THEY will probably never cost £35m but Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best last night helped to indicate that, for Newcastle United, there is life after Andy Carroll.
Alan Pardew's team won for the first time since the England striker left for Liverpool, climbing to ninth place in the league and, more significantly, to the 35-point mark that means retaining their status now appears a formality.
Lovenkrands, a free transfer from Schalke, and Best, a £1m signing from Coventry City 12 months ago, scored the goals -- both teed up by the impressive Jonas Gutierrez -- as Birmingham City gave a performance that suggested their minds are wandering to Wembley and their forthcoming Carling Cup final date with Arsenal.
Lovenkrands gave the visitors a dream start when he converted a cross from Gutierrez after two minutes. And Gutierrez was the provider again after 50 minutes when his cross was nodded home by Ireland international Best.
Nicola Zigic missed a great chance to get the home side back into it when he headed over from eight yards after a Liam Ridgewell cross as Newcastle's defence stood firm to end the Blues' five-match unbeaten run.