The Times, Sunday Times and Telegraph now seem to require registration to view articles on their sites, with the Times and Sunday Times charging readers outside the UK. The Times/Sunday Times has also moved some of the older articles into an archive which requires separate registration and requires you to pay to access the content. The Independent now charges for access to articles more than a week old.
Now regular listeners may know that I'm one of the more optimistic listers, but really, really....this was sheer, unadulterated, embarrassing, ** consults Thesaurus** pathetic, insipid s***e.
I've not seen a performance this bad since the arse end of Wilko's last season. And while a few 'Sack O'Leary'ites popped up on the after-match talk shows, it's mainly not his problem. OK, we know he's tactically clueless at times, including another mind-boggling substitution today when Viduka, showing less interest than Hasseltwat on an off-day, was not hauled off for Keane - even a half-fit Kewell is more likely to produce summat than that lazy sack o's***e was today.
Having said that, forwards can do nowt without service, and, bar a couple of occasions over the whole 90 minutes, that's what they got - nowt. The whole midfield bar the ever-impressive Dacourt strolled round like they were off to feed the ducks in the Tyne. Oh, except when Bow reverted to popular stereotype and decided to kick people instead. With nothing in midfield, the defensive four stared like rabbits in headlights as a frankly average Toon side, roared on by 50,000 prawn-munching tossers, swarmed all over us.
And it all started so well. Actually, no it didn't. Our comedy defence, with Uncle Gary Kelly putting in a display which Nigel Worthington would've been ashamed of, presented two gilt chances to the skunks, both of which they made a hash of, before we got a free-kick which Ollie hit against the wall for a corner. Nah, someone had moved, the ref booked him, he argued, the ball went forward 10 yards, and Ollie found a gap in the wall from about 15yards out. 0-1.
I think we had another shot later in the half, but regardless for the rest of it Newcastle passed it around, regularly lost it, but that didn't matter as we immediately gave it them back every time. One saving tackle from Rio and another from Woody kept it at 0-1 but the defending was shocking - at one point two zebras arrived at the far post, both completely unmarked for a cross, Kells having decided to nip off early for a half-time pie. Five minutes before half time Bow booted someone into the air and Solano converted the free-kick in spectacular style from 30 yards out. Before I'd even finished the fag I'd lit at the point that went in, Kells got in on the act and Acuna met the resulting free-kick with no yellow shirt even close to him. F***ing hell. 2-1.
Well, that was the good bit. The second half was even worse. Bow hit the inside of a post from a nice move constructed by Keane and Kelly, and that was it. But bringing Keane on for Kewell left us practucally playing 4-3-3, and as we know from earlier this season 4-3-3 means no width and we just kept running into a stripey wall. So the other 44 and a half minutes were solely taken up by us giving the ball to Newcastle and them failing to do anything much with it. Utter, utter garbage.
Oh, and this was a Newcastle side missing Christ knows how many first team players too....
Robbo 6 Couldn't do anything about the goals, not seriously tested otherwise.
If we can't beat Everton I may start to panic a bit.
Yesterday I heard Paul Ince comment on Middlebrough's new manager and their new improvement in results. He said that before, under Robson, the players used to just turn up and play off the cuff. BUT now Venables has given the team and each player instructions that are to be carried out during the game.
This is what I think....
Leeds play "off the cuff"
Nobody has got a clue what they are doing individually or collectively. The defence, midfield and attack are all isolated and none of the units work together.
Leeds got an early lead from Dacourt's free kick. Much to the Geordies chagrin the ref moved the wall back a further 10 yards after a player had encroached. 1-0. 4000 Leeds fans noses bled in unison.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 27/12/2000.
The scoreline suggests a tightly fought contest with home hearts fluttering through nerve-jangling stoppage time, but for Leeds yesterday's reality was stark and depressing.
Newcastle, robbed of eight first-team regulars, made their visitors look decidedly spineless; the £18m record signing Rio Ferdinand's expression at the end was as desperate as his performance and had Lee Bowyer's second-half volley, belted against a post, earned the Yorkshiremen a point it would have been a travesty.
"It was a ding-dong of a game," said the home manager Bobby Robson whose side was oustanding throughout. The visiting fans, packed in the top corner of the Milburn stand, hardly left merrily on high.
Copy from The Independent of 27/12/2000.
