Newcastle Likely To Play 4-3-3 – Guthrie and S. Taylor To Start

There’s really not much Alan Shearer can do tonight, other than to get his players ready to attack Middlesbrough and hopefully get a few goals ahead, to give his players some much needed confidence.


Alan Shearer – big test of his management tonight

With Alan’s experience of World Cups and European Championships for England in a wonderful playing career, he is still insisting tonight is the most important game in his football career, but whether those words will be picked up by his players is another matter.

In a day which could well decide Newcastle’s fate in the Premier League Shearer talked to the Newcastle Journal this morning:

“This is as important and as big as it will be without a shadow of a doubt,” “I’d go so far as to say it’s the biggest of my career.”

“This is the biggest game without a doubt. It is bigger than Euro ‘96.”

Of course it’s the biggest game of his career only because his home town club is in danger of the unimaginable, of being relegated and having to play in the Championship next season. That could decimate the club in terms of confidence and standing in the game, and would make it difficult to attract decent players, that’s for sure.

Shearer and assistant manager Iain Dowie have been working on formation and personnel since last Wednesday, so we are told, and we would expect Alan to play 3 up front in a 4-3-3 attacking formation.

But the formation and the players’ responsibilities cannot be too complicated tonight, because they will need to play somewhere near their best if we are to beat Middlesbrough. The good news is that Middlesbrough have been as bad as Newcastle all season, and it’s not like we are playing Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United, as we have done recently.

Both teams are on 31 points after 35 games, and are joint bottom of the league, after WBA had the cheek to beat Wigan 3-1 on Saturday. WBA gained 3 points to be on the same points total, and they have also won two of their last 3 games, and may still be a threat to Newcastle, and are not dead and buried yet.

The three up front will play in front of a midfield that could well include young Danny Guthrie, who replaces the injured Alan Smith and the banned Joey Barton, and Steven Taylor could also come in to partner the majestic Sebastien Bassong in the heart of the Newcastle defense.

Taylor should displace the disappointing Fabricio Coloccini, who may be on his way in the summer, and this is just the type of game where local boy Steven can shine in, and maybe even get a goal.

Alan continued:

“There’s a few things we can do but I’ve got a team in my head that I think will get us three points,”   “You could say that we didn’t score but you also look and think we created three good chances for each one of them.”

“So on another night you’d expect one of those chances to go in. So from that point of view I felt it worked.”  “When you go in with that particular system what you lack is width.”

“You need your full-backs to provide that width. Now whether we go in with that on Monday I couldn’t tell you that.”  “But that’s what you do lack with three up front is a little bit of width and that’s the balance I’ve got to get right.” 

We’ve criticized the side a lot this year, and said often we would be only too pleased if the players could go out and prove us wrong (please!) – we’d be the first ones to hold up our hands and acknowledge they were better than we gave them credit for.

But we’ve also noticed there have been precious few times we’ve had to do that this season, and the last good display and result was WBA in February. And that was our last win, and it’s now May.

Let’s hope they prove us wrong tonight – big time!

Comments welcome.

30 comments so far

  • Jamesthefirst

    May 11, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    Comment #1

    With our entire midfield of holding midfielders, 4-3-3 is a formation that worries the hell out of me.

  • Stuart79

    May 11, 2009 at 11:01 AM

    Comment #2


    Beye—— S Taylor——Bassong———R Taylor

    Gutirrez- -Guthrie——–Nolan———–Duff——-

    —————–Viduka—— Martins——————

  • Toon Graeme

    May 11, 2009 at 11:06 AM

    Comment #3

    Today is Jackie Milburn’s brithday.

    Lets hope his spirit rubs off on our starting 11.

  • Jamesthefirst

    May 11, 2009 at 11:06 AM

    Comment #4

    @Stuart79 – Shearer will NEVER drop Butt. I know he should, but it won’t happen.

  • Toon Graeme

    May 11, 2009 at 11:07 AM

    Comment #5

    The call hs been made.

    I plan on loosing my voice again! Yes Im bored at work and should be working,,10278~1654385,00.html

  • sahota

    May 11, 2009 at 11:08 AM

    Comment #6

    We can not do anything other than just hope. That too will go away if player let us down again. But we can hope that players who cares for Newcastle (Obviously not all 11) will give their best and save us.

