Writer: Mehzeb Chowdhury
Date:Sunday March 1 2009
Newcastle United came away from Bolton Wanderers with nothing thanks to some wonderful managing from Spurs-reject Chris Hughton. The Irishman's judgment, or lack there of, cost the Magpies a three vital points at a time when relegation is looking like a real possibility.
Leaving Mark Viduka, and Alan Smith on the bench, and picking Shola 'Headless Chicken' Ameobi in his place, the acting-manager sealed United's fate at kick-off.
In a largely uneventful match, which saw one of the best performances from Argentina winger Jonas Gutierrez, Newcastle United suffered a 1-0 defeat after some woeful defending from Steven Taylor, and Fabricio Coloccini.
Taking full advantage of an unmarked box, Bolton substitute Ricardo Gardner scored the only goal in the match in the 48th minute after Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini decided it would be fun for the both of them to mark Johan Elmander instead of focusing on the more dangerous advancing player in the form of Gardner. Sebastien Bassong, who had a very ordinary game was nowhere to be found in the entire move leading up to the goal, though.
Newcastle came close on several occasions to score, with Obafemi Martins heading wide, and Peter Lovenkrands slashing a shot across goal but with finishing a major concern for the hapless Toon, a goal was unlikely to come. The Toon had s shout for a penalty denied when J Lloyd Samuel handled the ball inside the penalty area, but referee Alan Wiley failed to spot the incident.
Ryan Taylor was highly ineffective in set-piece situations, with his corners hitting the first defender on more than one occasion, and the only free-kick Newcastle could have actually scored from was wasted with a high and wide effort.
In other news, Nicky Butt was injured in the match, and had to be substituted. Geremi replaced the former England midfielder in the 66th minute.
But the most shocking substitution was that of Obafemi Martins for whom Australian Mark Viduka came on. Even after having one of the most uneventful games, Shola Ameobi was left on the pitch by Hughton and his merry band of clueless backroom staff. The headless chicken had no real impact on the game, squandering chance after chance, until the final whistle. He ran a lot -- like a headless chicken, but that's about it.
The question remains, why would anyone in their right mind substitute Obafemi Martins and leave Shola Ameobi on the pitch?
The only positive was the way Jonas Gutierrez played. He showed a tremendous work ethic, with eye-catching attacking intent, and quick defensive support. The 25-year-old Argentine however showed how terrible a finisher he is with the chances he had, and just how non-existent his final ball is.
A performance which leaves the club in dire straits, ladies and gentlemen. A performance which will leave the players without any dates, ladies and gentlemen. A performance so bad that nothing can justify it.
Who to thank for the loss? Don't look towards Gary Megson. No. Send your gift baskets to Chris Hughton. Chicken (live or cooked) would be an ideal gift.
We all know how much Hughton admires a good headless chicken on the pitch.
Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, O'Brien, Samuel, M Davies, McCann, Muamba (Gardner 46), Taylor, K Davies, Elmander (Smolarek 78) Goal: Gardner 47
Newcastle United: Harper, S Taylor, Coloccini, Bassong, Jose Enrique, Gutierrez, R Taylor, Butt (Geremi 66), Lovenkrands, Ameobi, Martins (Viduka 78).
Goals: Gardner (47)
Referee: A Wiley
Date:Sunday March 1 2009
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