Football: Gullit's gamble backfires

Newcastle United 1 Sunderland 2

NEVER MIND that Ruud Gullit lost the match he had to win in order to retrieve Newcastle's fast-diminishing Premiership credibility. The real point is just how will he tackle his next major contest, namely winning the Alan Shearer battle.

Last night Gullit not only thought the unthinkable, he put it into mischievous practise by dropping England's captain for this must-win game.

It may turn out to be the biggest gamble of his eventful managerial career. What is certain though is that it backfired in horrendous fashion.

For Newcastle's fervent hordes it is now part of a depressingly familiar pattern. Gullit's team, assembled at considerable cost, is still waiting to record its first League win of the season, having collected just one point from a possible 15. And just as they did against Wimbledon on Saturday they found themselves with a losing hand after picking up what looked for all the world like a winning one.

On an evening blighted by incessant rain they took the lead thanks to the powerful running of Kieron Dyer who put them in front after 27 minutes. The truth of it was, though, that Sunderland, fresh up from the First Division, were never overawed and fought their way back into the game.

When it was all over Gullit made one thing clear - he is not, he insists, about to quit Newcastle.

Nor did he make any apology for leaving Shearer on the bench. Indeed he made no attempt to disguise the fact that he had not informed his pounds 15m striker that he was going to drop him. "The team-sheet went up on the board," he said. "It's not about Alan Shearer, it's about Newcastle. And no, I did not tell him personally.

"We were doing well until we brought Paul Robinson off. We put Alan Shearer on and we lost. What is the conclusion? It is the old story. We made vital mistakes at vital times.

"I do not want to be in this position, but I am. For some reason we just tend to lose concentration in games. However, I have to guide this team to better times, and as for whether there was a gamble tonight no one complained when we were leading in the first half. I can understand the fans' frustration. Am I running out of time? I am always running out of time, I can use every minute of the day."

It all began to go horribly wrong early in the second half when Sunderland, despite any profit, continued to see Niall Quinn's head as their salvation. So it was that which Nicky Summerbee aimed for when he whipped over a fierce free-kick after 65 minutes.

Nicos Dabizas, the Greek defender, had done a good marking job on the veteran Irishman. However, for once Quinn lost his marker and deftly directed his header beyond Tommy Wright.

Three minutes after Shearer's arrival it was Sunderland who scored the winner. Peter Reid, the Sunderland manager, has his own master finisher in Kevin Phillips.

The diminutive striker looked for all the world as though he had lost the chance of scoring his fourth Premiership goal when Wright blocked his close-range shot, but like the predator he is he considered it unfinished business.

After hastily retrieving the rebound, he restored his balance and delightfully lifted a subtle shot over the off-balance goalkeeper.

Reid said: "He is top quality and that goal shows why."

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Wright; Barton, Dabizas, Goma, Domi; Dyer, McClen, Speed, Solano; Maric (Shearer, 72), Robinson (Ferguson, 57). Substitutes not used: Green, Hughes, Harper (gk).

Sunderland (4-4-2): Sorensen; Makin, Bould, Butler, Gray; Summerbee, Rae, McCann, Schwarz (Ball, 69); Quinn, Phillips. Substitutes not used: Oster, Dichio, Helmer, Marriott (gk).

Referee: G Poll (Tring).

News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
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

Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'