As their Champions' League campaign has proved, Leeds know all about achieving remarkable results with sides wrecked by injury. This time, however, roles were reversed and David O'Leary found himself undone by a Newcastle United side so mired in debt and long-term injury that their only recognised striker was a 19-year-old making his first start in the Premiership.
In the starkest contrast to Bobby Robson, the Leeds manager may have had David Batty and Robbie Keane in reserve but after four defeats in five games, O'Leary finds himself six points from the relegation zone. Much more of this and the only route back to the Champions' League will be to win the European Cup.
"It makes it very hard if we are going to get back in through the league," O'Leary said. "We have had some great wins and a lot of poor defeats and they don't come any poorer than that. We looked very dodgy at the back and not much good going forward and that doesn't give you much hope."
It was perhaps the most astonishing victory of Robson's time at Newcastle, especially since he learned he would have to do without Alan Shearer for three months once the Newcastle captain undergoes a knee operation this morning. "He has been a hero to us," said a hoarse Robson. "He has looked after us so many times, it is time for us to look after him and give him some rest. You will have to ask the chairman if there is money to provide a replacement."
The match was settled by three first-half free-kicks, all of which produced goals both controversial and spectacular. Given Leeds' enormous superiority in quality of players, the shot from Olivier Dacourt which was driven through the wall in the eighth minute should have been decisive.
It was originally taken on the edge of the area but, after Andy D'Urso had spotted encroachment from Christian Bassedas, it was retaken inside the box and driven past Steve Harper who was still waiting for the referee's whistle when it struck the net.
A sense of injustice burned through St James' Park which seemed to inspire Newcastle and nobody more than Kieron Dyer, employed as an out-and-out striker alongside Shola Ameobi, a gangling teenage product of their youth system, who, while out of his depth, acquitted himself admirably.
As the one readily saleable player Newcastle have, Dyer's future has been the subject of speculation and yesterday he provided a dazzling advertisement for his own ability, striking the bar from 20 yards out.
The free-kick that drew them level was as spectacular as the first was controversial. It was struck by Nolberto Solano from 30 yards and crashed down over the line from the intersection of crossbar and post.
Two minutes later Newcastle were, astonishingly, ahead as another Solano free-kick was headed home by Clarence Acuña for the Chilean's first Premiership goal and, although Lee Bowyer volleyed against the post in the second half, Leeds are beginning to run out of time, even in December.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 27/12/2000.
ALL the hype concerning the introduction of big-money signings, the dawning of new eras and journeys to Promised Lands lies, like shattered crystal, in a thousand pieces in the wake of a fourth defeat in five Premiership outings for Leeds United.
It is all going horribly wrong. Where, oh where, is the effervescence, the buoyancy, the freeflow football, the impishness, indomitability and impudence that we all witnessed and embraced so dearly last season?
Like a ragbag assortment of tentative, tip-toeing novices the current multi-million pound team - and in action here were probably the best available to manager David O'Leary - are simply not cutting the mustard.
Stand-in skipper Gary Kelly is suffering the same pattern of form failure that has seen Ian Harte frozen out of the first team picture and is on the brink of the same fate.
Dominic Matteo is prone to positional stranding, Eirik Bakke is a pale shadow of his former self, Lee Bowyer is losing his edge, Harry Kewell hasn't got his appetite back and Mark Viduka is blowing hot and cold.
O'Leary was first into the confessional, admitting: "We took an early lead but that's the only thing we did. I was concerned that all over the pitch we didn't perform. We looked very dodgy at the back, poor in midfield and hardly got going up front.
"That combination is not going to win anybody Premiership points. We were outbattled by a team who played with a lot of passion, We were outfought all over the pitch. We have had a lot of poor performnaces this season but they don't come any poorer than this.
"We didn't even give Newcastle a game. I thought Kieron Dyer and the other lad up front, Shola Ameobi, gave our centre backs a bad time. Rio Ferdinand has been outstanding but this wasn't one of his best games.
"No matter what team is put out by Newcastle, having lost on Saturday and coming back to their own place, they are going to be trying very hard. If there was a ball there they got to it first.
"It makes life very hard if we are going to make the Champions League through the Premiership. Even before this our league form has been a big worry. We played well against Sunderland and were mugged against Aston Villa.
"But our away form has left a lot to be desired and we deserved to be beaten here."
Said Newcastle boss Bobby Robson: "I'm very happy. We showed a great collective spirit. Young Shola did a great job. All our competitive midfielders got a booking which showed their instincts, but of all the bookings I didn't think one was deserved.
