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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Newcastle v Spurs, 28.11.99

Last season's game - Newcastle 1 Spurs 1, 05.04.99
This season's home game - Spurs 3 Newcastle 1, 09.08.99
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This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- Newcastle United

Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           7   4   1   2    14-8   13
Away           6   1   3   2     7-13   6
Total (Prem)  13   5   4   4    21-21  19
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)  43  24   7  12    87-48  59
Away (Div 1)  43  15  14  14    70-76  45
Total (Div 1) 86  39  21  26   157-124 104
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)   6   1   3   2     6-7    5
Away (Div 2)   6   3   0   3     6-4    6
Total (Div 2) 12   4   3   5    12-11   11
Total (Prem)  13   5   4   4    21-21   19
Total (Div 1) 86  39  21  26   157-124 104
Total (Div 2) 12   4   3   5    12-11   11
Grand Total  111  48  28  35   190-156 134

Sunday's match at Newcastle comes a couple of weeks before we are due to face them in the Third Round of the FA Cup at Tottenham. In recent weeks, since Bobby Robson succeeded Ruud Gullit at St James' Park, Newcastle have succeeded in climbing out of the bottom four after a terrible start to the season. They are not yet out of the wood but if they continue to maintain their recent progress, they should soon climb to the relative safety of the no-man's zone between European aspirations and relegation concerns. This will be something of a novelty to Newcastle after making appearances at both ends of the table in recent seasons.

When Kevin Keegan was manager of Newcastle, he took them from the lower regions of the First Division to within touching distance of the championship. He then fell victim to Alex Ferguson's mind games and later resigned in the run-up to the floatation of the club on the Stock Exchange.

A huge sum of money and personnel swept through St James' Park when Kenny Dalglish succeeded Keegan. But Newcastle never seemed to make any progress under Dalglish, who comprehensively failed to match his achievements as a manager at Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers. I suspect the reason for that is that he did not have an intelligent coach at Newcastle. I have never taken Terry McDermott seriously as a coach.

Gullit succeeded Dalglish after walking out on Chelsea. Again, the expectations were not matched by events on the park, despite a further huge fortune being flung to all corners of the globe. Yet Robson, with very few signings, has started to turn the club around. The improvement in Newcastle's fortunes has co-incided with Alan Shearer's long-awaited return to form following a long lay-off through injury. If ever there was a one-man team, it is currently Newcastle. Without Shearer's expertise in front of goal, they struggled to score goals.

Robson's appointment can only be at best a short-term option in view of his age. He remains one of the best coaches we have in this country. I remember him as a player with Fulham and West Bromwich Albion in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a cultured player who would be worth millions today and who would probably be playing for someone like Manchester United. His managerial career had an inauspicious start as he was quickly sacked by Fulham but later had great success at Ipswich Town in the 1970s and early 1980s before leaving to manage England. Robson is the rarity among managers in that he has several times refused to become a manager at another club whilst still under contract to his employers. He argues that if managers break their contract with their club, why should we be surprised when players do so? One has only to recall the events at Highbury last season when Nicholas Anelka was making it clear he wished to leave Arsenal to realise how true this is ..............

As will be seen from the statistics above, we do not currently have a very good record at St James' Park. Our only win in the Premier League at St James' Park was as long ago as 14th August 1993 when Teddy Sheringham scored the only goal of the match. Our team that day was:

Thorstvedt; Austin, Campbell, Samways, Calderwood, Mabbutt, Sedgley, Durie [sub Turner], Howells, Sheringham, Dozzell. [Walker and Caskey were unused substitutes.]

No one should have any trouble in remembering that season because we survived relegation because of winning 2-0 at Oldham Athletic on a cold, biting Thursday evening. The final home game of that ill-starred season saw us crash at home to QPR, then managed by a certain Gerry Francis ....

If I may be allowed to digress for one moment, it is interesting to note that of the youngsters then on our books, only Steve Carr and Stephen Clemence [and Neale Fenn] are still with Spurs. It illustrates just how difficult it is to make the grade at Tottenham.

So what are our chances of winning up there on Sunday afternoon? We will have the advantage of being fresh for the match as we were eliminated from the UEFA Cup whereas Newcastle had a taxing match in Italy last night. But balanced against that is the fact that we still do not have a forward who can score goals on a regular basis like Shearer does for Newcastle. We have done well to climb to sixth place in the Championship, particularly as Iversen has scored fairly regularly and missed an equal number of chances. There is an outside chance that Korsten may be on the bench on Sunday afternoon but I do not think he will be risked just yet. The side largely picks itself simply because we do not have an in-depth squad. It is unlikely we will have the sort of squad we want until we can dispense with the services of those players currently out of favour.

I think therefore that we will probably do well to draw up there, although I am hoping we will snatch all three points thanks to a very late goal. A lot is going to depend on how Taricco and Edinburgh defend their flanks given the fact Newcastle tend to use the wings more than other clubs do so. So, either 1-1 or 2-1.

Incidentally, the game is not being shown live on Sky but we'll probably be shown any goals scored in our match during the Chelsea -v- Bradford City game being shown by Sky.

Cheers, Brian

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