Something like 52,300 people on Saturday will be packed inside St James’ Park on Saturday come 14.30. A sell out, in the second division.
For all United’s magnificent support in the 09/10 season (averaging 44k), we only sold out, once. There was around 8 thousand people who simply couldn’t come back after the wrongs of the previous year. This time it’s different. For so many reasons.
Everyone is in. Most importantly, Rafa Bentez is in. As the team improves, tickets will become harder to come by. Season ticket sales, already approaching 36,000 will probably hit 40,000 by the end of the season. Support, proper support.
Newcastle United are in. Slowly wrongs are being undone. The club have ended the policy to only sell away tickets to members. That’s a big deal. It’s a huge change of policy. U-turns don’t get much bigger, or come more welcome. The club engages with it’s fan base. It wants to be a football club these days. It wants to be loved.
I’ve no time for those this week falling over themselves to say we’re deluded, arrogant etc. These people know that talking, thinking and writing about Newcastle United is a meal ticket and we give them the attention they crave by even acknowledging their bile.
So 52,000 are at St James’ this weekend to see a game of football between two Championship sides. Three points required. United were poor at Fulham. Worse than poor actually. we can’t play away from home and haven’t been able to for years. Our home form is actually very good – just 4 home defeats last season. Therefore we have a great opportunity to put a Huddersfield side to the sword who were beaten in mid-week by Shrewsbury Town.
Not that it will be easy. Huddersfield won their first game in the Championship against Brentford and are an unpredictable side. They won just 6 times away from home last season. They ended last season in disastrous fashion losing 4 and 5 nil in their final two games. David Wagner, their manager, guided the team to 19th last season in the Championship after several years as the manager of Borussia Dortmund reserves. His teams high pressing game has yielded notable results and spectacular defeats.
As for United, there are so many options that we could see a largely changed team from Fulham. Galloway hasn’t arrived yet from Everton so I fear another Paul Dummet selection. A few people called me out on Twitter over being too harsh about his performance at Fulham. What bothers me most isn’t his inability to provide anything at all as an attacking force, it’s that normally you trade that for defensive solidity. At Fulham we got neither and he was hopeless. If he starts, he must do better.
I would love to see Shelvey play and was dismayed to travel the length of the country to see yet another disastrous Coback – Anita midfield display. I thought Swansea away in August 15 would have ended that once and for all. Rolando Aarons will cause teams problems and should start. Perez has been hopeless in pretty much every competitive game in 2016 (bar West Ham) and needs to be dropped. I’ve no idea what happened to the player of the 14/15 season, but this lad is a pale imitation of that one.
I think United will win and we’ll go home happy. This week is the first of the ‘three game’s in a week’ week so squad rotation will likely play a part. I really hope Mbemba is back as he’s a class act.
I’m excited for it all. Gallowgate Flags will be displaying from 14.30 and Rafa Benitez has backed their calls for fans to get to the ground 30 minutes early. it’ll be like nothing any of us have ever witnessed before at St James’ Park.
Come on United
ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892
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