No Prima Donnas Here
That Newcastle United’s powerful start to the season has evinced so much surprise is significant. Pundits have been queuing up to have a pop at their expensively assembled squad, earners of the highest probable collective wage packet in the history of the division, and the assumption that they would tumble onto their faces like a squadron of prima donnas has been repeated ad nauseam.
But Saturday’s comprehensive demolition of an admittedly rookie-filled Reading line up has begun to convince even the doubters. Sure, more players could leave soon – Reading were also on the end of Fabrizio Ravanelli-inspired 3-0 reverse early in the 2002-3 season – but enough spirit and tenacity was shown to give Magpies’ fans hope. We knew the talent was there; we now know the grit is also in place.
Newcastle positively purred on Saturday, their midfield overwhelming Brendan Rodgers’ young bucks. Smith, Barton, Gutierrez and Nolan formed a fearsome midfield quartet, never more evident than in the lost cause chased down by the latter for Shola Ameobi’s second goal: talking of whom, what a performance from the big man? Ok, Rodgers’ leaving out £2 million signing Matt Mills played into his hands, but maybe people will now stop laughing at that youtube Michael Owen impersonator’s mention of the homegrown striker?
Andy Carroll also did his bit in a languidly lofty strike force and at the back, Newcastle also dealt perfunctorily with Reading’s feeble forwards. Ryan Taylor and Jose Enrique both crossed wickedly and the much maligned Fabricio Coloccini looked athletic and calm beside the granite like Stephen Taylor. It’s a formidable squad and although Crystal Palace’s combative style, fuelled by injustice, might present the Toon problems on saturday, the bandwagon is up and running.