Welcome back! This NUFC save is settling in to it’s Wednesday home quite nicely and the 98/99 season has not failed to disappoint. What started out as the “survive without Shearer” save has become a challenge of blooding youngsters and not buying anbody. It seems to have worked, as an FA Cup win in season one came alongside a 4th placed finish. Can we improve on that? Let’s find out.
We reached January last time out, securing a place in the League Cup semi finals and much less impressively the FA Cup 4th round, but our first game in this update in the Tyne-Wear derby. Well Wear-Tyne now I guess as we’re away. Anyway. We’ve all scored a Pinas own goal in our time but it’s how you react. Speed levels it up and then big Al pops up with a late, late winner to give us a very happy away end.
That hurdle negotiated, table toppers Leeds visit St James’ Park and this is really where our season can be made or broken. Thankfully, the floppy haired Andersson gets us a vital 3 points and leaves us right in the title mix.
Also in the title mix are Tottenham, Klinsmann and Les Ferdinand proving to be quite the handful. We’ve got them in the 4th round of the FA Cup and we simply can’t handle them. Andersson briefly gives us hope but we don’t deserve anything and we’re out. We won’t be defending our FA Cup.
A reaction is needed and that man Andersson is at it again. We are briefly pegged back by Leicester but old double A gets two and we’re loving life.
That sets us up nicely for the League Cup tie against Liverpool. It’s over two legs and we absolutely take it to Liverpool but can’t score. Dida is in great form. Then he gets sent off for a foul on Gillespie and Shearer does the rest. See you in 10 days for the return.
As it is, we have no game between times due to our FA Cup exit. Liverpool take an early lead to wipe out our advantage but the battery levels it up. McManaman forces extra time which brings no further goals and a passage to the final. It does however cost Alan Shearer a broken jaw. A month without our talisman is a worry.
Wolves in the final. Bit odd.
Life without Shearer begins at home Aston Villa. We look a bit lethargic and barely create anything but Tomasson scores on the stroke of half time and thankfully it’s enough. On we roll…
Bjarni Gudjonsson has been tasked with filling Shearer’s boots, a task he excelled at last season, and he finally gets his reward with the 3rd goal against Everton. 3-0 at half time against a struggling side becomes 3-2 as I withdraw a few players but a wins a win, and what’s more, it puts us top of the table.
That comes about following Leeds taking a 3-0 thrashing off Spurs, who are really in this for the long haul. Bjarni is at it again at the Riverside and despite Andy Cole getting one back, we’re on a great run.
Out of nowhere it’s back to Cup Winners Cup action. Where does the time go? It’s March so the 1st leg of our Quarter Final against Sporting Lisbon shouldn’t be that much of a surprise but with Shearer still absent we can’t really put them away. Tomasson settles it but it is closer than it needed to be.
Back to Thursday-Saturday which is a problem for any squad, so I ring the changes for the visit of Nottingham Forest. We are always in control and despite a mad 4 goals in 3 minutes in the second half it’s three more points. Des Hamilton gets our 5th. Remember the name.
The games are coming thick and fast and Arsenal are nothing but a midtable side this season, so I’m livid we don’t manage to win from a position of being a goal and a man up. David Johnson scores a screamer to equalise.
We’re about to play Bolton at home when another disaster strikes. Who dares to knack his spine?!
Woodcock starts alongside Andersson and it’s a 1-0 thrashing. We’ve done well to negotiate this Shearer-less time with minimal damage so far but if we want to go far in the Cup Winners, we need all the players we can get.
Shearer is approaching fitness but…hang on a minute. Shearer, Batty and…
Disco Des! The man who barely plays for us is in the England squad. What is life?
It’s the Sporting return game next and look who’s back and probably angry.
Drink it in. We lead this five horse race. It’s going to be a tight finish but with the main man back, we might be able to pull this off. Look out for Man Utd though, that game in hand could put them within striking distance.
Don’t forget we have the League Cup final to look forward to. You get no reward for winning it, not even a UEFA Cup place, but a trophy is a trophy.
The youth haven’t had as much chance to develop but they still are. Pinas is now worth £7m, whilst England’s latest call up comes in at £4.3m Aaron Hughes is also making a steady rise, so it’s all going rather swimmingly.
See you next week for the end of the season!