Les Ferdinand; Newcastle won’t blow title like our complacent side did 21 years ago

Darren Peacock and Alan Shearer celebrate a goal with Les Ferdinand.
Darren Peacock and Alan Shearer celebrate a goal with Les Ferdinand.

Complacency is the reason why Newcastle United lost the Premier League title in 1995/96, according to club hero Les Ferdinand.

But the striker does not think the Magpies will do the same this time around, as they bid to return to the top flight at the first time of asking.

I think this Newcastle team will go up

The Championship finishing line is in sight for Rafa Benitez’s men, with just eight games of the second tier campaign remaining.

And Ferdinand, now QPR director of football, does not think United will make the same mistakes his side did under Kevin Keegan, who threw away a 12-point lead 21 years ago.

Ferdinand recalls: “I think that most of the players would admit that we had a bit of complacency in there and that is probably what cost us.

“I think this Newcastle team will go up and win the title.

“The fact that when we lost the first game it wasn’t like, come on chaps lets pull together and make sure.

“It was, nah it’s all right, we are nine points clear with a game in hand.

“So if we win the game in hand, which we thought we were more than capable of doing, you know we would be back to 12 points clear.

“I think Peter Beardsley had calculated, had we continued winning in the way that we had been winning, then we would have had the season wrapped up at the end of March. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be.”

Ferdinand has pointed to United’s home form as a potential thorn in their side between now and May.

But he says the fans have a massive part to play in getting the players over the line.

“I understand that their away form is much better than their home form.

“As much as those supporters were fantastic when I was here and I know how great they can be, I felt the anxiety in the crowd and trust me, when you’re a player and there is anxiety in that crowd, you feel it.

“I felt it as a player when I was here and we were trying to win the league and all of a sudden things started to go wrong and there was a little bit of anxiety.

“You’ve got the best supporters in the land.

“If they were to get behind that team at home the way that these supporters can get behind a team, I’m telling you now, you would be land-sliding it at home.”

Experience can be key in these situations. Ferdinand knows that all too well.

Looking back to his time at United he thinks the big thing that Keegan’s side lacked was winners.

“They did what they had to do, they basically were under no pressure, the pressure was on us,” he said of Manchester United that year.

“They had to win their games and I think Cantona’s goal in the 97th minute, that was the first time ever, in the history of football that seven minutes over time had been played when there had been no injuries.

“So I think, at some stage, to a man, most of us though oh the writing is on the wall here. Man United kept churning out those 1-0 wins, you know, Cantona, 1-0, Cantona, 1-0.

“We hadn’t had enough winners in the changing room and I mean that with the up-most respect for everyone.

“You know, I was one of them, we hadn’t won anything in our careers.

“So we didn’t know what it would take and unfortunately Man United had too many of them in theirs.”