Beer and a bus stop: Steven Taylor on Newcastles last domestic semi-final
Steven Taylor felt quietly optimistic. His team, Gulf United, were on a winning run and he was rather proud of the tactical trap he had set for their high-profile English opponents.
The consequent realisation that there would be no ambush in the warm desert air proved suitably brutal. I remember thinking: Well give Newcastle a good run for their money, he says from Dubai. But we were 3-0 down after 20 minutes. Newcastle won 5-0 and put on a show. They were special. My boys were: Wow.
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Admittedly it was only a friendly but, after spending time with Eddie Howe and his squad in the United Arab Emirates last March, Taylor became convinced his old club were renascent.
Sure enough, Newcastle now sit third in the Premier League and on Tuesday night visit Southampton for the opening leg of an eagerly anticipated Carabao Cup tie. It is their first domestic semi-final since 2005 in the FA Cup.
Now Taylor is a highly regarded young manager whose achievement in leading Gulf United to promotion from the UAEs third tier last season has not gone unnoticed in elite coaching circles but, 18 years ago, he was 19 and impressing in central defence under Graeme Souness.
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