THE revolution was not televised but when Newcastle United look back on Kevin Keegan’s second spell as manager, history will perhaps show this was when and where it began.
For those who may find such a statement a little melodramatic it was at least the day when, having stuttered and spluttered since Keegan returned, the Magpies not only buried Tottenham Hotspur on their own turf but their relegation fears with it.
Despite a Sunday afternoon kick-off, the television companies decided to go elsewhere in search of their armchair entertainment – but their loss was in stark contrast to Newcastle’s gain.
This was everything that Keegan was supposed to bring with him when owner Mike Ashley and chairman Chris Mort – whose previous Tottenham links are well known – tempted him out of retirement.
It was stylish, adventurous, attacking football played with skill, endeavour and pace and, for the first time in this second era, an opposition team simply could not live with his players.
Having waited nine games for a first victory, Newcastle have now secured back-to-back wins for the first time since December and you sense the momentum is starting to build.
The gap between them and the relegation zone is now a hefty nine points with just six games left to play and, significantly, this win took Newcastle back above their local rivals Sunderland. Icing and cake spring to mind.
Despite the recent improvement in results, Newcastle had won only twice on the road all season and, with that in mind, they desperately needed a good start against Tottenham to calm any nerves.
And they got it with a bright opening spell which seemed to catch sluggish Spurs by surprise as Habib Beye crashed a shot against the underside of the bar after former United defender Jonathan Woodgate had uncharacteristically passed the ball to him.
It was the sort of chance you always feel you need to take away from home if you are going to take anything from the game, but on this occasion it was merely a taste of what was to come as Newcastle went on the rampage in the capital.
Paul Robinson had not moved when Beye’s effort hit the crossbar but the England international did rather better to keep out a low shot from Joey Barton. Tottenham did slowly exert their influence on proceedings, but it proved to be nothing more than a brief interlude in a show which would belong to Newcastle. Darren Bent shot straight at Harper after Robbie Keane had caught Jose Enrique dwelling on the ball and the Tottenham skipper should have perhaps given his side the lead himself minutes later when he poked the ball wide from inside the six-yard box after Steve Harper had kept out Woodgate’s header.
Tottenham, though, were looking more and more threatening and they took the lead when Bent was picked out in the area by a well-placed Steed Malbranque cross and flicked a header just beyond Harper’s dive and inside the far post.
Given Newcastle’s away record, Tottenham could have built up a head of steam, but United are made of sterner stuff since the draw at Birmingham City a fortnight ago and they refused to allow the home side to dominate. Their reward came in first-half stoppage time when Nicky Butt, never a regular goalscorer, found space on the edge of the area and curled a low shot into the bottom corner.
That will have changed the tone of Keegan’s half-time team-talk and the confidence surged through his side as they took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second period.
Tottenham were instantly on the back foot and United’s second goal came after eight minutes of the restart when Geremi curled a free-kick past the Tottenham wall after Viduka had peeled off to create the space.
Barton had already hit the outside of the post with a low shot before then and Spurs were in disarray, Robinson denying Obafemi Martins at point-blank range after the goalkeeper had already needed to tip away Viduka’s shot. But still Newcastle poured forward and they duly got the third at the end of a lovely move.
Martins skipped past Jamie O’Hara on the right flank and kept his feet before playing the ball into Mark Viduka.
The Australian knew Owen was behind him, but the pass to him was superb.
A little flick with the back of the boot and the skipper made no mistake for his third goal in as many games for his club.
Another team may have decided to ease off, but there was still time, after Owen had wasted another great chance, for a fourth – Martins hitting on the break as he skipped past the last defender and completed a famous rout.
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The game at a glance
DO I KNOW YOU?
CHRIS Hughton always maintained it would be a quiet affair and there was certainly no special welcome for the former Spurs player and coach who spent the best part of three decades at White Hart Lane. In fact, nobody seemed to notice he was there as Newcastle delivered their thrashing.
CAN I PLAY YOU EVERY WEEK?
NICKY Butt claimed he could not remember scoring against Tottenham Hotspur last season but perhaps this one will stick in his mind a little longer, a low curling shot from the edge of the area which didn’t give England international goalkeeper Paul Robinson a chance.
WHO’S THAT WITH THE RED FACE?
IT cannot be much fun to see Obafemi Martins (right) sprinting towards you as the last defender but poor Teemu Tainio will have nightmares about the Nigerian as he memorably left the hapless defender on his backside before slotting the ball home for Newcastle’s fourth.
IN A NUTSHELL
AFTER two months of mocking criticism this was the perfect way for Newcastle United to silence the knockers and the doubters. It was a stylish and thrilling victory which had the Keegan trademark stamped all over it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.