Newcastle provided one of the shocks of the weekend as they hammered top six hopefuls Aston Villa 6-0. In one of their finest Premier League displays in recent memory, the Magpies served up a fine all round performance to announce their return to where many feel they belong. Not since the days of Sir Bobby Robson have the St James’ Park faithful seen their side overwhelm opposition in such style. On the back of a disappointing start against Manchester United, the Magpies ignored their critics with a perfect riposte. 15 months after suffering relegation at the hands of the same opponents, Sunday was sweet revenge for that dark day back in May 2009.
In truth the game could have been completely different if John Carew had converted an early penalty attempt. But as soon as Joey Barton opened the scoring it was one-way traffic for the rest of the game. Barton, in particular, will be delighted with the result as he can finally remove his moustache which could have proved an annoyance the longer Newcastle went looking for their first win. Villa were obliging opponents having recent lost their influential manager Martin O’Neill and star player in James Milner. But they still remain among the top six to seven sides in the country. Newcastle cannot afford to get too carried away by this result as much tougher tests lie in wait but for now they can bask in the glory of their first ever 6-0 win in the Premier League.
While all 11 players had good games, it was young striker Andy Carroll who made most of the headlines with a maiden hat-trick. It appears that the 21-year-old has been working on his game over the summer with an extra yard of pace evident and an improvement in his finishing. Although he has a reputation as being little more than a target man, all of Carroll’s goals against Villa were taken with his feet. With England’s Franco Baldini watching from the stands, he will certainly have caught the attention of the England manager. Following Emile Heskey’s international withdrawal there is room in the England squad for a similar type of player. The burden of wearing the number nine shirt has not fazed the Gateshead lad so far and his most famous predecessor Alan Shearer appeared delighted when Carroll netted his third in injury time. So far Carroll has been deployed as the lone striker, both home and away, as manager Chris Hughton shows his confidence in his young charge. Commenting on Carroll he said: “I thought Andy’s overall performance was superb and in line with how he’s been. He’s had a good pre-season and I thought he was excellent at Old Trafford last Monday. I think his work ethic for the team was excellent as well and he’s a lad who is very confident now.”
To complete a fine days work, Hughton also confirmed that Newcastle were very close to making another addition to their playing staff. FC Twente midfielder Cheick Tiote has agreed to join the Magpies subject to the player getting a work permit. The Ivory Coast international is a tough-tackling midfielder who featured in all of his country’s games at the World Cup. It is believed that he will join the club for a fee of around £3 – £4 million. He joins a midfield department that already well stocked, although, Newcastle are short on defensive midfield cover with Alan Smith the only out-and-out player in that position. In other transfer news young goalkeeper Fraser Forster is set to join Glasgow giants Celtic in a loan deal. Forster had an impressive time on loan at Norwich City last term but finds himself third choice at Newcastle behind Steve Harper and Tim Krul. He joins Celtic with the opportunity for first team football if he impresses new manager Neil Lennon.
Newcastle will get a quick reality check after the high on Sunday when they go to face League Two Accrington Stanley in the Carling Cup. Stanley’s 5,000 capacity Crown Ground home will be a new stadium for fans to visit as the two clubs have never faced each other before. The cup tie may give Hughton an opportunity to shuffle his pack and give some of his unused players so far this season a run-out. Youngsters Tim Krul, James Tavernier, Haris Vuckic and Nile Ranger may all be involved to give them vital first team experience. There could also be starts for Ryan Taylor, Peter Lovenkrands and Shola Ameobi.