Writer: Ross Molyneux
Date:Thursday March 8 2007
St James Park
Having overcome the mighty barrier of postmen, accountants and surveyors in our last UEFA Cup tie at SJP the competition has suddenly got a little spicy as we enter the last 16.
With the game being our biggest European match since the Sporting Lisbon debacle over in Portugal back in 2005 it`s a hope that both the crowd and players will be up for this one. Lethargy seems to be sweeping Tyneside recently when it comes to the matches, with fans no doubt tired of watching the aimless plodding being served up on the pitch. However we`re a couple of results away from a cup quarter final so hopefully there will be a bit of a buzz about St James tonight. Having watched the City of Victims` red side beat Barcelona amid a fantastic European night atmosphere on Tuesday it would be nice to see some homegrown passion on the terraces tonight rub off on the younger fans coming to the ground for one of their first times. Sadly I think a lot of this will be lost amid the empty seats.
If Newcastle are going to get something out of the game tonight then Glenn needs to be ruthless. He needs to pick a team where players are playing in their correct positions and their correct roles, not shoehorning in senior players to keep a rebellion quashed. To that end I`d like to see a line up of:
Given, Solano, Bramble, Taylor, Carr, Milner, Butt, Dyer, N`Zogbia, Sibierski, Martins.
Understandably Parker missed out but quite frankly Butt has been the better player this season by miles and we can`t keep cramming them into the same team. However I doubt GR will have the balls to do this and we`ll end up playing Dyer up front with Martins and end up watching the Alkmaar centre halves picking up easy headers from aimless balls hoyed upfield by Bramble.
See previous articles 'Glenn on Alkmaar' and 'Louis van Gaal on tomorrow'.
We, on the other hand, have barely rustled up a whimper, losing to Wigan 1-0 at the JJB in a lame and tame manner and failing to score past an average Burra side at the weekend. Once again Moore, Owen and Shola miss out along with Peter Ramage and Babayaro. Damien Duff remains a major doubt with the virus that kept him out of the match against the Smog Beasts last weekend. Emre and Carr return to the squad however after their various ailments. Finally Gooch Onweyu is ineligible, having been cup-tied earlier in he competition for Standard Liege.
Our only threat of late.
. Louis van Gaal`s well drilled and high flying Alkmaar side lie in wait, coming off scoring a hatful of goals in their last few games and winning. Since we struggled to beat Waregem at home, they have seen off Utrecht twice, including a 4-0 win and drawn 1-1 with Ajax. Van Gaal has every right to be confident with a recent record like that. Injury-wise the Dutchmen travel without Molhoek, Schaars, former NUFC target Mendes da Silva, Didulica and Sinouh. Men to watch include former Rangers man Shota Arveladze and the crackingly named Martin Maartens.
Georgian former Rangers man.
NUFC European record:
P:118 W:68 D:22 L:28 GF:204 GA:115
P:59 W:43 D:8 L:8 GF:119 GA:45
A tepid 1-1.
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Date:Thursday March 8 2007
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