  • Chizzy_Toon

    May 11, 2009 at 11:09 AM

    Comment #7

    Beye–S Taylor–Bassong–R Taylor
    ———Lua Lua——–


  • Jamesthefirst

    May 11, 2009 at 11:09 AM

    Comment #8

    The thing we often forget when a manager picks a team is that unlike us he is not going on preferences or even previous game.

    He looks at them in training and sees who is up for the challenge. Players we may not like, may be working hard in training to impress Shearer for a starting place. For example, as much as I don’t rate Alan Smith, he gives the impression that he is one of the hardest working players in training.

  • Waldo P. Barnstormer

    May 11, 2009 at 11:10 AM

    Comment #9

    Would prefer to see


    I hate to say this but I think I prefer Geremi to Butt and the bolton game when he came on for Butt we looked a better side. I would only pick R Taylor if we had only 8 other players available as he is worse than poor.

  • bowburnmag

    May 11, 2009 at 11:10 AM

    Comment #10

    I’ve seen a few people commenting on our ‘holding’ midfielders in a 4-3-3. My question would be, what other option gives us anything more attacking?
    Surely we haven’t got wide players who can play in a 4-4-2 and get past defenders and deliver? Or if we have, I haven’t seen them lately. We could take a punt on Guiterrez and Duffer and drag some back into left back but I think we’ll still look as ponderous either way.

  • stevep

    May 11, 2009 at 11:14 AM

    Comment #11

    @Waldo – I think I agree, as slow as Geremi is he can at least pick a pass (albeit one in three) – Maybe he could come on after 45 mins when Butt is knackered

    Think I’d put in Loven instead of Guthrie and put Martins up front – we need pace and goals tonight

  • Waldo P. Barnstormer

    May 11, 2009 at 11:16 AM

    Comment #12

    We really just need to go out all guns blazing get the full backs up the flanks and keep the ball in there half as much as possible. We need to be on the front foot from the first kick. If we have the ball in our half KEEP IT for a change, lets see what it feels like to have some possesion rather than just lump it in to there box for them to lump it back and give me tennis neck.

  • Waldo P. Barnstormer

    May 11, 2009 at 11:18 AM

    Comment #13

    @Stevep McLovin has the pace and has scored in recent memory I love Oba but my thinking is maybe bring him on in the seciond half if he is fit because the Pompey game he looked like he could not run.

  • Toon Graeme

    May 11, 2009 at 11:27 AM

    Comment #14

    Waldo –

    Love the tennis neck bit 🙂

  • greatnavi

    May 11, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    Comment #15

    I think 4 – 4-2 will do wonders for us,as Duffer and Gutierezz providing supply.If Big Al plays 4-4-3 just to accomodate Owen (Who has not scored for ages) that will be the decisive mistake!! What u guys think??

  • Davies

    May 11, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    Comment #16

    I think I’d be inclined to play

    Beye – Colo – Bassong – Edgar
    —Jonas -Guthrie- Duff——-

    Bench: Krull, Owen, Ranger, R.Taylor, Smith, Geremi and Nolan.

    I’d like a better bench, but that’s what we’ve got.

  • Waldo P. Barnstormer

    May 11, 2009 at 11:34 AM

    Comment #17

    Like that Davies BUT great Navi has the best idea 4-4-3. Sweet

  • Craigg

    May 11, 2009 at 11:36 AM

    Comment #18

    Butt is our only natural holding midfield player, Smith is a striker, Guthrie a box to box player and Nolan has a good reputation as a goal scoring midfielder, Gutierrez is highly rated by many including maradonna as a skillful creative player.

    I do agree Butt isnt a very good passer but he still does break up a lot of opposition attacks, Which is vital when you drop a midfielder to play 3 up front.

    He was one of the main reasons the 433 worked last season as it allowed Beye and Enrique to push on from full back and Barton and Geremi could support the attack knowing Butt would cover the gaps left.

    He would start for me as you cannot play 433 with no defensive midfielder.

    I would go:

    —-Beye–S Taylor–Bassong—Duff———–

    Subs: Krul, Coloccini, R Taylor, Nolan, Lovenkrands, Carroll, Ranger

    Guthrie has good delivery from set peices and is a decent passer of the ball and Gutierrez and Duff in tandem would cause problems for most sides let alone tripe like Boro.

