Fourth Tyne lucky
Matt Le Tissier expects Newcastle to get their first goal - and win - of the new Keegan era against Middlesbrough.
Last Updated: 01/02/08 2:21pm
Newcastle v Middlesbrough
1pm, Sunday, Sky Sports 1
It was a very bold move by Newcastle to appoint Kevin Keegan and I think it's great to see him back in football.
Bolton spoiled the party in his first game and then two trips to the Emirates is hardly the ideal start for any manager with the way Arsenal are playing, but I suspect he will finally get his first goal - and probably his first win - in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Sunday.
I spoke to Kevin earlier this week and he was full of praise for the way Arsenal played against them in the two games, but he feels his side matched them for the first 45 minutes, particularly in the cup game.
So he wasn't too disappointed, but he was bemoaning the size of his squad a little bit because they've got quite a few players away at the African Nations Cup.
People might question why he hasn't made many signings, but he didn't want to be rushed into buying the wrong people during the transfer window.
I think that's a sensible approach because he's got a good enough squad to stay out of relegation trouble. It doesn't surprise me that he's going to wait until the end of the season to assess his squad and identify the targets he wants.
What does surprise me is that they haven't scored in his first three games because his teams were renowned for creating lots of chances during his first spell in charge, but I do expect that to change on Sunday.
The Newcastle job is definitely a long-term project. Shay Given was quoted in the newspapers this week telling the Newcastle fans not to expect miracles straight away because Keegan hasn't got a magic wand. But saying that, they need to get up-and-running again pretty quickly.
The appointment of Dennis Wise as executive director is an interesting move. I suppose Newcastle have decided they want a football man in that position on the board and Dennis fitted the bill.
I think it can work as long as Kevin is left to deal with the football and doesn't feel like his position has been compromised in any way. It has to be left to him to decide what players he wants and what team he sends out on a Saturday.
I think people are suggesting there might be a problem because of the way Kevin spoke about it on Monday, but I think it can work out well.
Michael Owen has been included in the England squad again, despite some people calling for him to be dropped after a poor run of form.
It's been tough for Michael after all his injuries and he has come into a side which isn't playing particularly well. You can probably count on one hand the number of clear-cut chances that have been created for him this season.
It's a double-edged sword because while his form hasn't been great, he's not been getting the service either. But his record with England is very good and he deserves to be in the squad regardless.
Owen won't have to contend with his England team-mate Jonathan Woodgate on Sunday after Middlesbrough sold him to Spurs this week. I thought that was a strange sale.
It is clear that Gareth Southgate wants to strengthen in other areas and it looks like he's had to cash in on his best player in order to bring in a striker. It is a big decision, but that is what a manager is paid to do.
They have spent £12million on Alfonso Alves, who is a decent centre-forward and they will need him because the other strikers at the club haven't really stepped up this season.
Mido has spent a lot of time out injured, Jeremie Aliadiere works his socks off but he has never been a regular goalscorer and Tuncay has only showed his form in bursts this season.
The emergence of David Wheater probably made Southgate's mind up to sell Woodgate because he's impressed me every time I have seen him. I also like Robert Huth so they have probably got enough cover at the back to move on without Woodgate.
But I feel the decision will have a big impact on Middlesbrough because the rest of the squad will look at Woodgate's departure and wonder what is going on. Alves will have to start scoring goals quickly if they are to avoid getting involved in the relegation scrap.
We all think Derby are going down and I don't think Fulham have enough quality to get out of it, but I think Middlesbrough are one of six or seven clubs that will be fighting it out to avoid the one remaining relegation spot.
Le Tiss predicts
HOME WIN - I think Newcastle will win this one 2-0. Kevin will be relieved to get back to St James' Park after getting stuffed twice at the Emirates and he's now had enough time to work with the team and get them playing his way. I fully expect them to get off and running under his leadership on Sunday.
Matt's Main Man
CHARLES N'ZOGBIA - I've watched him quite a bit recently and have been very impressed with the way he's been playing. He was linked with a move to Spurs in January, but Newcastle couldn't really afford to let him go because of the size of their squad and I expect him to do well under Keegan for the rest of the season.