The most experienced coach Newcastle have on board at the moment is Assistant Manager John Carver, at least in Europe, because he was the right hand man when Bobby Robson was at the club and had Newcastle playing in the European Champions league for two seasons back ten years ago.
Alan Pardew and John Carver – the Brains Trust at Newcastle
And of course in 2004, Newcastle were in the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup – now restructured as the Europa League – and Newcastle drew the first leg at St. James’ Park with Marseilles 0-0, but lost 2-0 in France, to two good goals from a young striker called Didier Drogba.
So we were very close to reaching only our second European final – with the first being back in 1969 – when if was called the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – and we hammered Hungarian side Újpesti Dózsa 3-0 at home, with captain Bobby Moncur scoring two and Jim Scott getting the other goal.
And then we took them apart 3-2 in Hungary, with Bobby Moncur getting another goal and Preben Arentoft and substitute Alan Foggon getting the other two goals.
This was the Newcastle side that won that final:
Willie McFaul; David Craig Ollie Burton Bobby Moncur (c) Frank Clark; Tommy Gibb Jim Scott Preben Arentoft Jackie Sinclair; Wyn Davies Pop Robson
Substitute: Alan Foggon
And of course the great Joe Harvey was manager.
But now back to the future, and John Carver has talked to the local press about Newcastle’s tough game tonight against Anzhi Makhachkala:
“We will only know in May which direction we are going in – regardless of what has happened this season.” “Hopefully it will be a huge positive to finish in the top 10. And everybody asks: ‘Can we win the Europa League?’”
“Well I haven’t seen anything out there that really frightens me yet.” “You just need that stroke of luck, a bit of fortune and, of course, belief.” “It is a huge game coming up in Moscow. We can’t hide the fact it was a disappointing start to the season.”
“We had injuries of course. We’re still disappointed but we’ll only be able to judge it on where we finish in the Premier League and how well we do in the Europa League.
“Only time will tell – but we’re still in there.”
We suppose what John is saying is code for “we can win the thin g if only we have some luck” - which let’s face it – all teams need if they are to win things.
Just look at the Manchester United – Real Madrid game on Tuesday night at Old Trafford – and it could be in the hands of the Gods that Real Madrid will win the Champions League this year under manager Jose Mourinho – with that kind of luck when they were down and out and then the referee sent off Nani after 58 minutes for a minor foul.
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org