And relax…we are up!
We have made it back to the big cash league at the first attempt and with games to spare, despite a wobble of late. Well done Rafa, his staff and the entire playing squad.
The early goal set us up nicely – I haven’t checked the stats yet of the other teams in our league but surely if there was a Championship Corners League we would have been crowned champions yonks ago (16-1 v Preston, 19-0 v Leeds).
However, someone had forgotten to tell Preston they were here just to make the numbers up; they broke from what looked like a foul on Mitro in their box and unusually the dependable Clark lost his man and once the cross came in, despite both Anita and Lascelles being in attendance out wide, it was in the back of the net.
Cue thoughts of “here we go again”, another mediocre team playing out of their collective skins (Ipswich, Leeds etc) to spoil our party and make us wait for another game to clinch promotion.
We looked nervous / clueless in the first half – we tried far too many 50-50 forty yard diagonal balls played to chest or head height, often by Shelvey stood in his own half, five yards from one of our back four.
When we carry the ball through the centre and lay it off into the channels to feet with the receiving player facing goal we look dangerous, in fact we scored our second this way when we robbed Preston of possession around the halfway line.
Lately, we seem all too willing to surrender control of the centre of the pitch to the visitors, as if there’s some sort of imaginary roundabout there that we can’t go directly over, we have to go around via the touch line.
That is what makes a player who is prepared to run box to box with the ball so valuable, to the point where someone is daft enough to pay £30m plus for a Moussa Sissoko. We don’t need him but we certainly need a player like him who will do it consistently week in week out.
Even after we regained the lead just before half-time, Newcastle then nearly got caught a second time (on 55 mins), Anita and Lascelles again collectively failing to deal with one attacking player on the wing, thankfully nobody was on the end of the cross this time.
Once we got a third we never looked back and against ten men it was never in any doubt, just a case of how many. Great penalty under pressure by Ritchie.
So the big question now is who stays and who goes?
Do we prepare ourselves for “Under Investment” The Sequel, or has the owner actually learnt something from relegation?
Do we get serious about competing for Europe or a cup win, be part of the mid-table pack, or aim for the top of the bottom third?
Does the question of who stays and who goes solely apply to playing staff?
Now that would be a hollow victory if Rafa votes with his feet, yet stranger things have happened – remember when KK threatened to walk shortly after joining due to broken promises over transfer funds?
Or maybe a serious investor now steps in to realise the true potential of this club and Ashley becomes part of our history.
I hope the players have a fun filled final home game against Barnsley, they enjoy the party atmosphere in the ground, followed by a wild night out in the city centre as chances are, and rightly so, this squad will have played its last game together.
I’m certain Rafa sees the same as what the rest of us can; a major squad overhaul is required to compete in the top league.
Rafa has called you out Mike, so time to show us all your hand.
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])