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Friday, 2 December 2011

The Runs #2: Jon Dahl Tomasson 1997-98

Presumably not scoring a goal here

For the second in our 'Runs' series, it's over to Michael Hudson (@DolphinHotel) of the rather exceptional Accidental Groundhopper - and it's Jon Dahl Tomasson's spectacular bad luck / loss of form that gets the treatment. 

Jon Dahl Tomasson played for Stuttgart and Villarreal, won a Champions League medal with AC Milan, netted a record-equalling 52 goals in 112 appearances for the Danish national side, finished among the top scorers in both the 2002 World Cup and 2004 European Championships, and hit the goal that took the UEFA Cup to Feyenoord. He also, as football commentators never tired of reminding us, played one season at Newcastle United. Where he was absolutely shit.

That said, things started promisingly for Tomasson at St James’ Park. Nicked from under the noses of Sunderland – where he’d made a one-off training ground appearance in the BBC’s unintentionally hilarious Premier Passions – he was signed as a foil for Alan Shearer, the two combining to great effect as the Magpies won a four-team pre-season tournament at Dublin’s Lansdowne Road. Playing in the hole behind the England skipper, Tomasson scored twice as Newcastle beat PSV Eindhoven on July 15th, adding a further goal in a 2-1 win at Birmingham City the following weekend. On the 26th afternoon of the same month the Dane opened the scoring in an Umbro Cup game against Chelsea played at Goodison Park. The same day though, Shearer ruptured his ankle ligaments turning for the ball and Kenny Dalglish sold his erstwhile strike partner Les Ferdinand to Spurs. Forced into service as an emergency centre forward until Shearer eventually returned in January, Tomasson’s Newcastle career was officially screwed.

Vomiting in the tunnel before the first game of the season wasn’t a good sign. Neither was the sight of the Dane – visibly cacking it – squandering a one-on-one after just 90 seconds of the opening day defeat at home to Sheffield Wednesday. Physically and mentally ill-suited to the task of leading the line, Tomasson resembled one of those kids who turns up fully kitted out in the hope that a last-minute spate of injuries will see him called out of the stands to play. Based on some of his early performances up front, the kids might even have been an improvement.

Alongside Faustino Asprilla as the Colombian scored a hat-trick in a Champions League game against Barcelona, Tomasson didn’t score himself until the first afternoon in November, a ‘Disco’ Des Hamilton shot brushing against his arse and trickling across Leicester City’s goal-line in a three-all draw at St James’ Park.

“It was definitely Des Hamilton’s goal,” left-back John Beresford remembered in an interview with nufc.com. “I think it was Peter Beardsley who suggested we should credit it to Jon-Dahl because he was going through such a bad time”.

The first intentional strike of Tomasson’s Newcastle career came in a 1-0 League Cup win at Derby County on November 18th, over three and a half months since his pre-season goal at Goodison. On the 29th of the same month, a shot with less power than an insult from David Cameron was just about enough to earn a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace (Newcastle’s last win in London for four years and 29 games until a 3-1 triumph at Arsenal in December 2001). With Shearer still two weeks off a playing comeback, Tomasson’s fourth and final goal in a black and white shirt came in an away defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on January 10th. Before the month was out, the equally hapless Andreas Andersson had been signed as his replacement.

Voted Dutch Footballer of the Year just weeks before he moved to England from Heerenveen, Tomasson ended his short time in a Newcastle shirt with a tally of just four goals in his 35 appearances. In July he signed for Feyenoord where, playing in attacking midfield, he scored 16 times as the Rotterdam club won the Eredivisie and the Dutch Super Cup. A fine player, of that there is no doubt - but also the owner (through no fault of his own) of one of the more disastrous runs of form to grace the Premier League. Bad luck, Jon.

1 comment:

  1. Yet another player used badly by a manager over here who is written off as being useless despite all evidence to the contrary beyond these shores - the Forlan Envelope as I shall henceforth call it.