An eventful day for Isaac Hayden.
With Lascelles, Hanley and Clark all unavailable, the former Arsenal player was asked to move back into the centre-back position.
Having played there in the past, the decision to play Hayden at centre-back made sense, but things didn’t quite work out…
Only a few minutes into Sunday’s game, Isaac Hayden received a bang on the head at a corner and was forced onto the sidelines for treatment, then despite making it back onto the pitch he had to be subbed on 13 minutes.
After the changes, Newcastle ended up with a back four that most of the fans would have chosen to start the game, preferring Isaac Hayden in his usual central midfield role. Massadio Haidara coming on to play left-back and Paul Dummett moving across to play alongside Chancel Mbemba.
So instead of being a central character in the action, Hayden instead found himself sitting watching with almost fifty thousand other Newcastle fans.
Despite ‘blurry’ vision, the United midfielder (and occasional defender…) thought his teammates were ‘very good’ in their 3-0 win over Barnsley and it helped that there was no longer any promotion-linked ‘anxiety or pressure’.
Isaac Hayden says that Newcastle also got the luck with Brighton conceding that last-minute goal at Villa Park (and failing to win any of their last three matches) but at the end of the season it isn’t luck when you finish with 94 points.
Only one other club (apart from Newcastle in 2009/10) in the previous 10 seasons had exceeded that points total.
Isaac Hayden speaking to the official club website:
“It’s difficult to put it into words so soon after it’s happened, but obviously it’s a fantastic achievement.
“If I’m being honest, I think we got a little bit lucky, Brighton let us off the hook a little bit to let us in.
“But football has a funny way of repaying you and I think we’ve had a few harsh decisions go against us.
“We’ve put a lot of hard work in and I do think we’ve deserved it this season overall. Sometimes you don’t always get what you deserve, but today we did, so happy days.
“It was football in a nutshell. Things happen – they can go your way, they might not. Today, they went our way, and it’s a fantastic day, especially for the fans.
“It’s good to have the last game at home and to win it like we did was fabulous, I’m sure the Geordie faithful will be celebrating tonight.
“Clarky (Ciaran Clark) was injured and the manager trusted me to play at centre-half. I got the shout, and I was just happy to play at all.
“Barnsley played a corner in and Rob (Elliot) has come out to call it and Mitro has headed it – but as I’ve come in, their player has shoved me in the back and I’ve collided with Rob.
“I wanted to carry on but things were blurry and there was no point risking it in those circumstances.
“Dummy (Paul Dummett) moved across to the centre and Sadio (Haidara) came in at left-back, and it was perfectly fine.
“The performance was very good. You kind of expect that when you’re not playing with any anxiety or pressure.
“It wasn’t in our hands today and we just had to go out and do our job, and we did it very well. Fair play to Barnsley, they didn’t just pack it in – they gave it a right go.
“The season’s done now, we can have a rest and go again next season.”