Toon gunned down at Eastlands

By Lee Ryder on Sep 29, 07 02:24 PM

NEWCASTLE UNITED tumbled to a 3-1 defeat at Eastlands today despite taking a first half lead through Oba Martins on a painful day for Big Sam.

Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce started the day by delivering a hammer blow to Toon keeper Steve Harper who lost his place between the posts after the manager favoured Republic of Ireland international Shay Given.

Groin victim Cacapa missed out with David Rozehnal joined by Steven Taylor in the heart of defence while Charles N'Zogbia egded out Jose Enrique at left-back.

But Mark Viduka was fit to start the game after shaking off a foot injury with the Aussie paired upfront with Oba Martins.

Given got in a mix up with six minutes on the clock when he failed to clear an N'Zogbia back pass with Emile Mpenza almost getting lucky as the Irishman played the ball against him before United cleared the danger.

Straight after the scare Oba Martins was sent clear but City forced the ball out for a corner before the home side survived the danger.

On nine minutes City keeper Joe Hart was called into action when Viduka's long range effort from the right channel had to be palmed round the post but Newcastle couldn't make the most of their early possession.

Yet on 12 minutes Given showed why he was number 1 when Stephen Ireland played in Elano only for the Eire stopper to make a great save when he pushed away a right footed goal bound effort from the edge of the area.

Mid-way through the game Newcastle could easily have had a penalty when James Milner was sent tumbling in the box but ref Chris Foy didn't want to know after Micah Richards sliding challenge left the England Under-21 star grounded.

Four minutes later though it was Newcastle who were rocking again at the other end after Ireland's right wing cross bounced off the crossbar but once again City failed to take advantage.

And they were made to pay with 16 minutes left of the first half when skipper Geremi clipped a long ball from the right into the box before Martins calmly lifted it over Hart to open the scores and grab his fourth of the season to take him clear as top scorer.

United almost went two minutes after that when Garrido's poke back to Hart sped past the City keeper before he frantically recovered to sweep it off the goal line.

However, with eight minutes left before the interval Ireland outpaced N'Zogbia on the right before rolling it across the face of goal for Martin Petrov to apply the finish at the back post and net his third goal in two games.

Ireland almost turned from provider to scorer when he raced clear after Elano's through ball but his shot hit Given on the chest when it looked certain he was going to put his side in front with three minutes left of the first half.

The save was another let off for United but City picked up where they left off in the second period and Petrov's fine run and cross down the left found Mpenza in the six yard box who sent a diving header beyond Given to make it 2-1.

That strike clearly calmed City down but instead of hitting back United slipped into the game's pedestrian pace too.

And it took until the 67 minute mark for Newcastle to create another clear chance, however, Martins could only find the side netting after forcing his way past Richards.

A Geremi free-kick from long range then forced Hart to push it over the bar on 71 minutes but once more City scrambled the ball clear.

With just 13 minutes left United pushed N'Zogbia up with Jose Enrique replacing Geremi.

City wrapped up the game with four minutes left when United conceded a sloppy free-kick and Elano drilled the ball into the top corner to make sure of the points.

CITY: Hart, Richards, Johnson, Ireland, Mpenza, Elano (Geovanni 89), Petrov, Corluka (Onuoha 58), Hamann, Dunne, Garrido.
Subs: Schmeichel, Samaras.
UNITED: Given, Beye, Rozehnal, Taylor (Faye 85), N'Zogbia, Geremi (Enrique 77), Butt, Smith, Milner, Viduka (Emre 88), Martins.
Subs: Harper, Pattison.
Ref: Chris Foy..


Paul Patterson said:

Have we just seen the worst single performance from a player in a Black and White shirt?

Standing around doing nothing, giving up balls that are easily retrievable, shot shy and in general, pratting about for 90 mins.

Newcastle United were officially playing with 10 men today at Man City as Alan Smith was nowhere to be seen and it begs the question,- Is he only in the side because of his favourable preference from the club’s owner?

It was so bleeding obvious that he should be the one to come off it was untrue, and Emre or even a Pattison, would surely have made more of a difference, oh and by the way Mr Allardyce, substitutions made with three minutes to go and being 3-1 down is not going to go down well, I was shouting for a change after 15 minutes (Smith) 45mins (Smith) and again after 65 minutes (Anyone, really) just to get us back into the game.

Now Im not the one to get on players backs, but please fellow supporters, write and tell me I’m wrong, that I witnessed a different game?

Once again, the opportunity to release N’Zogbia was available to Mr Allardyce (Didn’t take it) Milner was all over the place, Geremi didn’t have a set position, Butt was running about with no aim, Viduka and Martins looked like they had never seen each other before etc, etc.

What wonderful excuses will we see trotted out after this one?

Was the Bolton away game just a fluke? Because I’ve now seen, Villa (Lucky to get a draw) Boro (Decent performance, but generally messy) Wigan (Last minute winner) Derby, (Battered by a newly promoted team that gets plastered by everyone) West Ham (Either side could have won it, but improved) Arsenal (Negative tactics and outplayed by kids) Now Man City (Outpassed, shapeless, cluless going forward)

I can’t speak for every fan, but how long before patience snaps?

