Apologies for turning your attention away from the Newcastle United takeover debate for a brief interlude.

There is football still to be played and maybe what happens on the pitch is even more important now, seeing as there is seemingly real interest in buying the club.

Saturday of course saw a harsh lesson for Rafa Benitez’ team at Old Trafford.

Playing well for 30/35 minutes, three goals in only 17 minutes saw dreams become a relative nightmare.

Predictably, the media were only interested in the Paul Pogba love-in, as the Frenchman’s return to the Man Utd side helped them recover from that early Dwight Gayle goal.

As for Newcastle supporters, it was a mixed range of views afterward about the match and the individuals in black and white.

I appear to be in a bit of a minority because whilst I was gutted that things had gone pear-shaped in the game, I was still very buoyant about certain aspects of the match and certain players.

I thought Rafa’s team played some football in that opening half at Old Trafford which was on another level to what we have largely seen this season.

Some of the passing moves were excellent and I can’t understand how anybody can think Rafa picked the wrong tactics and should have had everybody gathered on the edge of our 18 yard box, hoping to defend for the entire 90 minutes without conceding.

There was nothing wrong  with the tactics, just at times the execution of them.

Some of the Newcastle players simply aren’t good enough, this shown most vividly at Old Trafford when getting caught in possession and/or gifting the ball to Man Utd with misplaced passes. This was at the heart of what went wrong in terms of losing the match, the hosts generally were unsurprisingly of far better quality and ability when it came to retaining possession.

However, even in this area of the match, there was still some big positivity to take out of it for Newcastle.

Jonjo Shelvey was excellent. His short and long-range passing was very very good, crisp passes finding their target pretty much every time. The last 35 minutes was a write off after it became 3-1 but prior to that, Shelvey was as good as anybody in midfield on either side for me.

The other big success story was Dwight Gayle.

I thought he did well against Bournemouth and of course scored a goal that was wrongly disallowed for offside. At Old Trafford he stepped up yet another gear and really looked like a Premier League striker.

His movement was superb and now fully fit, he really harassed the Man Utd defenders and caused problems throughout the opening 45 minutes. He took up great positions and the goal on 14 minutes was excellent. Dwight Gayle going right out to the right touchline and combining really well with DeAndre Yedlin to send him clear down the left, Gayle sprinting towards the box and at the same time keeping an eye on Yedlin’s progress before anticipating where the defender was going to deliver the ball.

The cutback was expertly met by Dwight Gayle and his shot gave David de Gea no chance.

A very very good Premier League quality goal that neither Mitrovic or Joselu would have the faintest hope of scoring.

Mikel Merino is undoubtedly looking to have at least the same level of control and ability as both Shelvey and Gayle, giving Newcastle a trio of very good players in that front six.

When you add the usually reliable Matt Ritchie, who had a bad day at the office on Saturday, that gives you a quartet of players to operate in the opposing half.

If you can put Shelvey, Merino, Gayle and Ritchie all on the pitch together, fully fit, then add another two players of the same quality or better in January or next summer, then Newcastle could be really cooking with that front six.

If you add in a decent centre-back partnership from the options we have, plus DeAndre Yedlin potentially finding consistency to go with his pace and decent play at times, up and down. then Newcastle aren’t too far short of having a team that now only tries – but that can also compete in the top half of the table.

For sure there is work to do and challenges to face before we can arrive at that point BUT there are green shoots already in place that  could give Newcastle United a very decent side in the not so distant future.

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  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    there`s always to many IFs at the Toon,
    if we buy a few quality players in January,
    if we had a top striker
    if we had a decent Number 10
    if we had a class Keeper.
    if Fatso sells
    if Rafa stays
    if if if

    • hetonmag

      If only you would cheer up.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        if only you`d [email protected]@k off with your mate Ashley

        • hetonmag

          You have got me wrong dipstick everything is doom and gloom with you why don’t you just [email protected]@k off and leave this forum to real fans.

          • nufcslf

            My reply would be, Cashley is still the owner and there is nothing to look forward to if the sale falls to pieces. This is his club, not ours for as long as he is around to makes thick decisions. Relegation will be the only thing of note to happen again, whether it be this season or next. Real fans don’t get the wool pulled over there eyes by a total lying sack of shyte that has no interest in football, they speak out against him.

          • hetonmag

            I’m no Ashley lover never have been never will be that’s why I took offence to that ignorant poster who is forever putting this club down.

  • Coble’s Return

    I do think that Gayle has been unfairly maligned. He is undoubtedly the pick of the options we have at the moment and a decent run in the team without picking up any further injuries could see the lad flourish.

    • Damon Horner

      Gayle can trouble a PL defence with the right players around him in my view but if he is the only threat to think about he’s managed.

  • Geordie-7676

    Sorry, but i think you have gone a bit over the top with your evaluation of Gayle.

    Yes he is a good player, and does give the team attacking options that neither Mitro or Joselu give, however, he is far from what we need within our top 6.

    Out of the options available, yes he gets the nod in my opinion, but come January i am hoping that the quality up front increases dramatically. As much as i wish that Mitro would come good, i just dont think he will do it here, so find a buyer and sell him, keep Gayle for the rest of this season as back up within the one up-front and get a proper 15 goal a season striker in. Joselu can be our redundancy cover for when the inevitable injuries start appearing in February!

    • Damon Horner

      Do you see a 15 goal striker who is attainable?

      Sadly I think it’s easier said than done.

      • Geordie-7676

        There are plenty of them out there…..just because we havent been linked with anyone doesnt mean that we are not capable of attracting one.

  • HappyToons

    I was just thinking about the 74-5 season when little Carlisle were top of Div 1 at the end of August but relegated! Derby won the league, Chelski were relegated with Carlisle. Coventry 14th and Spurs 19th and believe it or not no Man U as they were in Div 2

    The only certainty about NUFC is that we are forever unpredictable. That year we conceded the equal most goals against and still finished 15th due to our home record and some exciting games.

    We need this takeover to happen!!

  • fistsofsteel2

    ….definitely need to show a bit more adventure. This obsession with staying tight / keeping the shape / constantly seeming to play for a draw – no matter the opposition, is going to plunge us into a relegation battle.