The troubled times for Newcastle United could get worse if they appoint Terry Venables as their new coach. The former England boss, 65, is mulling over a decision to step into the managerial hot-seat on an interim basis, to steady the Toon ship before it sinks.
But with a Nigerian consortium lining up a takeover bid, the fans may not accept another Londoner to join what has already been dubbed the "cockney mafia" at St James' Park. The club's owner, Mike Ashley, has turned to Venables to work with the director of football, Dennis Wise, and help stop the club's decline, which has seen them struggle in the Premier League relegation zone. A 2-1 home defeat by Tottenham saw them crash out of the Carling Cup and highlight the feeling of the Toon army.
A crowd of just 20,577 - the lowest for a competitive match at the ground since the capacity was increased to more than 52,000 - turned up and booed. While Venables has provided a quick fix before, helping Middlesbrough stay up after joining as coach to Bryan Robson in 2000, it is five years since his last managerial job when he left a crisis-hit Leeds heading for relegation. It was the sale of Jonathan Woodgate to Newcastle that left Venables disillusioned by events at Elland Road. And, ironically, Woodgate was back to haunt Newcastle on Wednesday night as Spurs claimed their first domestic win of the season after a similar disappointing start.
Woodgate said: "I think the Newcastle players are a bit low on confidence at the moment, but hopefully they can turn things around and start to get some results - most importantly for the fans because they really are second to none. "I really enjoyed my time up here and was very happy and hope to see the club heading in the right direction sooner rather than later." Tottenham's win, thanks to goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jamie O'Hara, eased the pressure on manager Juande Ramos, but he too had sympathy for Newcastle's plight.
He said: "It's certainly not a nice situation to be in and I hope all the issues which are around Newcastle will be resolved soon and the team and the fans can have peace of mind. "Our situation was very similar to Newcastle's. We have had a period without victories and the team were nervous. Things were not going very well, but this victory has given us some peace of mind." Newcastle's caretaker manager Chris Hughton admitted morale was low after their fourth straight defeat. He added: "Irrespective of what has gone on at the club, when you are on a run of defeats it does affect confidence. We have a game on Saturday [at home to Blackburn] that I still believe we are capable of winning."
Newcastle's best hope though, it seems, is a takeover, the departure of Ashley and perhaps the return of Kevin Keegan as manager. The Nigerian consortium are being fronted by Chris Nathaniel, the chief executive of NVA management. He said the interested parties are a group of entrepreneurs and he added: "It is a very serious offer, they are very serious business people and passionate football fans. Newcastle should be achieving more than they are. There is long-term potential at the club, there is a lot wrong at the club [at the moment], but they are determined to put that right by getting the right people in and using the right structure."
Tenth-placed Blackburn made it to the last 16 of the Carling Cup by beating Everton 1-0. Rovers have had an erratic start under new manager Paul Ince, winning 3-2 in the league at Everton and beating Fulham 1-0. But they were held 1-1 by promoted Hull and lost 4-1 at West Ham and 4-0 at home to Arsenal. Ince is waiting on the fitness of goalkeeper Paul Robinson, who went off after only 13 minutes because of a calf muscle injury. But Ince was delighted with the debut of former Liverpool and England striker Robbie Fowler, who set up the winning goal.
Premier League leaders Arsenal host Hull City for the first time in the league. With 12 points from five games, the Gunners hold a one-point advantage over Chelsea. Chelsea were held 1-1 at home by Manchester United on Sunday but recovered with a 4-0 cup victory at Portsmouth and should be too strong for Stoke. Fourth-placed Aston Villa hope to shake off a surprise 1-0 League Cup defeat at home to Championship side Queens Park Rangers by beating Sunderland at home.
Despite their draw at Chelsea, the defending champions Manchester United have collected only five points from four games so far and hope to improve on that by beating Bolton at home. United are 15th in the standings and Bolton is 16th. Tomorrow's other games are Fulham against sixth-placed West Ham and Middlesbrough v West Bromwich Albion. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org