It has been two years since I last saw Newcastle win away in the Premier League. An amazing stat when you think about it… was it worth the wait? I’m not sure…but that was a massive win either way!

Having studied in London the past 4 years, I have had the joys of discovering some great places to drink. Our day started off at Liverpool Street Station in a German dungeon hall which serves the best beer in London bar none. We then moved over to the Mabel’s outside Kings Cross, as the NUFC usual, The Dolphin, was jam packed.

Onto Stratford we went… but more on West Ham later.

It was so important that we didn’t lose this one. If we were to go 11 games without a win, in the relegation zone at Christmas, with Manchester City up next, all would have looked very grim indeed. Instead, a massive win (I can’t say that enough) has lifted us a few places forward and given us some hope going into January at least.

It was a massive surprise to hear that both Hayden and Merino were injured. With Jonjo Shelvey suspended too, who were we going to play? There were no options.

Could Mbemba play in there like he does for DR Congo? Could Dan Barlaser get a call up? Ant and Dec live in London right? Step forward Henri Saivet and Mo Diame.

I will be the first to admit that when I saw the team I thought ‘there is absolutely no way we will win this today – not with those two in the middle of the park’, but hey, they did alright didn’t they?

The Game

Despite the fact that Saivet would go on to have one of his best days in a Newcastle shirt, it didn’t get off to the best of starts for him, as he gifted Arnautovic a goal after only five minutes. It was a truly terrible mistake and he looked distraught when the ball hit the back of the net.

Unlike NUFC teams of recent years, their heads didn’t drop and they got on with it, looking bright early on, much like they have done in most games recently.

After only 10 minutes, Saivet more than redeemed himself with a brilliant free-kick to make it 1-1. Fair play to the guy for his performance. He would be well aware of the pressure on him, and the fans opinion of him as a bit of a useless outcast at the club, so for him to come back from that early mistake shows a lot of nerve, a lot of grit and great character. I would like to think that performances like his today will always be appreciated by Newcastle fans.

Even then, in contrast to games against Man United and Chelsea, we didn’t sit back straight away after scoring. Newcastle went for the second goal and we had loads of chances to get it before half-time. Dwight Gayle first hit the bar. There were a few murmurs around us that he was unlucky, but for me, it was an absolute sitter that he should be scoring. Matt Ritchie then hit the post, and Deandre Yedlin skied a great opportunity over the bar, we should have been 4-1 up at the break!

United started the second half in the same way they ended the first, on top. Deservedly, we went 2-1 up through Mo Diame! I was there when Saivet AND Diame scored. Incredible.

Diame is another one who deserves a special mention today. He wasn’t out of this world, but considering his confidence must be rock bottom, coming off the back of those sarcastic jeers against Everton, he didn’t shy away from anything today. Technically, he is obviously lacking when in possession, but he was everywhere across the pitch, and defensively put in a fantastic shift. Once we went 2-1 up, both Diame and Saivet were absolute rocks in front of the back four, so well done to them. I know most will disagree with me but they have certainly warranted a shout to start the next game against City based on their performance.

West Ham should have pulled level straight away with a dodgy penalty but Rob Elliott made a brilliant save! I think Elliott has been really poor this year, and aside from the penalty save, I thought he was poor again today. However, and that’s a big, HOWEVER, that save today could be crucial. When we get to the end of the season, I have a sneaky feeling that we may look back to that penalty save and see it as the biggest moment in our season. A massive save, well done Robbie Elliott.

We then went up the other end and scored a great goal from Atsu, who I think was our best player. That is along with Lascelles who has looked a rock at the back since coming back into the team. I haven’t been overly positive about Lascelles’ footballing ability in his time at NUFC, but I would have to admit, I was wrong about him. He is very much a key player in this side that we cannot do without.

West Ham got one back but we held out in what was a very nervous away end in the last five minutes. Jubilation at the final whistle. We all knew how important that result is.

Rafa Benitez

Much credit to the gaffer for his team selection today. I don’t think there is a Newcastle fan in the land who would have picked that team today but it worked, we got the three points and they actually played really well.

