Steve Harper, our second string goalkeeper came on in the second half for the injured Shay Given on Saturday, and played very well, making a couple of great saves to keep the score down.
Steve Harper – two great saves on Saturday
Although Steve doesn’t play too often he remains one of Newcastle’s senior players, and we’ve always thought he was just too good to sit on the bench all the time. With Given having regular problems with his groin, Steve has been getting more games in the last eighteen months, and he’s shown just what a good goalkeeper he is.
We’ve always thought that if Steve played regularly in the Premier League he would have been capped by England, he’s that good.
Steve is a local lad and down to earth, and never one to make excuses as he told the Newcastle Journal today:
â€œItâ€™s another demoralizing defeat,â€ â€œWe started quite brightly, probably the best weâ€™ve started at home for a long time. But against top teams you canâ€™t keep shooting yourself in the foot and we keep doing that week in, week out at the moment. Until we eradicate that weâ€™re going to have problems.â€
â€œWe keep saying what if, what if, but you canâ€™t keep doing that. Weâ€™ve had a couple of great weeksâ€™ training, intense, really high tempo. Everyoneâ€™s been out there and itâ€™s really perked up, the mood in the camp was good but Saturday was a knock-back.â€
â€œWe need a win. We need momentum, nobodyâ€™s kidding ourselves, we knew it would be tough. It was an encouraging start, but at 1-0 down we gave a poor goal away when we went to sleep. If weâ€™d got to half time at 1-0 who knows?â€â€œThey got the killer goal at the start of the second half.”
“If weâ€™d got the next goal it would have been game on but we gave Ronaldo the freedom of the city for the third and weâ€™re 3-0 down against a team which could well become champions of Europe this season. We had a decent response with a goal back, but itâ€™s the same old story. Just as we give ourselves a bit of a lifeline they got a great goal from (Wayne) Rooney.â€
â€œWeâ€™ve got Blackburn next week and itâ€™s a massive game. Weâ€™re under no illusions just exactly what the task is, weâ€™re not looking at the top six. Weâ€™re not daft as a bunch of players. We know the longer we go without getting that elusive win the harder itâ€™s going to be, so the priority is to get back on the training field and do everything possible to get three points against Blackburn and bring this run to an end.â€
Good words from Harper and that’s exactly what the team needs to do this week. Work on whatever they need to so we have the very best chance of beating Blackburn on Saturday. And a win is what we need and all 3 points, forget about a draw and just one point. Harper thinks Kevin Keeganâ€™s impact as a manager will be felt, but that these things inevitably take some time, as he continued:
â€œWhen Kevin came in, yes, we all got a lift. But nobody expected that first win to be automatic. You could compare it to last time when he came in. It was a massive task and his job this year is to get us the points necessary to put this season behind us and build in the summer.â€
â€œIâ€™m sure heâ€™ll get the backing to rebuild this squad and this club but we canâ€™t think about the summer. Weâ€™ve got to think of the immediate priority to get the points to put this season to bed. Nobodyâ€™s kidding themselves that weâ€™re going to be up there in the Champions League soon. Itâ€™s a massive job at a massive club.â€
â€œPeople say he knows this club inside out and he will know more than anyone what needs doing. The immediate aimâ€™s to get three points and on the right track.â€
Steve Harper is a great professional and is admired by the Newcastle faithful for his complete dedication to the Newcastle United cause. He has elected to stay at his home town club when he could have played first team football elsewhere, that’s how much he loves Newcastle.
And when Steve came on in the second half on Saturday, it was his 100th appearance for the team. Well done Steve and thanks for your complete dedication to our club over the last 12 years.