Keep believing - 15/03/2004
Both Chelsea and Newcastle have had some up and down performances over recent weeks and both clubs have attracted a fair degree of criticism.
Taking Chelsea first, I feel that the character of the team is developing and Iím absolutely sure that the best football is in front of Chelsea. I spoke
to John Terry after the Stuttgart game and his attitude of determination and professionalism reflects a new spirit within the team. With Wayne
Bridge, Joe Cole, Damian Duff, Gavin Johnson, Frank Lampard and Scott Parker, thereís a young and large British influence at Chelsea Ė and it doesnít seem too long ago that the club were being castigated for fielding a completely non-English first team. The character within the team was seen on Saturday when after a first half performance that saw Bolton out play Chelsea, the Blues came back in the second period and overpowered the home team scoring twice with no reply. With Fulham at the Bridge next Saturday Iím confident of another three points. I can see Chelsea finishing the season strongly and with a place in the quarter finals of the Champions League achieved, you have to be happy with the progress made this year. I think most fans would be happy with this position yet thereís still a fair degree of criticism around.
Similarly, thereís been much written about Newcastleís supposed lack of quality. But again, if fourth place in the Premiership I achieved, and with a likely place in the last eight of the UEFA Cup, is this such a poor season?
I feel as if Newcastle are running in 3rd gear at present Ė whereas Charlton have their foot down and are flat out. Can Charlton continue this until the
end of the season? Iím not sure, but Iíd like to think that Newcastle will find their form. The challenge from Liverpool hasnít yet materialised, and
Aston Villa, Fulham and Birmingham will do well to match Newcastle in the final run in to the season. Newcastle, although not playing flowing football have been picking up points. Yesterdayís game an exception, they had been unbeaten in the league since the 1-0 defeat at home to Blackburn in December. If you can pick up points when youíre not playing well, it bodes well for the time when your performances improve. Judge the team in May when Iím confident the Geordies will be happier with their team than they are now.
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