Top of the League and having a laugh (for now)

By Lee Ryder on Aug 12, 07 09:42 AM

Monday morning update: We are still top, make the most of it.

What goes round comes round then eh?

Newcastle United finally get one over Bolton and it really couldn't have been any sweeter.

The Toon were easy winners against Bolton and they even finished Saturday night at the top of the table.

Yes, perhaps Bolton should have been called Big Sam Wanderers during his eight year stint at the Reebok because they couldn't cut the mustard wthout him.

However, let's not get too cocky, it's only one game and surely the giant that is Newcastle United should not have had to wait six years to beat Wanderers on their own patch.

But the truth is we did.

This time though, Bolton were really beaten at their own game, or shall we now say old game given that Sammy Lee's intention is to try and play football on the deck this year.

Yet there was none of the pretty stuff on offer by United at the Reebok and you have to say who cares?

Goal one came from a wicked Charles N'Zogbia free-kick, goal two arrived after James Milner had pumped in a high cross before Oba Martins still managed to make it look pretty with the overhead kick and the second break away strike by the Nigerian was the result of Steven Taylor pass that missed out the midfield.

End result of this was a 3-0 cushion at the break and only a complete capitulation in the second half standing in our way of getting three very important points.

This time the surrender didn't happen.

OK, Nicolas Anelka pulled one back but United looked solid and after the Frenchman's strike early in the second period, they never looked like getting through again as the Toon shut shop.

As far as the debut boys performed, well David Rozenhal would have loved to have capped it with a goal but admitted afterwards to the Press boys he hadn't touched it meaning Zoggy grabbed a much needed goal.

Geremi, or skip as he is known now to his team-mates, pulled the strings in the middle and is so far looking a fine choice as captain.

Mark Viduka blew hot and cold but still went down a treat with Toon fans with a good shift and got the United away support on his side early on when he gave them the thumbs up after they chanted his name, the Aussie could be a real hit in Newcastle this season but still has more in his locker

And what about Alan Smith?

The ex-Leeds ace didn't hold back and proved he has the bottle to drag his side through the season with a dogged display.

Big Sam also showed exactly whose army he's with too when he responded to the "Big Sam giz a wave" chants in style on a triumphant afternoon for the travelling fans.

Have Newcastle United finally got a few genuine battlers in their side?

Big Sam certainly thinks so and with Brazilan star Cacapa, highly rated Spaniard Jose Enrique and Michael Owen still to join the party, it's all looking up again.

Ah yeah, there's also still 19 days left until the transfer window closes for business and Big Sam is still on the hunt for more new blood.

Happy days...for now.


phil matues said:

I have a feeling that we are going to see newcastle break into top 4 this season.With a couple more signings it could be even better!Big Sam makes good players very good.Tactics were spot-on yesterday.

Martin said:

Too right Lee. Well summed up
But don't you think Nicky Butt's contribution deserves a mention?

Alvin said:

Am happy that we are STILL TOP of the league after Sunday! However the squad depth isn't there. If you look at the others teams, we still have got quite a small squad as compared to them. If Dyer and Nobby goes, will we have enough quality bodies to sustain the season.

lmsava said:

Why use phrases like "pumped a high cross into the box" and "pass that missed out the midfield"? It just perpetuates incorrect stereotypes about Allardyce's style of play. Milner just played a cross into the box - much like every other winger in the league should have done at the weekend. And Taylor's pass that "missed out the midfield" only travelled about 20 yards, and it was to Martins' feet rather than at his head. People like Alan Green are already on our case about the type of football we'll be playing and misleading reports like this don't help. We played some decent football, certainly no worse than any other team on the opening day of the season and we got the best result of any team at teh weekend. I don't think we'll play like Arsenal but I don't think we'll be playing like Graham Taylor's England either.

Ryder's reply: I don't think too many of the Toon fans were worried how we won on Saturday.
Sorry to report that Milner put in a high cross in the box and Taylor's pass missed out the midfield for the second but that's actually what happened!
If you look at the replays it is clear and Milner's cross was so high Geremi failed to even get a flick on at full stretch.

trev said:

Overall, a competent performance and a good win. Great to see a bit of cohesion and players who want to play. Once we can get a right back who isn't past his best, we should look in better shape.

PS: Could you please let your colleague, Paul Gilder, know that our last domestic honour was in 1955, not 1952.

M Green said:

The last time I remember us being top of the leaugue was the year Keegan nearly won the title.
It's nice to see a solid away performance but there was nothing to get carried away over, with a free kick that all our players missed on the first, the Bolton keeper the closest marker on the second and another goal ear-marked for a bloopers DVD.
On top of the fact that Anelka walked past Carr on one of their rare attacks.

However, we didn't deserve to lose, that's for sure and with this start I can see no reason why we can't make St James' a fortress again. we have the staff to fight for points away from home and I can see a finish between 4th & 6th, which will be a good start.

Ryder's reply: A fair summing up M Green, fourth would be magical and I think we'd be dancing in the Bigg Market with sixth. But I still fear that injuries are a danger to this squad. If they eat away at the team I fear the squad lacks depth despite seven new boys coming in.

