Les Ferdinand explains what winning formula is for Newcastle moving forward
In the two seasons Les Ferdinand was at St James Park, Newcastle United finished as Premier League runners-up both times.
You can’t get much better than that…well, apart from winning it!
It wasn’t to be in that 1995/96 ‘so close’ season, Les Ferdinand hitting a magnificent 25 goals in 37 appearances as they were pipped by Man Utd to the title.
However, after 21 goals in the opening 25 matches of the season, Sir Les then managed only another four in that 13 game run-in to the end of the season.
The night when Manchester United won 1-0 at St James Park the pivotal game, as Newcastle absolutely battered them and Les Ferdinand couldn’t finish a host of chances, most of them created by Tino Asprilla, as Newcastle were dominant in everything but goals.
Moving forward 19 years and the now Director of Football at QPR says that whilst Newcastle have got the best supporters, they also carry an anxiety that players on the pitch can feel.
Ferdinand says that he felt it when he was a player and felt the same when at St James Park last month when QPR held United to a 2-2 draw.
He still feels Newcastle will finish top of the Championship but they could be ‘landsliding’ it at home matches if the fans were really up for it.
With five defeats at home compared to none back in the last promotion season, it has been a negative this time around.
However, many fans do feel that the style of cautious football used by Rafa Benitez doesn’t exactly help get fans on the edge of their seats.
Once again we come back to the old argument of whether it is the team or crowd’s job to get the atmosphere going and of course there is only one answer, it is a joint responsibility.
Let’s hope Newcastle can blow Wigan away on Saturday with the kind of attacking display we have rarely seen this season, let’s get at them from the kick-off, and that goes for both players and fans!
“Yes, I do (think Newcastle will win the Championship title).
“Newcastle’s away form is much better than their home form so far this season and as much as those supporters were fantastic when I was here, and I know how great they can be, I felt the anxiety in the crowd that night (QPR’s 2-2 draw last month).
“Trust me, when you’re a player and there is anxiety in that crowd, you feel it on the pitch.
“I felt it as a player when I was here (at Newcastle) and we were trying to win the league.
“All of a sudden things started to go wrong and there was a little bit of anxiety.
“I go anywhere and say it, you (Newcastle)have got the best supporters in the land. Football (though) has changed in that respect, not just at Newcastle, but elsewhere too…atmospheres have changed in general.
“But when they (Newcastle fans) get behind the team they are the best.
“I’m telling you now, if they were to get behind that team at home the way that these supporters can get behind a team, you would be landsliding it at home every week.”
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