Sunday, July 30, 2006

Off to a Duff start

Damien Duff's Newcastle career got off to an inauspicious start yesterday as we suffered a disappointing friendly defeat at home to PSV Eindhoven.

Defensively it was a throwback to the pre-Roeder days as we gifted the Dutch champions a three goal lead, with Jefferson Farfan, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Jason Culina punishing some atrocious marking.

Shola Ameobi continued his good run of pre-season form, heading in at the back post after good work on the right from James Milner and then bursting into the area only to be brought down. Albert Luque, recovered from whatever condition it was that kept him out of the second Lillestrom and Norwich matches, tucked away the spot-kick, but we couldn't find the equaliser we scarcely deserved.

A defeat like that was probably what we needed, actually, to temper the optimism that's been building up over the last few days with a dose of realism.

Yesterday's defensive shambles means I'm even more inclined to look with interest and anticipation on the reports carried by several of today's papers that Sol Campbell is keen on a move to the club. The defender, now a free agent following his departure from Arsenal, may be nearing the end of his career and isn't the player he once was for the Gunners - but he'd still be a very useful organising influence at the back to shore things up.

Another player linked with us repeatedly over the last few days has been Wayne Bridge. With Ashley Cole's move to Chelsea looking increasingly likely, we might well be in line to get another of the Blues' cast-offs - the fourth in less than two years, joining up with Duff, Scott Parker and Celestine Babayaro. Again, Bridge would be a very welcome addition to the side, a decent defender as well as a threat in forward areas - and infinitely better than Babayaro in every respect. Any move hinges on whether Jose Mourinho opts to let him go, though - and that's far from certain given that the sale of Asier del Horno to Valencia leaves the champions a bit short in the left back department.


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