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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
Could it be that Mike Ashley has actually made a sensible decision? The man whose baffling policies have crippled Newcastle United in little over a year doesn't get much right, but in the recruitment of Joe Kinnear, of all people, he might allow himself a smile. The forgotten man of English football, with his expletive-loaded tantrums and rants, seems to be exactly what the stricken Magpies needed.

Kinnear had 15 days to prepare his new team for this clash with Manchester City, but it took only 12 minutes for those plans to be wrecked by the questionable dismissal of Habib Beye. The Newcastle right-back, making his first appearance since August, lunged in at the goal-bound Robinho, flicking the ball away from him just before crashing into the back of his legs. Referee Rob Styles, no stranger to controversy, whipped out a red card to the fury of the home support. The Brazilian calmly slotted home the spot-kick, his third goal in five games, and it seemed inevitable that Newcastle were set for yet another morale-sapping defeat.

But it didn't quite turn out like that. Shola Ameobi, a man who has seen off an astonishing six managers since his last goal for Newcastle, has been adopted by Kinnear as his pet project. The former Wimbledon boss is convinced that he can turn Ameobi into another John Fashanu, the powerful striker of the 1980s, and the one-to-one training seems to be paying off. His equaliser may have relied more upon luck than judgement, the ball skidding off the top of his shoelaces into a corner of the goal that he wasn't aiming for, but his work-rate earned him that good fortune.

Manchester City should have had this game wrapped up and won after 20 minutes but, curiously, they failed to make the most of their one man advantage. Mark Hughes appears to have created a kind of Arsenal-lite, a watered down version of Arsene Wenger's free-flowing football. The crisp, short-passing failed to penetrate the black and white lines, there was little impetus or desire to break down the barriers. Hughes was exasperated. He had to throw on an extra striker, when Newcastle took the lead through a well-struck Richard Dunne own goal, but it wasn't until he introduced another, with seven minutes left to play, that Kinnear's men capitulated, going to sleep and allowing Robinho to set up Stephen Ireland for the equaliser.

Regardless, Kinnear was delighted with his hard-fought point, going so far as to say that he wanted the manager's job full-time. With the players finally believing in themselves and fighting for each other, stranger things have happened. The biggest positive for Newcastle however, was not the point or the performance, it was the reaction of the crowd to the struggles on the pitch. Styles' decision to send off Beye galvanised St James Park, giving the fans a common enemy to unite against. They roared their support for the players, barely believing their own eyes when Newcastle took the lead. For once, the boardroom struggles were ignored, the shouts for an improbable third coming of Keegan were silenced. Their only thoughts were with the men on the pitch, which is as it should be. In that respect at least, Kinnear's appointment has already been a huge success.

LOSER - Fresh from his appalling decision to award Manchester United a penalty against Bolton in September, Rob Styles was on hand for more controversy here. In fairness, he was a long way back from the play, but there was enough clear movement in the ball to suggest that Beye's tackle was legitimate. Why is it always Styles who gets these decisions wrong?

STRONG - Shola Ameobi hadn't scored for two years, but he was well worth his first half equaliser. Finally, he has realised that he is bigger and stronger than the majority of his rivals and he's using that physical strength to cause defenders problems. He can only get better with regular match experience and, in Kinnear, he may have the perfect mentor.

SAFE HANDS - Shay Given's superb one-handed save from Stephen Ireland as the clock ticked down was one of the finest of the season so far. Just reaching it was achievement enough, but to get enough power behind his right wrist to parry it away was simply world class goalkeeping. Where would Newcastle be without him?

MAN OF THE MATCH - It's four consecutive games now for Damien Duff, which is worthy of an award in itself these days, but this was his best so far. With his cutting runs down both flanks, not to mention his in-game tutoring of the wayward Geremi, he began to look like the man that Chelsea paid tens of millions of dollars for.

PUNTERS RANT - Woe betide anyone who was betting in-game on this one. With Habib Beye heading for an early shower and Robino slotting home the penalty, you'd understand people lumping their children's college fund on a win for Manchester City. Looks like Junior's going to have teach himself....



Shay Given 7, Habib Beye 6, Steven Taylor 7, Fabricio Colocinni 7, Sebestien Bassong 7, Geremi 6, Nicky Butt 7, Damien Duff 8, Obafemi Martins 7 (Charles N'Zogbia 6), Shola Ameobi 7(Andrew Carroll 5)

Mancester City

Joe Hart 6, Micah Richards 6 (Nedum Onuoha 6), Tal Ben Haim 6, Richard Dunne 6, Javier Garrido 6 (Daniel Sturridge 6), Shaun Wright-Phillips 6, Vincent Kompany 6, Didi Hamann 6 (Ched Evans 7), Stephen Ireland 7, Jo 6, Robinho 6

Attendance - 45,908

Yellow Cards - Garrido, Kompany (Man City)

Red Cards - Beye (Newcastle)


This is a modified caption
Mar 26, 2004
Are you allowed to call the mamager JFK or is that pushing it a bit far?

One of the few F365 names I actually like.


The Whippet
Dec 5, 2003
PUNTERS RANT - Woe betide anyone who was betting in-game on this one. With Habib Beye heading for an early shower and Robino slotting home the penalty, you'd understand people lumping their children's college fund on a win for Manchester City. Looks like Junior's going to have teach himself....

Have you made Scriv your editor Slips?

Otherwise another good article!


"Good morning everybody........"
Feb 11, 2005
Huh? The phrase is grammatically correct - Junior's being the contraction of "Junior is"...

Lift that head, Slip! Dave - yours is the head that should be hanging!


I think it's the missing 'to' that Dave was referring to?