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).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before