'come on lads, show me what you've got' and that's exactly what they did.

"We are gaining experience and all the players are learning and that's what I have to bear in mind. We play very naively sometimes, we need to be a bit nastier and a bit more streetwise.

"Sometimes you have to lose to win and these games will help, the lessons these players are picking up will hopefully serve them in the years ahead.

"Once we get our senior players back we'll be a much stronger proposition.

"I don't want to talk about the Barton incident, I am not going to get bogged down by a tackle that was slightly high. That happens in these games, a lot of them are mistimed.

"You give and you take. Dickson is a tough lad. He is alive in the dressing room and won't be leaving on a stretcher." 


Mags @ dark place since losing:

drew 1-1 Milner
won 4-1 Chopra, Shearer(pen), N'Zogbia, Luque
2002/03 won 1-0 Solano
won 1-0 Dabizas
drew 1-1 A.O'Brien
drew 2-2 Domi, Helder
1996/97 won 2-1 Beardsley, Ferdinand
1992/93 won 2-1 OG, L.O'Brien
1991/92 drew 1-1 L.O'Brien
1989/90 drew 0-0 (playoffs)
1989/90 drew 0-0
1984/85 drew 0-0
1979/80 lost 0-1

We've now scored ten goals in six visits to the stadium of plight, never failing to hit the target.

Seven of those ten goals (and the last five) have been scored in front of the away end.

Steve Harper made a belated return to the fray at this ground, having not featured for our first team in a derby here since our debut visit of season 1999/00.

All Time Tyne-wear stats:
  P W D L F A
SJP 63 29 16 18 109 95
SoS/JP 64 19 23 22 87 95
League 127 48 39 40 196 190
SJP(PO) 1 0 0 1 0 2
JP 1 0 1 0 0 0
SJP(FA) 5 1 2 2 5 9
JP 2 1 1 0 3 0
SJP(LC) 1 0 1 0 2 2
JP 1 0 1 0 2 2
Cup/PO 11 2 6 3 12 15
Tot 138 50 45 43 208 205

Our failure to keep out the red and whites meant that we have now gone a full year since our last away clean sheet in the Premiership - a 0-0 draw at Manchester City on Nov 11th 2006.

Michael Chopra's late header against, rather than under the Newcastle crossbar, means that Pop Robson remains the only player to have scored for both sides in Tyne-wear derbies.

* We're not quite sure what criteria Sam is using to make this claim. Here's our points/game tally for the last 12 seasons:

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
07/8 3 4 5 8 8 11 11 14 17 17 17 18
06/7 3 3 3 6 6 7 7 7 7 8 8 9
05/6 0 1 1 2 5 8 9 9 12 15 18 18
04/5 1 1 2 2 5 8 11 12 13 16 16 16
03/4 1 1 1 2 3 3 6 9 12 15 16 16
02/3 3 3 4 4 4 7 10 13 13 16 19 19
01/2 1 2 5 8 8 11 11 14 14 17 20 20
00/1 0 3 6 9 10 10 10 13 16 16 16 19
99/0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 4 4 7 7 10
98/9 1 2 2 2 5 8 11 11 14 14 14 15
97/8 3 6 6 9 12 12 15 15 16 17 18 21
96/7 0 3 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 24 27

By our reckoning 18 points after 12 games makes this our best start to a season for... two years. Only after the Spurs victory could Allardyce have legitimately made this claim. Unless, of course, he meant we topped the table after the opening day....

Since the Spurs win we have lost twice and drawn once against meagre opposition which, quite rightly, has provoked one or two questions.

It should also be noted that a comparison with the nine points gathered last season is unfair as we had already travelled to Old Trafford and Anfield. This season we are still to meet the "top 4" home or away.

Top 10 Singles the last time we lost here:

1 The Jam Going Underground 
2 Liquid Gold Dance Yourself Dizzy 
3 Detroit Spinners Working My Way Back To You
4 Vapors Turning Japanese 
5 Fern Kinney Together We Are Beautiful 
6 Brothers Johnson Stomp 
7 Lambrettas Poison Ivy 
8 Genesis Turn It On Again 
9 Dr. Hook Sexy Eyes 
10 UB40 King / Food For Thought 

FAO younger readers: this is a record...


Our post-match headline said it all: "Embarrassment Avoided".

For the home boss there was frustration in not marking his first derby in charge by emulating a feat last managed by Ken Knighton in 1980 (Alan Durban, Len Ashurst, Lawrie McMenemy, Denis Smith, Malcolm Crosby, Terry Butcher, Mick Buxton, Peter Reid, Howard Wilkinson, Mick McCarthy and Kevin Ball having similarly failed or not had the chance.....)

For fellow derby debutant Sam Allardyce though (he never faced us competitively during his time wearing a red and white shirt) there was relief at not having become the first Newcastle boss since Bill McGarry to give a post-match loser's speech on wearside.

Our manager therefore joins Arthur Cox, Jack Charlton, Willie McFaul, Jim Smith, Ossie Ardiles, Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Ruud Gullit, Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness and Glenn Roeder in never having experienced disappointment in the dark place.

