WHAT IS IT with the prospect of facing us that seems to compel teams to flog one of their best players to Real Madrid? First it was Liverpool parting ways with Michael Owen just before our Premiership opener last week, now Newcastle reap the Euros by sanctioning the transfer of Jonathan Woodgate to the Bernabeu.
It's West Brom on Wednesday, so we await Real's next move with interest!
Writing these first few pars in a sparcely populated St James Park with the players doing their early warm-ups ahead of Newcastle's first home game, you are reminded once again of what a fine theatre of football this is. Okay, with the huge stands encompassing just half of the ground, it does look a bit lopsided - but it is still a good venue to watch a game. Have noticed before that, since the development, it does lack a bit of atmosphere ahead of and when the game gets going.
Still digesting the news that Michael Carrick is to join our ranks - have had a hunch for some time that he would end up at Spurs and the Geordie boy is certainly a good player.
I remember doing a Q & A item with Jacques Santini when his appointment was first announced before Euro 2004. He said in one of his replies from his early knowledge of the team that midfield was a priority and he and Frank Arnesen have definitely been active in this respect. Sean Davies, Pedro Mendes, Thimothee Atouba and now Carrick - we shouldn't be found wanting in this department again if a few injuries kick in.
Employed a different mode of transport to get to the North East - elected for a flight that also transported regular Spurs-watcher Sven Goran Eriksson. Needless to say, Mr Eriksson was travelling Business Class and no doubt got a lift at the other end - I sampled the Metro. Not bad though, rocks up right outside the ground. As it turned out, Sven was also on the delayed single-class return flight - as was Gerard Houllier.
The lads have did a little huddle following the warm-up. There does seem to be a togetherness among this group that can be worth a lot over the course of a season, and it was also worth a bit on this particular occasion.
There was one change to the team from last week - an inspired one as it turned out - Thimothee Atouba making his full debut in place of Johnnie Jackson. The Cameroon international appears to be a player that will inject a bit of muscle down the left hand side. On the Newcastle right it was strange to see Stephen Carr decked out in black and white.
The home side were quickly into their stride and the pace of Craig Bellamy caused a few early problems - one of them a burst in to the area and shot that Paul Robinson did well to palm wide. The menace of Jermain Defoe then came into play when he spun in the area, but could not get enough purchase on his shot to trouble Shay Given.
Jermaine Jenas - very lively in the first half showed Naybet a clean pair of heels on 11 minutes, beat the onrushing Robinson, but thankfully slipped his shot wide of the front post. Spurs got more of a foothold in the game towards the midway point in the half and chances were at a premium until Robinson pulled off a world class save to tip over former teammate James Milner's volley after 26 minutes.
Spurs appeared to inject a bit of calm to proceedings in the opening minutes of the second period, having perhaps drawn the sting from the hosts in the hectic first half.
But then came a sting of our own - made in Cameroon!
Atouba introduced himself to English football in some style on 51 minutes - running onto a Redknapp pass down the left flank, cutting in before curling a measured drive beyond the outstretched arm of Given and into the net.
The home crowd then roused themselves after a quiet period and were screaming for any decision that may or my not have been going. Ledley was looking awesome at the back, every inch the quality international he now is - the Naybet-King partnership looks like it might have some promising mileage in it to come.
Defoe had a good chance to double the advantage on 63 minutes, but Given dived low to his left to make a fine save to the striker's powerful low drive. Robinson then made an excellent diving stop from Robert as Newcastle sought a route back to parity.
Redknapp got involved in a little spat with Robert that saw both players booked on 68 minutes before Redknapp was replaced by Michael Brown a minute or so later.
With 72 minutes on the clock Ledley King then had a goalbound header scooped off the line by Stephen Carr from a Brown corner. Defoe then teed up Brown in front of goal but the midfielder got his timing wrong and the ball passed him by.
Newcastle made a treble change with 15 minutes remaining, bringing on Ameobi, Kluivert and Dyer - Jacques Santini responded by bringing on Anthony Gardner in place of Fredi Kanoute.
There was a further chance for Defoe, but it was Newcastle who pressed in the final moments - thankfully to no avail.
A crowd of 52,185 was in attendance, but it was the cluster of Spurs fans on the top tier doing the celebrating.
Now, be honest, when the fixtures computer churned out Liverpool and Newcastle for our opening two encounters of the season, would you have taken the four points there and then?
By Richard Hubbard
Next in our feature for the new campaign, taking a considered and occasionally offbeat look at our games - continuing with Newcastle away...