So that was October and a month of perfect Newcastle United results. We are now exactly where we want to be and we are the team to beat. As I wrote in true faith’s Newsletter, THE SPECIAL, this Saturday gone, there is only one team that can beat Newcastle United right now and that is Newcastle United. What I’m relishing as much as the utterly convincing wins we’ve recorded over this last month however is our organisation, courtesy of the top-class coaching provided by Rafa but also the work-rate of everyone in a United shirt. These are the elements of a performance you don’t see in TV highlights shows and clips on You Tube but they are what we see in the stands – the tracking back, the harrying, the covering, the decoy runs, the moves into space to give extra options and the bravery and the professionalism.
I don’t think Ipswich and Preston could have had any complaints after their visits to SJP in the last week and a bit. We were a cut above and our possession of the ball and technique just looks way above anything we have seen in a long while at United but we are not about to begin to be bullied out of games by some of the physical specimens that play in this division. We have class and we are tough. For those that don’t yet appreciate Diame’s ability (I’m confident he’ll show his value) please consider his pace and physicality. He may well be a poundshop Sissoko (though he is a better finisher than the disappointing Spurs sub will ever be) but he has greater heart and in a league where strength means so much, Diame can come in and do the things our more lightweight players struggle with. Cut him some slack, he’ll improve.
Anyway, on we go to the quarter final of the League Cup and a very generous draw that takes us away to Hull in late November. The demand, like Leeds, for tickets will be enormous and it is utterly baffling why both Yorkshire clubs prefer empty seats to paying punters. I do think we have to calm down though when considering our chances down on Humberside. I’ve heard and read people talking about the semi final and final and that is just nonsensical. Hull has to be respected. We have come unstuck this season when we’ve approached games and not had the mind-set Rafa wants and any arrogance or complacency the supporters take to the KC Stadium will blow up in our faces. I’ll remind everyone that Poyet took what looked like a dead and buried Sunderland to the League Cup Final and I’m pretty sure the people at Hull want to do the same thing. They have good players and they won’t be thinking here come Newcastle United to steam-roller all over them. Let’s not lose our perspective.
But before we get to the delights of the League Cup we have serious league business to deal with him. We have won seven in a row, which is fantastic but take a look at the table and you’ll see a certain Chris Hughton has a very impressive Brighton side behind us by only 3 points. For me, Hughton’s Brighton would be a shoe-in to win the league in every other season but this one. I believe it will be they who chase us every inch of the way over this season for top-spot. They will be the result we will look for until the end of the season and I’m sure we will be the same for them.
We just have to keep winning football matches. Easy eh?
I’ll admit to having been worried about Gayle’s absence from the team with injury down at Preston and I’ve been a definite part of the unconvinced tendency when it comes to the Barrack Road enfant terrible Alexsander Mitrovic. Of course like everyone I want Mitro to succeed but I’ve had my moments when I’ve doubted his technical ability, his pace, his temperament and professionalism. Even though he scored two against Preston last Tuesday there were parts of his performance that weren’t right – namely the histrionics with Ritchie for the penalty and I thought he should have done better with the header at the Gallowgate in the second half. He also picked up a pointless booking for the shirt-off malarkey – I really don’t know why players do that given the inevitable yellow card that follows.
On the positives over these last two games with Preston, he’s scored four goals – the two down at Deepdale made me think of Supermac but I’m probably about to be taken to task in the comments box below by his ageing Leazes End Fan Club for that comparison. There has been less of the posturing with the opposition and he looks trimmer and more disciplined. The simple truth is that if he doesn’t do as Rafa says, isn’t a spot on professional and work for the team then he’ll not play. That particular penny is hopefully about to drop with the popular Serbian whose undoubted passion is appreciated by the support.
This coming Saturday, hopefully Gayle will have returned from injury and with no mid-week game, the lads can have something of a breather of sorts. Should Dwight be available for selection, Rafa will have difficult choices to make in terms of his starting side but I’m not about to make suggestions about his pick to Senor Benitez. Our beloved manager, knows what he’s doing and I’ll back him 100% with any selection he makes. Rafa will pick a team to win the game rather than to play to the gallery.
Let’s be honest, we weren’t at our best on Saturday gone though we managed to squeak home with a win and another fantastic three points to keep us top of the table. We know Rafa will have analysed that and woe betide any player who he considers has fallen below the standards he is setting at United.
As for Cardiff, they aren’t one of the division’s big hitters at the moment. They are currently fourth bottom of the table. They have conceded 23 goals and scored 13 in 15 ganes. On paper this looks like a win for United but we should know better. Cardiff City is a proud club with a passionate support and I don’t doubt they will have a good support at SJP this Saturday and their supporters will be enjoying the delights of our city over the weekend. Good luck to them and welcome. For a lot of clubs and their fans this season, a visit to Newcastle will be a highlight. SJP itself is a fantastic place to play football and a crowd of 50,000 is a rarity for the Championship. Let’s be honest, Warnock is a bit of a knobhead but he does like to compete and I wouldn’t doubt he’ll come to rattle our cages, attempt to quieten the crowd and make it hard for us. Against both Brentford and Ipswich we scored early goals so that settled the support. That might not happen on Saturday and if it doesn’t we have to keep the faith, no heavy mass sighing and all the rest of that nonsense. Just stick with the manager and the team. That counts double if we were to go behind.
Let’s remember, we look like a really good side but we aren’t invincible and those defeats at home to Huddersfield and Wolves should be a salutary reminder of what can happen if we start thinking we are the dog’s bollocks. I don’t doubt Rafa will be in the ears of our players with those messages but it’s up to us to provide the right atmosphere inside SJP and remember we are there to support the team – as the vast majority do most of the time.
Have a great week.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
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