United We Stand Behind Writers

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), March 26, 2004 | Go to article overview

United We Stand Behind Writers


It's been a hectic week for Newcastle United.

A UEFA Cup showdown with Real Mallorca, a financial report revealing the millions lost by failure in the Champions' League, United clinching the central role in Hollywood blockbuster movie Goal! and Craig Bellamy in various bust-ups.

Not surprisingly, the Toon's performances - on and off the field - have dominated headlines, it seems everyone has something to say on United.

None more so than Paul Nicholson, of Faraday Grove, Gateshead, who wrote to criticise the Chronicle's reporting from St James' Park.

Mr Nicholson used route one for the attack, stating: "It is time your newspaper considered a complete overhaul of the football writing and writers."

His target is our chief sports writer, Alan Oliver.

"His merit marks on various occasions bear no resemblance to the game I and thousands of others have witnessed," claims Mr Nicholson. "He has his favourites, to which an over-the-top grade will be given, along with an equally nonsensical comment."

Mr Nicholson gives examples of Alan's alleged bias. "How many times can Gary Speed's performances, for which he disappears for 75 to 80 minutes, be described as industrious, tireless or unseen work?

"Too right it's unseen, because only Mr Oliver has noticed it.

"Another could be Aaron Hughes, with his performances described as gave 100% and never stopped running, yet to most United fans it is blatantly obvious that he is not, and never will be, a right back."

Mr Nicholson finishes off with a shot at goal, saying: "To try to pull the wool over so many people's eyes (especially those who cannot attend the games) is stretching it too far. Or is it that Mr Oliver is too worried about upsetting the powers that be within Newcastle United?"

While it is true Alan has his favourite United players - who hasn't? - he keeps his personal feelings in check when marking individual performances, and tries to be as objective as he can.

As for being worried about upsetting the club's highly paid stars, or the bosses at St James' Park, then no soccer writer is more fearless than Alan Oliver.

He's been verbally and physically attacked in the past for telling it like it is.

And when it comes to breaking the big stories about United, you can be assured you'll read it first in the Chronicle.

AS regular readers know, we do receive our fair share of brickbats in the Feedback office, so it's always nice to receive the occasional bouquet as well. …

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