Beware the Wolves - 03/01/2003

The F.A. Cup is a very special competition, I know it’s been knocked in recent years, especially when Man Utd failed to enter, but as a boy scoring goals in the school yard, it was always a repeating dream to score the winner in the F.A. Cup Final at Wembley. Forget the Premiership or the Champions League, the magic of the F.A. Cup is special, and as a member of the so-called ‘old school’, I’m sure Bobby Robson will have more than half an eye on a Cardiff Saturday afternoon in May.

Wolves will provide a good test and I expect it’ll be a great game. The TV cameras will also be in attendance…I wonder if they can smell a giant killing? For me, this game will be won if the first 30 minutes, if we can keep Wolves out, we’ll go on to win it. They’re having a bit of an erratic season, and I think that with coming so close to promotion last season they’re coming under pressure from their own fans. They’re a big club, and expectancy levels are high. The other thing is that they have a few names, Ince and Irwin for example, and players will raise their game because they want to do well against the ‘stars’. But this will be different on Sunday! The pressure will be off and Newcastle will have to very focused. The Wolves fans will be right behind their team, and they’ll be more understanding then usual, they’ll know they’re facing a team in the last 16 of the Champions League - which is a little different from some of the weaker Division One clubs.

I look at the likely starting 11 of Newcastle, and I know that players such as Aaron Hughes, Alan Shearer, Andy Griffin, and Andy O’Brien will give everything – they always do. The key is going to be whether the flair players are going to do the business? This game is about attitude, the ability of the team is without question, but the big test is to see how focused all members of the team will be. This is why the first half hour is so important. If Wolves can get anything during this time, the fans will be massively behind them, and even more important, the Wolves players might start to believe they can do it. Concentration and determination will be necessary attributes. If we can handle the mental side, I’m know Newcastle’s superior ability will see us through.

Bobby Robson led Ipswich to success in an F.A. Cup Final, he knows what it’s about and I’m sure he’d love to lead out the team at the Millenium Stadium. His primary job on Sunday will be to get inside the heads of the players and make sure they’re focus is 100%. If he can do this, we can look forward to the fourth round and take a step closer to finally winner some silverware.

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