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Alan Smith


jonbobson
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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/article6898796.ece

 

Pain can clear the mind of clutter and although Alan Smith has endured much mental and physical anguish over the past few years, he has emerged from it better equipped to lead Newcastle United’s promotion campaign. It says everything about the midfield player that while he admits that injury has left him diminished as a footballer, he is relishing the process of rediscovering himself.

 

After sustaining a significant leg injury while playing for Manchester United at Liverpool in February 2006, Smith is more rounded as a human being and he has conceded with engaging honesty that he is unlikely to return to the peaks he scaled at Leeds United and at Old Trafford. It typifies him that he will never stop trying. His spell at St James’ Park has been testing, but Newcastle’s relegation has dredged the best from him.

 

“I know I'll never be able to get back to as good as I was in terms of that two to five per cent that takes you to the very top - international level, Champions League level,” the 29-year-old said.

 

“My injury will restrict me from competing at the very highest level. As soon as I did my injury I knew that. I spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson about it and we both knew that it would be difficult to play at that standard, week in week out.

 

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“I am an honest person, I know that I'm not as good as I was, simple as that. There is certain stuff that I'm restricted with when I'm playing, like movement - I don’t play as freely as I used to. But I can still make tackles and I'm lucky to still be playing. I am happy just to play. I love playing in this position and I think I could still do it in the Premier Legume.

 

“But for the real pinnacle of international and Champions League football, then that two per cent is massive. It wasn't hard to come to terms with. I take everything as I go. I've never stopped trying to get back to that level. But I know deep down that it would be very difficult for me.

 

“Having said that, I have enjoyed this season as much as any in my career. It's been a breath of fresh air, I love the challenge in this division. At the end of the season, we want to lift that Championship trophy, that would be a massive achievement. If we do that I will be a happy man.

 

“I've missed so many games, but I can catch up this season, if we have a decent cup run as well. When you've been through something where you realise you might never play ever again, every game is a bonus. Playing at Anfield that day could have been my last game. So I enjoy every day.”

 

Not that life at Newcastle, who travel to Sheffield United tonight, is ever straightforward. It has taken seasons of turmoil for players to grasp responsibility, but fresh from the club’s relegation, a clear- out of players and a 6-1 friendly defeat at Leyton Orient, the first- team squad met at their training ground and embraced their predicament. Since then, a cabal of senior players have fulfilled a powerful role under Chris Hughton’s management.

 

“The hardest thing at the start of the season was knowing which players wanted to stay,” Smith said. “We came back in the summer and no-one knew what was going on in terms of would players be sold.

 

Certain players were making it clear they wanted to leave but the club said no-one was going to be sold. That was the most difficult time. We went to Leyton Orient and it was a disaster. But I think what came out of it was that everything came to a head.

 

“It was clear that five or six of the players wanted to leave which was fair enough. We had a meeting when we came back from the game - just us players. We said ‘whoever wants to leave they can leave and we'll help them to go. Whoever want to stay then commit yourself to stay’. That was a massive turning point. In a way, getting that bad result was the best thing that could have happened. It was screaming out what needed to happen.

 

“The lads who wanted to leave, left and the rest of us stayed. It wasn't just me who called the meeting, it was decided amongst us because it was that obvious to see what needed to be done. it was just a case of ‘lets do it’, a team thing. It was one of the strangest things ever. We were managing ourselves. Fair play to them, a few lads stood up and said 'I want to go' for whatever reason, to play Premier League football and the like. You can't hold people back.

 

“Chris knew that we were having that meeting and he stood back and let us sort things out. There was never a chance that I would be one of the ones asking to go. I needed to play regular football. That's what I've missed for the last three seasons. You just want to play. I was 29 on Wednesday so I can't afford to miss any more games. I never feel any twinge of regret when I see the likes of Damien Duff playing in the Premier. I wanted to stay.

 

“The Championship is more muck and nettles. It's Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday. You go to grounds where as a kid I used to watch football. The Premier League is this massive, world-wide thing, it's unbelievable, But this division has something special as well. We are seeing how difficult it is. We're going to places where everyone in the world expects you to win and sometimes you get beat. That's the beauty of it.

 

“In a way we are the Man United of this division, in that everyone wants to beat us. The Newcastle fans travel with us in unbelievable numbers - we had 5,500 at Nottingham Forest, which is incredible. Everywhere we go it seems like a special occasion, a big game.

 

“It is difficult every week when the other team runs that little bit further, tries that bit harder. It's going to be a long road but it will be good fun. This season has been very enjoyable. The camaraderie is great. Last year there was a big divide between players, fans and football club. This season you can see a togetherness.”

 

Bramall Lane will be the first occasion that Newcastle supporters have assembled since Mike Ashley took the club off the market, appointed Hughton as permanent manager and welcomed offers for the naming rights to their ground.

 

“There is the old cliché that they pay their money so they can say what they want and I believe that,” Smith said. “It is up to them if they chant this or that about the board. They support us so you can't say they're fickle. To get 44,000 against Doncaster Rovers was incredible, the highest attendance in the country.

 

“That tells you how passionate they are. They've helped us so much this season by getting behind us. I think they've enjoyed it as much as we have. There will be ups and downs. If you go Scunthorpe United, take 3,500 and get beaten you don't deserve a good reception. As a fan you want a team you can be proud of every week, win, lose or draw.” It is a remit which Smith is eager fulfill.

 

 

:clap:

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Yadda yadda. Important player this season and a bit of a kingpin at times. Him, Taylor and Colo will ensure that we don't concede many goals in this division. Hopefully he'll keep it up and won't be pushed upfront or anything ridiculous.

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Guest sicko2ndbest

So we brought a player who was never going to be as good as he once was, which was never that good anyway, for 6 mil + 50k+ a week. What a scouting team we had!

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Can't fault him on that interview, or to be honest his performance this season.

 

Canny interview but I don't think he's been anything spectacular with regards to his performances this season. Had a couple of decent games early doors, yet he is a liability as he will get booked more often than not which then restricts his game. A lot of the time he wins the ball back after his fault of either giving it away or not being able to trap it (which people still applaud him for) and he has no mobility.

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Smith is a real leader, both on and off the field it seems, and that's what we've lacked over the last 2 years.

 

His account of the meeting after the Orient game was interesting, because one or two players weren't up for it on that occasion. Beye in particular.

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Can't fault him on that interview, or to be honest his performance this season.

 

Canny interview but I don't think he's been anything spectacular with regards to his performances this season. Had a couple of decent games early doors, yet he is a liability as he will get booked more often than not which then restricts his game. A lot of the time he wins the ball back after his fault of either giving it away or not being able to trap it (which people still applaud him for) and he has no mobility.

 

Amazing really, that a striker with restricted movement can still be a more effective holding midfielder than Nicky Butt. Sums up why we are in this division I suppose.

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Class, now lets play football.

 

Can he wait until tomorrow night?

 

Yeye, he will get he`s chance tonight ;)

 

i am just a little tired of players going out to media painting a mental "Braveheart" picture, and roaring with a die hard attitude.

Then the next match its more like Hello kitty island adventure...

 

The above was not directly pointed at A. Smith, as i think he plays with with passion.

 

Let the action on the pitch speak for itself...

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  • 3 weeks later...

aside from the daft bugger nearly talking himself off the field, again...

 

he really is terrified of taking a shot at goal. there was a chance in the first half where the ball fell nicely to him around the 18 yard box and we were just willing him to have a dig at it but he was really hesitant about it and he ended up laying it off to someone (guthrie or jonas probably)

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