My expectation when the fixture list was released was that this would be one of our most challenging games away from St James Park. Derby finished fifth last season amassing a respectable 78 points in the process and with the appointment of Nigel Pearson I thought they’d be one of the teams really pushing us for the automatic promotion spots.
The reality is however that Derby couldn’t get close to us, no doubt the losses of Chris Martin and Jeff Hendrick on deadline day have meant that any pre-season promotion ambitions for the Rams have had to be tapered back somewhat but this was all too easy for Newcastle United who ran out comfortable 2-0 winners in the end.
This Newcastle team is a totally different side to the one we saw last season, there is a clear plan from Rafa and the team at the moment are executing his plans to perfection, there is an efficiency about this team now and although we still lack flair there is a swagger and confidence that hasn’t been seen in a Newcastle side for years.
This was epitomised by the first 20 minutes of the game Derby were seeing a lot of the ball Will Hughes in particular impressed, but it never really felt worrying. It wasn’t so much that Derby were on top but more Newcastle were saying “Alright show us what you’ve got?” to which goal shy Derby had nothing. Even when Russell’s shot hit the back of the net as he was called for offside there was never any panic.
Roll on the 20th minute a re-born Yoann Goufrann fires Newcastle ahead with a superbly struck volley sending the away end into a frenzy. This was one of the best away crowds I’ve been in – the noise was fantastic from start to finish. The players must have absolutely loved playing in front of that crowd and as long as these performances continue things will only get better.
But back to Goufrann, it is great to see him playing well and back in the team. He’s had a lot of stick over the last couple of years in my opinion some of it has not always been warranted. With Rafa hes got an important job in the side and his confidence back he is also not being played as a holding midfielder which is most likely helping too… Well done John Carver and Steve McClaren…
The work rate of Gouffran and Ritchie for the team at the moment is massive positive for us right now as well as their link up play and support for the fullbacks both were in fine form at the ipro stadium and long may that continue.
For the most part the second half was a similar tale Derby tried to have a resurgence a couple of shots but nothing that was troubling anyone in the away section we all knew this was only going to finish one way and that was with 3 points coming to Tyneside. Before the ref could draw the game to a close Shelvey whipped in a deep cross to Perez who laid the ball into to path of the oncoming DeAndre Yedlin to confirm a 2nd victory on the road for Rafa Benitez lads once again sending and already vocal away section into another frenzy!
As far as Derby as a place to visit goes it’s nicer than Sunderland but not as nice as Norwich – make of that what you will – couple of decent pubs and the stadium’s not to far walk from the city. The Ipro Stadium itself as far as flat pack stadiums go it is ok nicer than most. Not that I expect us to have to return there anytime soon.
Good trip, perfect performance and result, it’s going to get a few days for the Matt Richie song to stop looping in my head.
On to the next one.
We’re Newcastle and we’re going to win the league. Probably.
ANDY BOLLAND – You can follow Andy on @AndyLecht90
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