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.

Martin Dubravka

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…

Mo Diame

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.

Matt Ritchie

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.


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  • Paul Patterson

    I’ll start it off- ‘Dubravka is a Geordie, Dubravka is a Geordie . .’

    • ghostrider

      Nah nah nah nah…..Nah nah nah nah.

    • Leazes.

      I thought he was Slovak…. maybe you could do an article five things we learned.

      • Paul Patterson

        You couldn’t just enjoy it could you . .

        • MichaelMaximusMoose


    • Wor Lass

      I like M-Dubs as a nick-name but I don`t know if we`ll get a typical terrace chant from that angle.

  • TheFatController

    I think maybe the transfer window was negative due to the usual indecisiveness, petty price haggling, and also the difficulty of getting clubs to release players without ‘top dollar’ or ‘a replacement in’

    However, getting a £30m PL striker who has experience and can hit the ground running now fit may just be a piece of good business come May.

    If not we give him back! But he has pedigree, and in an increasingly confident, hard working team how hard can it be for a £30m striker ?

  • TheNutJob

    no doubt Fatty will activate the keepers clause & then sell him for £20m in the summer

  • East Durham Mag

    Perhaps with Slimani it just proves that unlike other managers Rafa Benitez won’t gamble players fitness and throw them in when they clearly aren’t ready. The comment about 100 Paul Dummetts over 100 Yanmaats is right but the need for more than effort has been proven by an injection of a bit of quality. You need both in the team.

    • Paul Patterson

      I assume you mean what Dummett lacks in flair he makes up for in work ethic and the opposite for Janmaat.
      I was never that big a fan of Janmaat or Debuchy for that matter and in the fact that neither clearly wanted to be here and I’d take Dummett every time.

      • East Durham Mag

        It wasn’t a dig at Dummett Paul, i’d take him everytime too. Great defender and big heart, not great going forward but an excellent defender. I would say his flair is defending and teams need quality defenders too.

        • Paul Patterson

          No, I didn’t take it as a dig.

          • Dillon Tovak

            People say Dummett is slow, yesterday the boy looked rapid. Was it Martial he made look like a snail in one chase?

          • Wor Lass

            He is quick but there has been a tendency in the past for him to be caught flat-footed at times with balls dinked over the top. With some of the supercharged wingers knocking about these days that`s all it takes. I`ve always liked his attitude, tackling and ability in the air but he has improved all other aspects of his game over the last year or so. He was a lot more positive going forward yesterday which is relly good to see.

  • Leazes.

    So it is Mark Jensen propagating this ‘positive negative nonsense!

    Thank you for telling me that…. I didn’t bother to read the outcome of the resulting ‘spin’

    I’d like to destroy it completely, it isn’t a balanced way of looking at the world it is a way of manipulating truth.

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      Nice to see you back after yesterday’s disappointment.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        Yes there will be a few unhappy people from the Mag Website last night. Was not sure if they had turned their computers off or they were heading for the tyne bridge. They will be devastated even more so with the article on the valuation of our squad when we can not compete.

  • mentalman

    a bit of negativity from yesterdays match for me was that we showed what we can do when we don’t decide jut to sit back and defend

    • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

      i said this to my dad last night after the game… the only negative was the amount of positives!

    • HarryHype59

      Agreed, which begs the question how many more points would the team have, if the tactics had been more adventurous.

  • Andy Mac

    I disagree about the survival points total. Maybe one or two teams will go down with 36 points but looking at the table now there’s no doubt it will remain as tight in the basement dog fight. I’d suggest 42 would see us clear of that third relegation spot but frankly we should be aiming for more than that.

    Bournemouth, Southampton, Huddersfield, Everton West Brom and Watford are all winnable games based on yesterday’s performance. Let’s hope Rafa sticks with the positive game plan ?

    • Wor Lass


      • Andy Mac

        Incredulity ? 🤔

        • Wor Lass

          That`s more like it. Mind, you`re 3 points to the good now – it could become “admiration” if this keeps up!

    • MadMag83

      Yeah I don’t understand where this idea that 35-38 points might be safety comes from. If anything, recent results have shown that teams in the bottom half can beat almost anyone and all are picking up points.

      Of course, the crucial games will be those between other strugglers so we could do with three of them losing out.

  • robbersdog

    100 Moussa Sissokos? FFS, I’ll have nightmares now!

    • Dillon Tovak

      It wouldn’t make for good football but would be one hell of a battering ram.

  • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

    You could be right about the 40 pts but the way the league is going with teams at the bottom picking up points and pretty much every team from Everton down being in the mix, it’s quite possible that 3rd bottom will have 40pts.

    What we do have, and this is a rarity for a United side, is very good goal difference. That’s worth a point and may well be the difference between 18th and 10th!!!!!

    • Ben Jones

      Not saying this like I’m dropping info that people didn’t already know but 7th best defence in the premier league . We really are just 3 or 4 players away from a top 8 team (7/8th obviously) and the 3 additions if we get the chance to sign them permanently and one more forward is probably what we need to make that leap . Should we stay up and sell a few unwanteds I think the money is there to do it all given the extra quids from TV money we’ll be getting . The future is bright but I don’t think some fans want to accept it just because they see it as Ashley gaining if we do well , I find it quite perverse that this is the corner that their logic has backed them into…

      • Wor Lass

        The problem we face all the time, Ben, is that the club doesn`t communicate well with the fans and Ashley`s past behaviour, the only predictor of his future behaviour, has been bizarre to say the least. The best outcome for me is that he sells up to someone with moral fibre and respect for their fellow human beings.