Tell me I’m wrong please!!


Martin said:

good start to the season with Harper in goal. Great match last week(&more importantly, we win) - Given, understandably is handed a cup match , lets in two - we lose & he gets Harpers place ?!
Lets in 3. Let's hope Sam is man enough to pick players on their form not on they're reputation/past form. I'm not saying Shay's poor, far from it but the player in form , doing their job should keep their place. - another example Oba scores 2 & is replaced next match because Owen's fit!

Len Sacks said:

Enrique should've started and Charlie should've played wide left with Milner on the right. This was a disaster. Smith was (again) poor, like a fish out of water and lunging at people. There were some careless mistakes at the back today too.

I know the team's a new one and they're just beginning to get used to playing alongside each other - but you could say the same about City too...

Jaded in Japan said:

The team looked horrible last night. That must have been one of the sloppiest NUFC performances in recent memory. Hardly more than 2 or 3 passes were strung together, players regularly lost the ball and from the whistle the midfield battle was conceded to much classier and gifted players.

Paul is spot on about Smith: he is not an effective midfielder. Unless Sam plays Emre, or a healthy Barton, as a play-making midfielder, the team will continue to get embarrassed by the likes of Elano.

The players seem to lack confidence in each other and do not communicate. 3 of them go to head the same ball, they miss simples passes and the defense lacked any organization. Rozenhal might be an improvement to Bramble and Boumsong, but he is clearly not a vocal leader with the back line. And Steven Taylor's poor performance assured Abdoulaye Faye of a starting spot.

Hopefully things will look up over the next few games, but Everton away is a bad fixture to start looking for an upturn in fortunes.

Peter Harper said:

I cannot believe what I am reading with the comments about Alan Smith.I was at the match and Smith was United's man of the match.He was superb.
Given could have got to the ball before Ireland crossed but for some unexplicable reason he stayed on his line.
Time after time we were laid bare at the back with the exception of Rozenhal who was excellent.Geremi and Butt were largely ineffective,Viduka,Martins and Milner ran their socks off.Big Sam ,once again,was tactically bankrupt.Where he gets his ideas from I just don,t know -maybe from Roy of the Rovers, but if this continues he can book his holidays with Jose Mourinho.

Adhip said:

Agree with Paul...
it is only a matter of time before our patience runs out!!!
it woluld lead a bad situation something like sheva being booed every time he touched the ball at the bridge...
6 million for enrique and sam uses him as a bench warmer..
sam should get zog forward..
petrov showed us what one winger can do...
its not that we do not have the players to do that...
get emre and duff in and you can see the same thing..
smith was just there to make up numbers...
with a natural central mid and a classy playmaker in emre why alan smith???
Lets hope that when emre and barton are back smith gets to go sit on the bench..
butt too has been poor...
its like a gap 2 superb strikers far up the pitch...
2 wide men (one's a left back and the others a rightback)
the midfeild is missing...
the defence at the other end...
teams have been dominating us in midfeild...
unless we set that right i dont think we have serious change of even scoring...

Oyvind said:

Why does Smith play?!? We need a creative player like emre. And we need N'Zogbia to play wing, because Smith just stands there and looking around, he shouldnt be out there at all. And when we attack, please RUN, not walk!

aleppo the turk said:

You're not wrong. I was at the match and Smith was dreadful.

Siomi said:

I watched Newcastle drubbing Spurs 7-1 last night. It made me weep. The difference between that performance and the disappointment at Man City was obvious. Peter Beardsley and Rob Lee. Creative, confident, intelligent attacking midfielders (Lee got two!). PLEASE, keep Smith as an energetic substitute to hare about when everyone else is feeling knackered.

Tony Poolan said:

We do have a dearth of midfield creativity. I am also concerned at how cumbersome and average Taylor is starting to look - all right he is committed to the cause but he is becoming a liability and looks out of place alongside Rozenhal - he is slow and too physical and will only be effective when up against physical strikers. We need Barton's drive in midfield and N'Zogbia wide left with Milner on the other side. Sorry but Emre isn't the answer - he has only looked good in patches and seems to want to leave. I agree with Sam about Martins - 'scorer of great goals' not a natural goalscorer - one minute he looks very good the next like a pub player who can't pass! Smith seems to have become merely a workhorse since being at Man U - can't make his mind up between being a striker or holding midfielder. I'm afraid Shola should be out of the door - we've seen all he has to offer. It will take time for Cacapa, Beye and Enrique. But here we go already grumbling - in the 30 plus (maybe more!) years I've been going how many times have we imploded because of short-termism - the successful clubs tend to give people time unless they find a Mourinho. Last season was an utter shambles and Roeder was let's face it a disaster. Sam Allardyce will have to be given time or we will be back as we always are to panic appointments and no strategy. We were never going to be fantastic this season - especially after last!


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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