Is this what is known as making an instant impression? Kevin Keegan is not just back as manager of Newcastle United, the 1974 winner is back in the FA Cup. Newcastle, despite being reduced to 10 men, when Emre Belozoglu was dismissed in the 29th minute, waltzed into the fourth round last night with their biggest win of the season. Keegan will lead Newcastle to Arsenal on Saturday week.
Michael Owen scored his first goal since 7 October and, with it, Newcastle's first of 2008. That was followed by three more, including Damien Duff's first as a Newcastle player at St James' Park, an incredible stat on an incredible day. Stoke City could not cope with Newcastle's movement, even with 10 men.
Claudio Cacapa and James Milner also scored and a clean sheet was spoilt only by Liam Lawrence's late strike. The 6-0 humiliation at Manchester United may not be a distant memory just yet but, as a start, this will do. "I'm delighted with the players," said the caretaker manager, Nigel Pearson. "The biggest factor for us was to keep our focus and to make sure we got through. We had to get our self-respect back."
Pearson did not think there was a significant Keegan factor, but his Stoke counterpart, Tony Pulis, did. "No excuses tonight, I thought we were beaten by a better team," Pulis said. "I don't think it helped that Kevin was announced before the game, it upped the crowd by about 15,000. I was a little bit surprised because I thought they would go for Alan Shearer. It's a special club. Irrespective of that, we were poor tonight, we can't carry players."
Newcastle managed to. Emre's dismissal for a lunge at Stoke's captain John Eustace was retribution for an earlier lusty challenge by Eustace. It left Emre nursing a golf ball-sized injury and his attempt at revenge was nothing like as physical. But the referee, Uriah Rennie, did not like the intent and Emre was off.
The original tie 10 days earlier had turned out to be Sam Allardyce's last game in charge. Many felt it was far from a disaster despite the reliance on second-half goal-line clearances.
Last night Newcastle were ahead after eight minutes. Duff swung in a deep cross from the left, Milner won the header with a brave jump. The ball dropped in the six-yard area and Owen pounced from three yards out. It was Newcastle's first goal here since before Christmas.
The game then saw its first robust challenge when Rory Delap upended Charles N'Zogbia and Stoke's physicality was then seen in Eustace's sliding lunge at Emre.
St James' was enraged by Emre's subsequent dismissal and on another night it might have been the signal for another collapse. But instead Newcastle attacked again and, when Milner won a corner on the right, N'Zogbia swept it in. Cacapa has not impressed too many on Tyneside with his defending but his run and flicked header here were fine. Steve Simonsen in the Stoke goal was given no protection.
Newcastle were coping well with the loss of Emre, but had Stoke taken either of their chances early in the second half, it might have been different. Jon Parkin, so effective when he came on as a substitute in the first game, was close with a superb improvised volley in the 54th minute.
Running onto Danny Pugh's header, Parkin watched the ball drop over his right shoulder and, with Given advancing to collect the ball, Parkin caught it sweetly and subtly and dinked it over the keeper. The ball ran a yard wide.
Delap also went close, with a header into the side netting, but the contest was settled with just over 20 minutes to go when Milner jinked up the right and from 20 yards drilled a low, firm shot wide of Simonsen.
A consolation strike from Lawrence made no difference: Newcastle were through. And Kevin Keegan is their manager again.
Newcastle United (4-4-2) Given; Carr, Taylor, Cacapa (Rozehnal, 71), Enrique; Milner, N'Nogbia (LuaLua, 79), Emre, Duff; Viduka (Carroll, 72), Owen. Substitutes not used: Harper, Edgar.
Stoke City (4-4-2) Simonsen; Zakuani, Shawcross, Cort, Pugh; Lawrence, Eustace (Dickinson, 78), Delap (Pulis, 78), Cresswell; Parkin (Diao, 62), Fuller Substitutes not used: Hoult, Pericard.
Referee: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).
FA Cup: Revised draw
Fourth round: 25 Jan: Southend United v Barnsley. 26 Jan: Mansfield Town v Middlesbrough; Arsenal v Newcastle United; Coventry City v Millwall; Oldham Athletic v Huddersfield Town; Swindon Town or Barnet v Fulham or Bristol Rovers; Liverpool v Havant & Waterlooville; Southampton v Bury; Portsmouth v Plymouth Argyle; Derby County or Sheffield Wednesday v Preston North End; Watford v Wolverhampton Wanderers; Peterborough United v West Bromwich Albion; Hereford United v Cardiff City; Wigan Athletic v Chelsea. 27 Jan: Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur; Sheffield United v Manchester City.