Newcastle United 'desperate' to win for Gary Speed

Gary Speed
Speed made 284 appearances for Newcastle between 1998 to 2004

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew says his players are "desperate" to pay tribute to Gary Speed by winning Saturday's game at home to Chelsea.

Chelsea's visit in the Premier League is the first match Newcastle have played since the death of their former player was announced last Sunday.

"Our players will be desperate for us to win to pay a tribute in that way," said Pardew.

"We can't guarantee that, of course, but we're going to try."

Newcastle have postponed a celebration of Speed's life scheduled to be held before the game, following a request by his wife Louise.

The tribute will take place at the Magpies' next home game against Swansea on 17 December to allow her to attend.

A minute's applause for Speed will still take place before kick-off on Saturday.

Speed, who made 284 appearances for United from 1998 to 2004, will be remembered with a rendition of the hymn 'Bread of Heaven' prior to the visit of Brendan Rogers's Swans.

The club will ask fans to hold up black and white cards depicting the number 11, his shirt number at Newcastle.

In addition, the matchday programme will feature an image of Speed on the cover.

"He was a great player here and a captain of this club, and he has been a big loss to us this week," added Pardew.

"The training ground has been heavy, particularly the first two days, because we had a lot of staff and players who don't just remember him as a great player, but as a great person, so it has been a difficult week."

Pardew revealed that his assistant, John Carver, had taken the news of Speed's death particularly badly, along with players Steve Harper, Shola Ameobi and Steven Taylor, who all knew him well.

"He [Carver] is going to take part. He's not OK, he's very, very upset," added the United manager.

"He was very close to Gary and he's going to find it probably more difficult than anyone on Saturday.

"I will put my arm around him and get him right for the game because he's very important to us.

"I don't think the players will have a problem to respond once the ball is kicked and competitive action starts, but there will certainly be one or two players in that line-up who will be very, very upset, for sure."

During his spell on Tyneside Speed was a popular figure with team-mates,

Speed arrived at Newcastle from Everton in February 1998, and helped the club to the FA Cup final against Arsenal in his first season.

A second successive Cup final appearance followed the next season, although it was his spell under the guidance of Sir Bobby Robson that is most fondly remembered by fans.

The Magpies qualified for the Champions League during Speed's stay, with the former Wales international a regular in the first team.

The midfielder left to join Bolton in July 2004 after five years at the club.

The Wales manager was found dead at his home at the age of 42 last weekend.

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