Sky TV Claim Toon Won't Reach Their Euro Dream!

Last updated : 13 August 2008 By Footy Mad - Editor
SKY Premiership Report - NEWCASTLE UNITED:

It is fair to say that life at St James' Park is far from dull and as Newcastle United brace themselves for a new campaign it looks like we will be treated to another season of highs and lows.

The Magpies are never shy of creating a story and although the young at heart will point to the drama of Byker Grove, it would appear television executives have missed a trick in failing to base a soap opera on Tyneside.

Last term continued the theme for throwing up the unexpected as former manager Sam Allardyce departed in January with supporters displaying almost as much gratitude as the rest of us show to the above named children's TV series for launching the careers of Ant and Dec.

Prior to kick-off last year, there were murmurs floating around the North East that Allardyce was the man to bring to an end a 53-year wait for a domestic trophy, but as Newcastle loitered above the relegation zone shortly after Christmas the former Bolton boss paid the price and that, of course, brought about the return of Kevin Keegan.

The Geordie Messiah is a Newcastle legend, as this writer found out to his cost on a social outing to region when an ill-advised, 'King Kev, I'm not so sure...' taxi seat opinion was offered, resulting in a barracking from an emotional driver and a severely lightened wallet following a dubiously hefty fare.

But they do say never go back, and that looked like it was the case as Newcastle continued to limp along under Keegan, who resisted the urge to invest heavily in the New Year transfer window, going nine games in all competitions without a victory as if walking through a swimming pool - bundles of effort, but little movement.

However, four wins from their final eight Premier League games saw the Toon avoid the drop and secured a 12th-placed finish to bring about a sense of renewed optimism for Keegan's second managerial spell and the 2008/09 season.

Newcastle, though, as has been established, do not do things by halves and frustrating summer months have been endured with new faces in short supply and opinions raging over Joey Barton's 74 days in Strangeways, while the midfielder has also been handed a Football Association violent conduct charge for his misdemeanour at ex-club Manchester City.

Newcastle have focused their attentions on ensuring star assets remain at the club and securing centre-back Steven Taylor's signature on a new three-year contract will be a major boost to a defence which leaked 65 league goals last term, while hopes are high that England striker Michael Owen will soon put pen-to-paper.

But many members of the Newcastle squad have flattered to deceive, often against the league's 'lesser' opponents, and this is perhaps the major reason why Keegan, a master in motivation and man-management, was reappointed.

The lack of significant signings, though, is alarming as Newcastle's squad is not one of the largest. Deportivo La Coruna defender Fabricio Coloccini is in advanced discussions, but the limited transfer activity and reports of two prospective club buyers - Indian business tycoon Anil Ambani, and the Singapore-based Profitable Group - raises questions over the long-term commitment of the current board.

A few optimists may insist Newcastle should be competing in Europe, but with a gap to Everton and Aston Villa existing from last season that not even the Tyne Bridge could straddle, and with the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City and Portsmouth reinforcing, Keegan appears to have his hands full.

Final league position: 10th.