Robson fury over 'poor performance'

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The Independent Football

Sir Bobby Robson was angry with his first-team hopefuls after watching them waste the chance to fight their way into his plans for the match with Manchester United at the weekend.

The Newcastle manager named nine men with Premiership experience - Steve Harper, Andy Griffin, Robbie Elliott, Titus Bramble, Lomana LuaLua, Clarence Acuna, Carl Cort, Jamie McClen and Wayne Quinn - in the starting line-up for Tuesday night's reserve-team match with Darlington.

But instead of seeing his side ease their way past the Third Division side's second string, he was treated to a horror show in which Acuna scored before being sent off for kicking out at former Sunderland midfielder Neil Wainwright and LuaLua missed a penalty in a 1-1 draw.

Robson had ordered his players to turn up for extra training yesterday before relenting, but will demand an explanation when they return today. "We put out a strong team, but this really was a poor performance," he said. "I wanted to give our players a 90-minute workout so they could top up their fitness.

"I even thought I was doing them a favour by giving them a home game and not asking them to play in our next match at Everton when they would have got back home very late. But did they do me a favour? No. They turned in a very poor show, which was completely unacceptable.

"The object of the exercise yesterday was to have our players fight for places in the first team for Saturday's game with Manchester United, but they obviously did not see it that way.

"Not only that, but we had one player sent off and had to take another player off, so you could say I am not very happy."

Meanwhile, Robson expects Jonathan Woodgate to play at the heart of his defence in the game with the champions at St James' Park, despite England's sending him home after he suffered a recurrence of a stomach problem. "Woody should be okay for Saturday," Robson reassured. "