Match Report 2000-01 - Aston Villa (h)
9 mins: Solano put over a deep cross and Glass caught it with a reasonably firm half volley. Not for the first time against United, David James failed to stop it going through him and into the net.
13 mins: Lovely ball by Dabizas out to Solano. After some sharp control Solano lobbed over the perfect cross which James came out and misjudged. Cort beat him to it and headed into the unguarded net. Not dissimilar to Ferdinand's against Villa five years ear;ier.
Half time: Newcastle 2 Aston Villa 0
74 mins: Ameobi looked favourite to reach a ball played down the right. Despite running in slow motion, his toe beat Wright to the ball allowing him an unchecked run to the byline. Not the best cross in the world but enough to induce blind panic and Delaney and James misread each other's intentions - Delaney making a hash of his clearance to slide the ball perfectly into the goal.
Full time: Newcastle 3 Aston Villa 0
Bobby Robson commented:
"It has cost us because it means he will miss the first three matches next season.
"I am disappointed with the referee's decision. Perhaps he should have given a yellow card in the spirit of the last game of the season.
"I think the whole stadium would have been surprised by the decision. Taylor stood on him and he just pushed him."
About the crowd:
John Gregory said:
"I wish we could talk about the match and not just Ginola. I wouldn't have expected anyone to be doing cartwheels when they're about to be brought off.
"David's reaction showed he was unhappy but I was concerned he might get sent off after being booked.
"In a way he subbed himself. The way he was playing was affecting the whole team.
"I was also concerned that we might lose three or four goals but I take full responsibility for us being 2-0 down and I had started with a very adventurous line-up.
"Who knows what will happen next season. August is a long way away and he's under contract but it's up to David whether he wants to stay.
About his brush with the law:
It didn't quite reach the heights of May 11th 1997.* However: three goals; David Ginola throwing his rattle out of the pram; mackem Euro hopes in tatters and Dirty Don Hutchison being sent off is not a bad way to end an otherwise disappointing Premiership campaign.
(* We beat Forest 5-0 to claim runners-up spot and a place in the Champions League while the mackems and Boro both got relegated.)
Only a ridiculous double sending-off of Gary Speed and Ian Taylor and a late Matt Le Tissier goal put a slight dampener on a carnival atmosphere at a joyous St. James' Park. Speed will now miss the first three games of next season (pending appeal) and Le Tiss's late strike for Southampton against Arsenal meant we ended in 11th position, not 10th - something that seemed particularly irksome to Bobby. The £340k in extra prize money may be missed, but perhaps he wanted to reject recent criticism by claiming our first top half finish for four years. But appearing on the first page of Ceefax's Premiership table would have been undeserved.
From the first whistle, United seemed to play with a spirit and purpose that has been sadly lacking in recent weeks and helped by a particularly inept Villa we roared into a two-goal lead. Solano enjoyed bags of room down our right and a far post cross found Stephen Glass who shot low and hard enough for David James to be unable to block.
Four minutes later Carl Cort finished a fantastic flowing move to make it 2-0 after just 13 minutes. Dabizas sprayed it out to Solano and his superb early cross found Cort who kept his eye on the ball and not the clueless waft of dodgy David James.
And then came the Ginola pantomime. He had been having a frustrating time down the wing, scuffing a few balls and feeling one or two firm challenges from Barton and Bassedas. His team-mates seemed on a different wavelength and frustration boiled over as he was booked for dissent. Then, with a minute to go to half-time John Gregory substituted the Frenchman.
It was meat and drink to the home support who had jeered him from the start. An indignant trudge off the turf was followed by a few expletives from Ginola before he stormed down the tunnel. His shirt was hurled pitchwards seconds later as many Villa fans left their seats. Those still in situ howled, "You don't know what you're doing," at their Prince of Darkness, Gregory.
Delicious as the moment was, it has to be said that the public tiff was humiliating for both player and manager and as such was an extremely unprofessional exhibition all round. If Gregory wanted to make a point (presumably to his Chairman) then this was a poor way to do it. But having created the headlines, his reluctance to talk about it afterwards also did him little favours. It's safe to say that one or both of them won't be at Villa Park in August and it wouldn't be a shock to see Gregory depart. However, few Newcastle fans would want him to darken any doors at St. James' Park. Ever.
Villa reorganised during the break and we didn't quite find the same rhythm that had proved so fruitful earlier. Substitutions allowed Shola Ameobi to lope forward and when he stuck out a toe and got to the byline his cross was cleverly tucked past his own keeper by Villa's Delaney. 3-0 to the toon, clad in their "lucky" new shirts.
The sending-offs spoilt the
ending (even with the benefit of TV replays, yellows should surely
have been the correct punishment) but the side's first half
performance and the crowd's second half ebullience made it a day
The now-traditional lap of "honour"
saw the familiar applause from the stands directed at a
trophy-less set of players, and while Cordone, Serrant and
Gallacher joined the rest of the players, we couldn't see Hamilton
in among assorted injury victims (Shearer, Lee, Acuna, Griffin
etc). Bringing up the rear with a broad
grin on his face was Robson.
Here's to a summer of Keeganesque transfer dealings followed by a winter of much content. If next May we are sitting with the same number of points as the number of thousands watching the team then that will be unacceptable. That same equation saw Man City relegated....