After taking stock of the first eight games of the season, I think the key word to go with Newcastle United at the moment, is ‘Better’.

Not ‘must do better’ or ‘could be better’ but just simply, compared to our last time out in the Premier League, we are  ‘better’ than we were. It’s this reason why I feel we simply won’t be playing Championship football next season.

When we were relegated in 2015/16 it’s worth noting that we failed to win a game until this very day! A 6-2 defeat of Norwich at St James Park was the first league victory of the season coming on 18 October 2015, having drawn three and lost five of our opening eight fixtures standing with three points – whereas this season we already have eleven.

Over the course of that season we lost at home to Watford and Bournemouth, as well as failing to beat S********d, Stoke and Aston Villa. Too many points dropped against five sides that would struggle to survive or go down with us.

Away from home, while it’s been disappointing to lose at relegation rivals Brighton and Huddersfield, it’s been heartening that overall we have looked noticeably harder to beat. We were on the front foot for most of the game against Southampton and could easily have won the game at an away ground were we lost 1-3 in 2016 and now we must go into the game against a ‘resurgent’ Crystal Palace looking to take all three points and put further distance from another side that (despite their win against Chelsea), will no doubt be playing Championship football next season.

We are averaging out points well enough so far and with Burnley and Bournemouth to come after Palace, there are nine points up for grabs and certainly nothing that should scare us. That said, we are going to have a blip at some point and when I say that we are ‘averaging out points’, that’s exactly what I mean. We weren’t expected to get anything against Liverpool at home but we took a point. Swansea away was a tricky looking game but we took all three, the corresponding game in 2015 was a 0-2 defeat, a better return of points against teams we are supposed to beat, en route to survival.

The whole state of the place seems a whole lot better. The players are certainly playing for the shirt as well as each other and of course the manager. Don’t let anyone tell you that reports of a training ground fracas between Jamaal Lascelles and Mo Diame during the international break was a bad thing, far from it, in fact it’s most welcome.

Dressing rooms and training grounds should be nice workplaces to be around, but nobody can tell me that these sort of things don’t happen at football clubs, it’s the reaction that is key. Diame is not a fan favourite and I certainly hope the incident puts a rocket up his backside, but it’s the reaction from the pair of them to take the whole squad out for dinner, that speaks volumes about the mentality of this team compared to that one that got relegated sixteen months ago.

Even though the squad is a bit light in quality and numbers in certain areas of the pitch (a striker and left-back are desperately required) I’m still happy that the players put out by Rafa Benitez are giving their all, that they will be giving a better account of themselves than some of the wasters and charlatans that inhabited this club a couple of seasons ago.

Results are backing that up and now that the club is ‘officially’ up for sale we need to continue to get behind the manager and the team he puts out, as everything that happens at St James’ and at away grounds up and down the country, will be watched by any prospective buyer and noted before any bid is made.

Against Liverpool, Amanda Staveley was present and saw a hugely impressive performance from the team and in particular from the fans, including the Gallowgate Flags section, and if she is going to be the person to broker any deal with a future owner/s then the main selling point of this club (the fans) will have done part of this sale process already. No owner wants a toxic fanbase, something Mike Ashley didn’t understand and seemed to completely disregard very early on, and it’s this that he can take the most blame for. He caused all the friction and the whole ten years he’s had in charge has stemmed from his stupidity and pig-headed arrogance/ignorance right from the beginning.

A new dawn will be precisely that, a clean slate and a fresh start. This will happen hopefully sooner rather than later and we can get on with making this club better than it is at present. It’s not in bad nick at the minute, it has the players trying their hardest and a manager of genuine pedigree – one that understands club tradition. It ‘s just missing the one vital ingredient that has been absent since 2007, an ambitious owner that will allow it to take off.

The one thing that must not be overlooked is that Mike Ashley knows that he’s universally disliked/hated and that can’t be desirable for any individual. There can’t be many that sees the current ownership as the ideal conditions to have this club at it’s best and that isn’t a good place to be.

