Newcastle 2 Brighton 0 – Saturday 27 August 5.30pm
Meeting up with the lads pre-match on Saturday I was astonished to hear some say they would be happy with a draw, in fact some of the comments on The Mag also suggested the same.
I have always been known as the eternal optimist and despite us being two strikers down, I still thought we would have too much for a team used to battling it out at the top end of the championship!
The biggest problem I could see was manipulating my beer filled frame up the 170 odd steps to the top deck of the Milburn stand, forsaking my usual match day comfortable seat I was doing the right thing family wise and sitting in the family enclosure .
Now it is my first ever time up there, but once I got my breath back, and heart rate down, I found the view quite interesting. For sure you can see right over the town, so after picking out familiar landmarks the serious business began, the match view was very similar to that of a PlayStation/X-box game.
No point in going over the game verbatim as you all would have seen it, but suffice to say after the first 15 minutes there was only going to be one winner, as a Jonjo Shelvey inspired midfield simply ran the game.
Both goals were very good in their own right and we would not have been flattered had Gouffran’s pile driver burst the net, rather than rattling the cross bar, have to be fair and say that lad deserved a goal.
There were other impressive performances but a mention for Mo Diame is apt, as he is getting better with every game: powerful and skilful, and a decent work ethic.
Matt Ritchie again had a decent game, always wanting to be involved. He reminds me of Damien Duff: skilful, quick and can play both sides……except he has a first class attitude and is clearly highly motivated and a million miles ahead of the aforementioned Duff, who was everything Richie is not: lazy, disinterested, passionless – need I go on. Oh, and just in case Michael Owen reads this, we hold you in the same low esteem.
Lascelles and Mbemba are now looking the part and summer signing Grant Hanley is going to have to wait until an injury to get a decent run in the first team, a lot of players in fact will have to wait for that and then take their chance if and when it comes along.
After the game the town was rocking, a bit like it used to, as excited fans chirped and chatted to a background of smiles, Newcastle United are definitely on the front foot again and while it is early days, the signs are very promising.
News broke almost straight way that we had signed Daryl Murphy from Ipswich and Achraf Lazaar (ED: watch this quality goals and skills video HERE) who is full international for Morocco. Factor in Yedlin and we now have virtually two team of quality, which will surely be needed as we play seven games in twenty one days after the international break.
Up front we now have back-up also and I have no doubt Rafa will continue the ‘horses for courses’ policy that is now working so well, the defeats against Huddersfield and Fulham now fast fading into the memory.
Rafa is clearly building something here, investing in the future, for sure he is bringing people in but he is also getting the younger players he fancies on long contracts, this bodes well and who knows where it could lead.
The international break to me is quite an inconvenience, I don’t care about World Cups, I have always had very little interest in England as a football team, and now that the head coach is some over-egotistical bloke whose greatest achievement is not getting relegated, my interest is even less.
Next up for us is Derby away, always one of my favourite trips, except I’m not going to be there, a hopefully warm spanish beach will be blessed with my non-Adonis like physique while another ‘biggy’ takes place.
However, unlike last time when I was away and we played and I sought avoidance, on this occasion a pub will be found and the match will be watched, where again I expect Newcastle to prevail. I said before if we are there or thereabouts come the end of September then with Rafa at the helm and the players now at his disposal, we should kick on.
The only sour note at the club right now is the sulky little schoolboy Moussa Sissoko, unwanted by Real Madrid, seemingly not wanted by Barcelona, despised by us, I just hope someone comes in for him, I truly hope he gets his big club wish and signs for Crystal Palace. Where coincidentally the Palace fans don’t love Mr Smug anymore…..well we did warn them. Come on Alan offer us £20 million plus, it might be enough, and he is just the person you need at your side when your empire is crumbling!
Will there be any last minute transfer activity here, well who knows, one name keeps appearing on the sky sports hottest whisper list, Christian Atsu. A Ghanaian international who has been at Chelsea for three years without getting any pitch time and sent out on a series of loans.
Exciting times are upon us, enjoy your week.
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Brighton 0
Newcastle: Lascelles 15, Shelvey 63
Possession was Brighton 45% Newcastle 55%
Total shots were Brighton 13 Newcastle 13
Shots on target were Brighton 2 Newcastle 4
Corners were Brighton 3 Newcastle 2
Team: Sels, Anita (Gamez 72), Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett, Hayden, Shelvey, Gouffran (Yedlin 88), Ritchie, Diame (Colback 81), Perez
Unused Subs: Darlow, Clark, Armstrong, Hanley
Referee: Keith Stroud