Sunday, January 27, 2008


Time for a quick round-up of some of the other recent goings-on at St James's...

Disappointingly, it looks as though we've missed out on Jonathan Woodgate, who's reportedly agreed terms with Spurs. Once we'd had a fee accepted by the Smogs and been given permission to talk to him, it looked as though he'd be returning for a second spell on Tyneside - but Juande Ramos, also very definitely on the market for a commanding and composed centre back, seems to have wooed him.

There's no denying that re-signing him would have represented a significant gamble, given his serious and chronic injury problems during his time at the club - do we really need another Michael Owen? But the fact remains that when he did play, he was outstanding, and when fully fit last season his quality really showed - little wonder he was named North East Player Of The Year. Our defence is crying out for a player of his ilk and calibre - and, with time fast running out before the end of the month, it's looking increasingly likely that we'll have to go without until the summer.

At least there's no danger that Keegan might be panicked into re-signing another of our former central defenders - Jean-Alain Boumsong having just completed a £2m move from Juventus to Lyon...

Meanwhile, Keegan's offered the captain's armband to Owen on a full time basis, much to the striker's surprise. Owen said, "It was a tremendous honour and, at 28, it's a role I'm ready for and I'd love to continue in", but of course it smacks of being a fairly transparent olive branch in the light of the much-publicised criticisms of Keegan in his autobiography. Let's just hope that both can put whatever differences they had behind them, and that Owen can stay fit and start scoring regularly - though for that to happen Keegan will have his work cut out on improving the service to him...

Abdoulaye Faye and Geremi both scored the opening goals in their respective nation's latest games in the African Cup of Nations. Faye headed in for Senegal after 20 minutes, but their opponents Angola then hit three in reply, while Geremi scored a curling free kick to set Cameroon on the way to a 5-1 thrashing of Zambia. Both were Allardyce signings, as was fellow ACoN participant Habib Beye, and it'll be interesting to see whether Keegan rates them when they get back to Blighty.

Lastly, Antoine Sibierski's been talking about the "disrespect" the club showed him that led to his departure for Wigan in the summer. After Glenn Roeder's sacking, "suddenly, my contract had been changed to one year, with 40% of the wages guaranteed and the other 60% if I played. I could understand if I had been injured or basically crap but I had played well and didn't deserve that. It was a complete lack of respect and I'm disappointed about it to this day because I still love that club and I class myself as a Newcastle fan."

Good on him for refusing the deal - it was a typically clumsy move on the part of Fat Fred, and it's no wonder that most of Siberski's bitterness is directed at him: "I'm very happy that Shepherd has gone, even if it came too late for me. I don't know him as a man so I can't judge him as a man, but as a chairman he was not a good chairman. The players did not like him." Nice to know we were all on the same wavelength, then...


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