Saturday, December 31, 2005

Goodbye 2005, and good riddance

Tottenham 2 - 0 Newcastle

Another unmitigatedly disastrous afternoon for Newcastle Utd, so tragically awful it could have been scripted by old Billy Shakespeare himself.

Our talismanic striker Michael Owen is out injured for around three months after a collision with Spurs 'keeper and England colleague Paul Robinson at the end of the first half when making a valiant effort to grab an equaliser. The curse of the metatarsal deals a blow to England again - though I'm naturally far more concerned about the immediate impact on our chances of improving things in the second half of the season.

Ramage also made way at half time, his injury compounding our problems at right-back where Carr and Taylor are both still out.

Then, in the final minute of the second half, Shay Given - as ever, one of the few players intent on putting up a fight - had his hand stood on and broke his thumb.

No wonder Steve Harper was moved to say he thinks the club is cursed.

And, to add insult to serious injury, we lost the game 2-0 to a team of whom we consider ourselves at least the equal but who now sit pretty seven places and twelve points ahead of us in the table. Old boy JJ must be wearing a massive grin tonight, unlike all those on the Toon team bus.

As protests go, it was very honourable of the players to respond to the ridiculousness of a fixture list which sent our fans to London on New Year's Eve coinciding with a strike on the Underground by simply failing to turn up. Unfortunately the fans did turn up against the odds, as did the opposition, who cantered to one of the easiest victories they'll ever enjoy.

Parker, along with Given the only Toon player to perform, tried his luck very early on, but lacking the support of his team-mates (a familiar scenario) he was unable to cope with the trio of Jenas, Edgar Davids and Michael Carrick. It was their midfield companion Teemu Tainio who gave them a deserved lead just as we thought we might make it to the break unscathed.

Luque's appearance for the second half initially roused us, but chances were still not forthcoming and the Spaniard soon reverted to form, strolling lazily and moodily around the pitch. Spurs' onloan Egyptian striker and one time Toon target Mido, who set up the first, doubled the Londoners' advantage with a mis-hit volley which bounced into the ground and over Given.

That was essentially game over, though Parker went close with a 35 yarder and Ameobi fluffed a simple chance after substitute N'Zogbia's long range shot had been parried by Robinson. By that point Spurs could have been further out of sight, Davids trying his luck on a couple of occasions and Mido looping a free header into Given's arms and then forcing the Irishman to tip the ball onto the post from an acute angle.

So, it's goodbye and good riddance to a mainly rotten 2005. But, with Owen and Given out for the immediate future, 2006 isn't looking like being too much brighter.

Other reports: BBC


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