Club Focus – Newcastle – Magpies enjoy home comforts

Newcastle United put their away day woes behind them with an excellent 4-1 win over Coventry City at St James’ Park. It would appear that the Magpies are a different beast when playing at home as they have now scored nine goals in their last two matches. In contrast their last two performances away from home have been insipid and uninspiring.

Despite the pressures that come from playing in front of expectant and vociferous fans, the team seem to play with greater freedom when at home. As an added bonus Newcastle have been able to create a little bit of breathing space at the top of the table as they extended their lead over West Brom to three points. With a home game against Preston next on the agenda the Magpies have another good opportunity to put pressure on the chasing pack.

In front of a watching Chris Eubank in the home crowd, Newcastle delivered a knock-out blow to Coventry’s recent run of good form. Despite conceding the opening goal of the match the hosts were able to hit back almost immediately. The goal could not have come at a better time as some sections of the crowd were just starting to get on the team’s back. It was winger Wayne Routledge who put the home side level with a crisp volleyed strike into the bottom corner. The goal set up Routledge to produce a Man of the Match performance as he looked to run at the Coventry defence whenever the opportunity presented itself. With Jonas Gutierrez causing havoc down the left-flank Newcastle were at times almost unstoppable going forward. Routledge appears at the moment to be an astute signing by Chris Hughton as he has added another dimension to Newcastle’s attack. Now Hughton’s men are able to penetrate teams on both sides of the pitch with attacking intent. The move has also allowed Danny Guthrie to impress when moved into a more central role. After a very poor display on the left against Swansea he was far more involved alongside Kevin Nolan in the centre.

Manager Hughton is hoping that Routledge will be able to put down roots at St James’ Park following a largely nomadic existence for most of his early career. The former Crystal Palace winger has already played for eight clubs at the relatively young age of 25 and has yet to really live up to the potential he had as a youngster. He signed for Newcastle for a fee of about £1.2m and at the moment is looking good value for money. Hughton said: “It was a smashing goal from Wayne. You look for him to provide crosses and it’s also an added bonus that he can get goals. I hope Wayne fulfils his potential here. We have him at a good age. He has been to a few clubs and been to big clubs as well, where he has experienced not being first choice. We hope we can develop his game. What they like here at St James’ is an old fashioned winger. Wayne is a quality player. I hope he can settle here and be here a long time. That will be down to him.”

With Jose Enrique out injured his loss has been softened by the mature displays from Chelsea youngster Patrick van Aanholt. The Dutch left-back has slipped quite seamlessly into Enrique’s boots and has ensured that the Spanish full-back has not been missed too much. Van Aanholt’s loan from Chelsea expires at the end of next week and it is unlikely he will be staying on Tyneside after the end of February. It looks likely that Chelsea will recall the 19-year-old due to Ashley Cole’s prolonged absence from the Chelsea team for around three months. Fortunately by then Newcastle should be able to call on Enrique once again. Hughton stated: “We’re hoping Jose will be back for the Watford game, which is Patrick’s last game for us. Patrick has done very well but it will be a big boost to welcome back Jose and he is keen to come back.” This weekend’s game against Preston North End will come too early for the return of the popular Spaniard. On paper it should be a relatively easy game for Newcastle against a Preston side in mid-table. But in the Championship most sides in mid-table are still quite capable of reaching the play-off’s. The Lancashire side suffered a heavy loss in midweek when they lost 5-3 to Derby. They have also lost 4-1 to Barnsley this month in between some good results, but at home Newcastle are a tough proposition for any side in this league.

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