Another defeat - Current crop just aren't good enough

Last updated : 30 December 2004 By Craig Hope (website editor)

Another game. Another defeat. How far we have fallen that a lot of supporters would have left St.James Park last night harbouring emotions of relief and surprise.

Two seasons ago we played Arsenal at St.James and were disappointed with a 1-1 draw for a victory would have declared our intent to win the Premiership.

A decent performance last night it may have been. We must not get carried away however. It was only a decent performance in comparison to the sub-standard displays that have been on offering in recent weeks.

We failed to create a clear cut opening whilst Arsenal allowed us to run ourselves into the ground – the running and effort the two main contributors to the applause the players received at full time. The applause however was thoroughly deserved – surely this must tell us that having given everything we could and still come out defeated that our players are ultimately short of quality.

Lee Bowyer is learning fast from Kieron Dyer. A player I have defended for so long is failing to offer any end product and now, like the perennial under-achiever Dyer, Bowyer’s performances are described all too often with phrases such as ‘run all day’ and ‘never lacking in commitment’. It is high time Bowyer started scoring and creating more goals.

Bellamy, for once, appeared bereft of motivation. No doubt wondering just how with both Kluivert and Shearer out of the side he still finds himself playing wide in midfield.

It is now all too apparent that Graeme Souness is incapable of manufacturing a top four side out of our current crop of players (something that Sir Bobby incidentally could).

Before the game Souness talks sense, after the game (when he isn’t moaning about officials) he again talks sense – all in all I feel he is a likeable guy. But what every football manager is ultimately judged upon is what they do in between pre and post match interviews. Souness’ tactical awareness during games appears inadequate and it is as if every move is a gamble – reassurance is something sadly lacking amongst the Toon Army at present.

The Scot’s signings must make an immediate impact at St.James Park. It must be a big impact at that given Souness has quite clearly demonstrated that with the disposal of our current personnel he is unable to produce a side capable of a top half finish let alone of achieving a Champions League berth.