Still confident of a Champions League place - 02/05/2003

Still confident of a Champions League place
Get Ethan Elliott on - we need a goal!

A great deal has been said about the pressure of recent games, and a few people have mentioned that the crowd seemed tense when we played Villa at Easter. To be honest, the squad been quite relaxed and after the Sunderland win we’re confident of qualification for the Champions League.

It was never going to be a classic at the Stadium of Light, derby games rarely are, but this was about getting the three points and not about putting on a footballing show. It’s fair to we were delighted with the result, and delighted to find that Chelsea had only managed a 1-1 draw at home to Fulham. We’re now back in third spot and not relying on anybody else to do us favours. With Chelsea facing Liverpool a week on Saturday, a home win against Birmingham will take us to within a point of certain qualification.

The Birmingham team have done a tremendous job since the turn of the year, credit has to go to Steve Bruce – the Geordie who never played for Newcastle. My dad was a teacher and actually taught Steve at Benfield! There was criticism about the quantity of players he brought into the club, but with such a turnaround – particularly over the last six weeks or so, I guess his policy has been more than justified. They’re now safe and will enjoy the opportunity of playing up here – it’s up to us to ensure that they don’t enjoy it too much.

As for me, I was down in London on Wednesday getting advice from a specialist. I’ve had a bit of a problem with the achiles and I’d like to get it sorted out in time for next season. He’s given me a few exercises to do and hopefully there’ll be no need for an op. If the exercises don’t work, there’s also a guy in Sweden who can try an injection, it’s a new technique isn’t yet allowed in this country.

My eldest Ethan is looking forward to tomorrow’s game, last year he had a great time when he ran on the pitch kicked a ball out at half time - ‘scoring’ a goal at the Gallowgate end. One year on and he tells me he’s going to score a goal in both ends of the ground before taking his shirt off and swinging it around his head!! Pity his dad doesn’t get the opportunity to do that, it’s certainly not been the best of seasons for me.

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