Saturday finished Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 0.
Rafa’s team going ahead after 80 minutes, rather than the 70 seconds it took three weeks earlier against Southampton.
Ayoze Perez getting the important goal and another assist for Kenedy.
The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game.
Are we safe now?
It would appear that from this point onwards it would take an incredible run of results for Newcastle to be relegated.
Realistically, we would probably have to lose all seven of our remaining games to go down from this stage. Given the confidence that the players and fans have at the moment, it is highly unlikely we will see such a turn around in events.
Once upon a time not so long ago you would turn up to St James Park, no matter the opposition, and expect Newcastle to get something out of the game. That confidence is slowly drifting back into the fan’s attitudes.
Rafa is slowly turning SJP into what it used to be, and what it should be, a difficult place for teams to come. Even in the games at SJP this season where we haven’t taken the points (Swansea, Burnley, Everton… even Spurs) we have done ok, aside from being unable to put the ball in the back of net.
What Rafa has perfected, which I always argue is the key at Newcastle, something which Robson and Keegan knew, is if you get the fans on your side, then you are already 50% of the way there.
There is a more positive feeling around the club
Results are obviously the biggest contributor to this. Anyone reading this who goes every week, must surely tell you that there is a far more positive vibe around SJP compared with that of a year ago, or even 6 months ago. Even after missing a hatful of chances in the first half on Saturday, the crowd continued to get behind the team and push them on.
Likewise, I don’t think there has been as good a connection between the fans and a group of players in a while.
Still not clinical up front
It still feels like we need five chances to score a goal. By half-time on Saturday we could have had the game wrapped up! Yet it took a tap in 10 minutes before time to finally get the goal.
Of course sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get the three points, but up top is the area of the starting eleven that requires the most attention this summer.
If we are to avoid being in another relegation battle again next season, then we must be more clinical in front of goal.
Dropped from the squad entirely on Saturday – quite shocking that he couldn’t even register a place on the bench. All of us should agree that his form has dipped massively since he came back from injury.
However, Merino strikes me as the type of player who needs to be playing regularly to get the most out of him. Yet with Shelvey and Diame playing so well in the middle of midfield, there is just no way in for him at the moment.
Expect a return in ‘takeover talk’
As we move closer to safety, brace yourself for the inevitable takeover talk from the local media. The chronicle has already started the usual, “now Newcastle look safe, will Amanda Staveley renew her interest in the club” – I get the impression that most fans are just not interested in the takeover talk.
If it happens, then fantastic, but the recycling of rumours between now and the end of the season is likely to get tedious.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 0
Newcastle: Perez 80
Possession was Huddersfield 37% Newcastle 63%
Total shots were Huddersfield 4 Newcastle 18
Shots on target were Huddersfield 0 Newcastle 3
Corners were Huddersfield 3 Newcastle 3
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu 67), Shelvey, Diame (Hayden 79), Shelvey, Kenedy, Gayle (Slimani 75)
Darlow, Manquillo, Clark, Murphy
Crowd: 52,261 (3,000 Huddersfield)
(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 0 go HERE)
(Despite not one effort on target David Wagner says Huddersfield didn’t deserve to lose! Read HERE)
(Rafa Benitez reaction to the win HERE)
(Paul Merson gets very animated after watching Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 0 – Read it HERE)
(Alan Shearer loving what he saw as Newcastle beat Huddersfield – Read it HERE)
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn