Newcastle United 3-0 Reading aka The Ameobi Show

NUFC: Harper, R.Taylor, Jose Enrique, Smith (Geremi 78), Coloccini, S.Taylor, Nolan, Barton (LuaLua 82), Ameobi (Xisco 77), Carroll, Gutierrez.

Are Reading really bad or were we just really good? Is Ameobi going to lead us to promotion with 30 league goals? Who knows. We did indeed look excellent though. After a nervy opening, we went on to completely dominate the game and could have easily had four or five. Everyone played well – even Coloccini and Gutierrez (although the winger plummeted to new depths of incompetence when in shooting range).

The crosses for both of Ameobi’s goals were world class. I’m not surprised by Enrique’s assist, but I must admit that I had to do a double take when I saw Ryan Taylor swing in the best cross you’ll see all weekend anywhere in the country (ok, maybe apart from Modric’s cross for Keane that was headed straight at Reina from 3 yards out). I’m not deliberately playing down Ameobi’s achievements here, but there wasn’t much he needed to do for either goal. Both deliveries were so inch perfect, that had he not scored, we would have been slating him. But fair play, he was expected to put them away, and he did so… although he did get a little lucky with his ‘scuffed’ first header that bounced over the line.

Like a Salmon

Like a Salmon

The second goal in particular was a thing of beauty. Newcastle were passing it around nicely, and the crowd started responding appropriately. When the ball fell loose down by the touchline, Kevin Nolan sprang into action (I know) and sprinted after it, pulling it back for Joey Barton. At this point, the crowd began to really roar, and I turned to my mate and said ‘f***ing hell listen to the crowd’. You could sense the goal coming. Reading looked all over the place. Barton laid the ball into Taylor’s path and Taylor’s inch perfect cross was met with that beautiful head of Ameobi. It was the best goal that I remember us scoring in quite a long time.

When Shane Long handled in the box soon after, Ameobi seized on the chance to earn his first ever hat-trick from the penalty spot. Ameobi, if you’ll remember, actually takes a pretty damn good penalty. Last season against Sunderland, he stepped up and put it away like a German.

I’ve been critical of Ameobi in the past, but I’m not going to slag him off in the wake of scoring three goals. His playing style has given many people (me included) the impression that he doesn’t give a toss. Well on Saturday he could not be accused of that. It seems ridiculous to talk of ‘potential’ with regards to a 27 year old man, but that is the main word that will inevitably be used when describing his career so far. As a 21/22 year old under Bobby Robson, he looked like a real talent, but if anything he has gone backwards in the past six years. I’m not going to say that this is a turning point, but it does mean that I am willing to wait and see how he does over the next few weeks – something I was not willing to do a week ago. I don’t think it is unreasonable at all that Newcastle fans lost patience with him. He’s been here a long time and for the last five seasons he has largely been diabolical. He also became associated, in many people’s minds, with the Joe Kinnear era – perhaps the least popular Newcastle United manager of all time.

People said it last week after the West Brom game; what’s the point in playing Ameobi and Carroll upfront if you’re not going to get any crosses in? With Duff on the right and Gutierrez on the left, the crosses did not materialise. On Saturday, whether it was because of Duff’s absence or not, the crosses rained in and we got three goals. Not a coincidence.

As everyone knows, the big worry now is that we may not have any players left by the 1st September. The main one is that Steven Taylor may be off to Everton if Lescott is sold, and that Sol Campbell may be brought in if Taylor is sold. Here’s an idea: why not bring in Campbell to partner Taylor and sell Coloccini instead? Ridiculous. A partnership of Campbell and Taylor would be the best that the Championship has ever seen. Presumably, Coloccini is on something approaching £50/60k a week – I doubt Campbell would expect half of that. His contract could be laced with promotion based incentives – a hugely enticing prospect for a defender of his age. But when it comes to drawing up contracts, Ashley et al seem hopelessly out of their depth. If Taylor goes, I genuinely fear the ramifications.

Quick word for Reading: They were awful. Not that surprising – they lost Doyle and Hunt and haven’t replaced them. Two league games and no goals, and it was easy to see why. I expect the return fixture to be a lot tougher.

Player Ratings (apologies if I’ve forgotten any details, I’m a bit late with the report this week):

Harper – 6: No obvious errors. A few tricky shots that he managed to hold onto well. I’d still prefer Krul.

R Taylor – 7: World class delivery for Ameobi’s second goal. About time. Danny Simpson was presumably not brought into play understudy, but Taylor probably has a couple of games now to prove that he isn’t as bad as we have accused him of being, or Simpson will be waiting in the wings.

S Taylor – 7: Our best defender. Again. Looks far better than a Championship player – which is highly worrying.

Coloccini – 6: Didn’t cost us any goals, so in that respect he had a good game. Tries to be a bit too fancy sometimes. Which is good, in theory, but he isn’t good enough to get away with it. If he stays, he’ll be a lot more severely tested than he was on Saturday. Wait until he comes up against a strong 6”2 forward and then we’ll see if he’s cut out for this division. All academic to be honest, as I fully expect him to be off, irrespective of whether Taylor stays or goes.

Enrique – 7: Excellent cross for our opening goal. Solid in defence as always. I really hope we keep him. If he goes, just watch him turn into a top class left back for a Spanish side.

Barton – 6: A difficult day on the right side of midfield. Did ok considering its not his position. You can tell that he could be a very good central midfielder, but at the moment I’m not sure I’d trust him with that role. His corner taking was inconsistent. Some excellent ones, some terrible ones. But that is better than Taylor or Geremi – when they’re pretty much all terrible.

Nolan – 7: Strange one, and always difficult to rate out of 10. In the first game of the season against West Brom, he was awful but he set up our goal with a fantastic pass for Duff. On Saturday, he was quite poor again but he managed to pull out another couple of ‘magic’ moments. In the first half he put through Gutierrez with a wonderful through ball (squandered by Jonas) and it was his chasing down of a loose ball that resulted in our second goal. He looks unfit, but still seems a class above most players in the Championship.

Smith – 6: Almost identical to his performance in the West Brom game. At the moment, he is well worth his place in the side. Whilst his shortcomings are still evident on occasion, a fully fit Nolan would make him look even better. With Nolan regularly getting forward to support the strikers, Smith could be left to what he’s good at – winning the ball. However, he could easily have seen red in the first half with a couple of rash challenges. If he’s going to be shielding the back four, he can’t afford to give away too many free kicks in dangerous positions, as he is liable to do.

Gutierrez – 6: Was our best player in the first half, but gradually faded. Much like the West Brom game, lots of dangerous runs that ultimately came to nothing. Was brilliantly put through by Nolan in the first half but embarrassingly failed to even get a shot out from under his feet, such was his panic. This has become a problem and it is clearly a confidence issue. Like Coloccini, I fully expect him to be off in the next few weeks.

Carroll – 6: Worked hard and linked up well with Ameobi. Mostly seems to be playing with his back towards the goal at the moment and it would be nice to see him get into a few more scoring positions in the next couple of games.

Ameobi – 9: Great day for the young (well, 27 year old) Geordie. While I’m still not convinced, you’ve got to give credit where its due and he won us the game today. You’d like to think that he will take a huge amount of confidence from this and maybe, maybe he’ll do well for us this year. MOTM.

SUBS:

Geremi and Xisco – 5: Did nothing of note. Waste of space – both of them. Why was Ranger not brought on? You know, a player that actually has a future at this club.

LuaLua – 6: Looks quick. Erm, that’s about all I noticed.

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