Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anybody Know Where the Goalposts Are?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anybody Know Where the Goalposts Are?

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

It is commonly assumed any Premiership club harbouring a serious ambition to win silverware must pack, as a bare minimum, four proven and prolific marksmen into its first-team squad.

Graeme Souness has frequently said so. Sir Bobby Robson always insisted it was the case. Eight years ago, when Newcastle United were in the habit of thumping Manchester United 5-0, Kevin Keegan could call upon Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand, Peter Beardsley and Tino Asprilla on any given afternoon.

Four world-class strikers will surely equate to four times as many goals. Or so the thinking goes; for two old foes approaching a pivotal stage of the season, the statistics tell a disturbingly different story.

Neither Newcastle United nor Manchester United are lacking when it comes to quantity or quality in attack. The eight recognised strikers hoping for a piece of tomorrow's St James's Park action could, quite feasibly, raise in excess of pounds 80m for their respective clubs in a resurgent transfer market buoyed by Chelsea's millions.

But would any, or all, be worth the money? On this season's evidence alone the jury is out and if Graeme Souness is mildly concerned with his star-studded forward line's failure to convert recent pressure into invaluable goals then Sir Alex Ferguson must be driven to distraction by the mystery of his misfiring Reds.

Not for 30 years have Manchester United supporters suffered such a miserable start to their league season ( a paltry 11 league goals in 12 Premiership games is a record significantly worse than Fulham, Crystal Palace and even Manchester City have managed. Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Alan Smith and Louis Saha should strike fear into opposition defences and score glorious goals. In fact it is the failure of Ferguson's "fantastic four" which is at the root of Manchester United's mini crisis ( even the greatest clubs cannot prosper given such a paucity of goals. Just ask poor Souness.

Inheriting a squad featuring the dual potency of Alan Shearer and Patrick Kluivert is every manager's dream. …

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