Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Passport to the sun

In mid-February, having suffered a series of indifferent results and poor performances, the Newcastle squad jetted off to Dubai for what many fans, including myself, saw as an ill-deserved holiday in the sun.

However, though other factors - the departure of the disruptive Bellamy, the arrival of Terry Mac - need to be taken into consideration, the dramatic turnaround in our fortunes since that "team-building" trip cannot have just been coincidence. Upon our return we scraped a crucial win in Holland against Heerenveen and then promptly won the next seven matches in a row.

So, Saturday's draw at Fratton Park having put an end to the winning sequence and an international programme taking place over the next week and a half, Souness has naturally seized the opportunity to take those members of the squad not required for international duty back to Dubai. Let's just hope this jaunt has the same effect.

One player who might have been surprised to find himself sunbathing in the Middle-East is Nicky Butt, deemed surplus to requirements by Sven Goran Eriksson for England's forthcoming matches against Azerbaijan and Aaron Hughes's Northern Ireland. To be fair, he's not having a storming season, but then neither's JJ and he's in Sven's squad. (For once, though, Dyer actually deserves his place.) Even though the decision probably heralds the end of his international career, Butt's omission could well work in our favour, meaning he's fresher and more focused on his club football.

Aside from Shay Given committing to the club following more reported interest from Man Utd and Arsenal - entirely understandable given their identical goalkeeping problems - the only other news of note is that old foe Kevin 'Rat Boy' Phillips's wife has been cheating on him. With a mobile phone salesman.

Laugh? Us?


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