If there is one thing I always give him criticism for, it’s his use of substitutions, but I think he got them spot on today too. The right players were brought on at the right time. It was a nice feeling watching our players being the ones wasting time by strolling off the pitch to be subbed for a change.

There was a lot of talk this week that Kenedy is on his way into the club at the start of the window… I hope that is just the beginning. Rafa is going to have to make the most out of the loan market over the next month to provide some extra depth in the squad for sure.

Give this guy some decent money to spend and I have every faith that he will keep us up and turn us into a half decent side again.

The Fans

The 3,000 of us in the away end had the rare pleasure of going into delirium three times and we absolutely loved it.

After a quiet first half, the whole end got behind the lads in the second half and really pushed the team towards the final whistle. Our travelling Toon Army don’t get enough credit.

It is full of mad heads, and drunken idiots, but they are absolutely fantastic and I wouldn’t change them for any other fans in the world. As far as the Premier League goes… the best.

A little word on West Ham

I don’t really care much about other teams but as someone who went to 14 West Ham games at the Olympic Stadium last year, and knows the inside of the club very well, I feel compelled to say my bit (as many other Toon fans have on the stadium).

What is happening at the club at the moment is a great shame. I have always envied them, having two owners who love the club. Especially David Gold, this is a guy who grew up only a stone’s throw away from Upton Park. I have spoken to David Gold about this and the passion he has for the club, so it’s a shame to see them the way they are at the moment.

To say the stadium sucks would be a great understatement. The whole thing has been totally mismanaged from top to bottom.

However, 56,000? Yeah right. The biggest myth in the Premier League. The Olympic Stadium is never full, or sold out at West Ham. Perhaps the biggest problem of all for them at the moment is that their ground (and their pitch) really is too big for them…

Last bit

Whether this team is good enough or has enough quality for the Premier League I don’t think so, but after looking at the table and the results over the past few weeks, it actually doesn’t matter. What we have to ask ourselves is can we be better than what is around us? Palace, Swansea, WBA, Stoke, West Ham, Southampton, Bournemouth, Huddersfield, Brighton. I think the resounding answer to that question is yes. That gives me hope.

You can’t doubt that 99% of the guys in this team aren’t giving their all for the shirt, irrespective of their individual quality. As rubbish as they have been and as poor as they are, I wouldn’t swap this lot, and this manager, for any of the sides in the recent past whose loyalty was certain questionable. Days like today are a poignant reminder as to why we travel all of the country (and sometimes Europe) following this brilliant club.

Merry Christmas.

Keep the Faith.

Howay the Lads.

Stats from BBC Sport:

West Ham 2 Newcastle 3

Goals:

Newcastle: Saivet 10, Diame 53, Atsu 61

West Ham: Arnautovic 6, Ayew 69 (Saved penalty by Rob Elliot from Ayew as well! 56 minutes)

Possession was West Ham 63% Newcastle 37%

Total shots were  West Ham 19 Newcastle 11

Shots on target were West Ham 6 Newcastle 4

Corners were  West Ham 6 Newcastle 3

Referee: Lee Mason

Newcastle United:

Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo, Ritchie, Diame, Saivet (Mbemba 84), Atsu (Murphy 90+1), Gayle (Perez 76), Joselu

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Haidara, Dummett, Aarons

Crowd: 56,955 (Newcastle 3,000)

(See Alan Shearer’s reaction to the win HERE)

(Read the instant Newcastle fan/writer reaction to beating West Ham HERE)

(National journalist launches astonishing attack on Newcastle fans and Rafa Benitez after win over West Ham – read it HERE)

(Read the match ratings of all Newcastle players HERE)

(David Moyes reluctant to credit Newcastle with the win – read HERE)

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn



  • Leicester Mag

    Never been happier to eat a large dose of humble pie. Saw the team yesterday and thought we had Norfolk and Chance

    • Geordiegiants

      You and many, but it should be a lesson learnt to everyone. Rafa has not won and got where he has got in his career listening to what the fans want, he has don’t it his way, and he generally always comes out on top. It was the same last season when we had a poor run they all started, he went on to win the league for us, what more can he do?

