Football: Newcastle apply the frighteners

Newcastle United. .4

Chelsea. . . . . . 2

SOMEWHERE in St James' Park a man was seriously worried. What could he say? How do you deliver bad news in the gentlest and most tactful manner? You get the drift of the thoughts tormenting the Royal Antwerp scout.

True, he could couch his report on Wednesday's Uefa Cup opponents in terms of Newcastle weaknesses. Their defence, for example, creaked at times on Saturday and any suggestion that Andy Cole is infallible can safely be dispatched to the dustbin after he made a mess of a one-on-one situation with the Chelsea goalkeeper. The rest, however, should be read in Belgium only with the accompaniment of a stiff whisky and a bottle of aspirin.

How do you relate the brush with perfection that was Newcastle's and Cole's first goal, for example? There is a theory doing the rounds in football that if you push the prolific striker to the left his finishing reaches mortal proportions, although it might not be wise to mention it to Dimitri Kharin.

The Russian watched him pursue a pass from Barry Venison in the eighth minute and positioned himself accordingly for the logical outcome, a cross or a shot to the far post. What he received was a missile from Cole's supposed weaker foot that crashed just past his shoulder and into the top corner on the near side. A marksman with a rifle could not have pinpointed the target any better.

Glenn Hoddle, the Chelsea player-manager, wondered how his goalkeeper had been beaten at his near post but that was a curmudgeonly response to a thunderous strike. Surely Cole's own manager, Kevin Keegan, was nearer the point when he said: 'There have been around 250 goals scored by us since I arrived here and I can't remember a better one. It was a classic.'

Add to that another supreme piece of chance-taking, when he struck from Robert Lee's pass after 66 minutes, and the omission of Cole from the last England squad becomes more of a scandal by the match. Like the vast proportion of the football-watching public the Antwerp scout must have wondered what more the man must do to persuade Terry Venables. Isn't 59 goals in 62 games enough?

The questions perplexing Hoddle were how his team, which hitherto had a 100 per cent record, could play so well and yet be thoroughly thrashed and why Dennis Wise was sent off, allegedly for 'foul and abusive language'. The Sirens would have needed amplifiers to tempt sailors if they had been in competition with the Toon Army and Hoddle produced that as Exhibit A for the defence. 'Dennis is adamant he didn't swear,' he said, 'and anyway, no official was within 30 yards of him.'

As to the former mystery, Hoddle will not be the only manager perplexed by the speed and movement of Newcastle. After 19 goals and maximum points from five matches they are the closest thing to an unstoppable force in English football at the moment, and the prospect of the return of Peter Beardsley and Lee Clark is frightening to anyone not sworn to the black and white.

The last time they won their first five matches, in 1908, Newcastle were champions and it is going to take a very gifted team to stop them. That was probably in the Antwerp scout's report, too.

Goals: Cole (7) 1-0; Peacock (15) 1-1; Fox (21) 2-1; Furlong (27) 2-2; Lee (53) 3-2; Cole (66) 4-2.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Hooper; Hottiger, D Peacock, Albert, Beresford; Watson, Venison, Lee, Sellars; Fox, Cole. Substitutes not used: Howey, Mathie, Burridge (gk).

Chelsea (4-4-2): Kharin; Clarke, Kjeldbjerg, Johnsen, Sinclair; Rocastle (Hoddle, 76), G Peacock, Spackman (Newton, 74), Wise; Furlong, Spencer. Substitute not used: Colgan (gk).

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Specialist - Document Management

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of document ...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

£17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent