The influence of this man was felt well and truly today.
It was a story of two parts... not even two halves, really even. For 60 minutes of the match, Newcastle looked disinterested, disjointed and just flat awful. As a matter of fact, the match in general was wretched with neither team looking interested in doing anything other than playing hoofball. Fairly or unfairly, the match for the first 60 minutes could be compared to the performance of Leon Best. It started poor, got worse, and then got even worse to the point of completely falling apart. At one point, it looked like Bolton might be interested in playing football, and the crowd got excited, but it was only a tease, and the play got awful enough that the sound in the Reebok came down to the point that it sounded like a behind-closed-doors match with no crowd.
Then Hatem Ben Arfa happeed. After Leon Best had managed to get himself offside (and uselessly so) on at least 3 consecutive attacks, Alan Pardew finally hauled him off in favor of HBA (Oh, and it just so happened Best's meltdown happened on 60 minutes so that AP could make the change in good conscience). It wasn't much after his introduction that everything changed.For the first time in the match, the Magpies decided to get away from hoofball and actually started moving the ball around. This served to wake up several of the players that had seemingly been sleep walking through the match to this point, including one Ryan Taylor. On the move that led to the Newcastle opener, he found himself in the corner with a cross to make, and instead of delivering it to Demba Ba, whom the Bolton defense had collapsed on, he delivered a perfect cut-back cross to Hatem Ben Arfa who opened his account for the 11-12 season with style.
The goal kind of reminded Newcastle that they do, in fact, like playing football, and it was only two minutes later when Demba Ba scored yet another goal, just narrowly beating Jaaskalainen to a very useful cross from Gaby Obertan. Newcastle continued to look interested for the last 20 minutes of the match, but there were no more goals in it, and it ended as we needed it to, with all 3 points coming back to Tyneside. This is the result that we needed, and in the end, 3 points are 3 ponits... but that doesn't completely erase the 60 minutes of awfulness that preceded the good stuff.
Who is your Man of the Match for the Bolton match?
Hatem Ben Arfa (27 votes)
Ryan Taylor (1 vote)
Tim Krul (1 vote)
Fabricio Coloccini (2 votes)
Demba Ba (6 votes)
37 total votes