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Oliver's brown nosing

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Bolton Wanderers 1, Newcastle United 3

Aug 13 2007

by Alan Oliver, Evening Chronicle



OBAFEMI MARTINS started the day as Newcastle United’s little man – and ended it very much as the big fella.


For despite some tremendous performances at the Reebok from the likes of Geremi, Alan Smith, Nicky Butt and Charles N’Zogbia, there can be no doubt that it was the Nigerian striker’s two first-half goals which gave Sam Allardyce a remarkable return to Bolton.


Big Sam is on record as saying that as far as his strikeforce is concerned, he loves the big man-little man combination.


Martins’ rival for the little man role could not be a bigger goalscorer – Michael Owen.


And the £10m man from Inter Milan has been linked with a move away from St James’ all summer, with United ready to listen to offers.


Martins could have gone one of two ways.


He could have sulked, like N’Zogbia did for much of last season, or he could roll up his sleeves and play out of his skin.


And that’s exactly what he did at the Reebok, with his two goals meaning that United woke up this morning to find themselves top the league.


There isn’t another striker in the Premier League who could have scored that first goal – an amazing overhead kick – with quite the same superb acrobatic ability.


One statistic to chew over is the fact United won four away games in the league last season – and Martins scored in all of them.


But it wasn’t a one-man show at the Reebok by any means.


The big question before the game was what formation Allardyce would play.


He opted for the 4-3-3 which served him so well in his days at Bolton.


And while Martins grabbed the headlines, let’s not underestimate the role played by United’s no-nonsense midfield trio of Smith, Geremi and Butt.


On the evidence of what we saw at Bolton, you would fancy this lot against any other side in the Premiership.


And what about N’Zogbia? He may have wasted last season but, just as he did two seasons ago against Fulham, he had the honour of scoring United’s first league goal of the season – which also happened to be their 800th in the Premiership.


Not only that, but N’Zogbia filled in at left-back because Allardyce didn’t risk new £4.2m buy Jose Enrique.


He will get his reward by being considered for a midfield role once Enrique is fit, but in the meantime, he must have been delighted when his left-foot free-kick flew past Jussi Jaaskelainen in the Bolton goal after 11 minutes.


And the Bolton keeper had to pick the ball out of the net twice more in the next 17 minutes, as it became the Martins show – first with that overhead kick and then after his 25-yard shot was deflected in.


How the travelling United fans loved it, chanting “Big Sam’s black-and-white army”.


Yes, Bolton were poor, but that’s because United made them poor.


And the way that United refused to give Bolton a way back into the game – even after Anelka’s early second-half strike, was impressive.


At the end of the day, there were so many plus-points for United that they needed a calculator to add them up.


Seems that Martins, Allardyce and N'Zogbia are now firmly back on Anal's Christmas card list.

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Bolton Wanderers 1, Newcastle United 3

Aug 13 2007

by Alan Oliver, Evening Chronicle



Martins’ rival for the little man role could not be a bigger goalscorer – Michael Owen.


Oliver really needs to take a look at Owen's goalscoring history.


It isn't that great tbh

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