This was my first trip to see Newcastle United at Wembley.
I had a ticket to go with my Dad in 2000 for the Chelsea semi-final when I was 5 years old but my mother put her foot down, said that it was too dangerous and I had a birthday party to go to anyway… I still haven’t really forgiven her for not letting me say that I saw Newcastle at the old Wembley.
It’s a funny one as growing up, my cousin and I always reiterated that the first time we would see Newcastle play at Wembley would be a proper cup final. Not a semi final, not a play off final… and certainly not Tottenham at a neutral venue.
I obviously caved in to that commitment last night. Having been to the new Wembley many times for various games, I can say it doesn’t quite compare to watching your own team… especially in front of a half empty stadium.
It was a far different Newcastle side from the past few games and especially from the Watford game on Saturday. In truth, we were by far the better side on the night, it is just that final ball, or taking our chances, that evade us.
Newcastle were under pressure in the first 10 minutes, with Spurs coming out quickly, but not causing us much trouble at all. Defensively, like most games this season, we looked pretty solid. Spurs didn’t actually create any clear cut chances aside from Danny Rose going through on goal in the last minute.
If anyone was going to score in the first half, it looked like it would be Newcastle. Perez and Gayle had chances, while Shelvey hit the outside of the post from a free-kick. He did well to even get the ball near the goal as the picture from the away end showed at least 15 players lining up in front of the goal.
Newcastle had another excellent chance when a great ball in from Shelvey set up Lascelles, who had a good header saved from Lloris.
Aside from that Bournemouth 2-2 game, I genuinely can’t remember the last time Dwight Gayle scored a goal. It is quite amazing how a player can look so good in the Championship but so bad in the Premier League. ‘Bad’ is probably harsh given what he did last season, or the effort that he puts in, but we are so desperate for a centre forward this summer. That has to be the number one priority.
The scary thing is, with talk of Mitro being worth £20 million, and remember Leicester paid £28 million for Slimani, we are definitely going to have to spend £30 million to bring in a good enough striker… and there’s no way Ashley is going to sanction that in my opinion.
A few people have mentioned ‘imagine if we had a Harry Kane’, it got me thinking, imagine if we had half a Harry Kane! That would be 14 goals from one player! We’d probably be 8th in the league.
Spurs went 1-0 up soon after the break, with what was a good goal. Obviously there is always something you can do to avoid conceding but in this case, it was a great finish from Harry Kane and sometimes you just have to say ‘good goal’. In truth though, Lascelles and Lejeune did a good job with Kane and Alli who were both quiet. Eriksen, also didn’t really get a look in with Diame hounding him every time he got the ball.
Kenedy had a very quiet last game for the Toon. Unless Chelsea decide to loan him back out next season, which I think is unlikely, then I am pretty sure that we won’t see him in a black and white shirt again. I was pleased to see Jacob Murphy come on after having a shocker against Watford on Saturday. He needs something to boost his confidence, and he nearly scored straight away, but he skied his effort way over the bar. That would have been a massive moment for him, if scoring for Newcastle at Wembley, but it wasn’t to be.
To be honest, once Spurs scored it kind of felt like game over. I don’t remember us creating much after that, aside from an amazing chance for Perez just before Matt Ritchie went down in what looked like a stonewall penalty from the away end.
I tell you what though, Spurs may have been poor on the night, but if that is the 3rd best team in England then there’s no reason why with a bit of money Rafa can’t take us into the top 6. Its just getting the money that’s the problem!
We may have lost but Newcastle were the better team on the night and should have taken all 3 points.
I think he started with what was our best team and the team that he trusts most. I got asked by a few Tottenham fans yesterday if I thought Rafa will stay and I am pretty sure that he will… even if Mike Ashley doesn’t give him what he wants.
We can all disagree with some of his decisions, transfers etc but I reckon there is no way we would be a Premier League team, never mind sitting in the top half today, if it wasn’t for him.
From an away fan point of view, he has made watching Newcastle away from home far more enjoyable. We rarely get beaten by more than one goal, and although sometimes it is a bit too defensive for my liking, we have picked up wins at places where in the past few years we haven’t (Stoke, Leicester, West Ham).
That was it for another season of travelling away watching Newcastle. I have been doing it now since my Dad took me to my first away game at Celtic when I had just turned 4 years old in 1999. Since then, I have seen us away in the Champions League, UEFA Cup, Intertoto Cup… even the mighty Schalke Cup, and I tell you what, it doesn’t get any less enjoyable.
