Following a disastrous season to forget at Newcastle United, thoughts among some might be turning to the European Championships starting tomorrow. Moussa Sissoko (France) and Rob Elliot (Republic of Ireland) will be Newcastle United’s only representatives there, though bearing in mind that this will be the biggest shop window for footballers short of the World Cup, this might be a good thing.
Some might wonder how Sissoko managed to book his place with one of the more fancied teams after some of last season’s performnances, some might praise Elliot for some good performances standing in for the injured Tim Krul despite everything. However, players like that will not be the focus of this piece. I’m sure that pretty much all of you will know what they have been up to, along with high profile ex-players taking part such as James Milner (England) and Yohan Cabaye (France). Instead, I will look mostly at the “where are they now” players who will be there who used to ply their trade on Tyneside. Of these, the majority of the players (three out of four) will be playing for the two Irish sides in the competition, and another will be managing the Northern Ireland team.
Venue: St James’ Park, Newcastle. Date: Sunday 2nd September,2012. Kick-Off: 4:00pm. Referee: Lee Probert. UK TV: None.
Sunday brings Premier League football back to St James’ Park as Aston Villa provide the opponents for a 4pm kick-off. There will be no UK TV broadcast of the fixture so it will be time to scour the internet for links if you’re not attending the match.
Newcastle will look to bounce back from last weeks defeat at Chelsea. While Villa have lost both their Premier League fixtures to date, a 0-1 loss to West Ham, and a 3-1 defeat to Everton last week at Villa Park. Historically Villa have struggled at St James Park, with only one win in the last twelve years. So the omens do look good if you believe records mean something.
Newcastle United Vs Aston Villa History
The way in which the Villans goaded the Magpies back in 2009 when Newcastle were relegated still strikes a nerve with many Toon followers. On Newcastle’s return to the Premier League in 2010 / 2011, Villa provided our first opponents at home, so a chance for some kind of retribution presented itself. Joey Barton, a Kevin Nolan double and an Andy Carroll hat trick helped to inflict a 6-0 mauling for the Magpies. Last season, Papiss Cissé introduced himself in style, controlling Jonas‘ left wing cross and lashing a volley past ex-Magpie Shay Given to secure a 2-1 victory. The last time we lost to Villa at St James’ Park was during the 2004 / 2005 season, where we witnessed Lee Bowyer and KieronDyer fall out very publically and get themselves sent off for fighting after Bowyer felt that Dyer was refusing to pass the ball to him in the game. (more…)
Venue: St James’Park, NE1. Date: 5th February 2012 Kick Off: 1.30pm Referee: Mark Halsey.
Well, it was another three points in the bag for the Magpies as they passed the supposedly “magical” 40 point mark, with no less than 14 games of the Premiership season to go. Apart from this though, the most obvious salient point of this game was the debut of our second Senegal sharp shooter, Papiss Cisse, who took a mere 72 minutes to open his account for Newcastle United in spectacular style.
Starting the game on the bench, with Leon Best starting upfront alongside Demba Ba, it was expected that he would be given a run out some time in the second half just to get acclimatised for a probable start in the next game. However, assuming that was the general idea, and I think it’s safe to assume that it was, the plan had to be brought forward significantly when Leon Best was blocked from taking a shot by Villa’s Stephen Warnock. Best’s leg awkwardly struck Warnock’s blocking lower leg instead of the ball, with the striker picking up a Warnock knee knock in the process. Eleven minutes and he was out as Alan Pardew faced a very tough call, whether to select Cisse or Fenham’s very own goal machine, Shola Ameobi, as they both warmed up on the touchline. Of course, the Silver Supremo would have probably been flayed alive if he didn’t stick with the script, albeit with the star of the show taking his call earlier than expected.
Venue: St James’Park, NE1 Date: 5th February 2012 Kick Off: 1.30pm Referee: Mark Halsey
I never used to bother much about Aston Villa. They were just one of those “middle of the road” clubs who chug along season after season with reasonable-sized crowds but nothing particular to shout about. I got a bit annoyed at them when they kept trying to pinch James Milner a few years ago, but I suppose the point at which my attitude towards them changed significantly was in May of 2009.
