Blame the players, says Dyer

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The Independent Football

As the post-mortem into Newcastle United's failure to qualify for the Champions' League began, Kieron Dyer got things under way by claiming it might be the best thing for the long-term health of the club.

The England international delivered a scathing assessment of Newcastle's season and accused the players of believing their own hype.

Dyer has been blamed in some quarters for Newcastle's failure to match pre-season expectations. Rather than offer excuses, such as the fact Newcastle did not lose a League game in which he played since the away game at Arsenal in September or the fact that he, Craig Bellamy and Jonathan Woodgate had only played in the same side five times all season, he said he was as much to blame as anyone.

But the 25-year-old, who is believed to be Sir Bobby Robson's choice to succeed Alan Shearer as captain hopes the pain of failure will prove the antidote to a complacency which he says has affected the club ever since last season's third-place finish.

"The chairman, the manager and the fans might not like me saying it, but this could be the best thing to happen to this team," the midfielder said. "We'd started to believe our own hype. We believed the nice things that were being said and written about us after two years of steady improvement and thought we were going to challenge for honours.

"We lost our hunger and our drive and that is the most disappointing thing. We did not play to our potential because we thought it would just happen."

He added: "To close the gap on the top three we'd probably need to spend something like a £100m, but we still have a better set of players than Liverpool.

"Our problem was that we thought we just needed to turn up and we'd get fourth place. We've not played to our potential all season because we got complacent and sloppy.

"Only Alan Shearer, Gary Speed, Shay Given, Olivier Bernard and Craig Bellamy, when he wasn't injured, can come out of this season with any credit. The rest of us have, quite simply, not been good enough. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves."

Newcastle, who have managed two Premiership victories away from St James' Park all season, but need to win at Anfield on Saturday to have any hope of catching Aston Villa to qualify for the Uefa Cup.

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