      • GToon

        Rafa is not without criticism. One thing he could do a lot better at is something Keegan was great at and that is “keeping the players happy”. I don’t think he has managed the personal side of things too well. Perhaps he has a buffer like Keegan had Terry Mac who we don’t know about. I also get the feeling that Rafa is adopting a “told you so” attitude to Ashley regarding the squad and the results it has gained. Losing to Burnley, Bournemouth, Brighton, Huddersfield and getting hammered at home by Watford is not good enough. No ifs no buts. Not good enough. I don’t think Rafa has been as adaptable as I thought. I think he has a way of playing rather than getting the best out of his players. I think in January he will look for players who can do what he wants rather than get the best out of those he has. This might explain his refusal to play Mitrovic and Mbemba and Colback. And before you ask when I go to the game in a few weeks I will be signing his name, supporting the club from start to finish like I always do but that doesn’t stop me from commenting on the club. After all that’s what this website is all about. Happy Xmas. Glyn.

        • Pozz Mozz

          Rafa is not above criticism but do find out more about him.

          • GToon

            A good friend had breakfast with him and said he’s a thoroughly decent bloke which I think he is. Another good mate who is a Liverpool fan said his teams are always very defensive and quite boring at times. He said a lot of the players he buys turn out to be poor buys and he seems to favour players who do not do a lot but seem to do what he wants.

          • Pozz Mozz

            Your Liverpool mate is one halfbreed. Rafa won them the CL in his first season and went on to build a team that even Barcelona wants to avoid. Try making better friends.

          • Geordiegiants

            Ha ha, very true. People just love to whinge.

          • GToon

            He’s a decent bloke. He knows his football and is a season ticket holder at Liverpool. I was very interested to hear what he had to say as he saw how Rafa managed a good team and the football style he tried to impose on the club. Perhaps it might relate to us if we get the takeover sorted. I’ve spent the last five years being involved in academy level football through my son and have visited Liverpool, Man U, Man City etc etc and see at first hand how their youngsters are told how to play. It’s really interesting. You get to see how the club plays from top to bottom. If that isn’t of interest to you and you only go on the last result then fine but I want to know what’s in store for us if Rafa stays, how he likes to play, how we might challenge the big teams, how our club might develop etc etc.

          • Pozz Mozz

            I have followed Rafa’s career from his time at Valencia and it is surprising the amount of negative press he gets even from some Liverpool fans, who have not won anything noteworthy since he left. As a coach/manager, Rafa has a very clear and concise strategy regarding each and every opponent and he has success in his career precisely because he stuck to his beliefs. He is not perfect but he does know his job better than most, definitely not the obstinate fool some fans made him out to be.

          • Geordiegiants

            I totally agree, he does it his way and gets the job done, apart from Keegan here, nobody remembers nearly men. By the way I love Keegan he has bought me the best years of being a fan.

          • hetonmag

            Agree with you as far as the youth system goes it’s been a shambles under this regime, but first things first the main priority is getting the first team on a stable footing, then look at the training facilities they need bringing up to present day standards. And the need for a clear out of the coaching staff at youth level is imperative.

        • Geordiegiants

          I don’t ever suggest he isn’t above criticism, I suggest people look at the bigger picture. I will say it again, he makes mistakes like every single human being, but he gets a lot more correct than he gets wrong. His record over the years has proven it, why can people not see it? He just about always comes out on top.

          • GToon

            When he won the champions league with Liverpool the team contained only two players he bought so it was essentially somebody else’s team. I don’t have a problem with him being our manager I just think he doesn’t have and might not ever have the players he needs to succeed at a club like ours. He doesn’t seem to be the kind of manager to bring players through (that’s why Gibson left) but he has a blueprint for how he wants to play and he just wants to buy the players to fit in. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I would argue we have got Rafa too soon and needed another manager in between to stabilize the club and then Rafa take us that step further. Still it’s all opinions isn’t it and it’s results that count at the end of the day.