3,100 fans in the away end made a terrific noise all night. It was one of those games where the score was almost irrelevant to the mood of the fans. It is just a shame that we couldn’t get a goal and send the away into pandemonium. I still haven’t been to a game where someone hasn’t offered to buy my 1998 Blue Away ‘Number 8 – Guivarc’h’ shirt off me. It is absolutely bonkers supporting Newcastle, and that’s when we are rubbish! Just imagine what it would be like if we won something…
Chants of ‘your ground’s too big for you’ seemed a bit harsh considering we were playing at Wembley but when you take into account that Spurs’ new stadium is going to hold 62,000, then theoretically, they wouldn’t have even sold their new stadium last night by around 8,000 seats!! For a supposedly big club, going for a place in the Champions League, I find that staggering.
On the night as well, Tottenham fans were quiet, with the biggest cheer of the evening coming from hearing the Leicester/Arsenal score, and then the Chelsea score. Would have been nice to see Spurs fans try and get behind their own team.
Last thing… this isn’t a complaint but I always find it funny how throughout the whole season (and this happens every year) you always see the same faces at every away game because they are in effect the regulars. Then for some reason, when it comes to the Sunderland game or a big one like last night at Wembley, you’re stood there in the away end, looking around thinking “who the hell are all these guys??” – of course it’s a case of loyalty point holders going to the big games but it always makes me laugh.
A few people talking about Shelvey, and my opinion would mostly be deemed negative, so I will squeeze it in here as I would never want to write a whole article that was negative about our own player.
Firstly, I like Shelvey, on the whole, he is our best central midfielder and he’s a good player. On his day, he’s bloody brilliant.
However, I just don’t understand why some fans think he is so good. Nor do I think he has been outstanding in 2018 like the Chronicle seem to suggest. In truth, he was brilliant in 5 games this season; Liverpool (H), Man Utd (H), Southampton (H), Leicester (A), Arsenal (H).
I honestly believe his ability to play 40 yard cross-field balls pulls the wool over a lot of fans eyes.
Last night I thought was a quintessential Jonjo Shelvey performance. A lot of patrolling the centre of the park, a few nice little touches, followed by a few wonderful cross-field passes. However, if you’re going to play central midfield, especially with only one partner, and not as a three, then you have to do more than that.
You have to chip in with more assists, more goals – and if not, then you have to do your fair share defensively, which I don’t think he does either. I would describe Shelvey as one of those players that gets away with it by looking like he does a lot, without actually doing a lot.
I half know what I am talking about, I played holding midfield at academy level, county level, national university level, and northern league. I am not saying that gives me the right to say I 100% know what I am talking about but I have an idea. For clarification, I’m s… now.
The point is, that sometimes I see what Shelvey does differently than some other fans. That doesn’t make either opinion right or wrong. But, for example, the amount of times last night that the ball came into him in the middle of the pitch, and he swung his right boot at it aimlessly. A few times the ball went over the top, it turned into a decent pass and many fans applauded. For me, that is lazy. It is looking like you are trying to do something without actually doing anything.
As the so called ‘star man’ he has to take more responsibility. Take the argument that the weaker players around Shelvey make him look worse. I don’t buy it. AND, if it is true, then Shelvey should be smart enough to adapt his game to the players around him. I know myself, you have to learn as much about the players around you, as you do about yourself, or the opposition. I’ll stop ranting – I know I’m the minority, but thats my gripe.
Again, he would be one of the first names on my team-sheet at the moment, but his performances, form and overall contribution are massively overstated.
Whatever way you look at it; Newcastle will go into the last game of the season on Sunday sitting in the top half of the league. For any side that has just been promoted, never mind a side that has had its hands tied behind its back by their owner, I think that’s pretty good going.
On a side note, delighted that all three promoted teams managed to stay up.
I was trying to think of a way to describe how I feel about this group of players and I came up with this: There isn’t one player in that whole squad, who if we sold tomorrow to another team, and he then came back to SJP to play against Newcastle, that I would boo or heckle. Despite how bad they may play sometimes; I’ve got nothing but respect for the lot of them.
It definitely isn’t going to be a quiet summer. In fact, it never is quiet at Newcastle is it?
Stats from BBC Sport:
Tottenham 1 Newcastle 0
Spurs: Kane 50
Possession was Spurs 63% Newcastle 37%
Total shots were Spurs 11 Newcastle 14
Shots on target were Spurs 7 Newcastle 3
Corners were Spurs 6 Newcastle 4
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy (Murphy 71), Perez, Gayle (Joselu 76)
Darlow, Hayden, Manquillo, Haidara, Merino
Crowd; 54,923 (3,100 Newcastle)
(NUFC instant fan/writer reaction to the match HERE)
(Rafa relates the ‘facts’ of the match – Read HERE)
(Chelsea game is now the £9.5m match for Newcastle United – Read HERE)
(Newcastle v Chelsea now set for Live TV – Read HERE)
(Read the match ratings and comments on NUFC players HERE)
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn