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Taylor: We need trophy win to be like Moncur
THIS morning Steven Taylor will board the chartered plane destined for Moscow as Newcastle United look to edge another step closer to an historic triumph in the Europa League.
Yesterday, the Greenwichborn defender, who has spent the vast majority of his 27 years on Tyneside, was reminded once more of just how long it is since his beloved Newcastle won a trophy. Overcoming Russia’s emerging football power Anzhi Makhachkala over two legs in the next eight days would increase the chances of the wait for silverware finally coming to an end.
After posing with children in front of a giant photograph of former Newcastle captain Joe Harvey lifting the FA Cup at Wembley in 1952, Taylor also pointed out to the youngsters another portraying Bob Moncur’s glorious night in leading the Magpies to Fairs Cup success in 1969.
And, having treated a group of children to a history lesson at the city’s Discovery Museum on behalf of North-East supply teaching agency First Class Supply, which is backing Newcastle United Foundation’s educational programmes, the reminder of the club’s wait for honours could not have been more timely.
“It’s good seeing all the good times people like Bob Moncur had and every year we seem to say we want to win something. Until we do we’ll never be on that kind of step, up there with players like Moncur,” said Taylor.
“That’s the one thing that’s missing from us at the moment, we need to win something major for the club, so the Europa League this year is our main goal. There’s no reason why we can’t do well on Thursday. People see us as underdogs, but the new French lads who have come in have definitely boosted the squad.
“Some people at the start were saying there was no chance of us getting through and we needed to concentrate on the league, but I think we’re coping with it now.”
Taylor was part of the Newcastle squad that thought it had a good chance of European success in 2005, only to lose 4-1 in the second leg to Sporting Lisbon after earning a 1-0 lead in the first meeting between the two.
“European nights are massive and for me that night in Lisbon was the closest I thought we would get to winning it,” said Taylor, who started in Lisbon just days before suffering a FA Cup semifinal defeat to Manchester United.
“The side we had was a top one. But a few injuries to Kieron Dyer and Titus (Bramble) going off cost us. I still think if they’d stayed on we would have been through and I believe we would have done well in that competition. We had a comfortable result going to Lisbon. We had it in the bag until the last ten minutes and we would have been in the semis.”
If Newcastle fans are thinking a quarter-final spot this season will be easy to secure, then a quick look at the Anzhi team-sheet is likely to change their minds. Taylor has his own mind set on keeping one of the world’s best strikers at bay, Samuel Eto’o.
“I’ll never forget the game when he was playing for Real Mallorca. I came off the bench and for the last nine minutes I was playing against Samuel Eto’o and I was standing next to him,” said Taylor, recalling the night in Mallorca when Newcastle won 3-0 in 2004.
Steven Taylor watches James Robson,11, recreate one of his goal celebrations
“At the end of the game I asked him for his top and he gave me it. I gave him mine as well – why I’ll never know to this day. He’s probably got it as a duster around the house or cleans his bath with it! It might be in the kitchen with his dishes.
“I’ve got his framed in my house. He’s a top, top player.
He went to Barcelona the following season from Real Mallorca.
I clocked him early doors! I never thought I’d get the chance to play against him again and when I saw the draw it brought a smile to my face.”
Anzhi’s acquisition of Eto’o last summer from Inter Milan hit the headlines because the Dagestan club agreed to make him the world’s highest paid player with a salary of 20m Euros per season after tax.
That alone highlights to Taylor that Newcastle’s opponents mean business.
“I think they spent £40m on a kid called Willian who scored twice against Chelsea in the Champions League in November, left foot into the bottom corner, as well,” he said. “With the quality they’ve got they’re going to hurt us, but we’ve got to make sure we’re on a game.
“We can deal with it, we’ve proved that in the past, we’re playing in the Premier League, the best league in the world, and we come up against top quality players week in, week out. Hopefully we can get in among them and if they want time on the ball they’re not going to get it.
“Teams under-estimate what we have, so instead of worrying about what they’ve got we should concentrate on what we’ve got. We can hurt a lot of teams.”
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