No Prima Donnas Here

Posted by on Aug 17, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. Ben
    August 17, 2009

    It was a remarkable win for at least four reasons:

    * Ameobi getting a hat-trick, two of which were headers.

    * The quality of our crossing – usually appalling, but the balls into the box for the first two goals were superb.

    * Creativity in our midfield, allied to serious effort – Nolan's part in the second goal being the prime case in point.

    * A clean sheet, and we rarely looked troubled.

    I would say, though, that it's a bit early to acclaim the absence of prima donnas and celebrate new-found team spirit – give me six more performances like that and I might start to believe it.

    Incidentally, “the much maligned Fabricio Coloccini”? You missed a word out there – “the RIGHTLY much maligned Fabricio Coloccini”. You say “calm”, I say “too often unnecessarily risk-taking and lackadaisical”…

  2. Lloyd
    August 18, 2009

    Duff for a rumoured £4m? Whatever next?

    Good for them; if they can replace the deadwood with a few adequate players then they will do better than I thought. I'll look on their games against Wednesday and Palace with interest — 4 points from them and the rest of us will start to worry.


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