Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Can Still Do It - Bobby

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Can Still Do It - Bobby

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Sir Bobby Robson last night backed his faltering first team squad to prevail in their desperate fight for a top-four finish, despite yesterday's uninspiring draw with Aston Villa.

However, Newcastle's manager admitted he would be powerless to protect his players from mounting tension in the four days preceding Saturday's pivotal Wear-Tyne derby.

United appeared nervous and unambitious during long spells of a largely lacklustre affair and have now claimed just one Premiership point from the last available 12.

But, on the day Chelsea leapfrogged the Magpies to move into third place, Robson insisted: "We can still do it.

"It's in our hands but I'm confident we can take nine points from our remaining three fixtures and clinch that top-four finish.

"That has to be our target and the players must stay strong. Every club experiences a blip and ours is now, but we can come out of it.

"There's a lot of anxiety around the place and a few nerves are frayed.

"There's tension in the air and we can't hide it or hide from it. It won't be possible to reduce the tension with a derby coming up, but we've been through it before and we must come through it again."

Nolberto Solano's seventh goal of the season, a superbly-struck free-kick in the 37th minute, broke the deadlock on the day Tyneside became engrossed in an increasingly fascinating Champ- ions League race.

However, an unmarked Dion Dublin stooped to head home an equaliser 21 minutes from time and Newcastle were left to rue the type of defensive error which had already seen them tumble out of the title race. "We've had a debriefing about that one, but we do assign certain players to pick up certain opponents and it shouldn't have happened," added a clearly upset Robson. "It was hard to take. Everybody has voiced their opinion in the dressing room as to what went wrong and we will watch the video with interest. …

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