It was during the game we lost at Villa Park which sealed our relegation from the Premier League. Being relegated was a massive blow to United, the club, the management, the fans – but the puerile chanting and infantile banners on display that day by a section of the Villa support were a disgrace to their club and will live long in the memory. These days I therefore have them in the same list as the likes of Tottenham and Man Utd – teams I just love to see us beat – for various reasons I won’t go into here, but which I’m sure some of you share.
With this in mind, Villa could hardly be arriving at St James’ Park at a better time. United are back in town after three away games on the trot culminating in the win at Blackburn Rovers. Demba Ba is also back from his exploits with Senegal and is raring to get amongst the goals once again. He’s certain to start. This time of course, we also have his Senegalese strike partner Papiss Demba Cisse in the squad, wearing the famous Newcastle United number nine shirt. We don’t know at this stage whether Cisse will start the game. Manager Alan Pardew has been hinting at allowing him to soak up the atmosphere from the bench first, before unleashing him to what would be a certain gladitorial entrance, the likes of which only a Newcastle crowd can conjure up. It’s a judgement call. Personally, the way the weather is in the North East at the moment, especially the temperature, I’d let him on from the start so he can run around and keep warm! (more…)
Venue: Britannia Stadium, Sir Stanley Matthews Way, Stoke-upon-Trent. Date: Monday, October 26th, 2011. Kick-off: 8:00pm. Referee: Mike Dean. TV: Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports HD 1.
Well, The Magpies must pick themselves up from their disappointing capitulation against Blackburn Rovers in the League Cup and prepare themselves for a trip to another of the nation’s great beauty spots, Stoke-upon-Trent.
A game against Tony Pulis’s hard tackling long throwing giants will be no Vicarage tea party, that’s for sure, and though there probably won’t be much “Champagne football” on the menu, it will be a stiff test for the lads. Especially so after a gruelling extra time midweek thriller which ultimately ended in disappointment. As if that wasn’t enough, we could also be without our own head of enforcement, Mr T, but more on that in the team news. Consolation for us however is that whilst the Magpies were exerting themselves in the ultimately doomed encounter at Ewood Park, Stoke were also playing in the competition, suffering the same kind of disappointment when they were knocked out by Liverpool in a 2-1 defeat.
If you won’t be at the game, make sure to check out our regular “match banter” feature, which will be posted around an our before kick off. (more…)
Aston Villa 1 (Agbonlahor 13) Newcastle United 1 (Best 57)
Both teams went into this game unbeaten in the Premier League so far, but with the Magpies four places ahead in the table through an extra victory, with nearly all of Aston Villa’s games being draws. And so it proved today once again.
Despite being dominated for long spells of the game and tailing off pretty badly at the end of each half, Aston Villa held out for another draw, their fourth out of five so far. It was a fairly exciting encounter overall, though in one respects it was like Newcastle United’s previous game against QPR. This time however it was the Magpies who were in the driving seat for much of the game, and would have been almost certainly disappointed to walk away with only a point.
We got off to a much better start than we did in that game with some great pressure. Unfortunately though, it wasn’t to last. Unlike that last game, Aston Villa had Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor instead of Jay Bothroyd, and as soon as a real chance presented itself to the Villans, the latter of the two made no mistake. After around ten minutes of the game, Gabriel Obertan almost left our former goalkeeper, Shay Given with egg on his face as an attempted forced a tip-over from the Irish shot stopping supremo. Three minutes later though, it was the dominant Magpies who had egg all over as the babovementioned Abonlahor picked up a Bannen cross, holding off Captain Colo to slip in a nice low short range finish in the box. It must be said, or even written, that our defending could have been better there though. Damn and blast it all! Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle United.(more…)
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham Kick off: Saturday, 17th Sept, 3pm Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Well if stats are anything to go by, our forthcoming away clash with the Villans, the result could well be another 0-0 like the QPR match. Of course though, there’s been many a time in the past when people like myself written stuff like that and the games have ended up as 4-3 scorchers so here’s hoping!
