Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Show Blades Blow Was a One-Off, Lads

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Show Blades Blow Was a One-Off, Lads

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Gibson

In a season of dreadful lows, the numbing defeat at home to Sheffield United ranks as the worst of moments for long-suffering Geordies.

Tomorrow Newcastle go into the return fixture at Bramall Lane having proved beyond doubt it was no fluke.

Give United poor opposition in dire form and they conveniently roll over belly up.

Proof? There's plenty I'm afraid. In the last two months they have lost to Manchester City, Charlton Athletic, Wigan and Fulham.

Third-bottom Charlton have taken four points out of the Magpies. Middlesbrough and Man City likewise, Fulham six.

So what hope in Sheffield's city of steel with them fighting for their very existence among those chosen to receive television's obscene financial rewards next season?

Ten defeats in 15 Premier League away games provides little automatic optimism with United goal-shy, defensively flimsy, and short on backbone.

It was a 1-0 victory here on Tyneside back in early November that first gave Neil Warnock an inkling his promoted United might just survive.

The same game brought a concerted after-match vocal attack on Newcastle's board from disgruntled fans.

A lesser version bruised our ears after defeat by Man City last Saturday.

Warnock has watched as his side's 10-point advantage over the bottom three has been whittled down to only one, but he panics not.

He has just rid himself of games like Liverpool and Chelsea away and is basing his survival plan on initial lift-off against Newcastle with West Ham, Watford and Wigan also due at Bramall Lane.

All winnable in Warnock's eyes.

The trouble is that while Keith Gillespie may be able to provide ammunition, as he famously did for Tino Asprilla to notch a Champions League hat-trick on a memorable night against Barcelona, he no longer has Rob Hulse to guarantee converting a fair percentage. …

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