Well the first game in charge for Rafa and if I am honest, I saw something at Leicester City last night that I did not see happening with Steve McClaren in charg…effort, commitment and urgency. While some of it was a bit huff and puff, we certainly deserved something from the game.
Leicester is an away trip which I normally go to, working away from home meant that yesterday I conveniently had a job in the vicinity of the ground yesterday. The bonus of that is I was able to stay in a hotel about 20 yards from the stadium, the added bonus of this is that after an early arrival I was able to lubricate the vocal chords in a couple of the local watering holes.
The downside of this meant I managed to get stuck in conversation with the most boring of Leicester fans, who proceeded to talk my glass eye to sleep, while conversing about anything but football.
They are top of the league, with a team to be proud of…and he wanted to talk about the canal that runs through his village and the various pros and cons of that. I am too polite to just walk away and fortunately once the bar had filled up, I was able to sidle away. He probably had the same opinion of me, as I just wanted to talk about …….err……..football!
Anyway, I digress. Last season after the 3-0 demolition, I commented on how Leicester City do it right off the pitch, ok the drum is a bit annoying as are the stupid paper rattle sort of things – but it makes for a cracking ‘home’ atmosphere.
It was mentioned last night that we should have something similar – well because we called ‘big Mike’ some justifiably uncomplimentary names, he decided that we could not have that anything like that anymore and the main body of the Curva Nord was despatched to different parts of the ground, oh Mike you are a meanie!
So what about the game?
Now I know people watching on the TV would see things better than us but was there a suspicion of offside about their goal? it seemed the player who headed it back across goal came from an offside position, a text from home confirmed this. After the goal it seemed for a few minutes we would be overrun, but unlike previous games where we have dominated the opening stages before conceding (Man City, Palace etc) this time we did not collapse like a pack of cards.
Going into half time I had a sneaky fancy we could get something still and this optimism was seemingly shared by a fair few of the travelling contingent.
The second half kicked off and without being biased, in my eyes we were again the better side. We had a few decent chances but alas it was not to be, one such chance resulted in a penalty appeal which by all accounts was nailed on, again a text from back home seemed to confirm this.
I won’t go over the game too much, you would all have seen better than me anyway, but again I did see some positives, and while I have no doubt that some of this is down to new manager syndrome, some of it will be down to the changes that Rafa initiated.
Some players looked the part and at centre half Lascelles looked very good indeed, Sissoko for once looked like he fancied it and there was promise going forward in much of the play, direct football with a goal of to well…….errr score a goal.
The glass half full side of me thinks that under Rafa and his team we will get better and very quickly and that there is nothing to fear from those down the road this weekend – there was certainly enough last night to take a bit of swagger out of the Mackem seven in a row predictions.
The glass half empty side of me hopes the encouragement last night was not a one-off, it’s a balance that changes by the minute.
To put it into context, the next game (and Norwich away) could define the future of Newcastle United, this is bigger than whatever has been before, bigger than the play-off game of 1990 because the reward is so much more. Win and take steps to secure our survival and I have no doubt Rafa will build a capable team for next season, get relegated and we will probably lose Rafa and end up in years of oblivion like so many of those before us.
We must take it a game at a time but if we do win on Sunday then its advantage us, if the unthinkable happens then…well I don’t know
I would hope everyone who goes on Sunday gives it their all, if we can do our little bit to prevent the unthinkable happening then who knows.
Coming out of the ground last night a TV camera and Microphone was thrust under my nose, now normally I am quite wary of this as don’t want to appear like a bit of a dipstick. However, I gave an honest and quite positive opinion of how we played, and the improvement I saw. I am not sure who the TV people were so its anyone’s guess, if or when I show up in your front room, in hindsight I wish I had kept on walking.
Anyway, it’s going to be a nervy week but I for one fancy us this weekend and if you had asked me that a week ago, quite simply I would have been full of negativity.
Finally, I am going to congratulate Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley etc for getting Rafa in.
I would ask why it took us to be in this perilous state for it to happen, last summer was the time for an appointment like this, Steve McClaren was not that man and I just hope it’s not too late
Have a great week.