Newcastle on fire as Boro slide further

Newcastle United 2 Middlesbrough 0: One North-east rival is a model of how to run a club... the other is not. Yet the Geordies are making a mockery of their laughing-stock status, writes Jason Mellor

Who would have thought it? Mike Ashley being able to offer Steve Gibson advice on the merits of managerial continuity. It's not just the moral high ground the Newcastle chairman enjoys over his Middlesbrough counterpart; a cursory glance at the Championship table reveals the clubs' contrasting fortunes, given the stunning role reversal in the owners' respective patience levels.

It will remain perhaps the season's most damning statistic, one which Gibson will need little reminding of. The Teesside club was fourth, a point off the summit, when he chose to dispense with Gareth Southgate following the victory over Derby County, in what remains their most recent home win at the end of October.

This morning, they languish in 14th, almost as close to the relegation zone as the automatic promotion places and a daunting 20 points behind Newcastle. The leaders have stretched their advantage to double figures thanks to an unbeaten run boasting eight victories in their last nine games under the guidance of Chris Hughton.

Given the previous track record of both owners – Gibson preaching and practising stability, Ashley's only consistency his inconsistency – the remarkable about-turn and its subsequent effect on these North-East rivals' attempts to secure an immediate return to the Premier League has been quite breathtaking.

Doubts remain regarding Hughton's suitability to manage in the Premier League when – not if – Newcastle return in May. That is a problem Gibson would love to have to deal with right now. One victory and five points in the eight games since Gordon Strachan took charge is the kind of form to get Boro out of the Championship, but in the opposite direction to Newcastle.

"As a manager you get some horrible periods in your life," he conceded. "This is one of them. I need to deal with it and I know what the problems are and I will address those."

In front of a record second-tier crowd of nearly 50,000, the result was never in doubt once referee Kevin Friend missed Shola Ameobi's push on Emanuel Pogatetz, as the forward outjumped hapless goalkeeper Brad Jones, to tee-up the fifth goal of Marlon Harewood's loan spell from Aston Villa from close range.

There was further misfortune for the visitors before the break when Steven Taylor's handball went un-noticed as the defender inadvertently pushed Isaiah Osbourne's follow-up on to a post after Steve Harper had beaten out Gary O'Neil's free-kick.

Ameobi sealed victory just before the hour, easily rising above a leaden-footed David Wheater to head the second from Danny Guthrie's inviting cross, allowing Hughton to take off both goalscorers.

"I can understand where Middlesbrough are coming from on the two major refereeing decisions," Hughton admitted. "But I thought Pogatetz was half-tumbling as the ball came over, and as for Steven, there was no intent to handle."

Victory was tinged with sadness following news of the death at 88 of Jack Hixon, the renowned North-East-based scout who unearthed Alan Shearer. "It's a very sad day," the former Newcastle captain said. "Jack was a lovely man. We were very close and he'll be sadly missed."

Newcastle (4-4-2): Harper; Simpson, S Taylor, Coloccini, Enrique; Guthrie, Nolan, Smith (Butt, 49), Gutierrez; Ameobi (Pancrate, 84), Harewood (Ranger, 66). Substitutes not used: Lovenkrands (gk), R Taylor, Krul, Kadar.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Jones; McMahon, Wheater, Pogatetz, Hoyte; O'Neil, R Williams, Osbourne, Arca (Yeates, 66); Kitson (Bent, h-t), Lita (Franks, 84). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Riggott, Coyne, L Williams.

Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).

Booked: Newcastle Simpson; Middlesborough R Williams, Pogatetz.

Man of the match: Guthrie.

Attendance: 49,644.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue