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Source - http://football.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/0,,1945335,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=5


Uncomfortable memories follow embattled Newcastle to Eastlands



Michael Walker

Saturday November 11, 2006

The Guardian



The comparison is inevitable and, for today at least, uncomfortable: Newcastle United visit the City of Manchester Stadium this lunchtime in the knowledge that after their last visit, on February 1, a 3-0 defeat accounted for the job of Graeme Souness. Nine months on and Glenn Roeder may be experiencing less personal pressure than Souness but Tyneside is getting a certain déjà vu feeling all over again. With Arsenal away next, an eighth Premiership defeat would spark another week of angry introspection.


Newcastle were 14th as January ended, in the midst of a bleak winter. They had just lost 1-0 at home to Souness's former club Blackburn, a third consecutive league defeat. Two of the three matches prior to that had been lost, so it was five defeats in six. Newcastle did not score once in those defeats. Souness and everyone knew the end was just a matter of time.

Today Newcastle visit City sitting 19th in the table, joint-bottom with Charlton. As in February Newcastle have just lost 1-0 at St James' Park, to Sheffield United, and have scored just once in their last five Premiership games - four defeats in five. With Manchester City yet to concede at home this season, it is a worrying statistic, though there is not that end-of-an-era feel about Roeder, yet.


That is because while Souness was 18 months into the job, Roeder is recently appointed. The mood around Newcastle is undoubtedly pessimistic but the frustration within it is being channelled towards the chairman Freddy Shepherd. In January the flak was directed at Souness, now "Sack the board" is the cry and it will get louder if United lose today.


In the background there is takeover talk that refuses to disappear, an unidentified buyer purchasing 1% of the club on Wednesday. Two prominent north-east figures who are said to be part of a consortium have denied being involved to the Guardian, but there is an air of uncertainty about the future that does not just focus on the team.


In contrast to January, the team has at least produced some style, the game against Sheffield United excepted. Admittedly prior to last Saturday, the captain Scott Parker had compared present form with last winter's and said: "Last time the performances weren't there and the results weren't there. We were struggling, we looked bitty. The good thing now is that the performances are there. But you can play as well as you want, if you are not winning it is not good enough. But confidence and belief is better than it was earlier this year."


James Milner rebuffed another comparison thrown at him, namely the fact that he was relegated with Leeds United, and in doing so also made much of Newcastle's strong self-confidence. "Two completely different situations and two completely different clubs," the 20-year-old said. "And it's still early in the season."


But Peter Ramage was able to give a local's assessment of today and said: "Man City is as important as any other game we have played for many a year. We saw the scenes after Sheffield United with the fans and we know we need to win at City."


From Whitley Bay, the 22-year-old Ramage played in February but about half that Newcastle line-up will be different today, with Roeder saying there will be "some part" played by Kieron Dyer, back from yet another injury.


Roeder recalled yesterday that he was on his way back from a Youth Cup-tie at Brentford the day of Souness's last game but the writing had been on the wall, and in the papers, for two months. Souness went without a whimper, but with a pay-off and Roeder took charge for Portsmouth at home three days later.


Newcastle had 15 Premiership games left and Portsmouth was the first of 10 wins that lifted the club eight places and into Europe. Alan Shearer, moreover, scored the second against Portsmouth, his 201st Newcastle goal. Shearer broke Jackie Milburn's record with the goal and the day felt like regime change. To those demonstrating outside St James' last Saturday, that is again the agenda.


Or maybe we're talking PJ and Duncan afterall. :lol:

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