He would be far better selling the club for a sensible price now that it’s in the best position it has been in for numerous years and then he can move on, cut all ties with the burden that he has created at Newcastle United and do whatever he wants with the rest of his life.

Then we, the fans and the club can also move on and draw a line under the last ten years of mismanagement and see what we can do going forward.

That would be far better for all concerned.

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  • Wor Lass

    Good article, Paul. It`s funny – at first I thought “We were on the front foot for most of the game against Southampton ..” was a bit off after the posession stats but, in fact, you`re right. Southampton came out of that game very relieved and we were quite disappointed. They had more of the ball but we were always more in control of the game. The trick now is to continue that solid performance with a home win against Palace. No foregone conclusion by any means but we should be able to do it.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      We aren`t as bad as what some people think, but then again we aren`t as good as some people think either.
      we are placed exactly where the Fat Lad wants us for the minimum expenditure possible.
      The striker & number 10 that The Pie Man vetoed could cost us in the long run but relegation isn’t even on the agenda

    • Peaky Magpie

      Yes Palace game is massive in terms of momentum,confidence and of course hopefully 3 points.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    I see the Asylum has Clarko on day release & gave the nutta access to a computer

    • Wor Lass

      He`s accused me of stalking him!

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        He`s not a full shilling

        • Peaky Magpie


        • Wor Lass

          He`s not even a tanner!

  • Wor Monga

    Good article covering most of the issues relating to the state of the club, at this juncture…in fact, anybody who has seen the club play both this season and the
    last few years when we were mostly languishing in the PL, can tell the difference…the penny is even starting to drop with some of those BBC and Sky pundits.

    …in fact the secret is out, and it’s a simply that any club with the benefit of some world class coaching, and man management skills, who have a decent group of proper footballers that are prepared to work hard for each other, in a very disciplined manner and have the loyal backing of 50,000+ fanatical fans, can live
    comfortably enough against more than half of the other clubs, in the PL…

    …we also know that there are 3 main cards that Ashley (the gambler) holds at the moment…and both he and any would be investor, at the table, can see an almost guaranteed carrot of over £100+m up for grabs, at the end of each season…but the problem for Ashley is he is going into the game with everything depending on his one big ace (Rafa Benitez) card, and if he should lose that then the chances are the others would also fall, and the asking price he wants for the club would go down with them…there’d certainly be no investors left in the £300-£400m bracket still in play wanting a toxic club, just like last time…

    …but he knows that the only way he can hold onto his ‘ace’ is by giving him the promised transfer funds from the money the club has rightly earned starting in
    Jan and then again next summer…and his ‘business plan’ keeps telling him that’s never going to happen…but that he’d rather listen to any offers for the club
    (valued independently at around £250m) now and bite the bullet settling for the best one he can get over £300m…

    …and then let them deal with Rafa’s ambitious plans of building the club back to it’s former standing…a one which can compete with the top 6 of the PL!!!

    • Headless

      Good comment. Basically, about a third of the financial value of the club is in the shape of Rafa….

  • steve pearce

    We’re playing well, the pundits are praising us and we are on the dawn of new ownership. What a time to be a Toon fan!

  • Leicester Mag

    Have a read of an article in the Express a masterpiece of hackneyed cliches. To quote :

    I am not counting the Texaco Cup, Anglo-Italian or Inter Two-Bob because they are an after-thought in anybody’s trophy cabinet.

    I agree, Newcastle sell out nearly every home game but they are based in a city where they have no serious competition for season ticket money.

    In my book that makes them a well supported club rather than a big club and I have my doubts that anybody will be able to realise the unrealistic expectations up there.

    Ashley says that he wants to sell Newcastle by Christmas, if he does I reckon it will see him throwing the best Christmas party in town.

    Were this level of ignorant bile served up in comment on anything other than a group of football fans it would be considered inflammatory.

    • X,WHY,Y MAN.

      You beat me to it because I was going to comment on that pathetic article that stinks of “Southern Media” know nothing brigade !