Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Bigger Job Than We Knew; but Dowie Still Confident: Bigger Job Than We Knew

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Bigger Job Than We Knew; but Dowie Still Confident: Bigger Job Than We Knew

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Douglas

IAIN Dowie admits that reversing Newcastle United's decline has proved a bigger job than he thought it would be.

But Alan Shearer's assistant is adamant it is not mission impossible - and insists the team are confident they can emerge victorious from Monday's make-or-break North East derby with Middlesbrough.

The team's build-up for that game began today, minus the suspended Joey Barton, with Shearer and Dowie implementing another new formation on the training ground as part of the preparations for the Tyne-Tees .

Those plans have been boosted by the probable return of Steven Taylor after the defender re-joined full training at the start of the week, although the suspension of Barton has provoked much comment among neutral observers.

However 'Barton-gate' has barely warranted a mention in the dressing room, according to Dowie - who is hoping to see a fierce intensity when the players reconvene today ahead of the Boro clash.

So far under Shearer and Dowie, changes in attitude and demeanour offfield have been forthcoming thanks to the rigorous new disciplinary code, but those improvements have not yet been matched by better results.

Reversing the decline that had set in long before Dowie and Shearer's time has been a huge challenge - and even though they didn't take it on lightly, even they are surprised at the sheer scale of the job.

"Things have been a bit tougher than maybe we anticipated. It is a bigger job than we thought - but then this is a much bigger club that I expected," he said. "But

Turn to Page 56 it's not an impossible job. Me and Alan are both positive people and have to remain positive. The players are looking to Alan for leadership and he's been a leader." While frustrating, Barton's indiscretion is just the latest in a long line of issues that had to be resolved by Shearer.

An overly relaxed attitude to training and club meetings seems to have been another - and the United boss's new rules have been welcomed by the squad.

They might seem like measures designed to improve matters in the longterm, but Dowie insists they can have a short-term impact, too. …

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