    As much as we have criticized him, Owen has a terrific scoring record and always bounces back after a poor spell, I remember a few occasions where the press have slagged him and he has scored a hat trick in the following match, Hopefully history will repeat itself again tonight.


  • boater

    May 11, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    Comment #19

    Tonight’s match for me is a little like a bitch slapping contest between the two village simpletons.. the rest of the crowd betting, laughing and jeering. We both deserve to gan doon… although I would add that the toon army don’t deserve this club. Great fans wasted on a hopeless club- arsenal the opposite… great club wasted on an horrible odious lot.

    The 4-3-3 worked last season – partly because it doesn’t rely on our midfield to create… let’s face it they DON’T anyway. Actually it’s an acknowledgment that our three most creative players are ALSO our three strikers… so it’s giving them all a chance to play provider – in the absence of a midfielder who gets past players (Dyer, etc.)

    I think the early goal cliche has been trotted out… but it’s become a massive psychological battle to do that now…we have to beat our own demons before we can see off the smogs…

  • greatnavi

    May 11, 2009 at 11:40 AM

    Comment #20

    Waldo i really think 443 exposes us at the back and we also loses the width provided by the wingers.Duff and gutierrez will be a lethal Wing combination with Butt as a holding midfielder and gutherie as a passer of the ball.

  • Micky Toon

    May 11, 2009 at 11:47 AM

    Comment #21

    Tonight really is it, I reckon. A win will put us above Hull on GD and will make a massive difference to morale.

    However, to re build in the PL will mean we need pots and pots of cash, something we don’t have access to.
    For me the PL is rubbish anyway. There is no point to being in the league as we will never win it. It’s as predictable as the SPL. The same four perhaps five if Man City buy their way there, will be in the same four (or five) places for years to come. The only thing we can win would be the cups and if we finished 6th perhaps a UEFA as was, cup.
    The PL is boring as hell and the only reason for staying in it is the extra TV money and that it’s the top league in England.

  • JJJ

    May 11, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    Comment #22

    Worky ticket

    “No of course it doesn’t JJJ. I was referring to views on crime in South Africa. Your comments regarding the victims of Joey Barton, and how they deserved it somehow were pretty repulsive too.”

    Quite frankly, I will always have a bit a sympathy for Barton.
    Yes, he has done many things wrong and has had many chances, but he has also been treated unfairly because of his past which really isnt fair.
    He beat up a kid… Im been in the UK, I’ve had these 16 year old kids (sometimes younger) wlak past my girlfriend and tell me what they want to do to her, I have been threatened with broken bottles for doing nothing… I was only in the UK for a year but had this at least 3-4 times. On buses I saw youngsters assault old women and nodody can do anything about it because the law says if you touvh these minrs you will be locked away – so they are free to run riot…
    My comment was its understandable that someone in a poor mental state can be driven to knocking there lights out…
    I fail to see how that is a racist comment.

    The second comment about South Africa and talking about its history.
    My comment was towards the “uneducated” of which 90% happen to be black… and them not knowing what is good for themselves.
    Many educated black citizens would agree with me…
    When there is a democracy in an uneducated state you end up with the majority voting for the wrong thing…
    For instance a president (Jacob Zuma) who got off on two rape charges on a “technicality”.
    And had 18 counts of courruption in a 60 Billion Dollar arms deal simply dropped against his after he accepted bribes.
    The other party (Shabier Shake) who offered the bribe was sentenced to 15 years in jail…
    Now this man who says he can wash away AIDS after having unprotected sex by simply having a shower is OUR president by majority vote 65% of the population (uneducated population).
    In surveys conducted in township (rural black areas), close on 60% of the population stated they saw nothing wrong with rape and corruption.
    And the youth leader of the ANC publically condones killing to get his man in power.
    When our neighbouring state Zimbabwe has people killed on mass (black people) for not supporting Mugabe and is supported by our ANC government. Then I have a right to make statements about our country.

    I have not left because I was born here and have had family here since the 1700’s.
    I love South African and its people… it is without doubt the most beautiful country with the most potential in the world.
    But its rural people ar uneducated and it saddens me deeply that they cannot see fault with their outdated medival type cultural beliefs.

