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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v Newcastle, 24.10.98

This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- Newcastle United

Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           5   2   1   2     9-7    7
Away           5   1   2   2     6-12   5
Total (Prem)  10   3   3   4    15-19  12
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)  10   3   3   4    15-19  12
Total (Div 1) 86  39  21  26   157-124 104
Total (Div 2) 12   4   3   5    12-11   11
Grand Total  108  46  27  35   184-154 127

Life is not dull for very long on the Tyne! Less than 18 months after the Roundheads took control of the Toon under Kenny Dalglish, the Cavaliers are back in charge but with a much more pragmatic manager in Ruud Gullit than Kevin Keegan ever was. Gullit has promised sexy football for the weekly voyeurs of the Toon fraternity but makes no promises when it will appear. There have to be playing staff changes before the sexy football come back.

Alan Shearer continues to be the sole point of attack as various potential partners have come and gone. The most charismatic of those, Faustino Asprilla, fell out with Dalglish and has returned to Italy. Since recovering from his long term injury, Shearer has been slow to recapture his form at club level. There have been suspicions that Shearer has been thinking about moving abroad as Newcastle show no signs of winning trophies. Shearer denies harbouring such thoughts but he is approaching his prime and must wonder whether he will do better away from St James Park. It's down to who Gullit recruits ......

One Dalglish does remain at St James Park in the shape of Dalglish, Mark 2. Paul Dalglish is a very different type of player compared to his famous father. Dalglish senior scored many goals but his son can make chances for other players to score as well as scoring goals himself. Spurs will have to watch Dalglish if he plays.

The reign of George Graham began with a defeat but I thought there were signs that he has already made some defining points to individual members of the team. Our goal at Leicester was the product of flair and panache, a brilliant move from start to finish. But George will be well aware that Tottenham's biggest problem at the moment is concentrating for the whole rather than a part of the 90 minutes. Until Spurs eradicate that from their game, they are always going to concede sloppy goals. And that is something we cannot afford to do with Shearer hanging around on the park.

One consolation for Tottenham is that Newcastle's defence continues to leak goals. Until they solve that problem, neither side will figure prominently in the race for the championship but I am willing to wager that Graham will sort his defence out before Gullit does.

Tottenham can do themselves a big favour this week and send the Toon home pointless. If they can win their home games and pick up away points, there is no way that Tottenham will be joining the relegation struggle this season. But Ferdinand, Armstrong and Iversen had better get their act together, otherwise they will be looking for a new club sooner than they had hoped to be. Armstrong must be favourite for an early departure as he has lost confidence totally in his ability to score goals. A change of scene might help him to regain it.

The best goal I've ever seen scored against Newcastle other than Ronnie Radford's at Hereford in 1972? It has to be one that Jimmy Greaves scored in 1969-70. Newcastle had won a corner but Greaves, hanging about on the edge of his own penalty area, got to the ball before any Newcastle player did. Pivoting, he hared upfield towards the Newcastle goal with everyone chasing him. McFaul came out to pluck the ball off his feet but Greaves had danced away to plonk the ball in the net.

And my forecast? I think Spurs will shade it, 2-1. But that depends on the centre-backs maintaining 100 per cent concentration.

Cheers, Brian

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