Newcastle United have now gone 10 matches unbeaten under Rafa Benitez.
So what you might say, as the last four have been just friendlies.
Well, whilst it isn’t any nightmare to lose a friendly, I much prefer to see the team not losing, playing some decent football and creating & scoring goals.
The defeat at Southampton was a bit of a watershed moment for Rafa Benitez, as he cracked the whip and made significant changes to the team.
Since 9 April 2016, Newcastle are unbeaten.
Six Premier League games at the end of the season saw three wins and three draws, these then followed by three wins and a draw in pre-season.
You might say the opposition haven’t been the greatest but is easy to forget that this time last summer we were losing to Mexicans, MLS second teams and then on Mitrovic’ debut – York City.
In seven friendlies last summer, Newcastle only managed to score more than one goal on two occasions – and this was against some very poor teams.
We were told not to worry because friendlies are meaningless etc etc but they are not, in certain ways.
Ideally you want to see clean sheets, plenty of chances created, a decent amount of goals, and some good play.
We have seen bits of all of these in the past month, last summer there was very little of any.
Going into today’s game against Vitesse Arnhem, Rafa Benitez has returned since April 9 2016 (that Southampton defeat):
Newcastle 3 Swansea 0
Newcastle 1 Man City 1
Liverpool 2 Newcastle 2
Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0
Aston Villa 0 Newcastle 0
Newcastle 5 Tottenham 1
Bohemians FC 0 Newcastle 6
Doncaster 2 Newcastle 2
Sporting Lokeren 0 Newcastle 4
Southend 0 Newcastle 2
If we get beat by Vitesse Arnhem then we get beat – but it would be nice to keep this not beating habit going.
Throughout the club in recent seasons, we have seen all levels of the club losing far too regularly, good habits take a lot of hard work to maintain, whereas bad/losing habits are very easy to pick up and difficult to shake off.
The last promotion season (2009/10) saw Newcastle start with one defeat in the first 11 games, whilst of course the previous one (1992/93) was when United won all 11 out of 11 at the start.
Both runs gave Newcastle the perfect platform to a comfortable promotion, let’s get a win today and keep this run going, then carry it forward into the season.