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Relegation Could Have Done Us Good!
Published : 06 Apr 2010 16:38:18Rss feed
Last year we left Villa Park in tears ... having watched the most GUTLESS display from a Newcastle side in living memory. We were relegated ... and we heartlesss tossers like Michael Owen and Mark Viduka in the side ... we deserved it. But we are back in the Premiership, looking a lot more healthy than when we crashed out. Steve Harper: "It's fantastic. We will have a good summer now. The memories of last May are still very vivid from Villa Park. "But to bounce back at the first opportunity is fantastic, and if we can go on and win the league, it will have been a cracking season." "He (Chris Hughton) deserves all the plaudits for what he has achieved. "To have united this club - not just the dressing room, but this club - and bounce back at the first opportunity, if that doesn't entitle you to a crack at management in the Premier League, then I don't know what does. "He and [coaches] Colin Calderwood and Paul Barron deserve a lot of plaudits, and I am sure they will get them." 2008/9 ASTON VILLA 1 NEWCASTLE 0 ASTON VILLA: Friedel, Gardner (Heskey 75), Davies, Cuellar, Shorey, Milner, Petrov (Reo-Coker 84), Barry, Ashley Young, Carew (Sidwell 89), Agbonlahor. Subs Not Used: Guzan, Delfouneso, Knight, Albrighton. NEWCASTLE: Harper, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Edgar, Duff, Guthrie, Nolan (Owen 66), Butt, Lovenkrands (Jose Enrique 57), Viduka (Ameobi 75), Martins. Subs Not Used: Krul, Smith, Gutierrez, Ryan Taylor. Newcastle's 16-year spell in the Barclays Premier League came to an end as Damien Duff's own goal doomed them to a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa. Duff deflected a 38th-minute shot from stand-in skipper Gareth Barry past his own goalkeeper Steve Harper to seal their fate. It meant Magpies legend Alan Shearer had failed to work the miracle he was brought in to try and achieve with eight games remaining. Newcastle have paid the price for a season of instability ever since Kevin Keegan decided to quit as manager in early September and Mike Ashley decided to put the club up for sale. Joe Kinnear was brought in to try and rescue the situation until his heart problems terminated his involvement and led to Shearer getting the call. But it was always going to be an uphill task to reverse a season of under-achievement and turmoil in such a short space of time. Now Shearer has to decide whether he wants to take on the task of trying to help the Magpies regain their top flight status and is due to have talks with Ashley early next week. He clearly has a massive rebuilding job ahead of them with the future of 15 players, reportedly on £50,000 or more a week, to be sorted out ahead of the less glamorous life of trips to Peterborough and Scunthorpe in the Coca-Cola Championship. For Villa they can look back on another season of progression despite a late fade-out after automatically qualifying for Europe for the first time in 11 years. But Martin O'Neill will need to add further quality and quantity to his squad in the summer if he is to seriously challenge for a Champions League place. Before the kick-off Villa fans gave an emotional send-off to skipper and central defender Martin Laursen, who has been forced to retire because of a knee problem. Gabriel Agbonlahor came close to giving Villa the lead after only two minutes when he powered a header over the bar from close range following a left-wing centre by Barry. Villa dominated the early stages and knocked the ball around in confident style - but Brad Friedel was called upon to make the first meaningful save when he deflected a low drive from Duff around the post after he appeared to be initially unsighted. Villa defender Carlos Cuellar then came to his side's rescue when he blocked a shot on the turn from Peter Lovenkrands on the line. Obafemi Martins volleyed powerfully over the bar from 12 yards out after good play by Mark Viduka, before Harper reacted quickly to turn over a powerful drive from Craig Gardner. Newcastle defender Steven Taylor became the first player to be yellow carded after 34 minutes for bringing down Agbonlahor 30 yards out. Milner's free-kick went straight through the defensive wall but Harper was alert to the situation and able to save at the foot of a post. The decisive goal came after Nicky Butt conceded a corner, appearing to indicate Harper had not given him a call. The danger appeared to have been averted when Taylor headed out Ashley Young's centre - but Stiliyan Petrov headed the ball back to Barry, whose fierce shot struck Duff and completely wrong-footed Harper before finding the corner of the net. Agbonlahor nearly doubled Villa's lead when his flick from John Carew's centre flew just wide of the far post - but Martins almost levelled in injury-time when he headed wide from Butt's free-kick. Villa began the second half on the attack and Harper was forced to fingertip away an inswinging and powerfully driven corner from Young at full stretch. Young took advantage of the Newcastle defence backing off to line up a shot from 20 yards out but he curled his effort past the post. Harper was relieved when Milner dragged his low shot wide when unmarked 20 yards out as the Newcastle defence were prised open with ease. Newcastle fans chanted "attack, attack, attack" but there was little evidence of their side threatening the Villa goal. Shearer brought on leading scorer Michael Owen - who has been struggling with a groin injury - in place of Kevin Nolan after 66 minutes. But Carew should have sealed Newcastle's fate when he miskicked with the goal at his mercy from an Agbonlahor centre. David Edgar was sent off in injury-time for bringing down Ashley Young - his second bookable offence - and soon after the Magpies' fate was sealed.