Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The View From The Away End

This is a new semi-regular feature aimed at offering more detached, distanced and objective perspectives on events at St James's Park from those who, unlike Paul and myself, have no allegiance to the club.

The first topic of discussion: Bellamy's strop and Souness's response

The participants:
Kenny - West Ham supporter and author of popcult blog Parallax View
Pete - Spurs and Sparta Prague fan who writes the general football blog Round And White

Kenny: "Despite his undeniable talent, Bellamy is becoming an increasing liability and should be sold while you can still get some decent money for him. The problem is that with the state of his knees every time he feels he's a fixture in the side he can sod off injured until the next big Wales game. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who noticed Bellamy's 'miraculous' recovery two months ahead of schedule co-incided with the first real threat to his starting place (ie Kluivert). Conclusion? He has no real commitment to any cause other than his own ego. Get rid, and if Celtic want him all the better, so there's less chance of him scoring against you sometime soon.

I also believe Dyer's best days are behind him, and if you don't sell him soon, you'll get nowt. If you get £10m for the both of 'em, you could buy more than adequate replacements with a bit more from Freddie's slushfund on top - Scotty Parker and Damien Duff from Chelsea, maybe? Although a decent centre-half wouldn't go amiss and why exactly are you persevering with Olivier Bernard?

As for Souness, this is surely his last chance at a big job and that may well play in his favour. He's always falling out with players anyway, so his confrontational style will at least bring things to a head quicker, whereas Bobby Robson was too patient for his own good, and you can only sweep problems under the carpet for so long. The issue is, that even with all your temperamental stars, you're not good enough for the Champions League at the moment, so the rebuilding process needs to start with getting rid of those more trouble than their worth. When Shearer goes (one season too late?) it will also be much easier to manage the club I think.

As for celebrity status, it's all very well Beckham being on front and back pages because he's got the medals and England skipper's armband to merit the attention. Dyer, Bramble et al have WON NOTHING and would be well advised to keep their heads down until they do.

If you're asking for predictions, I think Souness' reign will be a short but eventful one, but if he can see through the transitional period that shows Bellamy, Dyer and Shearer the door he will make the next manager's job much easier than if they'd taken over straight from Robson.

Pete: "Well, I’ve rewritten this about three times this week as Craig Bellamy’s fortunes have gone up and down. After a week of rumours it seems that Craig’s match-winning volley against Man City will be the final word on the dispute, at least for the time being.

My first thought on the matter at the time, was that it was really only going to be a matter of time before Souness and one of his players clashed or as Souness put it, ‘had a meeting’. The real surprise for me (Newcastle fans might well be of a different opinion) was that it was Bellamy who showed the first sign of dissent and not Dyer, Robert or even Shearer (although one of this trio is sure to express his opinion too before the season is out if things don't go according to plan).

Having said that, Craig has been developing a reputation as someone who enjoys a good moan. But perhaps this time, he has realised that all of this conflict is not doing him any good. If Souness were to freeze him out of the team at some point in the future, would any other (top) team be interested in taking Craig on?

Ultimately, Bellamy has to realise that he is likely to remain in the Newcastle squad, but that Souness is not a manager to take any nonsense (hello Dwight Yorke, David Dunn, et al). Furthermore, as a 'professional' he should just learn to accept his manager’s decision, regardless of whether he agrees with it or not. Luckily for Craig, Souness hasn't been particularly vindictive this time round.

Thanks to Pete and Kenny for their thoughts.

If you're not a Newcastle fan and weren't contacted about taking part in this feature but would like to become involved in future, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us an email at blackandwhiteandreadallover@yahoo.co.uk.


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