Thursday, August 17, 2006

Doom and gloom

With the start of the Premiership season only two days away, we could have forecast dark clouds would be gathering ominously overhead.

Where should I begin?

How's about with the news that we've almost certainly missed out on Dirk Kuyt, with the Feyenoord striker set to undergo a medical at Liverpool? As I've long suspected, he was angling for a move to the Scousers, and has told their website: "For me, Liverpool is sure to be the dream club I was looking for". That we didn't stand much of a chance is just underlined by the comments of Feyenoord chairman Jorien van den Herik: "Many clubs have tried to contact Dirk over the recent period, but he's said no to clubs every time. That characterises Dirk's attitude: either Feyenoord or my dream club".

Meanwhile, a report in yesterday's Guardian claimed we've earmarked Fulham's flying Dutchman Collins John, and are prepared to pay £5m for the 20-year-old's services. He might be quick and have a decent goalscoring record despite the limited first team opportunities Chris Coleman has afforded him - but £5m would be way over the odds and he's certainly not the player to shoulder Alan Shearer's goalscoring burden.

So, still no incoming striker - a fact which is even more worrying in the light of Glenn Roeder's recent comment about Michael Owen on a BBC Radio Newcastle show: "It's a long term injury. I don't know if he'll play again this season". No wonder that Les Ferdinand is worried about our prospects. (Good on Sir Les, though, for reiterating his fondness for the club, a fondness which is certainly reciprocated: "I really hope Newcastle break their trophy drought this season. It's the one club I played for, apart from QPR, that I'd love to see win a trophy because their supporters are amazing".)

The news from the international friendlies was hardly any more encouraging. While Steve McLaren's Beckham-less England romped to a 4-0 win over Greece at Old Trafford, the Republic of Ireland went down by the same scoreline at home to Holland. Two of the Toon's Irish stars Shay Given and Damien Duff had already pulled out through injury, though both are expected to line up against Wigan on Saturday, but Stephen Carr is now likely to miss out, having picked up a hamstring strain in the defeat. Young Toon winger Alan O'Brien made an appearance from the bench in the second half, but it was hardly the most auspicious of debuts.

Fat Fred and Roeder, in Dublin to cast another eye over Kuyt, must have been gutted to see another injury worry develop. Perhaps they might now be tempted to try their luck for Ajax's Klaas Jan Huntelaar, the Dutch debutant striker who scored twice and outshone the soon-to-be-Liverpool player.

Is there room for one more bit of bad news? Playing for England U21s on Tuesday against Moldova, Steven Taylor missed a presentable second half opportunity to give his side a 2-0 lead, and then promptly cocked up dreadfully to allow Serghei Alexeev to equalise in a game the Moldovans ultimately drew 2-2. The one silver lining? James Milner was left on the bench and thus didn't pick up an injury.

Happy days are here again, eh?


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