Season 2005-06 Result
Newcastle United 1-0 Mansfield Town
 A.Shearer 80.
Date: 07/01/2006  Venue: St.James' Park  Competition: FA Cup
Crowd: 41,459
Match Report Submitted on 09/01/2006 by Greavsie
Same Old Shearer !!!

Its difficult to know where to start with this report. I have mixed emotions over the day to say the least. Some positives, but the negatives are alarming.

I didn't make it to the Sporties in time to have a drink before the bus left, but what's new there. The bus wasn't the fullest its ever been, and the general mood seemed to be a bit subdued. The Sherburn contingent, apart from Just Graham, were all missing (all too tight to buy tickets) and Smike had gone through early - Just shows who the noisy ones usually are!!

We tried hard to leave Quiet Lad, young Chrissy & his mate (can't remember his name), but we stopped the bus outside the Spar and they made it just in time. A quick sprint of a journey through, and we were off the bus in Newcastle 35 minutes later. Something of a record I think. There didn't seem to be anywhere near the usual amount of people around on a matchday.

With the Stage Door being shut, a few of us squeezed into the Strawberry for a beer or two. The Mansfield fans inside were in good voice, and in good spirits in the main, but I think things spilled over at one point. Its all well and good having a few drinks and a bit of a sing-song, but I don't think taking the p!$$ was the wisest thing at least one Mansfield fan should have done, as he found out to his cost.

So onto the game, or at least the line-up initially. I know we were seriously short of first choice players, and Souness didn't have many midfielders to choose from, but playing Solano on the left side of midfield and playing N'Zogbia, the best performer in that position for us all season, in the centre just seemed to be crass stupidity.

Irrespective of the line-up, I still expected us to control the game and win comfortably. Mansfield are TWENTIETH in League 2 at the moment, which on paper makes them the fifth worst league team in the country. The first couple of minutes seemed to go to plan, we looked as though we would dominate them, but after that Mansfield seemed to grow in confidence as they realised we were p!$$ poor. They were playing with all the pace, passion and aggression that we weren't. It was bloody embarrassing. Lee Clark tried hard in midfield, but he has never been the most spritely and couldn't get near the ball. N'Zogbia looked out of his depth in the middle, as he did last time he played there against Liverpool.

Martin Brittain made his first senior start on the right side of midfield, and looked to have some neat touches. However, he doesn't seem to have the pace nor the confidence to attack the full-back. There was too much passing back to Carr and playing square inside. A malaise that has affected the whole team since Souness arrived. Souness complains that there is too much negativity surrounding the club, in the media and with the fans. Well if he wants to change that, he needs to stop the negativity on the bloody pitch first.

A couple of times, the comedy double-act masquerading as our centre-halves, went walkabout and Mansfield should have scored. They deserved to be in the lead at half-time. Boumsong just does not know how to play the position. He chased one of their players back into his own half at one point, trying to nick the ball off him, leaving a gaping hole behind him. He gets caught out of position over and over again, and surely his days are numbered. Bramble has to be the most frustrating centre-half ever to play for us. One minute he's making an interception looking almost Beckenbauer-esque, or upending forwards with superbly timed crunching tackles, the next he's slicing the ball towards his own goal, passing straight to the opposition or tripping over his boot-laces.

Why on earth can we not sign two centre-halves that can do the simple things correctly??? Most other teams can, and most of Souness' other teams were set-up with a solid defence, yet he wastes 8m of our money on Boumsong - it beggars belief what he saw in him !!

At half-time I would not have been surprised if we had gone on to lose the game & Mansfield almost scored with the first attack of the second half. Slowly though we managed to get more of the ball and managed to apply some pressure as Mansfield tired, although without creating very much. Luque carried on his impression of a Spanish show pony (is there such a thing?) and tried his best not to get hurt. He makes me look quick.

In the 80th minute, just as thoughts of more embarrassing headlines, and a replay were looming, a Newcastle attack ended up with the ball somehow ending up at Shearer's feet about ten yards out (courtesy of a Luque backheel according to various papers), and the old master doesn't miss many from there, smashing the ball into the far corner of the net.

The whole ground erupted, celebrating the great man's record equalling 200th goal. It seems to have taken an age to come, but I'm sure it was very sweet to him all the same. There's no doubt he's not the player he was, but he's got black and white blood coursing through his veins, and his place in Geordie folklore is certain to live will beyond his lifetime.

All in all, the positives to come out of the game are we are still in the cup (but can you honestly see us winning it?), Shearer's landmark goal and of course what had to be the highest attendance of the weekend of 41,459 (we must need our heads testing). Oh, and we might have another O'Brien to stick the ball in the Mackems net.

Negatives - well the performance was gutless, passionless, clueless and utter garbage. Mansfield must be gutted they didn't get at least a replay. If that is the best we can play, then we all had better prepare ourselves for some pastings in the weeks to come. Souness focussed his post match comments on this being Mansfield's cup final, and that they were never going to make it easy for us, which may be true. But if he can't see that they were the better side for long periods of the match, especially the first half, then the man must be an idiot. We expect to see pride and passion, we expect to see effort and commitment, and with the amount of money spent, we expect to see skill and pace. On Saturday that all came from the away team. We have no shape, we have no pattern of play, and we have no ideas. Souness has to go. With each position in the premiership being worth 500K, it must still be financially sensible to sack him. We are likely to finish 13th or 14th under Souness at best, but if we sack him the new impetus and ideas might see us finish 8th or 9th - or better. In which case the additional prize money should cover the ludicrous pay-off figure being quoted at the moment Come on Freddy, give us some degree of hope to salvage something from this season and get rid of him now.

Anyway, best moment of the day was when I asked some Mansfield fans about the large banner they were carrying which read "Haslam - Where's the Mansfield Million?" or something similar. '"We've got a corrupt Chairman !" he said. "He's taken loads of money out of the club, and we want him out!". Shocking. Mansfield are obviously unique in this respect amongst football clubs.

PS. Rumours that Passy's whereabouts had finally surfaced as a last minute replacement for Kevin Pressman in the Mansfield goal, are totally unfounded, however there must be a pie shortage in the Mansfield area.

Souness Out !!!!!!