The original plan by The Mag editor for this post-match article, prior to the Manchester United game, was that I would write three positive things about the game, plus three negatives.
I think though we all can agree that there weren’t any negatives to take from the victory.
However, for the sake of it, and to appease those of our fanbase who love a good moan about anything, I’ll quickly rattle a couple off for you;
Islam Slimani again failed to make the squad, meaning he will play a maximum of only 10 games for Newcastle United.
Plus, I found it funny that a few people weren’t happy that I gave out a few 10/10s in my match ratings on The Mag. I mean, howay, if that’s what you are commenting on after beating Manchester United then I’m happy to suggest a few of my favourite comedy films, in the hope that something cheers you up.
Anyway, after our best win for a long time, stuff the negatives; here’s 10 positives.
I have to admit I was sceptical when I heard we were bringing in a keeper that none of us had ever heard of from the Czech league.
Granted it has only been one game but if we have a safe pair of hands in goal, a keeper that is going to start every game, then that can only be a positive. We all have our opinions on the goalkeepers at the club, including those who have left, but as long as Rafa is happy (which he clearly hasn’t been so far in that department) then that’s the main thing.
Some consistency is needed in that position and it looks like Dubravka could be the one to provide it between now and the finish line.
The strong impact that Kenedy has made so far could actually be seen as a negative. What I mean is that, since his arrival, he has shown us just how lacking in ability our team is. For a guy who was essentially a Chelsea reserve player, to come into the side and instantly look like one of our best players goes to show just how poor the squad was.
However, he has been very positive so far, he’s a big guy, with a lot of talent, and for an attacking Brazilian player, he doesn’t half put some graft in. If he can play well until the end of the season, if the fans get behind him, if Mike Ashley does spend some money in the summer, then I would love to see him stay permanently. That’s a lot of IFs…
Diame’s form since the West Ham game in December has been nothing short of miraculous. In his previous 18 months at the club he has looked lost, lazy, lethargic, and quite frankly he’s been rubbish. Yet, his form over the past month has showed everyone that there is a player there, with a future at Newcastle.
If he can continue his form until the end of the season, and continue to be a driving force in midfield, then we will pick up more points for sure.
Other teams around us
A lot was made of Huddersfield’s win before the Man U game yesterday, including needless negativity going into the game.
However, results, in my opinion, appear to be benefitting us at the moment. West Brom and Alan Pardew look like they could be the side who tail off at the bottom of the league, which would leave only two relegation places to avoid.
Meanwhile, Southampton and Stoke are really struggling, Huddersfield and Brighton do keep dropping points, Palace remain inconsistent, and although Swansea are rejuvenated under Carvalhal, they’re still down there. Only three of those teams are going to go down and the odds are in our favour at the moment.
Injury free going into the final 11 games
What is really important going into the run-in is that Rafa has a squad to choose from.
With Dummett back from injury, four fit centr-halves to pick, both Merino and Shelvey available, as well as four wingers, options are plenty. When Slimani does make it, hopefully at Bournemouth, we should have near enough a fully fit squad. I don’t know my facts about the other teams but I’m not sure they could all say the same?
Air of positivity
What the Man U result will give us, is the chance to actually be positive. For too long this season, there has been too much negativity around the place, in the ground and on social media.
If the annoying 10 year old kid behind me, who is never happy, can get behind the team like he did against Man U, then you can too. Rafa said after the game “This is a team that cares. The players do not give up and they continue working hard.”
10 points off safety?
I don’t think 40 points will be needed to stay up this year. Too many teams down the bottom are dropping points and too many ‘six pointers’ are ending in draws.
I think that 38 points would guarantee safety. I actually think 37 would probably do it, considering there are plenty more six pointers to play.
What this means is that with 11 games to go, Newcastle need three more wins and a draw. That sounds perfectly do-able? Not easy, and this is Newcastle, but I fancy us to pick up 10 more points for sure.
He hasn’t been great this season but I was really pleased that Ritchie was the player who got the winning goal yesterday. This is a guy, along with Lascelles, who epitomises what Newcastle are like under Rafa Benitez.
Industrious, aggressive, gives his all, and although sometimes he may lack that final ball or bit of ‘class’ – he is a willing runner, and a player who when the going gets tough you know you can count on. Would be great to see him build on his good performance with a positive run in the side.
A truly UNITED team
Regardless of how ‘poor’ we are – at the absolute very least, at least we can be positive about supporting a group of players who consistently give it their all.
I feel like they all, or at least most of them, ‘get it’, and if they don’t, you are confident that the likes of Lascelles will make sure that they do.
I have said it before but, despite the fact that they may not be that good, I would take 100 Joselus over 100 Moussa Sissokos, 100 Matt Ritchies over 100 Gini Wijnaldums, and 100 Paul Dummetts over 100 Daryl Janmaats.
I think one of the reasons why Rafa seems intent on staying is because he knows this is a team that can be built on, rather than a team that needs an overhaul.
Look at the league table
Most importantly, look at the league table. We are 13th.
Yes, only two points above the drop zone but there are seven teams below us and we are only three points behind Bournemouth in the top half.
Given the circumstances, the lack of quality in the squad, the disappointment with the takeover, the disastrous January transfer window, I think our position right now should give us a lot to be positive about.
KEEP THE FAITH.
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn