Football: Bickering Magpies have the luck

Newcastle United 3 Bradford City 0

"BEEN A long time since I rock 'n' rolled," Robert Plant blared over St James' Park's public address system at 2.55pm on Saturday. It's been just as long, he might have sung, since the cabinet upstairs had a domestic trophy of note to display.

Not since 1955, in fact, the year Bill Haley and his Comets were rocking around the clock, have Newcastle United won one of English football's major prizes. And the clock is likely to be ticking for some time yet before the glint of silverware is glimpsed on the northern bank of the Tyne.

Though they managed to stay on the seasonal trophy trail at St James' on Saturday, Newcastle looked far from cup-winning material. Outclassed for the best part of an hour, they were fortunate that Bradford lacked the goalscoring touch to exploit their superiority.

Paul Jewell's polished side lacked luck, too, Jamie Lawrence being denied a clear penalty when brought down by Shay Given in the 27th minute, the keeper's right-hand post stopping a Stuart McCall header in first-half injury time and the otherwise impressive Robbie Blake missing the sitter of the match a minute before Alan Shearer left Bradford chasing a two- goal deficit.

Newcastle, until they were in that fortuitous comfort zone seven minutes into the second-half, looked precisely what they are: a team in limbo. It was significant, as well as ironic, that all three of their goals came from players uncertain of their place in Ruud Gullit's scheme of things at St James' Park.

Dietmar Hamann, whose tap-in gave Newcastle the lead in the 32nd minute, has complained in the German press of being ignored both on the pitch and off it by a boss, he insists, who deems him surplus to requirements. And reports of Shearer being at odds with the dreadlocked Dutchman were hardly dismissed by the glaringly cool manner in which the pounds 15m man walked past his manager after his pre-match warm-up. There was not a flicker of recognition between the two.

Even Temur Ketsbaia, who set up the first two goals and scored the third himself with four minutes remaining, was in axe-grinding mood on Saturday. "Everybody makes mistakes," he said, ""but when I make one I'm out of the team for weeks."

The Georgian needs to play in every game for the rest of the season to qualify for another work permit and there are no permanent fixtures in Gullit's team. The Newcastle manager continues to shuffle his unsettled pack from week to week and further changes are imminent, with bids for Taribo West and Ibrahim Ba on Milanese tables.

Gullit clearly wants to shuffle out a lot of his inherited playing stock before he settles on a team of his own design - and the uncertainty within his squad shows. It is just as well, as he plays his game of patience, that his side avoided defeat on Saturday. The Toon Army are pining with increasing longing for the dashing days of old at St James' Park and a loss to lower league opposition would have tried their patience to the limit as they prepare to welcome back Kevin Keegan for Peter Beardsley's testimonial match on Wednesday.

Goals: Hamann (32) 1-0; Shearer (52) 2-0; Ketsbaia (86) 3-0.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Griffin, Dabizas, Charvet, Domi; Solano (Glass, h-t), Hamman, Speed, Brady; Ketsbaia, Shearer. Substitutes not used: Hughes, Barton, Andersson, Harper (gk).

Bradford City (4-4-2): Walsh; Wright (Rankin, 65), Moore, Westwood, Jacobs; Lawrence, McCall, Whalley, Beagrie; Blake, Mills. Substitutes not used: Dreyer, Ramage, O'Brien, Prudhoe (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Portland).

Booking: Bradford: Moore.

Man of the match: Whalley.

Attendance: 36,698.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker