BY naming his third child Cruz yesterday, David Beckham proved he has not been immune to Spanish influences since moving to Madrid last summer.

And, by settling on the Spanish word for 'cross', the world's most famous midfielder also gave more than a passing nod to the enduring appeal of the winger's art.

Footballing systems are constantly drifting into and out of fashion but, while Sir Alf Ramsey might have won the World Cup with his wingless wonders, few current managers are ready to turn their backs on natural width.

One has been though and, within weeks of walking through the entrance door at St James' Park, Graeme Souness was already declaring that there was "no place for old-fashioned wingers" in the modern game.

A controversial statement at the best of times and, as any Newcastle supporter will tell you, these are hardly the best of times on Tyneside.

Thursday night's 2-1 win in Heerenveen might have papered over a few cracks but, tellingly, it only came after Souness responded to 15 minutes of urging from the travelling support and brought Laurent Robert off the substitutes bench.

Since Christmas, Robert has emerged as the personification of all that the fans dislike about Souness.

His flair and flamboyance stand in direct contrast to the manager's focus on solidity and structure, while his defensive deficiencies are overlooked by a support used to worshipping attacking enigmas.

United's fans have told Souness to get Robert in his side and, on Thursday, the player repeated the plea himself.

"I spoke to Souness after Thursday and told him I didn't understand his tactical decisions," said the Frenchman. "We have three great forwards but, for them to be able to fully express themselves, they need to get the right service."

Service such as that provided by Robert after just four minutes of yesterday's FA Cup fifth-round tie with Chelsea.

By handing the 29-year-old his fourth start of 2005, Souness backed up the claims of "not being a defensive manager" that he made in the match programme.

And, by delivering the picture-book cross that Patrick Kluivert converted for the opener, Robert duly backed up his manager's decision to bring him in from the cold at a snow-lined St James'.

He had already fired a warning shot with a second-minute free-kick that William Gallas headed clear as it arced towards Alan Shearer.

But, when the former Paris St Germain star repeated the trick from open play two minutes later, Gallas was powerless to prevent Kluivert nipping in ahead of him to plant a decisive header past Carlo Cudicini.

Robert's delivery was the key, a wonderfully whipped centre that was pacy enough to rule Gallas out of the equation but precise enough to open the door for Kluivert's well-timed run.

Robert wouldn't be Robert without his foibles though, and it didn't take long for a couple of the more infuriating facets of his play to come to the fore.

He was nowhere to be seen when Geremi advanced down the left flank in the 23rd minute and, after the former Middlesbrough loanee was given an age to deliver his cross, Mateja Kezman wasted a glorious opportunity by heading wide.

Robert's inaction hardly impressed his defensive team-mates on that occasion, and Shearer was even more incensed at the Reunion Islander 12 minutes later.

The United skipper was perfectly placed as Robert raced into space 30 yards from goal but, rather than seeking out his striker's head, the winger fired a speculative strike well wide of the target.

He was equally wasteful eight minutes after half-time, as he took an age to cross from the left flank with Shearer in acres of space at the back post.

With Wayne Bridge's ankle injury leaving Chelsea with ten men, there was plenty of space for all of Newcastle attackers to exploit after the break.

Time and again, Robert found himself on the outside of Glenn Johnson but, while he almost teed up Kluivert with a great through ball nine minutes from time, he duly found the middle section of the Gallowgate End with his worst cross of the game 60 seconds later.

Ultimately, though, it didn't matter.

Cudicini's late dismissal added to the fun and, while stand-in goalkeeper Johnson somehow kept out a scorching free-kick with his legs, Robert was able to reflect on the one delivery that, on Tyneside at least, meant more than any new-born Beckham.

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