2012 certainly started with a bang for Newcastle United last night, when the magnificent Magpies turned over reigning champions Manchester United 3-0 at St James’ Park. It was a performance comparable to the 5-0 mauling of Fergie’s man way back in 1996, when Philippe Albert topped off the most famous win in Geordie folklore with the most sublime of chips. The former Toon centre-half was in attendance at SJP last night, taking a break from running his grocery store back in native Belgium, to witness a win that will stand alongside the 5-1 humiliation of that lot up the road just over a year ago. Before the game, attention was drawn to the blustery winds battering Tyneside throughout the day, but it was the eleven heroes in black and white that did the battering, with the visitors hoping for an early whistle from usually favoured referee Howard Webb. Newcastle came storming out of the blocks, harassing their opponents whenever they got a feel for the ball and stopping them advancing into the kind of positions they are so used to when opponents sit back and allow them to play. Alan Pardew had instructed his side to keep a high line and pressure Man United all over the park, a risky strategy, and all 52,000 inside SJP soon realised that it was going to work. For all the plaudits which Demba Ba received for his stunning opening goal and man-of-the-match performance, the game was won and lost in midfield. Won by Newcastle, lost by Manchester United. Yohan Cabaye, arguably the bargain of the season, and Cheick Tiote, probably the bargain of last season, were first to everything in the centre, not letting Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs affect the game in any way. Steven Taylor, a guest in the Sky Sports studio, described Tiote as “an animal” in training and the Ivorian clearly scared his opponents into submission, winning everything he went for and linking play with trademark simple passes. When the midfield pair were occasionally bypassed, Fabricio Coloccini was excellent in defence, keeping Wayne Rooney under wraps at all times and Dimitar Berbatov anonymous. The Argentina international has been one of Newcastle’s players of the season and turned in another excellent performance, nobly assisted by birthday boy Danny Simpson, who put on another eye-catching display. Simpson’s defining moment came when he reacted quickly to clear Rooney’s goal-bound effort off the line, just like the goal-line clearance he did at Old Trafford earlier in the season. Tim Krul barely had a save to make and instead played a bigger part of the match as a provider to the physical front pairing of Shola Ameobi and Ba. The combination paid off for the Magpies when Shola flicked on Krul’s long kick and watched as Ba hit a sweet, first-time volley into the far corner, way out of the reach of Anders Lindegaard, the first time the ‘keeper has been beaten in his Man Untied career. The Danish keeper was also helpless for Newcastle’s second, when Yohan Cabaye struck a glorious free-kick past the stopper after Ba had been fouled by Phil Jones. The flailing attempt by the Man United goalie was valiant, but in the end he had as much chance of reaching the strike as fellow Dane Peter Schmeichel did when he watched Philippe Albert’s chip sail over his head 15 years ago. Man United’s trademark attempt at a comeback never came, despite the bumper crowd expecting Fergie’s side to pin Newcastle inside their own half and ultimately set us up for a grandstand finish. Instead, the hunger and willingness to die for their team shown by the Magpies never diminished, and the Geordies easily held on to their two-goal advantage. Phil Jones, no doubt bruised and battered from his gruelling ordeal with Ameobi, even gifted Newcastle a hilarious third. Another Krul kick caused problems and a lack of communication between Jones and Lindegaard ended up with the England international stooping to deflect the kick off his thigh and into the unguarded net. The crowd erupted. Nearly ten years had passed since the faithful Toon Army had seen their boys turn over a Manchester United side, and 2012 started with the rarest of victories on home soil for Newcastle. The win keeps Alan Pardew’s team in 7th in the Premier League table, but the win was so much more than three points. It proves that the bubble, inflated by the incredible start to the season, has far from burst. It proves that Newcastle have came so far from the side that somehow collapsed to relegation just two years ago. It proves that no team that comes to St James’ Park (and that is what it will always be known as to us) will ever have an easy ride when they come to Tyneside. It was also the first game Newcastle had played with the new “Virgin Money” sponsor emblazoned across their shirts. Maybe the Virgin could be removed, seeing as though last night, the Geordies f***ed Manchester United.