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Bowyer Keeps Swinging

To say that Lee Bowyer is a toerag is an understatement. Plus the day I met the Pope. By Tony Cascarino

Tony Cascarino, 13 Apr 2005

I know a lot of people who’ve met and played with Lee Bowyer and they all say the same thing – he’s a toerag.

If Saturday was the first time he’d been sent off for violent conduct you might give him the benefit of the doubt, but he was banned for six matches in 2002 after elbowing Gary McAllister and had the book thrown at him again the following year when he stamped on a Malaga player’s head in a UEFA Cup tie.

The courts found him “not guilty” of GBH in 2001, but five years prior to that he was fined £4,500 after smashing up a McDonald’s restaurant and abusing an Asian member of staff. That’s the calibre of man he is and if I was Graeme Souness I wouldn’t want him in my team.

I don’t believe Newcastle’s line that this was the first time Bowyer and Kieron Dyer have clashed. To thump somebody in the face like that – and it was a real haymaker – there’s got to be some prior history.

My guess is that Souness and Freddy Sheppard want him out of the club, but on their own terms. They’re not going to present another club with a bargain like Chelsea did when they sacked Adrian Mutu and he went to Juventus. They’ll probably loan Bowyer out during the summer and then, when he’s rehabilitated himself a bit, flog him to the highest bidder. Nasty piece of work or not, there are plenty of Premiership managers who’ll think he’s better than the players they’ve currently got in his position.

What’s been forgotten amidst all the drama is how poor Newcastle were on Saturday. The talk before the Villa game was all about Alan Shearer staying on for another season, not the three points that were up for grabs against Aston Villa – and which they squandered.

You wouldn’t have known it watching the news, but there were other games over the weekend too, including the one I was at between Birmingham and Spurs.

Having seen Clinton Morrison miss a sitter five minutes from time which would have won them the game, Steve Bruce said afterwards that he wants Birmingham to start playing in green!

Fair play to Clinton for taking his Ireland goals as well as he did, but neither Israel nor China would last five minutes in the Premiership, with their defences. We should have gone on to beat Israel two or three-nil, but instead we sat back and invited them to come at us. Why change the 4-4-2 style of play that’s put you in the lead? Despite what their last results suggest, Israel are not a good international football team. Go out at Lansdowne with the right attitude and there’s no reason we can’t take them apart.

It’s also heartening from an Irish point of view to see France in self-destruct mode. They had their game against Israel won until Trezeguet stupidly got himself sent off, and Barthez reminded everyone why Man U got rid of him. There was nothing about Les Bleus last week that makes me think they’ll get anything more than a draw out of their game with us in September.

Finally, the Pope passing away reminded me of the time we all went to The Vatican during Italia ’90. Typical group of players, it was “How long’s this going to take?” The moans turned to laughter when the priest showing us round the Sistine Chapel – we called him Father Dog’s Breath – turned out to have the vilest breath you’ve ever smelt. Some of the lads couldn’t go near him, it was so bad.

We got another attack of the giggles when we were sat in the middle of all these people clapping and cheering for The Pope and Jack says: “Does he realise that I’m more famous than him?” Still, while nobody had their rosary beads out, it was a very moving experience that I’m delighted I had.

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