    How exactly that makes me racist. You are welcome to explain to me…

    I simply commented to you that you continually complain about the comments of Ed, on Ed’s BLOG… and you got defensive.
    So I’ll simply reply in the same why you replied to me when I said I dont appreciate your comments.
    If you dont like it, DONT READ IT! Its his blog… he has enough satisfied readers, without you…

    So now that this is all cleared up, can we talk some football!

  • Graeme

    May 11, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    Comment #23

    Do you thibk they would notice if we played 4-4-4?? At least it would give us a fighting chance of getting a result, especially if the smoggies get a player sent off!!!

    I can see a predictable bore draw and it frightens the life out of me.

    If we dont win this one I reckon we are in the fizzy-pop league next season for sure. Sorry for the negative vibes, but its how I feel today.

  • JJJ

    May 11, 2009 at 12:09 PM

    Comment #24

    If we are going to go with a 4-3-3 formation, I really think Butt can do a good job as long as he stays in the defensive half and doesnt try any fancy passing…
    Guthrie for me is a better option than any other midfield as he is neat and tid and can actually hit a ball cleanly so for me he’d get the nod on the right side of midfield.
    Owen has offered very little in any position but for me he or the out of form Martins (well its a toss up for selection, but I’d favour Martins because the Borough defenders are big but slow.)
    Viduka for me HAS to play as he is the only play who can create and hold up the ball to bring our midfielders into play.
    I’d take Jonas on the left of midfield again because he has pace but I’d give him strict instuctions not to dribble too much ith his head down as he becomes predictable.
    Duff performed well aat left back against Liverpool and I think he and Habib Beye would do well as wing backs.
    Then if Taylor is fit purely because of his fight and the fact its a derby I’d play him with Bassong in denfense.







    Ps. I think Shearer will start Owen instead of either Martins or Nolan but if he does I hope its Martins otherwise our midfield is weak and Tuncay will have too much space.

    Subs: Krul, Coloccini, Geremi, Smith, Owen, Carroll, Lua Lua.

    Smith could relplace either Butt of Nolan when they weary, as could Colo or Geremi. And Owen could replace Viduka or Martins.

  • JJJ

    May 11, 2009 at 12:11 PM

    Comment #25

    I see this one ending 1-1 or 2-2 or 2-1 to either us or Borough.
    Its going to be a tight game but I think whoever scores first will win…
    Lets hope its us…

  • RyanToon

    May 11, 2009 at 12:19 PM

    Comment #26

    come on you black and whites lets have them smoggies bar stewards!!!!!!!!!!


  • workyticket

    May 11, 2009 at 1:04 PM

    Comment #27

    JJJ // May 11, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    “Worky ticket

    I simply commented to you that you continually complain about the comments of Ed, on Ed’s BLOG… and you got defensive.”

    JJJ you “simply” commented

    “If you really have to argue bullSh#t with Ed every time he breathes then rather FO fromt eh blog…

    Nobody is interested in your ramblings…”

    Then you blame me for getting “defensive”?

    As for your views on “uneducated” and “medieval” black people, now why might they be that way? Could it be, perhaps, hundreds of years of being kept like dogs by racist, european trash since the 1700s? The time when your family moved there incidentally.

    Regarding Barton, what the hell do you know about his victims and how much they deserved it because of their age? That wasn’t “racist” BTW, just nauseating and ignorant.

    You actually have a point about the ANC’s policy on HIV, JJJ, it has been rank stupidity and criminal negligence on a vast scale.

  • Darryl

    May 11, 2009 at 1:06 PM

    Comment #28






  • DENIro

    May 11, 2009 at 2:46 PM

    Comment #29

    beye (C)——taylor———bassong———duff
    ——-geremi——–guthrie ——–gutierrez—-
    ————lovenkrands—-lua lua / ranger——-
    ————————viduka / caroll————–

    Subs: krul, colo, edgar, nolan, ranger, carol, owen

  • Turkish Magpie

    May 11, 2009 at 4:06 PM

    Comment #30

    Is this the team you’ve picked Shearer?





    Going to the game tonight lads, whatever the team, 3 POINTS IS A MUST!


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