Half-Term Report: Newcastle

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The Independent Online

They have already achieved their goal for the season with that rip-roaring victory in Rotterdam. It secured a second Champions' League campaign in the same season, which is more than they could have hoped for after losing their opening three matches.

They have already achieved their goal for the season with that rip-roaring victory in Rotterdam. It secured a second Champions' League campaign in the same season, which is more than they could have hoped for after losing their opening three matches. Whether they get to the quarter-finals is highly doubtful, though the Magpies have managed to feather their domestic nest with sufficient points to keep them in with a chance of qualifying for the continental big league again. They do, however, have areas of concern – not least a defence that has made a habit of conceding leads to teams of every ability. With Craig Bellamy and Alan Shearer up front, Newcastle are always capable of playing catch-up in games. They do, however, have a weakness in midfield, where the presence of Kieron Dyer, Robert and Solano has too often left Gary Speed overburdened with the basics.

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