Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Another Grim Day for United Faithful

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Another Grim Day for United Faithful

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

"Setbacks are there to be surmounted and we're expecting a redoubling of efforts from the players," wrote Freddie Shepherd, outlining the Newcastle board's frustration at a cheerless week at St James's Park in Saturday's match programme.

"We have now got a good opportunity to put things right against Birmingham." Another day, another defeat, another disaster for Sir Bobby Robson and his misfiring Magpies.

Put in their place by Manchester United and denied a Champions League return by Partizan Belgrade, the club's week of woe ended with the third insipid home loss in the space of seven days.

His players having left the pitch to a cacophony of boos from their fans, Robson's hangdog demeanour told a story in itself.

"We are in trouble," he conceded, scratching his head as he searched for the answer. If he does not find it soon, Tyneside's hopes of success this season face being seriously undermined.

These are early days in the season and Robson has been at pains to remind the critics that the Magpies started slowly last term yet finished third.

But, had United not stuttered and stalled in the opening weeks, they may have beaten Arsenal to second and secured automatic entry to the Champions League.

The high price the club is paying now needs no emphasis. Challenged by their chairman to bounce back by beating Birmingham, Newcastle served up another stilted display and paid the price as David Dunn fired Steve Bruce's men to victory.

It is the nature of the performances as much as the results which worries supporters. There seem to be problems in every facet of United's play and, with the murmurs of discontent having built to a crescendo, Robson knows the challenge.

The anticipated return of Craig Bellamy for the game at Goodison on September 13 will go a long way towards sparking the revival the club needs.

For all of Shola Ameobi's undoubted talent, the 21-year-old has been ineffectual playing with Alan Shearer. Despite having Lomana LuaLua, Michael Chopra and Carl Cort, Robson has persevered with Ameobi and is convinced the striker will prove himself.

Yet the extent to which Newcastle rely on Bellamy, a player whose career has been badly disrupted by injuries, is still a major weakness for the club. …

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