Ambrose tips old pals for promotion

DARREN Ambrose praised the “Premier League football” underpinning Newcastle United’s unbeaten start to life outside the top-flight, but his Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock lamented a failure to test out their Championship mettle.

DARREN Ambrose praised the “Premier League football” underpinning Newcastle United’s unbeaten start to life outside the top-flight, but his Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock lamented a failure to test out their Championship mettle.

Former Newcastle midfielder Ambrose was impressed by his old team in Saturday’s 2-0 win, and tipped them to win promotion at the first attempt.

“They played like a Premier League side,” he said. “They didn’t rush, they weren’t physical. They relaxed on the ball and I think that showed. I think they will go up automatically. We have only played a few games but they have been the best team we have played so far. A team like Newcastle should never have been relegated in the first place. They are a massive club.” Ambrose, who made 18 Premier League starts for the Magpies between 2003 and 2005, is sorry to see how far his old team has regressed.

“I had two-and-a-half years there and I enjoyed my time,” said the 25-year-old. “I played under the great Sir Bobby (Robson) and really enjoyed myself so I am pleased to see them doing well. They are a massive club. They should never have been in a position like this but they are dealing with it at the moment.”

Warnock was more cautious in his assessment, but criticised Palace for making life too easy for Newcastle. “I think it will be an open division really, there are seven or eight teams up there,” he reflected. “But with that wage bill, they are going to have some good players, aren’t they?” United scored twice in the opening 21 minutes at Selhurst Park, leaving Warnock livid with his central defenders.

“They won’t always get it easy like the first 20 minutes,” he warned. “The longer the game went on, if we could have kept it tight we could have put them under pressure, that’s what disappoints me.

“They might not have had to try to score another goal, they’ve got two, so they could concentrate on the other end and we needed to break them down. I thought we had a penalty in the 50th minute, which would have settled us down and given us the impetus. Even the free header from (Sean) Scannell, I would have loved to have seen five or six minutes (at 2-1) because I think you’d have seen a different Newcastle.”

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