Football: Ginola's father fosters scoring spree

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The Independent Online
Football

David Ginola is thinking of putting a block on his father's return to France after the holiday visit which has spurred him to some of his best performances in a Newcastle shirt.

Ginola Snr has spent a fortnight on Tyneside watching his son continue to captivate the St James' faithful, and although, like his team, Ginola was overshadowed by fellow Frenchman Eric Cantona at Old Trafford last week, the arrival of his father has coincided with the 28-year-old forward striking a rich seam of scoring form.

Ginola had not scored in his first nine home games, but vital long-range efforts against Nottingham Forest and Arsenal have helped propel Newcastle seven points clear at the top of the Premiership with a game in hand over Manchester United, their closest rivals.

"My father has been here for two weeks and I've scored against both Forest and Arsenal in the home games he's seen," said Ginola. "I think I'll buy him an apartment in Newcastle."

Ginola's goal from a 25-yard strike inside the first minute quelled any St James' Park nerves on Tuesday night as Newcastle took full advantage of Manchester United's loss at White Hart Lane to edge closer to their first championship in 69 years.

"After last week's game, when we didn't ever get our game going, we were all very upset at the way we'd played and the result," Ginola said. "It meant we had to beat Arsenal, because a draw wouldn't have been any good for us. But now we have to feel very good, very confident."

Newcastle's swagger in victory was enlivened by the display of Paul Kitson, signed from Derby last season for pounds 2.3m, to play alongside Andy Cole. Although Kitson scored 12 goals before an injury in April, he has failed to win back his place in the starting line-up. In his first start since then he proved a constant nuisance to the Arsenal defence - the knee injury sustained by Steve Bould being testament to that - and linked well with Les Ferdinand in attack.

However, of perhaps equal importance for the rest of the campaign was the appearance as a third central defender of Philippe Albert. The Belgian had been told he would be out of the side for up to two months after suffering a swollen knee on the eve of the Old Trafford game, and even the Newcastle manager, Kevin Keegan, conceded the precise nature of the injury was something of a mystery.

"Philippe's knee swelled back up last week," Keegan said. "We thought there was a floating body in it, and we were trying to get him to see the specialist. But the day after the United game, a couple of days after it had been drained, he felt great and I had no hesitation, especially when he said he felt better than he had against Forest."

Ginola concurred with the manager that Albert's presence in the team could prove the key to title success. "So far he's only played two or three games and that's probably not enough for him to show all his qualities, but for me he's an important player and if he's not 100 per cent that's a blow for us," Ginola said.

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