This era of goals provided the back end of the 2002/03 third placed finish season along with a fifth placed finish the following year however things began to take a turn for the worse from that point. After a winless start to the 2004/05 season, Sir Bobby Robson was sacked citing the winless start as further dissatisfaction from chairman, Freddy Shepherd who was displeased with the failure to qualify for the Champions League at the end of the previous season.
New manager, Graeme Souness got off to a good start with failing to lose his first five games in charge but the honeymoon period failed to last and we finished the 2004/05 season in fourteenth place but, away from the Premier League, we managed to impress in other competitions with a semi-final finish in the FA Cup and quarter-final finish in the UEFA Cup.
Date: 15th March 2003 to 1st January 2005 (658 days)
Charlton 0 Newcastle 2 (Nolberto Solano 49) - 15/03/03
Newcastle were already 1-0 up at half time against Charlton at The Valley thanks to Alan Shearer's first half penalty. Early on in the second half, Nobby Solano doubled the lead and put the game to bed to give Newcastle their only top flight win at The Valley since January 1956 and also secured Newcastle's first league double over Charlton since the 1983/84 season. The ball fell kindly to Craig Bellamy from about 25 yards out to run at the defence, when he broke into the box he managed to play the ball to Solano in a lot of space from close range and beat the keeper well.
Most important goal
Newcastle 1 (Hugo Viana 42) Birmingham 0 - 03/05/03
Goal 613: Hugo Viana's left-footed free kick which was the only goal of the game against Birmingham meant that Newcastle had crossed the line to reach Champions League qualification for the second consecutive season with a game to spare. The week before this match, Nobby Solano, also importantly, scored the only goal in the Tyne/Wear derby which meant that it would have taken a miracle to prevent the Magpies from reaching the achievement of Champions League football. It was a perfectly placed free kick from the Portuguese midfielder which left the keeper statuesque.
Newcastle United 2 (Laurent Robert 55) Tottenham 0 - 13/12/03
Goal 638: Laurent Robert's goalscoring ability was breathtakingly sensational. Especially in the 2003/04 season, Robert created a catalogue of wonder strikes as he scored twelve goals in all competitions. His second goal in the 4-0 home win against Tottenham takes my vote for the best goal in this era with his first in the same game following closely behind. Robert received the ball from just inside the Tottenham half and drove forward with the ball. The Frenchman made the most of poor Tottenham defending which was slow to close him down and he let fly from long range into the top corner to double the lead. There were other Robert goals that were in contention for this place like his powerful strike against Everton and his overhead backheel (watch it if you haven't seen it - you'll see what I mean) against Fulham.
Most goals in a match
Newcastle United 5 (Nolberto Solano 24, Laurent Robert 61, Jermaine Jenas 85, Vratislav Gresko own goal 89, Craig Bellamy 90) Blackburn 1 - 22/03/03
With qualification for the Champions League for a second consecutive season on the cards, Newcastle made their intentions known that they were not going to rest until that qualification was confirmed and that was evident with an excellent second half performance at home to Blackburn. High scoring midfielder, Nobby Solano gave Newcastle a 1-0 lead at half time before David Dunn's equaliser for Blackburn came ten minutes into the second half. Dunn's goal seemed to really hurt the Toon but responded well as Laurent Robert struck a beauty of a free kick to put Newcastle back in front. In the game's closing stages, Blackburn had no option but to throw everything forward in an attempt to get something from the game which was a helping hand in Jermaine Jenas to secure the three points five minutes from time. Late additional goals from Craig Bellamy and a Vratislav Gresko own goal gave Newcastle a much needed win which would have been an aid to goal difference.
Blackburn (Nolberto Solano, Laurent Robert x2, Jermaine Jenas, Vratislav Gresko own goal, Craig Bellamy x2, Garry Flitcroft own goal, Alan Shearer, Andy O'Brien, Kieron Dyer) - 11 goals.
Good sizeable victories against Blackburn were a helping hand towards them being on the receiving end of our goalscoring more so than all other teams in the era of goals. The 5-1 win as mentioned above as well as John Carver's first win (yes, John Carver was in charge when we beat someone!) as he took charge against Rovers in the first game after Sir Bobby was sacked and we ran out 3-0 winners at St. James' Park.
Alan Shearer (Fulham x3, Leeds x3, Man United x2, Everton x2, Southampton, Portsmouth, Man City x3, Wolves, Liverpool, Tottenham x2, Middlesbrough x2, Charlton x2, Everton x2, Chelsea, Blackburn, West Brom) - 28 goals.
For the final time in this series of articles, Alan Shearer would be our top scorer in the space of a century of goals as he would go on to retire at the end of the 2005/06 season after breaking Jackie Milburn's record to become Newcastle's highest goalscorer. Shearer's retirement meant that we seemed to score less but the goals seemed to be scattered much more to different goalscorers and paved the way for Shola Ameobi, entering his prime, to step up to the plate and prove his quality as the next key striker for the Toon.
Right foot: 58 (up 7 from Goals 501-600)
Left foot: 23 (down 4)
Header: 18 (down 4)
Inside the box: 83 (up 3)
Outside the box: 17 (down 3)
Open play: 68 (down 1)
Set piece situation: 16 (down 5)
Penalty: 10 (up 4)
Free kick (directly): 6 (up 2)
At St. James' Park: 60 (up 2)
- Gallowgate End: 33 (up 9)
- Leazes End: 27 (down 7)
Away from home: 40 (down 2)
Strikers: 53 (55) (up 13)
Midfielders: 36 (30) (down 13)
Defenders: 7 (12) (up 2)
Own goals: 4 (3) (down 2)