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A review of recent games - 16/10/2003

A review of recent games
He's done well
   Nathan Blake
   Kevin Nolan
   Simon Charlton
   Paul Ince
   Youri Djorkaeff
   Mario Jardel
   Sam Allardyce
   Dave Jones
   Newcastle United
   Aston Villa
   Wolvehampton Wanderers

Three draws and a cup win in the last month indicate that although we’re hard to beat, we need to turn these draws in to wins. Having said that, not many clubs will go to St. James Park and return with a point, and ironically, out of the last three games at Newcastle, this was the first time we’d manage to pick anything up. We’d probably played better on the two previous occasions without managing to get anything from the Geordies. Simon Charlton was fantastic – my man of the match – he worked his socks off. Ultimately this was  a point won rather than two dropped.

The cup game against Walsall was a great opportunity to get some fitness into Mario Jardel. I had to laugh when the Brazilian was shouting at the bench after 60 minutes in a desperate plea to be substituted. Big Sam gave him the rubber ear and kept him on for the full 90. He might not have appreciated it at the time, but that game would have done him a lot of good. He might have been breathing out of his backside, but you have to put it in to get it out and completing a full game will have pushed him closer towards match fitness – still some way to go yet though! His two goals were reward for a performance where he was unlucky not to have scored more. He’s never going to get involved in build up play, but he does come alive in the box and seems to attract the ball like a magnet. All told we’re through to the next round and it was job well done.

We then faced Wolves at the Reebok, and in contrast to the Newcastle game, you have to say that we were looking for a home win – two points dropped in my book.  We just didn’t play, and to be fair, Wolves played some excellent stuff, I thought they played us off the park for long periods of the game and it was only when Paul Ince started to tire did we start to take control. Alex Rae’s goal was top class and it took something a bit unusual for us to get back into the game. I still can’t believe that Lee Naylor gave the ball to Phil Brown on the touchline. It’s the only assist our assistant will get all season! Browny threw it to a white shirt, it was back in play and the Wolves defence were out of position offering Kevin Davies the chance to put the ball in the back of the net. Dave Jones must have been going ballistic. The 1-1 score didn’t do Wolves justice, and they certainly played much better than their league position would suggest. It was nice to see Nathan Blake again, although a shame he wasn’t able to say hello to the fans. Nathan was a great guy to play with, and along with Owen Coyle and Andy Walker I’ll remember him as one of the best partners I played with.

Next it was a trip to Villa, a side who you can never really rely on – one minute very average, the next, very good. A 1-1 didn’t surprise me as I honestly feel Bolton are more suited to playing away from home. We can defend well – even without Florent Laville and we’ve always got a chance of catching the home side on the break. Davies was a handful and Nolan’s goal was a bit of a classic – he’s got a nice habit of scoring spectacular goals – we’ll just have a few more though Kevin. I think there’ll soon be a bit of battle between Davies and Jardel. Sam won’t play both of them away from home. When the Brazilian does get fit, and that isn’t within the next week or two, I think that Davies may be asked to play out wide with Jardel in the central position. With Davies on one side, I’d expect to see Djorkaeff on the other. It’ll be interesting, and just like everyone else, I’m looking forward to seeing how it’ll work.   

It’s City on Saturday – another team similar to Villa in that they’re consistently inconsistent. The score…who knows?

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