"They are players going for the ball. Let them do it. Let them enjoy it.
"It was a ding-dong of a game. We had eight senior players out and the team has done very well against a strong Leeds team.
"We were down to the bare bones and they had internationals on the bench. I didn't change my team because I thought everyone deserved to come off together having played so well together.
"I like their midfield - Bowyer, Bakke and Dacourt are as good as anything in the league. But we matched them.
"For their goal the ref never even blew the whistle for the free kick to be taken. We fought back because inwardly we had that competitive element. Sometimes when things like that happen you get a collective urge to go and do something.
"Kieron Dyer stimulated the crowd, dribbling and shooting, and he started limping after 20 minutes. I thought if I had to pull him off I would take a taxi home and miss the rest of the game."
Skipper Lucas Radebe was relegated to the bench to make way for Olivier Dacourt in midfield in the only change from the side which tumbled to a pre-Christmas defeat against Aston Villa.
In the first meaningful move Dyer, cutting in from the left with precision and purpose, had the United defence in tatters but, with three men queueing up for the cutback, Robinson played a blinder in cutting it out.
United went ahead in hugely controversial circumstances on 11 minutes. Bowyer was adjudged to have been brought down 20 yards out by Acuna, and when Bassedas raced out of the wall referee D'Urso booked him and invoked the ten-yard retreat rule.
Dacourt slotted his direct free kick round the wall and into the far corner and, to a man, Newcastle complained about the official not having blown his whistle for the kick to be taken.
But the goal was allowed to stand, to the fury of the home contingent.
A remarkable performance was unfolding from home debutant Ameobi, a giant teenage striker out of the Paulo Wanchope mould with his ungainly running and unpredictable nature.
In a variety of promising positions he was requiring a touch too many, but once he brilliantly turned Woodgate, who landed on his backside, in the area only to be foiled by Robinson.
Dyer, too, was catching the eye and he all but equalised on 33 minutes, his dipping shot smashing the bar from Solano's nod down.
Woodgate's last-ditch challenge thwarted Dyer from Ameobi's glancing header into the box but four minutes before the break Newcastle were level, Solano's breathtaking free kick from 25 yards thundering in off the underside of the bar after Dacourt had felled Barton.
And two minutes later they were in front, Acuna rising above everybody to powerfully nod home Speed's free kick from the left.
A sensational tackle from Woodgate halted Dyer when it seemed he must increase Newcastle's lead and when United broke Ferdinand's back-post header from Bowyer's corner was too weak to trouble Harper.
Keane replaced Kewell on 58 minutes but it was Newcastle who came close twice in the space of a minute, Ameobi heading narrowly wide and Dyer spooning over the bar from close range.
Dyer could then only find the side netting from an acute angle as his partnership with Ameobi flourished further.
As for Leeds, Smith was booked for nothing more than backing into Barton in an aerial duel.
On 65 minutes, though, they endured some desperate luck when Keane sent Kelly on the overlap and his cross was met sweetly on the volley by Bowyer only for the ball to hit the inside of a post, snake along the line and roll to safety.
Bassedas bobbled a shot wide and Solano was too high when he attempted a repeat of his free kick antics.
United nearly stole an injury time equaliser when Smith chipped in for Viduka, but a telling touch eluded him.
KIERON DYER proved yesterday just why David O'Leary would love to bring him to Elland Road.
The Newcastle United midfielder produced an explosive performance that tore Leeds apart at St James' Park and condemned O'Leary's men to a fourth Premiership defeat in five outings.
O'Leary is keen to add England international Dyer to his array of young guns. And it wasn't difficult to see why yesterday as he displayed all his silky skills to orchestrate a Boxing Day blitz on a beleagured United and help set up a 2-1 success for the Magpies.
Dyer is the missing piece in the jigsaw as O'Leary edges closer to completing the acquisition of his dream team.
Newcastle would demand £15 million for his services, but with Alan Shearer undergoing a knee operation today which will keep him out of action for the rest of the season, and an already-extended injury list, manager Bobby Robson is more inclined towards buying than selling.
Robson purred over Dyer's contribution, saying: "He started limping after 20 minutes and I thought then that if he had to come off I would get a taxi home and miss seeing the rest of the match."
O'Leary was horrified by United's tame efforts, blasting: "We took an early lead but that's the only thing we did. I was concerned that all over the pitch we didn't perform. We looked very dodgy at the back, poor in midfield and hardly got going up front."