Whereas the previous week's 4-1 scoreline had dampened hopes of our repeating the 2006 triumph by a similar margin, there remained a tangible level of pre-game optimism that this wasn't to be the year it all went belly up.

However, while not as glum as the last time here when we trailed after 45 minutes, the mood this time at the interval was one of relief in having avoided conceding at least one goal to a harder- working and more committed-looking outfit. 

That we went in scoreless at half time was due in part to Harper and his defence - Faye the standout player - and some slipshod finishing from the home side.

Back had come Viduka after his four-game break and to our not-quite sober eyes he looked ever so slightly trimmer - unless he was breathing in a lot.

And Allardyce posed more questions about his selection and tactics by omitting both of the full backs he signed in favour of retaining Taylor in the right back berth and having N'Zogbia reprise the role on the opposite side that had paradoxically brought him goals earlier in the season.

Again though he resisted the temptation to alter his side after a 45 minutes he'd rather not dwell on and we set off in much the same way - apparently en route to a 0-0 draw, with neither side looking as if they had a goal in them.

What looked like a downing of tools at the back following a quickly-taken corner allowed the red and whites a sight of goal that even they couldn't avoid and we duly suffered the expected fiesta.

The consequent relief (and broken seats) caused by Milner's goal equated in our minds to the didn't-quite-see-where-it-was-coming-from-but-GET-IN of Andy O'Briens April 2001 point-saver.

While Ashley and his heavies/cronies celebrated though, that equaliser avoided what would have doubtless become a worsening of the bonhomie directed towards the visiting team from behind the goal as the clock ticked on.

We'll thankfully never know what the owner's plan B was in the event of defeat - front it out or risk losing PR points by making a tactical 89th minute withdrawal. 

Had we lost and he remained in row 20, he may have a) learnt a few new swear words and b) experienced at first hand a growing sourness amongst supporters towards the team and the tactics - and by implication the bloke picking both.

In the end though, there seemed a genuine (and justified) sense of loss among home fans for only claiming a point and missing a glaring opportunity to end "that" run (and screw another Toon boss royally, a la Gullit in the monsoon).

When things return to normality after this game, the feeling persists that today is little more than a footnote in history and the real tasks await us in the coming weeks.

The worry that was felt by fans, owner, players and coaches alike here gave way to relief thanks to Milner, but the failure to then complete the comeback with a winner meant that the feelgood factor was decidedly fleeting.

As in all derbies, the result was always of paramount importance in this game - but that picture now alters slightly over the coming weeks, especially in the two home contests against Liverpool and Arsenal.

Those chanting "Big Sam's Black and White Army" in the away end here today may find themselves in a massive minority when Wenger and Benitez bring their big guns out to play, if we play second fiddle as we did here to Roy's boys.

Defeat in either or both would hardly be unexpected, but something approaching a massacre would presumably return St.James' Park to a Souness-era theatre of hate.

As Sam will find out over the coming weeks what exactly he has in his squad, so he will also discover which way his public and his employers will react should things not go his way on the field.

And while there's always been a body of popular opinion that had him down as a marked man, there's now almost a disappointment evident in the media that we failed to lose this game and heap yet more pressure on his shoulders.

Make no mistake, the knives - and laptops - are out, as people bring their own agendas to the ground, some in the press box but increasing numbers in the stands.

Twelve games in and there seems to have been some sort of secret ballot that we didn't take part in but one which ensures that Allardyce will now have even more focus and debate on his every selection, substitution and soundbite.

Much (but not all) of what happens over the coming weeks will be down to sheer good fortune, rather than any planned formations or strategic magic.

Allardyce's failure to win this game though moves him inextricably towards the exit door in the minds of some. He himself talked about glasses half full and half empty afterwards.

It can be argued that the half full parts were Chopra's miss in the dying moments and Taylor's placement to clear the rebound. In a parallel universe the first one scores and rewrites history or the second one emulates Duberry against us at the same point in our last away game.

But equally the half empty portion was Michael Owen's inability to score in the second half when one on one with the keeper, or the failure of Oba Martins to set up a goal from the byline with almost his first touch.

Had the former happened, then the fact it came via the dreaded route one long ball from Harper would have been forgotten and the number ten would have a massive boost to his career here.

Or if the latter had quite literally come to pass and the sub registered another assist to go with the similar ones at home to Wigan and West Ham, then it's an inspired replacement - rather than a rerun of the folly of Souness in playing Bellamy wide on the left that it's now being seen as in some quarters.

As we've said before - all total madness and a billion miles away from how to run a business, but this is a business where logic, planning and common sense are rarely applied anywhere - least of all on Barrack Road. 

People's tolerance and patience levels currently appear to be running at frighteningly low levels.

Much as we feel compelled to appeal for punters to rein themselves in and provide support the team in the traditional manner, we would appear to be as likely trying to stop the tide coming in. 

The only sure-fire way of putting all of this nonsense to bed is in performances on the field that give people pride, enjoyment, value for money and belief in the players wearing those shirts.

That's not displays of the type seen at Reading, Derby or here of which further repetitions will ultimately cost Allardyce his job - with opinion already divided over whether he is building up this club or destroying it.

Will the real Newcastle United please stand up?


Page last updated 18 October, 2018