Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mr Big Making a Huge Impact

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mr Big Making a Huge Impact

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Newcastle fans could have been forgiven for not recognising the man in the No 14 shirt this season.

Charles N'Zogbia returned from his first close season as a United player a bulkier figure than when he started it.

The 19-year-old's part in Sunday's 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers ( creating a goal for Michael Owen before scoring himself ( confirmed he is growing on as well as off the field.

Six games into the Premiership season you would have got fairly generous odds on N'Zogbia being the top-scorer in a Newcastle squad featuring the attacking talents of Alan Shearer, Michael Owen and Lee Bowyer.

A two-goal haul may not be startling, but it is two more than he managed in his first season at St James's Park and suggests N'Zogbia's game is developing as quickly as his body.

The former French youth international began 2004-5 on the left of a front three, seemingly keeping a place warm for Fulham's Luis Boa Morte. But an awful lot has changed since then.

Albert Luque, not Boa Morte, was bought to provide pace and penetration on the left and the arrival soon afterwards of Owen signaled a change of emphasis, with 4-4-2 rather than 4-3-3 now apparently manager Graeme Souness' preferred formation.

The versatile teenager has responded in such impressive fashion that he now looks to have a decent chance of retaining his place even as the likes of Emre, Scott Parker, Nolberto Solano and Kieron Dyer return to first-team duty.

N'Zogbia's start to the season has not been flawless. His clumsy tackle on Freddie Ljungberg gifted Arsenal the penalty which ensured the Magpies' Premiership campaign began with a defeat.

But if United's start has been disappointing, it could have been much worse without N'Zogbia, scorer of the club's first goal of the campaign in the 1-1 draw with Fulham. …

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