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Joe Strange - Sweet revenge for Newcastle

Published: 23 Aug 2010 - 11:16:21

Rewind to 5pm on the last day of 2008-09 Premier League season, and Newcastle United had just lost 1-0 away at Aston Villa.

Damien Duff's unfortunate own goal left his team defeated on the day, but also confirmed their relegation to the Championship.

For a club with regular attendances of more than 50,000, it was an unthinkable but somewhat inevitable end to what had been a nightmare season.

Unwanted off-field drama has always plagued St James' Park and that season was no different. Mike Ashley's turbulent ownership of the club led to widespread demonstrations from the fiercely loyal fans, while the resignation of Kevin Keegan, ill-health of Joe Kinnear and Alan Shearer's very own mission impossible meant the Magpies looked doomed for the drop early on.

Fast-forward 15 months and Newcastle are back in the big-time, smashing six past the same side that consigned them to the second tier of English football.

My how times change.

While the club is still in the hands of the unpopular Ashley, things seem to have finally quietened down north of the River Tyne.

A season in the Football League has given them a genuine appreciation for what it means to be a Premier League club, while also providing the money-men with a much-needed wake-up call regarding the pitfalls of long, expensive player contracts.

Chris Houghton is still unproven at the top level, but if last season is anything to go by then he appears to have all the tools needed to get the best out of his players. He's also helped bring bring stability to a club renowned for knee-jerk reactions and bad decisions - something Ashley has been guilty of during his tenure.

His failure to provide a large transfer kitty for his manager was put into focus following last Monday's 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford, but yesterday, on home soil, they excelled in-front of their own supporters.

Driven on by a modest crowd of just over 43,000, Joey Barton and co outplayed their opponents all over the pitch.

They remain far from the most talented side in the league, and may well still end up struggling towards the wrong end of the table if a few more additions aren't made.

But Houghton and his men seem to have a real desire to retain their top-flight status - something that was severely lacking during their last Premier League campaign.

A 6-0 win over an established top six side means nothing more than three points, but it does show that this Newcastle side won't be going back down without a fight.

READ JOE STRANGE EXCLUSIVELY EVERY MONDAY AT FOOTBALL.CO.UK

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:joe strange
A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.

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