Les Ferdinand explains why Newcastle lost to Manchester United in 1996 Premier League title race and why him and Alan Shearer could score goals for fun

Les Ferdinand believes Newcastle’s mentality was all wrong as the club saw their Premier League title charge collapse in 1996.

In January of that year, the Magpies held a 12-point lead at the top of the table thanks to a 2-1 win over Bolton.

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Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle side threw the Premier League title away in the 1995/96 campaign

However, Kevin Keegan’s side managed just five wins from their remaining 13 games as Manchester United remarkably beat them to first place by four points.

Ferdinand, who scored 50 goals in 84 appearances at St James’ Park during a two-year spell from 1995, put Newcastle’s failure to win a first top-flight title since 1927 down to their ‘gung-ho’ tactics.

Speaking on talkSPORT’s exclusive new series, ‘Up Front With’, Ferdinand said: “There weren’t many players in our changing that had won things.

“So when we lost the first three points, rather than a thing of ‘come on chaps, we’ve lost three points, we’ve got to make sure this doesn’t happen again, we’ve got to get back on our mettle’, it was a little bit more like, ‘it’s alright, we’ve lost three points, we’re nine points clear, we’ll win our game in hand and we’ll be 12 points clear again’.

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“As a group, we didn’t really have any tactics. The tactics were, ‘you score two, we’ll score three’.

“As we know in the Premier League there’s got to be games that you win one-nil and we just didn’t have that. We were probably a little bit too gung-ho.”

After losing out on the title to Manchester United, Newcastle signed Alan Shearer from under their noses in a £15million deal from Blackburn.

Despite Ferdinand (16) and Shearer (25) scoring a combined total of 41 Premier League goals in the 1996/97 campaign, the Magpies once again fell short to United who retained their crown.

That would be the pair’s only season together on Tyneside as Ferdinand joined Tottenham for £6million.

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Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand had a prolific partnership at Newcastle
Getty Images – Getty

The 53-year-old, who is now director of football at Championship club Queens Park Rangers, loved playing alongside Shearer.

He added: “We’d stand in the centre circle, he might say to me or I might say to him, ‘should we terrorise them today, Al?’ and he would say, ‘should we have a go at them today? Come on then’.

“We just enjoyed our football, we enjoyed playing together. I knew what I was going to get from him, he knew what he was going to get from me.

“If I wasn’t quite giving him what he wanted, he was down the back of my throat, he was like, ‘oi you!’ and vice versa and it just clicked for us.”

You can listen to the full interview from Up Front With Les Ferdinand on Tuesday at 7pm LIVE on talkSPORT.


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