BEATING CHELSEA A REAL GEORDIE TRIUMPH
When Papiss Cisse drove home Newcastle United's and his second goal, the home side had FIVE Geordies on the pitch. 2-0 up against champions-elect Chelsea and with five local lads in the thick of it. Amazing achievement for the club's management. And to think, at the start of the season we were talking about the Toon having to raid Sunderland to find themselves a Geordie. Jack Colback was outstanding on the day, but Sammy Ameobi, Steven Taylor, Paul Dummett and Jak Alnwick all made huge contributions in the shock win. On a weekend that saw Blyth Spartans reach the Third Round of the FA Cup, it's been a great couple of days for Northeast football.
COLBACK PLAYING LIKE ROBBO
Talking of Geordie heroes. Jack Colback did his best Bryan Robson impersonation against Chelsea on Saturday. His contribution for Papiss Cisse's second goal was one of the great midfield moments of the season. Colback won the ball with an aggressive, 40:60 sliding tackle inside the Toon's half. In the same motion, he picked himself up and drove forward before sliding in Moussa Sissoko. The Frenchman managed to force the ball into Cisse's path for the Senegalese to put the hosts 2-0 ahead. But it all came from Colback, who really was in England form on the day.
UNITED AND CITY NEED RIGHT ROMA RESULT
So much hinges on Manchester City's trip to Rome. The ramifications are enormous - and not just for City. Win and Manuel Pellegrini can breathe easier and City are likely to spend big in January to find a striker to match the feats of Sergio Aguero. Lose and not only will Pellegrini be on the brink, but directors Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain will also be lucky to avoid the axe after Khaldoon al-Mubarak's annual review. And it all has to be done without Aguero, who was in tears as he limped around the Etihad pitch against Everton. But it doesn't begin and end with City. Defeat for AS Roma would see Kevin Strootman a step closer to reuniting with Louis van Gaal at Manchester United. And what of Ashley Cole? Could the Chelsea icon, still scratching around for form, survive the backlash of a failed Champions League campaign at Roma?
HAVE UNITED FANS ACCEPTED PATIENT FOOTBALL?
Get used to it Manchester United fans. Slow, slow ... slow, then, hopefully, quick, quick, quick. That's how Louis van Gaal's 'possession game' panned out against Hull City last Saturday. Plenty of safe passing, drawing Hull's defence out of position (overloading is the buzz word), before quickening things in the final third. It's not Fergie's helter-skelter stuff. It's not the sweeping, end-to-end play of Big Ron. This is 'philosophy' football. For the cultured. What a load of cobblers! So don't be surprised to still hear fans, used to Fergie's all-action style, questioning Van Gaal's future. The difference between the two is Fergie enjoyed games where they created chance-after-chance, where LVG enjoys pass-after-pass, even if they're all made in their own half.
ENGLAND KEEPERS STARRING ABROAD
Matt Jones continues to impress in Portugal with Belenenses. The former West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper was in action on Saturday in defeat to high-flying Benfica, which saw them just drop out of the Champions League places. Jones, who spent his junior days with Port Vale, has firmly established himself over the past two years as one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Primeira Liga. The 28 year-old has never been considered by England - at any level - but like Luke Steele at Panathinaikos, hopes Roy Hodgson's scouts can get themselves beyond the UK's shores. Incidentally, former Manchester United and Peterborough keeper Steele is now first-choice at Panathinaikos and has been key to a recent four-game winning run in the Greek Super League.
WHAT SACK RACE?
Could it happen? Can we get to the January market without a single Premier League manager sacked this season? On Sunday, we passed an 18-year record of no Premier League managers losing their jobs by this stage of the season. If we reach mid-February it will set a new Premier League record. It does appear stability - finally - is in fashion. No-one at Fulham nor Cardiff City could argue that sacking their manager actually improved their chances of beating the drop last season. And as good as Neil Adams is, removing Chris Hughton at Norwich City did nothing for their hopes. All the more significant is those fans calling for the heads of their managers are actually connected to higher ranked clubs - like Arsenal and Arsene Wenger and Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers.
AUSTIN HEROICS SHOWS HOW FAR BURNLEY HAVE COME
Defeat to QPR was tough on Burnley. But it also showed how far the club has come in the space of only 18 months. The man who did the damage for the Rs was former Claret Charlie Austin. The striker scored one, created the other and was sent off against his old club. Last year, Burnley were forced to sell Austin for £4 million to QPR to balance the books. Minus the promotion bonuses, Burnley made a £300,000 profit for the year, announced in midweek - a triumph for everyone connected to the club.
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