Newcastle keen to make Aston Villa pay for taunts

How apt that Aston Villa should be the visitors as Newcastle United and their supporters welcome the return of Premier League football to St James' Park. After 15 months biting their lip, they can finally reply in person to those mocking banners unfurled at Villa Park.

"Sob on the Tyne". Yes, there were tears, but they have long since been shed and forgotten. A season as the Championship's flat-track bullies proved rather therapeutic. "Who's your next messiah, Ant or Dec?" Neither, actually, although their CVs have been kept on record, for future reference.

Damien Duff's own goal sealed Newcastle's demise in the sun-drenched West Midlands in May last year to provide a slapstick denouement to a miserable campaign where they had almost as many managers as victories, and regularly shot themselves in the foot.

Only three starters from that game are likely to figure from the outset for the hosts, whose 3-0 opening-game defeat at Manchester United proved a stark reminder that, in their absence, the Premier League has moved on apace.

It is difficult to draw too many conclusions from Old Trafford as to whether Newcastle have improved enough to achieve their stated aim of survival. After the first round of games, they were kept out of the bottom three by West Ham on alphabetical order. You were left with the distinct feeling that given a choice, Chris Hughton would have happily stopped the season then. "We'd take 17th," captain Kevin Nolan conceded. He added: "We must make sure we stay in the division and build from there."

Having been allowed to spend a little over £1m in the summer transfer market on three players, two of whom – Sol Campbell and Dan Gosling – are not fit to play today, there are serious fears among supporters that in his laudable attempts to keep the club's burgeoning debts in check, Mike Ashley has gone too far in the opposite direction.

There are concerns that the owner has effectively fitted a financial straight-jacket from which the manager will do well to extricate the club. With a little over a week of the current window remaining, it's unlikely that Ashley will allow a significant change of tack.

"We have a good squad and a good foundation to the team, and what the manager does in the transfer market isn't really any of our business," said Peter Lovenkrands, one of those survivors from Villa Park.

The Dane, the last Newcastle player to score in the Premier League at St James' Park in the 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough in May 2009, faces a fitness test on a groin problem before he can make his top-flight return. He added: "I'm happy with what we've got, it's up to the manager to fill any spaces. Nobody expected us to go to United and win so it's not put a downer on the spirit which was key last season."

Without significant addition to the squad, however, there remain question marks whether the much-vaunted team spirit will be enough to bridge the huge chasm which exists between the top two divisions.

Ignoring local boasts regarding the inclemency of the weather, August on Tyneside can be balmy, so if revenge comes this afternoon, it's unlikely to be a dish served cold. Not that retribution is uppermost in Hughton's mind. "There have certainly been no thoughts about that day from us," he said.

"I hadn't even thought about it until somebody asked. It's totally different now and that game won't be in the players' minds. The only thing we're focusing on is a good display."

Having had three spells as caretaker manager, Hughton is better placed than most to offer advice to Kevin Macdonald, whose two games unbeaten since the departure of Martin O'Neill have put him in the frame to be the long-term replacement. Hughton said: "I know exactly what Kevin's going through and he'll need no reminding how tough an environment it is. He's unbeaten in his first two games and they'll come at us in confident mood."

Macdonald will signal his intention or otherwise to run for the job next week. Newcastle have been waiting somewhat longer for their right of reply.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
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.

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home