INTER the big time - 25/11/2002
Wednesday night will see the club enter a new phase in the Champions League and a new phase in the history of the club. This is the big time, and itís where Newcastle United belong. For too long this club has underachieved but with second phase Champions League football, things are different.
If youíre lucky enough to be going to the game, as the players run out of the tunnel take a minute to look around you, take in the atmosphere, the Champions League signage, the smiles on faces, the sight of 50,000 Geordies willing their team on. This is why all those past disappointments have been worth it Ė donít let the moment pass you by. Youíve a part to play, and for me, I believe itís a bigger part than most of you believe. When I look back at the famous Barca win in í97, it was the crowd that pushed us into that 3-0 lead. You can play the part again, and you need to play the part again if weíre to make any headway at this stage of the competition.
Inter are a world class side, just missing out in the Italian League last season and now theyíre arguable stronger this time around. Players such as Crespo, Vieri and Recoba will be looking to show why they are rated so highly. Theyíre taking Newcastle seriously, just look at the team selection for their derby with AC Milan Ė thatíll tell you how important this game is to them!
Theyíll come to St. James with a game plan, and itíll involve a calculated, thoughtful strategy to absorb pressure and catch Newcastle on the break. Theyíll play cat and mouse and if they get that goal start theyíre past masters at keeping a clean sheet, theyíll play deep and look to negate the speed of Dyer and Bellamy. Newcastle only know how to play attacking football and this is where the crowd becomes the 12th man. Get behind the team, urge them forward and weíve a chance. Thereíll be a game within the game, and the threesome of Alan Shearer, with the pace of Dyer and Bellers can be the deciding factor. Inter will be petrified of the pace of the latter two, itís their achilles heel and if we can use it to the best of our ability, weíre in with a good chance.
When Al came to Newcastle, he came because he wanted to win things, this hasnít gone to script, but itís nights like these thatíll repay his decision to come to sign. Heís won awards and accolades year after year, but where he really wants success is on the pitch. I know itís been said countless times before, but to come back from the injuries heís had, to train with such dedication, and to play with such determination justifies reward. Iíd love Newcastle to progress for many a reason, I spent some great times up here, Iím still spending a lot of my time here and Iíll always have an affinity for the place. But what Iíd really love to see is the realisation of the potential thatís been talked about. Success on the field is what itís all about, and itís what the fans crave more than anything else. But for the Geordie in Alan Shearer, this is something special, and to see him walking off St. James Park at five to ten on Wednesday night with a big smile on his face would mean the so much to so many.
So Iíve got a message for everyone with a ticketÖthis is the big time, savour it, give it your all, youíve a part to play Ė for yourselves, the club, and the players.
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