This is an occasional series of Blogs we will be featuring over the close-season and the first in the series has been provided by new true faith writer, Luke Anderson. Eyes down, we hope you enjoy it. Feel free to add your two pennorth in the comment boxes below.
*Spurs smashed 5-1. But what did it tell us?
So the final game of the 2015/2016 season saw us knock the klarts outta the spuds. With relegation already confirmed after a season which can best be described as football-diarrhoea, it seemed that lot from North London would seal 2nd place with very little strain. (Apologies about the run of ‘crap’ puns).
But this wasn’t the case. Why? Well it was a strange old game. With an end result that left most fans
with more questions than answers. The most obvious being; how could we be so bad for so long then knock
out a performance that was so good? If we’re capable of smashing Spurs ‘all over the show’ then how come we
weren’t able to beat Villa either home or away?
You could argue that with relegation confirmed, the pressure was off the players. And this is possibly true – most of the play we created came with a certain degree of ease, a smooth rhythm to our moves. Very refreshing. Very Rafa.
The more cynical amongst us may point the finger at supposed ‘star’ players like Wijinaldum and Sissokko in that they ‘gave it the beans’ for once in a bid to put themselves in the shop window – and force through a move to a current ‘bigger’ club.Again, this is a distinct possibility. The depressing reality of modern football I’m afraid.
Those modern football-hipster types who harp on about formations, tactics and sports psychology would probably suggest that Spurs played far too gung-ho in their defensive areas, with their full-backs bombing on and leaving space in behind for the counter attack; something which Newcastle, although relegated, have become decent at implementing.
They would also motion that Newcastle seemed to win a heck of a lot of breakdowns and second balls, for the first time in God knows how long, and this had a huge bearing on our ability to maintain pressure, and play in the attacking half for extended periods rather than every move starting on our own 18 yard line.
And the dreamers amongst us (I probably fall into this category) would tell you (whilst wearing a cardboard Rafa Benitez face mask) that it was simply the Rafa effect finally kicking in, 5 games too late to save our skin unfortunately.
As fans we will never know the real reason why we managed to produce such a shock result after the extended dross that came before it.The honest answer is that it’s most likely a combination of all of the above.
But the part the fans played on the day shouldn’t be overlooked here.
During the build up to the game it was common knowledge that the fans planned on making it clear through vocal support, that they wanted Rafa to stay. That he was their man. He had their full backing.
With this in mind; and as crazy as it sounds having already been relegated, the fans were in unison for the first time this season, with the truth about the drop locked firmly away in a cupboard somewhere.So then came the vocal support. The jovial atmosphere. The 12th man. Footballers are a funny bunch. And it’s clear that they respond to the
tone of the crowd more so that we as fans would imagine. For the first time in years, the atmosphere was red-hot and in full support of the manager, and the team responded.
Since that game, as we all know (and still pinch ourselves about), is that Rafa has become our permanent manager.
And a large part of the reason was the response from the fans to the possibility of his tenure drawing to a close. He was left under no illusions that we wanted/needed/pleaded with him to save our bacon. He heard us. And he accepted.
So now he’s a man of the people, and a manager who Geordies can idolise again.
And with this comes our responsibility for next season. We’ve seen what can be achieved when we all pull together and sing in unison.
So let’s do our bit in the Championship and take the roof off St James’. Not literally!
The first team players that remain will have the memory of that game, still fresh in their minds. If they can trounce Spurs 5-1 then they sure as hell can be Rotherham United, Sheff Wed, Forest, whoever it is we play first and from then on – bring them on!
So let’s do our bit.
For Newcastle United.
For the future.
We know we can make a difference!