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Filed: Friday, 10th September 1999
By: Graeme Howlett


Well, it seems like ages since I filed my last report. Parenthood has rather taken over everything in my life - believe me, this two week break in the Premiership couldn't have been better timed.

So in the midst of a mountain of dirty nappies I heard the news that we had beaten the bantams of Bradford 3-0, courtesy of the Pau/olo's and Sincs. Thanks to the Match of the Day highlights we all had the opportunity to marvel at those three outstanding goals.

Now is it me or is Paolo Wanchope looking frighteningly good lately ? After being unconvinced for some considerable time I think he's really beginning to look the nuts. The partnership that the papers love to ridicule for some reason (Paulo and Paolo) is without doubt one of the most formidable and lethal strike pairings in the country at the moment.

Three goals in three games (plus the assist which led to the equaliser at Villa) tells a story. di Canio also has a couple from the same spell. Watching these two play at the moment is a real pleasure, the like of which we haven't witnessed since those heady days of the mid-eighties when TC and Frankie Mac were terrorising opposition defences all over the country.

Bought for the combined value of a little over 5m, Wanchope and di Canio represent fantastic value for money when you compare them to other leading strike pairings : Cole and Yorke (18m), Bergkamp and Lundberg (12.5m), Sutton and (would be) Casiraghi (15.4m).

Now we all know that Bradford are no great shakes, but some of the football we played up there was breathtaking. All three goals were superb; di Canio's effort was one of the best build-ups I've seen for years.

di Canio also seems to be enjoying himself at the moment. We all know that Harry rates him as "the best trainer at the club", but it's on the pitch he really is shining.

With the exception of Fat John it's been a long time since we've had a striker who is capable of notching 20+ goals a season. Every successful club has, and needs one. Last year our top scorer was Wrighty with the woefully low total of seven - we finished fifth with that; just makes you wonder how much higher we could have got with another top quality striker such as Wanchope or di Canio on board..

So the bubbles are flying high at the moment. Watford this Saturday should be a formality (mind you that's probably what the scousers thought) and then the much tougher prospect of Croatia's Osijek on Thursday when we make our first ever appearance in the UEFA Cup. My prediction for the Metz game was pretty spot on, so I'll try again and go for a safe 2-0 win on Thursday. That should do us nicely ...

Ruud Awakening

Anyone that knows me will be aware of my soft spot for Newcastle (for reasons I couldn't possibly go into here). But even I had to raise a smile at the shenanigans in Geordie land this week.

Poor old Ruud Gullit. Given 30m to spunk he couldn't even piece together a half-decent side. Then he made some excuse about the press harrassing him and his family before buggering off back to the lowlands.

Apparently Ruud jacked it all in as, in his own words: "my family is the most important thing to me in the world". The poor fella couldn't handle the paparazzi's constant interest in his family affairs.

Nothing to do with the fact that you are simply a shit football manager who was way out of his depth then ?

This was the bloke who, just a few years ago, walked out on his wife and kids for Johan Cruyff's teenage daughter - your family certainly weren't the most important thing to you back then Ruud old son, were they ?

Anyway, I wish Bobby Robson good luck up there - with the squad he's inherited he'll bloody well need it ...


Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.





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