          • Geordiegiants

            So you could say he does get the best out of players his or not. Some of his buys are dodgy no doubt, but look at the options he has it’s either shyte or really shyte, he isn’t a magician, as for taking a leaf out of Keegans book, that’s just daft, Keegan has won nowt. If anything Keegan should of taken a leaf out of Rafas book and he would of won something.

          • GToon

            Yeah, this is the point I’m trying to make. I’m not sure if Rafa is the kind of manager to bring the players on or try and find the players he needs for his system. That’s why I was interested to hear how he did at Liverpool from a bloke who watched every game he was in charge of. I don’t think we are anywhere close to seeing what Rafa could do for us as Ashley hasn’t backed him. What will he do? Will he develop our club from top to bottom? Will he rely on the academy? Will he go for big buys or what? That was my point. At the moment he hasn’t had the players to show his hand I reckon. We saw pretty quickly how Keegan wanted to play and allardyce too but I’m not sure about Rafa as yet. Interesting times lie ahead. Could do without the relegation battle to cloud the issue tho. Happy Xmas. Glyn.

          • Geordiegiants

            He is doing a pretty good job from where I’m standing, first season he had 0% chance of keeping us up, he nearly did. Second season he wins the league, what more can he do?
            This season we are not in the relegation zone for Christmas, what are you expecting? I just don’t get it. The bottom half is a few points difference, it’s going to be like this no matter who we have, it’s the same every season for every manger in the bottom half, and we have by far, and when I say by far I mean by far, the weakest team in this division. As for not playing the mighty Mitro, thats the decisions top mangers make. Mourinho does exactly the same, if he doesn’t fancy them he f ucks them off, it’s his way.

          • Pozz Mozz

            If your Liverpool mate was the one who told you Rafa won the CL with Gerard Houllier’s team, stay away from him. The man’s a jerk.

      • hetonmag

        Shearer highlighted on MOTD last night how many players we had in the box whenever we attacked just proves how the lads are working for the manager and the shirt.

    • Soldier

      as did the whole of Tyneside

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    They still managed to attract 56,000 plus to a home game against a team in the bottom three so that deserves kudos not slagging off.
    Even if 3,000 were Newcastle fans they still had 53,000 which is cracking support for a club that is not looking like doing anything.
    You should have taken a couple of photos of Saivet and Diame’s goals because they could become real collectors items lol

    • anyobrien

      The 56k is a myth…. He told you that.

      • Gallowgate Dave

        Genuine question here – Why is it a “myth”?

        • anyobrien

          That’s the capacity and it’s rearly full

          • Gallowgate Dave

            West Ham sell out every game and have the most amount of season ticket holders in the league behind Man Yoo so I don’t think that’s true.

            I’ve googled it and I think the author is referring to the fact that a few thousand seemingly don’t bother to turn up every game despite having bought their tickets. Modern football eh?

          • anyobrien

            Empty seats all over the ground apparently.

    • Gareth Marshall

      I think you may have missed the point there!

  • anyobrien

    Great article… Can’t beat an away day win.
    Merry Christmas.

  • Arty Hume

    Saivet and Diame played well and so did Hoss, did not expect such good performances. Well done lads!!! And thank you!

  • TheFatController

    Amazing hard work by the wide men yesterday, West Ham want to cross to Carroll from the bye line (very effective – see their goal from the corner) and the effort put in to push their wide men deeper gave the CBs a chance to win headers on the front foot, not having to track backwards for a looping cross.

    That’s Rafa’s tactics and the players responding to him and working hard.

    Also, given Watford fans thought they should have been relegated last season, and their defence is appalling, plus they have the same points now as Huddersfield (22) I’d suggest they are relegation rivals also. 4 defeats on the trot now for them…

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      Everyone from 8th down are relegation rivals, we need to beat 6 of those sides from now until May and two sneaky draws. We deserved 3 points from the recent losing streak & even a point at Arsenal which would have us sitting pretty position wise.

