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(From Newcastle Evening Chronicle)
Byline: LEE RYDER
THE TOON Army turned up in great numbers and ready to nudge the Magpies closer to a Champions League place.
Unfortunately Newcastle United did not turn up until it was too late.
By the time Alan Pardew's troops eventually did get started they were 4-0 down to a Wigan Athletic team fighting for their Premier League lives.
Blitzed by a Latics side that started the game in unforgiving fashion at the DW Stadium, Newcastle looked a pale shadow of the team that had started the day on the brink of levelling a seven game winning streak set by Kevin Keegan's Entertainers in the 1996-97 season.
Hopes of that record had disintegrated into cool Lancashire air with just 36 minutes on the clock as Shaun Maloney added to Victor Moses' double to put the game almost out of United's reach.
By half-time the game was over at as a contest after Franco Di Santo's howitzer left Tim Krul stunned and Pardew left to devise a damage limitation exercise for the second period.
It's not much of a consolation but Wigan's awkward and effective 3-4-3 formation has already bamboozled Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger during the Latics' recent revival.
Sadly Newcastle couldn't live with it either. Roberto Martinez deserves credit for conjuring up such tactical mastery at such a pivotal time of the season, and United didn't have an answer to it.
The formation allows Wigan to overload in an attacking sense but also defend in numbers.
And it simply blew United away from the offset.
It's easy to forget that …