Ronnie ( Busker ) Lambert said:


Well Lee, I cannot remember any toon team in my lifetime who responded so precisely to the manager's instructions to shut shop. This was thrilling stuff alright, 3 easy points at a place we were previously scared stiff to visit and 3 more to come from Villa next week. I have been walking on air since the victories against Celtic, Juventus and Sampdoria, and these without our full team. My anticipation of the new owners, new manager and new team has etched the biggest grin on me fyess that wor lass has seen since our wedding night. And now it's begun big style, with a memorable start to what I predict will be the greatest time in this club's history. It could, and should have happened in Keegan's management era, but for his exit and Dalglish's demolition of a great side, a continuity of Champions league places and even winning the league was not beyond belief. But now, with a financially strong, and sensible boardroom, a manager with a proven Midas touch, and a great looking team that still hasn't yet evolved into it's full potential, the world is our oyster. I believe that Sam has told Oba to go out and be great, to not even think about Owen who has it all to do just to get in the side now, and then to stay fit. I hope he does, and the strength in depth of our strike-force will be second to none in the premiership. Can you imagine what the psychological effect on opponents will be when they see the calibre of Toon strikers coming on in the later stages of a game ? The same as Chelsea or Man. U. that's what. Yes my friends, we have arrived as promised, a bit late maybe but it was always fait accompli with the passion of this great support, a passion recognized and correctly interpreted by Mike Ashley as the basis of any club's success. Chris Mort said yesterday that one or two defenders are still to come in before the window closes, well I for one am still pinching myself at the thought of every player we've brought in so far has been of the best quality and has elevated the squad into top six, or even higher potential after just one game. I had the same gut feeling after the game ( Beardsley's debut )and immediately wrote my song, '' Goin' Up ''
I've got that feeling again, and some great new songs if you're interested.

Cannnuk-Doc said:

We were all so excited before a ball was kicked in anger, only half daring to believe that things had changed.
Saturday at 4.50pm we could see that things had indeed changed, defence quite good, players running themselves into the ground, new cult hero's sitting in the stands waiting their chance.

I know this is going to be a wonderful season, one that will be a huge step back towards the big time, one that see's us back in Europe, fighting for a cup and attracting our type of player again.

The only piece that I really hope falls into place now is the vocal support at home games.


George Wraith said:

Brilliant erformance and brilliant result. Mind you, reading this afternoons Ronnie Gill, Uncle Alan seems to be a tad upset that Oba scored 2 because that wont help him in his one man campaign to get Martins sold will it!

carl said:

Totally agree with imsava.
saying the ball was pumped into the box and missing out the midfield just give the people who knock BSA all tha amunition they need. even alan shearer was at it on motd. we will have enough people giving us grief over the way we play without our own papers saying were long ball merchants which is to change your words a little but to someone who didnt see the match thats exactly
what they would assume from that report. that all we did was pump the ball upto the front men!
Ryder's reply: OK, we passed the ball around the floor for 90 minutes, we played really pretty football.
It was like Brazil and Holland from the 1970s all rolled into one. Total clockwork. Happy? Only thing is that's not what happened we got in Bolton's faces and won 3-1.
Ossie Ardiles tried to play neat, pretty football in a diamond formation and look where he got with that.

Genghiz said:

Not for nothing.

But when the big teams come into town, I hope Mr. Sam Allardyce doesn't make the mistake and split Martins and Owen. Those two need to be up front when the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, and Liverpool come into town. If they get split and Newcastle loses, that will be the first place everyone involved will look at. Nothing against Viduka, Ameobi, and Smith, they have height, but not the passion of the smaller players as Oba, Owen and Emre, display.

Markus said:

Very, very pleased with Saturdays result. Bolton opened the door for 30 minutes and we rammed in 3 goals. Even their goal was a counter-attack! Next is Villa who will come looking for a point and defend deep. If we win against them Ill really fancy our chances of a top 6 finish.

jackie w said:

The squad is probably not quite deep enough but come on outside the starting eleven we have

Luque ( is he still here?)

Granted not everyones cup of tea but its not a bad second team , couple this with possibly two or three new signings before the deadline and i for one am looking forward to europe next year and dare i say it One of the cups!...Jackie

carl said:

LOL, jeez lee . im not for a second claiming we should become delusional and claim that we are playing football from the gods. im also not like a lot of the fans were who were saying sam doesnt play "the newcastle way" which to my memory is pretty badly other than 3 years of keegan! all i was trying to get across is i honestly dont think it will be long before some of the press are slating us for our style of play using terms like missing out the midfield(which we may do but that midfield have probably ran themselves into the ground) and pumping the ball up. Im sorry if it seemed like i was having a pop at you its just ive spent that much time defending BSA from moronic fans who say "but its not newcastles style" that those particular phrases are exactly the type of things they would use to prove their point regardless of everything else you said in you blog which was positive.

Toonatik said:

Great result lads but bear in mind that Big Sam built that Bolton team and if he doesnt know the tactics to beat them no one will!! True test will be the Villa at St James. Hopefully we go all out with a 4-3-3 and bring back the attack is the best form of defence days!


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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