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Football: Roeder: Champs hit by Euro exit; Magpies boss says Chelsea are rocking.

Byline: By IAN PARKES

NEWCASTLE caretaker-manager Glenn Roeder believes Jose Mourinho is still struggling to come to terms with a second successive Champions League failure.

If ever there is a right time to play Chelsea, then this is surely it for a Newcastle side whose season hinges on tonight's FA Cup quarter-final showdown in west London.

With the Blues erratic and unconvincing as a team, and Mourinho seemingly more irascible than usual as their manager, Newcastle have a chance.

"It would be wrong of me to give an opinion of Jose when I don't even know him, but it goes without saying his record as a coach is fantastic," said Roeder.

"But not winning the Champions League seems to have hit him hard, and obviously, it's the second year running now.

"It seems to have really irritated him and the players.

"Because of that I'm sure they will double their concentration for the FA Cup because the Premier League is already won.

"So as to whether this is a good time or not, I don't know and just because they lost on Sunday it won't make one iota of a difference to how they perform tomorrow.

"At least Fulham showed it's not impossible to beat them. Obviously they have not lost many, and when they have they've still had enough chances and possession to have won.

"But they are a formidable team, taking the likes of Barcelona to knock them out of the Champions League."

Only victory in the FA Cup can salvage Newcastle's campaign, but their record at Stamford Bridge is abysmal.

November 1986 - when Roeder was in the side - was the last time the Toon won at Chelsea.

With Jean-Alain Boumsong suspended, and with Titus Bramble still a fortnight away with a hamstring injury, Roeder faces problems in the centre of defence.

Stephen Carr is available after more than two months out following hernia surgery, while Craig Moore is in contention for what would be his first game since signing on a free transfer in the summer.

Meanwhile, Roeder believes Michael Owen, among Newcastle's other injured players, could return from his broken foot injury in three weeks.

He said: "I'm very positive that within the next three weeks everyone will be back for the last month of the season."

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Newcastle caretaker boss Glenn Roeder (inset) believes Chelsea have been rattled by their Champions League exit to Barcelona (main pic)
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 22, 2006
Words:403
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