      Brighton and Huddersfield will have a wobble, as are Watford as their players think of. Their next move.

  • Soldier

    is Kenedy a priority when we have Atsu playing as he is, i would say a striker needs to come in first because you can`t trust Ashley in any shape or form. get in what we need first or he`s likely to put an abrupt end to transfers in. a solid team performance yesterday & a fully deserved win in spite of a dubious penalty

    • Peaky Magpie

      Yes,a striker must be number one priority,as great as yesterday’s win was we can’t hide from the fact it was 3 midfielders that got the goals.

      • Soldier

        it`s been a priority for years but no one seems to bother buying one

        • Phil

          Good strikers cost a lot of money. We have had Ashley for 10 years. Remy (loan) and demba ba (a free) have been our best in his 10 years. He simply wouldn’t pay the 20-30 mill it would take to buy a worthy number 9

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            Andy Carroll?

    • hetonmag

      Agree we haven’t had a striker of note since Demba Ba left.

      • TheFatController

        But harsh on loic remy? I know we wouldn’t cross the road to put him out with our most readily available liquid, but he could lead the line and finish …and was a loanee I guess.

        • hetonmag

          Yes good finisher Remy when he wanted to be, he just wasn’t my cup of tea mate and a loanee like you say, that’s how low we have got under Ashley.

        • Oooh bobbi fleckman

          Remy should have signed. He followed the money and lost form and confidence

          He worked terrifically hard as a sole striker, I thought we was very good.

    • Geordiegiants

      I would give Atsu a shot at number 10, but that is just an opinion.

      • Phil

        We don’t really play a number 10. Either through tactics or a lack of a player capable. It’s old fashioned but if we could get 2 good strikers I like 2 up top. With a creative CM similar in style to cabaye would be nice!!
        I like atsu I think he is a good winger and when fully fit causes loads of problems

        • Oooh bobbi fleckman

          Exactly, Rafa had a number 10 at Napoli and he moaned like mad that he had the shackles on.

          Atsu is a wide player, his decision making has improved but not to be the lad pulling the strings.

        • Mitros gotta start

          I know…i just wish we had a player on our books that could score a few from distance, spot and play a nice pass and didnt mind putting the odd tackle in….oh hang on we do….i believe he is called jonjo

          • Phil

            When was the last time you saw shelvey score? Never mind from distance

  • Grahame Johnson

    Like all clubs west ham and Newcastle count all seats sold not attendee’s our sold out games come with a spattering of empty seats, they should do what most American football teams do count the attendee’s and list the rest under no shows,

  • Wor Lass

    That`s probably the best article of yours that I`ve read, Jonathan. Now, you may have been there when Diame and Saivet scored but I was there, right behind the goal, when Squidward score away at Blackburn. I reckon that`s comparable!

  • gallowgate26

    Interesting write up Jonathan, The Dolphin is where you normally start? The last few times that I’ve been to London (work) I normally just get food and a pint in O’Neill’s.

  • Oooh bobbi fleckman

    I thought you studied in Durham JDC?

    I thought Saivet was very good, his style of a simple defensive midfielder with good passing looked similar to Lee Clark. Batty replaced Clark with combative snarling tackles but Clarky had the positioning and a pass in him with the constant option for the man on the ball & I thought Batty was a step backwards. Saivet deserves a few more games.

    However, I think mo may not be the perfect partner for Henri.

    • Monkseaton Magpies

      The day we signed Battey was the day we lost the league. Prior to his arrival we played thirteen at home and won thirteen conceding three goals. When he replaced Clark we lost and drew games far to slow getting the ball forward Keegans great mistake.

      • Oooh bobbi fleckman

        Exactly, few people ever agreed with me on Batty but he didn’t keep things going like Lee Clark.

        • GToon

          He was a totally different player. Clarky always looked to play forwards and his movement was excellent. Batty was much more of a sideways player. We should have stayed with clarky and then brought batty on for the last ten if we were winning to shore things up. Easy to say now tho.

  • Phil

    Studying for 4 years? What are you studying? The meaning of life?