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Roeder's injury woes painful to hear

 

By Tom Cary

 

 

Portsmouth (1) 2 Newcastle United (0) 1

 

For a man who does not like to make excuses for his team, Glenn Roeder plays the injury card an awful lot.

 

The Newcastle manager was left understandably frustrated by his side's listless performance at Fratton Park - which all but ends their push for Europe - but choosing to trot out the old St James' Park injury curse at the home of Harry Redknapp, a manager who consistently maximises the scant resources available to him, was never going to win him much sympathy.

 

"The suggestion that we should have done better this season is rubbish," Roeder said. "We've done everything we can but there's other teams who haven't had injuries this year.

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"Please don't write that as an excuse. I don't make excuses. But the statistics will tell you that many of our players have been out for long, long periods."

 

If that's not an excuse, what is? In any case, Roeder should be more worried about the players who are available than those who aren't. Even without Michael Owen - who will play in another friendly this week as he steps up his return from injury - Roeder was still able to call on the services of Obafemi Martins, a striker who cost £10 million.

 

Behind him, Roeder deployed £5 million winger Damien Duff, Turkey international Emre, and England players past and future in Nicky Butt and James Milner. Hardly scraping the barrel.

 

The one area where Newcastle were lightweight was in central defence, Steven Taylor and Craig Moore being no match for the invention of Kanu. In fact, he gave Moore such a torrid time that Roeder withdrew the Australian after 30 minutes, by which stage Benjani had already scored.

 

Matt Taylor extended that lead on 59 minutes with a left-footed strike from 25 yards before Emre pulled one back from the penalty spot after Dejan Stefanovic had upended Milner.

 

For Newcastle, Martins threatened sporadically but, in the main, he was well shackled by Portsmouth's rearguard of Stefanovic, Sol Campbell, Linvoy Primus and Lauren. "I think that must be the first time that combination has played together," said Redknapp, who could not resist the chance to rub salt into Roeder's wounds. "I know Newcastle spoke to Sol before us but they decided not to pursue it. I'm pleased they didn't take him."

 

How Newcastle fans must covet a solid, imposing centre-back like Campbell. Or Lauren, for that matter, who moved to Fratton Park for a fraction of the price Newcastle paid for Titus Bramble.

 

Redknapp, though, reserved his highest praise for goalkeeper David James, whose excellent save from Martins in the dying minutes denied Newcastle an unlikely point.

 

James' quest to break David Seaman's record of 141 Premiership clean sheets continues, but it is only a matter of time. "He'll go on for another five years. I've never seen anything like him," marvelled Redknapp, who gently mocked Watford's attempt last week to lure James to Vicarage Road next season. "Yeah, I'm sure he'd love to play in the Championship!"

 

Match details

 

Portsmouth (4-4-2): James; Lauren, Primus, Campbell, Stefanovic; O'Neil, Davis, Hughes, Taylor; Benjani (LuaLua 73), Kanu (Kranjcar 90).

Subs: Ashdown, Pamarot, Mvuemba.

Booked: Stefanovic, O'Neil.

Newcastle (4-4-2): Harper; Solano, Taylor, Moore (Onyewu 30), Carr; Milner, Butt, Emre, Duff (Luque 81); N'Zogbia (Carroll 46), Martins.

Subs: Srnicek, Babayaro.

Man of the match: Kanu (Portsmouth).

Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).

Att: 20,165

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Glenn with his media advsior

 

Glenn: So what if he asks me...

Media advisor: Think what Souness would say, say the opposite

Glenn: Ok what if i get asked...

Media advisor: Think what Souness would say, say the opposite

Glenn: But what if they and catch me out with...

Media advisor: Think what Souness would say, say the opposite

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I'm afraid there are many supports / backers and such of GR slipping away day by day. His "non-excuses" have worn thin, he has said himself he cannot motivate his players (they should motiovate themselves), he was the wrong appointment as people were blinkered by what was a good achievement though in a club lifted by the departure of the previous disaster. This happens in most clubs at such a low low point. Change being as good as a rest in these cases. We settled for an easy mediocre option. Now thats what we are.

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