Thursday, February 27, 2003

Bye bye Bayer

Last night we put a very sorry and shambolic Bayer Leverkusen side to the sword for the second time in a week, this time the damage being inflicted by the returning Shearer who filled his boots with a first half hat-trick. He's coming up on the rails to overtake Hughie Gallagher as the club's third highest ever goalscorer, now just two behind. Dyer was once again bursting with energy and Ameobi skillful and tricky, while Speed controlled the midfield with ease and Kerr put in a good shift on the right. The tenacious tackling of Griffin, Bramble and Bernard also deserves a mention. It's all still in our hands, but thanks to Inter's draw with Barcelona we really can't afford defeat in Milan in two weeks' time - a tall order, but not impossible given the current spirit and will to win which will hopefully prove a valuable asset during Saturday's crucial league match against Chelsea.

From one legend, Shearer, to another, Sir Bobby Robson, whose life and career in football was celebrated in a BBC1 documentary on Tuesday night. This was fascinating partly as an insight into life inside the club, but mainly as a reminder of the 70-year-old's achievements in the game. Any manager receiving plaudits from Figo, Ronaldo and van Nistelrooy deserves great credit. The overall tone may have been hagiographical, but then I wouldn't have had it any other way. One of my favourite comments was Freddie Shepherd's observation that he's only seen Bobby speechless once, on the coach on the way back from an away match when a distressed Kieron Dyer suddenly blurted out, "We'll have to go back - I've left my earring in the dressing room". Bobby turned to Shepherd and, shaking his head, said, "You see what I have to work with?" His humour shone through even when discussing his brush with serious illness - upon being told he had a malignant melanoma in his face, he quipped, "I had no idea what that was. I thought he was talking about a right half from Bayern Munich". Long may he prosper at St James's.

(Apologies to the uninterested for the amount of my blog devoted to football-related matters in recent weeks, but you have to excuse me - it really is a great time to be a Newcastle fan and it's imperative that I crow about our current form as much as possible before it all goes horribly wrong...)

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