City chasing Gary Speed

Last updated : 16 June 2003 By Michael Morris
The story below was in todays Western Mail. To add to it I have a contact in Newcastle who has been making enquiries and it seems City have enquired to Speeds availability. Speed is currently on holiday so contact was made with Bobby Robson. It would appear that with the arrival of Lee Bowyer and more potential signings that 34 year old Speed will struggle to get a place in the team at St James Park. The inference was that City are thinking of the coming season, not the one after.

There are other teams interested as the Mail story below says, Middlesbrough and Fulham both keen on making a move for Gary Speed. Both of course are Premiership and could offer the Wales skipper another season or two at the top level. 

Wales skipper Speed linked to Bluebirds

CARDIFF CITY are making an audacious bid to lure Wales skipper Gary Speed to Ninian Park when his Newcastle contract runs out next year, according to reports in the North- East.

The local Newcastle newspaper, The Evening Chronicle, reports that the Bluebirds are one of three clubs who are chasing Speed.

The other clubs, according to The Chronicle, are Premiership outfits Fulham and Middlesbrough.

The Bluebirds are also being linked by the newspaper with other un-named Newcastle midfielders, who will be vying with Speed for places in Bobby Robson's starting line-up in the new season.

None of the trio of clubs have any hope of landing Speed at present, it would appear, because the Welshman is seen as a key figure in Newcastle's Uefa Champions League push next season.

But Speed, 34 in September, knows his Newcastle contract is up at the end of next season. As yet, there have been no talks with Newcastle manager Robson to extend his deal.

Bluebirds owner Hammam has stated he will leave no stone unturned in his bid to bring Premiership football to Cardiff.

Hammam has always stated he is on a Wales ticket and he once tried to bring off the most stunning transfer coup in Cardiff City history by offering a £10,000-a-week deal to Mark Hughes to come in as a player-coach.

It would be a typical Hammam ploy to also push the boat out for the Wales captain one day.

Hammam declined to comment on the Cardiff Speed speculation in the North-East last night, other than to state, "I'm not saying one way or the other. You know full well I never speak about transfer issues until a deal is done and dusted."

But if the reports emanating from Newcastle are true, even Hammam, who has one of the most persuasive tongues in football, might have to concede Speed may prove a catch too far.

Speed has spent his entire career in the top flight with Leeds, Everton and Newcastle and would be loathe to drop down from the Premiership.

On the other hand, he is coming towards the twilight of his career and a lot can happen in football over a 12-month period.

Fulham boss Chris Coleman, a former Wales team-mate of Speed's believes he can lure the Newcastle man to London by offering a two-year contract.

But Middlesbrough manager Steve MacLaren also wants Speed. He has the advantage of Speed having a home in the North-East and not having to move, if such a deal came off.

Speed, however, is playing down the speculation and insists he just wants to focus upon Newcastle this season - and Wales's bid to reach Portugal in the European Championships.

Speed said, "There is speculation that Newcastle are going to splash out over the summer to further strengthen the squad - and there is always speculation in football that players may go.

"But I don't really take much notice of those kind of stories until the players actually arrive or leave."

Speed went on, "What I do know is that Newcastle is a fantastic place to be and under Bobby Robson the future is certainly looking bright.

"We've got the best supporters in the world and I want to do my bit to help bring some silverware to the club for their sake.

"The aim is for Newcastle has to be to join the big two of Arsenal and Manchester United in challenging for the Championship every year.

"We are just below them at present and it's vital we keep pushing on because we don't want to go back to being mid-table mediocrity.

"I'm looking forward to the new season as a Newcastle player because I feel the experience we gained last year, in the Premiership and the Champions League, will ensure we come back better and stronger for the new campaign."

As for himself, Speed said, "I'm just enjoying my summer holidays and recovering fully from the hernia injury.

"I'm focusing upon getting myself back to full fitness. As you get older it becomes more and more important to put the hours in over the summer if you are going to keep up with the pace of today's game.

"And, hopefully, I've got a massive season ahead of me - with Newcastle and with Wales."