Phil Thompson found it hard to contain his excitement as he analysed Newcastle’s showing against West Brom.

In typical United style, they could and should have won by four or five but in the end were thankful for a Daryl Janmaat interception in the final seconds, on pretty much the first occasion when the visitors had reached as far as Newcastle’s 18 yard box.

Phil Thompson was full of it though when talking on Sky Sports, saying that this was the best 90 minutes he had seen this season from the Magpies and that anybody watching ‘would never have thought that Newcastle had problems’.

Talking of Jonjo Shelvey in his ‘quarterback role’ spraying passes around the pitch and fellow new signing Andros Townsend running at the opposition, Thompson was possibly/hopefully pointing out two season changers for United.

In four games so far, Shelvey has been man of the match and certainly on this first proper viewing (let’s forget Everton because he had no platform to perform) Andros Townsend has given us something else we have been desperate for all season – a player who is willing and able to take on his man AND shoot.

Whilst it is in the nature of the Sky Sports pundits to go overboard, both on the positive and negative, there were certainly encouraging signs even taking into consideration an opposition who offered nothing and handed control of the game on a plate to Newcastle.

I’m guessing most Newcastle fans will hope/expect for a spirited though likely pointless match at Chelsea, then likely to get a much better idea as to Newcastle’s real improvement, or lack of, when they travel to Stoke on 2 March.

The Potters looking poor (losing their last three PL games all by the scoreline of 3-0) at the minute and liable to crack when put under pressure – also under the spotlight in these two away matches will be Steve McClaren, with supporters wondering whether he will cast off the ultra negative approach that he has taken to pretty much every away game so far.

Phil Thompson speaking on Sky Sports:

“He (Andros Townsend) did very well and as we know, he takes the game (to the opposition) – gets from A to B very quickly and is very good with his feet.

“He again had a terrific game and you would never have thought that Newcastle had problems…

“This is as good as I have seen Newcastle over a 90 minute spell (this season).

“Rob Elliot didn’t have a save to make, defence was great and Rolando Aarons – a makeshift left back – was terrific.

“Daryl Janmaat was again (terrific) overlapping, Jonjo Shelvey in his quarterback role, Cheick Tiote brilliant, everything about this side…was just great.

“Everything about this Newcastle performance was just terrific and all that was missing was more goals.”