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Good times - 03/02/2003

Good times
Freddie Shepherd - he can rightly be pleased with himself
   Leeds United

So the signing did go through, even though most of us had thought Robbie Fowler’s move to City would mean the deal was dead. It just goes to show the awful situation Leeds have got themselves in, and how Freddie Shepherd’s perseverance has paid off. In contrast to Leeds, it must be wonderful to be a Newcastle player at the moment, talk about a club in the ascendancy! The irony is that Terry Venebles is left with a squad shorn of it’s riches, and very much in a sorry state. Whether Terry leaves the club, I really don’t know. One thing though, Peter Ridsdale has stated that Leeds are now in a good position, they’ve paid off debts and in reducing the wage bill are set to move forward…but who’s he kidding??? Let’s face it, take a young player like Darren Ambrose at Ipswich, he’s been highlighted as ‘one for the future’ and indeed, Newcastle have watched the lad on a number of occasions. If an offer came in from both Leeds and Newcastle in the summer, where do you think he’d prefer to go?

What’s happening at Newcastle reminds me of the excitement of the Keegan years. All of a sudden Newcastle was the place to be, all the world’s best player’s were linked to a move to St. James, the media loved it, and the fans had a great time. Bobby Robson’s managed to re-ignite the flame, once again people are talking about the club as a giant, and some of the best players around can only aspire to a move here. On the pitch the club has made a name for itself in qualifying for the second phase of the Champions League, a major signing has just been completed and everything looks good.

My only concern is that we don’t follow Leeds on a roller coaster ride to financial ruin. It was only in November 2001 when Fowler signed for Leeds, and who would have believed O’Leary would be followed out the door by players such as Rio Ferdinand, Lee Bowyer, Olivier Dacourt, Robbie Keane and now Jonathan Woodgate. Take the top five Newcastle players from the current squad and imagine the outcry!!! It doesn’t bear thinking about. But, Freddy Shepherd is a shrewd operator and he’s invested in the club at a time when football’s struggling. He’s fully aware of the market place and unlike Leeds, the club is structured with greater flexibility. These are exciting times, and if a certain Leeds chairman isn’t going to win a popularity contest, then I know his counterpart some 90 miles north is perhaps as popular now as he’s ever been.

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