Three games over eight days, three wins, eight goals scored and one conceded. The performances have been utterly convincing and we are three points ahead at the top of the table. Everything in the garden is rosy. Even our players have dedicated songs. SJP is rammed on match-days. 5000 going away to Barnsley and Preston and there are scrambles for tickets. Already, there is anxiety about our allocation for Leeds and I’m getting harassed to book trains for Burton in December. We are still in the League Cup and I anticipate a big turnout at SJP on Tuesday. It seems ages since the club has done anything stupid. Rafa is loved, the players are a very likeable bunch and they are getting better under our manager’s coaching. We spend occasional moments snorting at those players who couldn’t wait to get away from United and who are now doing nothing in North and South London bar raise the eye-brows of their fans – he cost how ‘kin much?
Everything Rafa does seems to work. His rotation of players keeps them fresh and fit. Some of our fans find it challenging to the way they think about the game but once Rafa has made a decision about his game-plan it all makes perfect sense. Our injury list (touch wood) barely stretches beyond two players and Tiote is the only player on the club’s books who I want to see leave. Even Sunderland are providing delicious entertainment on the sidelines. If things turn out as tey look like they might, thousands of us will be off work with severe doses of schadenfreude around May 2017.
In this happy place the only irritations are some of our fellow fans – I don’t see many of the ludicrous team-sheet demands on social media as I did earlier this season but sadly we are saturated by click-bait, cut and paste garbage from the local media as well as once respected fanzine titles who have the same objective – drive traffic and generate advertising revenue. The advertisers are their customers, not you and I the readers. But that’s hardly unique to Newcastle United FC.
Sadly, there continues to be accounts of knob-head behaviour at the match. Frothing mouthed rage at players who are in a side that is top of their league bewilders me but so does the mass desertion from the stands when the team is performing so well and of course the imbecilic demand for players around the box to shooooot.
But maybe we are looking too hard for things to get the hump about when in reality there have always been nuggets at the match likely to get on your wick or just make you laugh. We all have our own personal view on how the club should be supported so we aren’t ever going to agree on the same things all of the time. However, singing the right words to our songs, not booing or jeering and acting reasonably in the environment we are in is probably an area of broad consensus don’t you think?
Anyway. Back to the football. I do think we are going to get promoted and I do think we are going to win this league. But I’ll place the caveat on that of Rafa and the players continuing to do the things they know they have to in order to win football matches. Over the last five games, we have simply looked like a win machine. The Norwich win provided evidence of the determination and belief there is in the team because we all know under Pardew, Carver and McClaren the players would have stopped playing in the same circumstances. Over the remaining four games we have witnessed sheer hard-work and graft all over the pitch. Jonjo Shelvey looks re-born, Gayle looks the classic goal-getter but the backline is supremely well-organised – Lascelles-Clark look as solid as a central defensive pairing as I can remember over 40-odd years watching United. Physically, we are meeting every challenge we face but we have the additional quality in Atsu, Ritchie, Shelvey, Gayle, Perez et al to make the platform built on great defensive work matter.
I have witnessed a key difference between us and the rest of the division. Every team looks strong, physical and muscular. But we are matching that and with our quality we are on occasion make those teams look a little bovine in comparison. But the division is unforgiving. If we go into games imagining turning up is enough we will come unstuck and the evidence of that is Wolves at home.
We really have nothing to complain about. Nothing at all. But its only October and the prizes aren’t handed out at this time of the year as the cliché goes. We have played just over a quarter of the games but whilst it’s going better than anyone could have hoped no-one should get carried away. In the dug-out, on the pitch and in the stands we all have to stay calm and focused. We can’t take anything for granted. Next Saturday as a massive away support converges on Preston we all need to realise we are going there to support the team to a win and the game isn’t just a party like precursor to piss-ups in Blackpool, Manchester or wherever else. We just have to keep grafting on the park, let Rafa work his magic and we need to get on with the serious of business of giving these lads 100% support in every game we play from the first whistle to the last.
Before we go to Lancashire for the league game however, we have PNE visit St James’ Park on cup business. How we longed for these cup runs when Pardew, Carver and McClaren weren’t turning up at Brighton, Stevenage, Leicester, Sheff Wed etc. I want us to stay in this competition as long as possible. I dream about being amongst tens of thousands of Mags on Wembley Way and in the stands supporting Rafa’s team in a final. I’m still daft enough to want to see a Newcastle United captain hoist a cup aloft and for me and my mates who’ve supported the club all of our lives to share that moment. You are no different. Tuesday night offers an opportunity to get closer to that moment. That’s why it’s critical there is a good turnout on Tuesday night. See you there.
Have a great week.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
This is true faith, the fully digital Newcastle United fanzine. true faith is Newcastle United’s longest running and most popular fanzine. It is the most widely read, independent fans’-led publication in the UK. This issue is over 90 pages of the highest quality fanzine writing available. Just click on the image below and its all yours. true faith is also 100% FREE. true faith is published and written by people who pay to watch Newcastle United.