Monday, November 07, 2005

Turkish Delight for Souness

Newcastle Utd 1 – 0 Birmingham City

A twenty yard strike from Emre, midway through the second half, which Birmingham keeper Maik Taylor made a mess of saving, proved to be the only highlight in an otherwise dreary game on Saturday.

With the visitors without a league win since August, it was hardly surprising that they began the game intent on stopping our midfield creating anything; particularly after we had carved West Midlands rivals West Brom to pieces last Sunday. Unfortunately, Newcastle struggled to overcome the cloggers from Brum, and as a result the first half unfolded with few chances for either side.

The second half saw a speculative shot by Chelsea reject Jiri Jarosik beat Given only to come back off the far post, and Newcastle seemingly afraid to shoot.

That we should be so wary of shooting perversely led to the only goal of the game, with Owen and Ameobi preferring to lay the ball off rather than fire at goal, only for Emre to take matters upon himself, and drill a twenty yard shot towards the goal. Whilst clearly well struck, it should have proved a comfortable enough save for Maik Taylor, only for the Birmingham keeper to dive out of the way of the ball, and allow the ball into the Gallowgate net.

With our new found defensive solidity, and Birmingham's lack of attacking flair, one goal was always going to be enough to leave Manc lover Steve Bruce to bemoan his luck at the post match press conference, and see us remain in tenth as the International break takes hold.

It's hard not to find Steve Bruce's situation faintly amusing. Had he taken the Newcastle job when Fat Fred offered it to him, I hate to think which cloggers would now be populating our midfield, as it is, he remained "loyal" to Birmingham (a characteristic previously missing from his managerial CV, and I'm sure it had nothing to do with an eye on Alex Ferguson's impending retirement at Old Trafford) and we went looking for a manager in Blackburn.

As it is, he's now hoping David Sullivan and Karren Brady stay loyal to him (and let's be clear, she sold her own husband to a different club, so how loyal is she likely to be to old Steve?). Instead, we've got Souness, who has yet to truly convince that he's up to the job, but whose record in the transfer market is broadly sound (Faye and to a lesser extent Babayaro aside) and who now has a side capable of grinding out results as well as playing some good football whenever possible.

If we can keep scrapping our way through games like this, and producing flowing football when allowed it could prove to be the season where we get ourselves back on track. However, it's now a question of keeping this good run going through November and beyond, and if we can manage that we might be able to catch Wigan by Christmas.

Whether Steve Bruce will still be in a job by then he'll have to wait and see.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


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