Newcastle 2 Everton 0
By Damian Spellman, St James’ Park
WHETHER he likes it or not, Glenn Roeder is rapidly re-establishing his credentials as a future Premiership manager.
The former Newcastle captain has insisted since the day he took over the reins on a temporary basis from the sacked Graeme Souness that he is not a candidate for the job.
In truth he does not have the necessary FA qualifications, but if he got them he could hardly have built a stronger case after guiding the side to four victories and a draw in his five games at the helm.
On Saturday, a side shorn of Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, Kieron Dyer, Titus Bramble, Steven Taylor, Stephen Carr and Craig Moore, and with Emre playing despite suffering from a virus, wore down in-form Everton before Nolberto Solano delivered victory with some style.
David Moyes’ side had won six of their last seven league games but the win lifted Newcastle above them into 11th place and, remarkably, to within five points of sixth-placed Arsenal.
Roeder has instilled an organisation and belief in his players which were lacking in the latter days of Graeme Souness’ reign, although he refuses to look any further than the next hurdle.
"I don’t know if I’ll be involved next week, but the only huge achievement we can make next week is beating Bolton," he said when asked about the longer-term prospects for the team. "If you start looking beyond that, you trip up very quickly. Football is just that sort of game.
"If you start saying ‘I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that in a few weeks’ time or next month’, you don’t get there because you don’t get the results that lead up to those games."
Roeder’s pragmatism, however, has not extended to the way he has prepared his team to fashion a revival which remains in its infancy, but has won over the Geordie public.
A defence which had become a music-hall joke has started, against all the odds, to resemble a unit. The return of the excellent Scott Parker and Emre from injury has helped, but Lee Bowyer and Solano have blossomed to the extent that they have compensated for Shola Ameobi’s difficulties in the lone striking role.
It was Emre who rolled the ball into the path of Charles N’Zogbia for the youngster to explode into the box and cross for Solano to open the scoring on 64 minutes.
The second goal, 12 minutes later, was as aesthetically pleasing as it was crucial, the Peruvian bending the ball with the outside of his right foot past Sander Westerveld’s despairing dive to wrap up victory.