        • Ben Jones

          I can understand your views , I just don’t see the monster that others seem too if I’m honest , I’m very uncomfortable with money being injected into the game above and beyond natural generated , a quaint view I know but one I can’t personally shake , and I don’t believe Ashley is taking any money out of the club , so from my perspective , if he’s taking nothing out and putting nothing in then that’s the best possible thing I could wish for . Controversial I know

          • Wor Lass

            Each to their own, mate!

          • Ben Jones

            Fingers crossed someone might sheikh our hands then…

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        I doubt Kennedy will be available to us, I think Chelsea will have plans for his future.

        Silami needs to enjoy his few months and we then convince him we’re on the up (of course, he has to play well, if he does, we stay up)

        If we stay up, I think Ashley sells as I do think he’s had enough. I’ve never had an issue with the club being a vehicle for Sports Direct as I’m sure SD want their name on a successful team not a Championship side.

        • Ben Jones

          I agree I think he has had enough & fair enough I guess , can’t argue against an outcome that will make most people happy after all , we’ll see what impact the new people have to our financial stability / debt gamble / dividend taking / benevolent / boom&bust , I mean it can’t possibly be worse than where we are could it?

        • MadMag83

          Kenedy’s future will depend on who’s boss at Chelsea come the start of next season. If Conte remains then Kenedy will probably be available. If a new manager comes in, then he would likely want to assess the lad before deciding.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            The question with Conte is whether he lasts until the summer or goes beforehand. Two games will decide this, home & away in the Champions league.

            From our point of view, Conte going early may help and we can make an offer without the new guy getting a sniff. The wonderful thing about Chelsea is the manager will never have an eye on the future so he should favour liquidity.

      • thewildchimp

        Yeah, to tell the truth, in May I really believed that Mike will put some money into the club and we’ll end 7/8th. Shattered my hopes near the end of June, though… Still, relegation was never on my mind.

        • Ben Jones

          I’m sorry , your post is littered with past and future tenses and I can’t pick through its meaning , or perhaps I missed the point?

      • MadMag83

        I agree that with Rafa in charge and a few quality additions, this team would be comfortable. But I’m not sure that survival will guarantee those players being signed unless Ashley sells. Like him or loathe him he wants to sell up so I can’t see him investing any great sums because he’s just playing the waiting game with potential suitors.

        He only gave Rafa money last summer because he thought Newcastle would be safe by Xmas and a takeover deal would be pretty much done.

        • Ben Jones

          Maybe . I see it slightly differently in he gave Rafa everything available and ‘hoped’ we would be in a safer position by Xmas , he wants out , putting more in out of his pocket only raises the price and harder for potential buyers to meet

          • MadMag83

            Likewise with the new TV deal in the offing. The price of the club will rise with it, which in itself isn’t unreasonable. But i think the current asking price is too high so further inflation of it may scare off the likes of PCP.

            It’s a tough one. Investors are now looking at the Championship as a cheaper way of buying into the Premier League gravy train via promotion. But Ashley is unlikely to sell Newcastle if they end up back in the Championship as he wants that money. However if they remain in the Premier League but he sets his price too high, then we could be stuck with him for a while longer.

          • Ben Jones

            Controversial I know but I’d be quite happy with that to be honest ….. Yeah , Leeds must still be in a financial pit , I can’t understand why someone hasn’t pumped Leeds , they’re pretty much the 3rd biggest city in England and it has only 1 club , surely it’s prime…

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    With a further two points against Burnley which we deserved then not many fans would be taking about relegation. The only thing against us is that a lot of the teams at the bottom have to play each other. Fancy us to get points at Everton and Leicester four would be nice and beat Chelsea and Arsenal at home which would take us in to thirty eight so one more win from the other matches should do. Also Huddersfeild we must take at least a point.

  • Dillon Tovak

    I pray to god I’m wrong but my crystal ball (plus having supported Newcastle for so long now so know how this plays out) after the next game we’ll be saying “FFS what happened to the Man United game performance!?”
    I’d love it if we could build on this result 🙏

    • thewildchimp

      Yeah, it’s like that – you can never relax. But if they keep it this way – they’ll demolish the bottom three. Of course, that depends on Slimani. A lot of pressure on him.

  • Rich Lawson

    It’s a game of poker now,Rafa’s face gives nothing away but Slimani could just turn out to be that unexpected Ace.

  • Wor Lass

    Janmaat and Gini, especially, are doing well with their clubs. I`ve never understood why Gini is given stick by some people. There was nothing wrong with his attitude and he never once showed any disrespect to the club or the fans. I would love to think that he will be welcomed back with respect. Nothing wrong with a bit of good-natured booing – panto style, if you like – but he should get some applause as well.

  • Philippines

    I have to wonder what changed Mo Diame. In the sixties, one big problem was that players were often in a pub ‘lock in’ on a Friday night. Does anybody know what changed ‘slo Mo”?

    • thewildchimp

      Well, he definitely changed his position. He needed a bit of time to get accustomed to, but is playing accurately and efficiently now. With playing good, confidence comes naturally, so there you have it. A solid breaking midfielder. Doesn’t have to be anything else but his drive that spurred him on.

      • theoriginalbomberman

        Benitez was actually a central defender. What exactly could a bang average Spanish third division defender who retired early because he couldn’t cut it in La Liga 2 coach a 30 year old accomplished premier league midfielder?

  • Mal

    After we lost to Arsenal in December we had 15 points from 18 games. Despite some disappointing, and sometimes unlucky, dropping of points at home our results have improved significantly since then and we have gained 13 points from our last 9 games. During that period we have lost only 2 games, both to Man City. If we can keep this up we will hopefully be ok. Sundays result should be a real confidence booster. HTL