Dyer's skill and commitment earn approval from Souness

Newcastle United 3 - Coventry City 1
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The Independent Online

I hope he's won back the supporters," said Graeme Souness of a player who refused to play out of position and so fell out with his manager and fans.

I hope he's won back the supporters," said Graeme Souness of a player who refused to play out of position and so fell out with his manager and fans.

He was not, of course, talking about Craig Bellamy, for whom it still seems to be Birmingham or bust. Souness continued: "There aren't many players like Kieron Dyer around, and we have to keep the top men at this club."

On Saturday, Dyer was the top man as Newcastle brushed aside Coventry. Dyer was everywhere, driving dangerously at the box with the ball, surging speedily ahead of it and getting back to break up Coventry attacks. He found better-placed colleagues with shrewd passes and, best of all, he wanted the ball, demanding with arms outstretched that it be presented to his feet so that he could dart it forward.

"Other than one unscheduled trip to the police station shortly after I arrived, he's been great for me," said Souness of the player who was an unsettling influence at the end of the Bobby Robson era. "You can't play well in every game, but you can guarantee the crowd that you will have a go, and he's done that. Kieron has a great deal more to his game than pace. He's a cute player and he works his socks off for the cause."

Dyer's dynamism set Celestine Babayaro away to score Newcastle's third after Dele Adebola had reduced the deficit created by Alan Shearer and Shola Ameobi. He created plenty of chances for team-mates to widen the gap, particularly Patrick Kluivert.

"I can do better than that for nowt, man," shouted a wag in the crowd as the £67,000-a-week Dutchman hit the underside of the bar from an inch.

Dyer doesn't score often: just once this season and only 23 times in 174 appearances for Newcastle since 1999. "We have pointed that out to him," said Souness, before referring to his newly-appointed coach Terry McDermott. "I played next to the best attacking midfielder of my generation and he's now working for me. He was getting 20 a season, and Kieron should be looking at double figures. Terry Mac will be blowing into his ear and telling him how good he was."

Another performance worth blowing into anyone's ear about came from the 20-year-old Luke Steele in the Coventry goal. He is on loan from Manchester United and he will play a key part in Micky Adams' attempts to steer Coventry to Championship safety.

"He's a terrific prospect," said Adams. "For his age, he's as good as anybody. He's got great temperament and he will get better."

After seven days in charge, he felt his whole team was getting better. "I saw an improvement in the way we went about our business, particularly the way we defended. They are listening to what we are after." Blow Steele's name into Sir Alex Ferguson's ear and see if he is listening.

Goals: Shearer 37 (1-0); Ameobi 42 (2-0); Adebola 45 (2-1); Babayaro 52 (3-1).

Newcastle United (4-3-1-2): Harper; Carr, O'Brien, Bramble, Babayaro; Dyer, Faye (Hughes 80) Jenas; Kluivert; A Shearer, Ameobi. Substitutes not used: Given (gk), Milner, Taylor, Robert.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Steele; Duffy, Williams, Leacock, Giddings; Morrell (Adebola, 6), Negouai, Hughes, Doyle; McSheffrey (Jorgensen 79), John (Johnson 79).

Substitutes not used: S Shearer (gk), Shaw.

Referee: N Barry (Lincolnshire)

Bookings: Newcastle O'Brien. Coventry Williams.

Man of the match: Dyer.

Attendance: 44,044.