A night in the Toon - 22/01/2003

I'm up in Newcastle tonight covering the game for radio. To be honest, I really feel we're going to be up against it. The game promises to be cracking, both sides play open attacking football and if it's half as good as the Boxing Day game, we'll be in for a great game!

Reading between the lines I really don't expect to see Michael Ricketts on the park. In handing in a transfer request he's forgone a hefty financial compensation package - but in doing so he's oiled the wheels for a move and I'm sure the deal is just about done. He'll not be wanting to injure himself and I doubt very much whether Sam would risk him in any case. I think the fact he's only ten days away from the closure of the transfer window has pushed him into the request.

For Bolton it's just disappointing that the 8m deals that were talked about last season never materialised. Whether we'd have ever got that much is open to debate, but to drop down to 2m is a considerable reduction and it just goes to show how the money in football has been hit. You've also got to consider that, as far as I'm aware, Walsall have a 20% sell on clause. If we'd managed to cash in at 8m we can only wonder who Sam would have been able to buy!

I don't know who'll face the Newcastle defence tonight, perhaps it'll be Pederson with Djorkaeff playing off him? But I just can't see where the goals are going to come form. We've all heard the debate about the Geordies defence, and personally I think the criticism has been over the top. They play a very young back line and inexperience can lead to players been found out of position - in the Premiership you'll be punished. However the fact that they've won 10 out of 11 of their home games speaks for itself. They've also kept out teams such as Liverpool and Juventus so they can't be all that bad. Looking at the Bolton defence it's quite obvious what'll happen. We haven't got the pace to push up, so we'll sit deep on the 18 yard line. This'll stop Bellamy's pace, BUT, and it's a big but, we must keep out the crosses from Robert and Solano. If not then Alan Shearer could be in for a very productive shift!

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