While both Newcastle United and Villa have made fairly promising starts to the season, the best in fifteen years for Newcastle no less, this has been more on the back of solid defences rather than exciting, entertaining Cavalier style attacking play. Both teams are yet to lose, with Aston being the draw specialists on the Premiership so far with three of their first four games ending up deadlocked. Incidentally, whilst I’m wheeling out the stats, Villa are also the all time draw specialist in Premier League history with no less than 226 altogether in the nineteen and a bit years of the competition so far, which is around twelve draws a season. While the Magpies have one more victory than the Villans, and are four places ahead in fourth, we have scored but three goals in our opening four games, whereas Villa have scored five.
Moving on from part two, it’s now time for the final chapter in the trilogy of articles I have written profiling Shay Given’s time at Newcastle United. Hopefully, it will end on a high and not be resurrected with a 4th instalment some 20 years into the future (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull anyone?)
Newcastle began the 2005-2006 season by failing to qualify for the UEFA Cup via the Intertoto after failing to progress past Spanish side Deportivo La Coruña. Newcastle’s league campaign didn’t go to well either resulting in Souness getting the sack in February, and Glenn Roeder taking charge in a caretaker capacity to the end of the season. Roeder’s instalment helped propel United up the league and eventually finish in 7th position, meaning that we got another chance in the Intertoto the following season. Shay played every Premier League match and his excellent form saw him named in the PFA Team of the Year for the 2nd time in his United career.
“Shay is so like Gordon Banks, he’s not the tallest keeper but makes up for his lack of height with incredibly fast feet. They make his reaction times, for example from close range headers, quite remarkable. Possibly the best I’ve seen. And in terms of his all-round game, what I’ve seen of him in the last 18 months or so has been phenomenal. His development has staggered me. He’s now displaying a palpable all-round knowledge of his art. His positioning is impeccable and his consistency is remarkable”– Former Arsenal legend and goalkeeping coach Bob Wilson on Shay Given.(more…)
As Given’s first 5 years at Newcastle came to an end, the 2002-2003 season began with United qualifying for the Champion’s League first group stage after a comfortable 5-0 aggregate win over Bosnia and Herzegovina’s FK Željezničar.
At the season’s start, Sir Bobby Robson had decided that he was going to alternate Given with Steve Harper for our European matches, a decision which did not bode to well with the Irishman:
“Personally I’m not adjusting very well to being in and out every week, I’d rather play in every game. But I’m not the manager and I don’t pick the team. It’s his decision, but I was very disappointed when I first found out. Hopefully he won’t do it too often. I don’t think you can keep alternating between the keepers for very long, but I don’t know what will happen.(more…)
Moving on from my previous article on Gary Speed, it is now time to profile another ex Newcastle United legend from the past decade. This time focusing on current Manchester City and Ireland international goalkeeper, Shay Given.
Born April 20th 1976 in Lifford, County Donegal, Ireland, Shay started his career at his boyhood club, Celtic, before moving onto Blackburn Rovers. Whilst at Blackburn he spent loan spells at Swindon Town and Sunderland. It was at Sunderland where Shay won his first trophy, picking up the Football League Championship in 1996, this was also the same year he won his first cap for Ireland, in a friendly match against Russia at Lansdowne Road.
He joined Newcastle United In the summer of 1997, signed by former Magpie’s manager Kenny Dalglish for £1.5 million from Blackburn Rovers. This was the second time Dalglish had signed Given, previously signing him for Blackburn from Celtic in the summer of 1994. Demonstrating his athletic nature and sharp reflexes, Shay spent a total of 12 excellent seasons on Tyneside. In my opinion, he was the best ‘keeper Newcastle have ever had, certainly in my lifetime so far anyway, and one of the best shot stoppers the Premier League has ever had.
His outstanding shot stopping ability was evident from the moment he first featured for us, in a pre-season competition ‘The Irish Tournament’ at the start of the 1997-1998 season. United subsquently won the tournament (anybody else remember Rob Lee shaking the trophy over his head like a mad man?) and as an impressionable 12 year old boy, I remember thinking, not only about how much are new green ‘keepers top looked like a Crocodile / Human hybrid skin shedding, but also that we potentially had got ourselves a great player. I also remember really wanting a pair of Adidas ‘Fingersave’ gloves like Given’s and how I would be able to convince my parents to get me a pair! (more…)