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.

The Match

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.

tottenham 1 newcastle 0

Rafa Benitez

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).

The Fans

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.

tottenham 1 newcastle 0

Jonjo Shelvey

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.

tottenham 1 newcastle 0

Last bit

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

Goals:

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

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy (Murphy 71), Perez, Gayle (Joselu 76)

Unused Subs:

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

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  • MadMag83

    I find it ridiculous that Spurs would rather finish 4th than win a cup! I’d rather trade our last Champions League campaign for an FA Cup.

    • Jezza

      The fact that clubs would rather finish 4th than win the FA Cup epitomises everything that is wrong with modern football.

      • Leazes.

        Knock out competitions are a poor compensation for the league. The league cup was always a nothing thing and the FA cup has gone the same way tarnished by commercialism….. a prize for the ‘also rans’ in the past… but now just a ticket to European football for the elite group.

        • Jezza

          The League Cup certainly didn’t seem like nothing back in 76.

          • Leazes.

            I was there…. a crumb is a banquet to a starving fan.

          • FatParosite

            I was there too. My heart sank as Dennis did the dirty.

        • FatParosite

          We don’t even bother to turn up for any of them.

      • MadMag83

        Exactly. I mean, I could understand a club like Man Utd, Chelsea etc, not being too bothered about the FA Cup because they’ve won leagues and Champions League titles. But for a club like Spurs an FA Cup win would be huge surely? They’ve won nowt for years (like ourselves) so you’ve got to start somewhere. Had Newcastle won the cup last time we were at Wembley those players would be immortalised, nobody is going to look back in 10 years time and say, “remember that great side that finished 4th?”.

  • Billmag

    Your last bit about the player’s is absolutely spot on they are an honest bunch of lads who have worked there socks off this season.

  • Leazes.

    How have you got a 1998 Blue Away ‘Number 8 Guivarc’h’ shirt when you were 3 years old…. after we got shot of him nobody in their right mind would have had one made? You are making things up!

    And what is your connection to West Ham….. there aren’t two people called JDC?

    …and why does it say ‘Great Report’ in the heading?

    • Tynewalker

      Walter Mitty comes to mind!

    • Dillon Tovak

      Probably his dads. Which means his dad was nuts! 😂

      • Coach Clagnut

        Who, in their right mind, would want a shirt with Guivarc’h on the back of it other than a Frenchman to remind him of the World Cup win?

  • mentalman

    is a shot on target not a clear cut chance?

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    How come you were allowed to go to a Celtic away game at four (horrible supporters) and not allowed to go to a Cub semi final at five with good supporters.
    I blame the parents.

  • Gayle and Ayoze should have scored at least 2 combined!
    Our forward line is letting us down time and time again. We need better strikers!

  • Andy Mac

    Good stuff JDC. I agree with you about JJ either he should add more defensively or should score more than two goals per season in the top flight Sadly he does neither.

    When we have powder puff strikers we really could do with a midfielder chipping in with 8 or more ?

  • MP01

    To be fair, how can you add assists when the best the club’s top Goalscorer can muster is 6 Goals?? There were so many chances for us to score last night. The ‘Quintessential’ example of our striking prowess was Perez’s swing and a scuffle in the second half. The old saying that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink seems quite apt.

    Ultimately, the only difference in the game that led to Spurs winning was a proven, and instinctive goalscorer in Harry Kane.

  • FatParosite

    Perez has been an average servant but if we are still fielding him when the season starts again we are doomed as a club. Perez still in a B&W shirt will have the hallmarks of Ashley’s foolhardy thriftiness & Benitez’s willingness to go along with it because of the decent wedge he is getting. I’m of a mind to not even bother watching NUFC on free streams my interest has dwindled so much.

    • Billmag

      You won’t be missed coming out with statements like that, Rafa could get a decent wedge anywhere.

      • Lhc

        He ain’t a fan he’s a fair weather type, any fan who isn’t supporting the team through good and bad can fu*k off

        • FatParosite

          How the holier than thou come out …. The pathetic terrace dwelling Ashley sycophants, imbued with their own attitude of moral superiority. I keep putting money in Ashley’s pocket so I am better than you. Sanctimonious mouth breathers. Here come the “must be a mackem” comebacks.

          • Lhc

            Couldn’t careless tbh. The likes of you are
            irrelevant to nufc in
            every way

          • FatParosite

            zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

          • Lhc

            Me season tkt history doesn’t say that, but nee bother, goodbye 👋

          • FatParosite

            How ironic.

          • Coach Clagnut

            I think the reaction was spurred by your comment on Rafa hanging around for the wedge and being complicit with Fatty in starving the team of resources.
            Rafa doesn’t need the money. He’s been on top of his game for years and just last year was given 1.5 million from Real in acknowledgement of his contribution to their European Cup win. He’s a wealthy man.
            He’ll also have a pick of clubs after the season ends and, with all the money sloshing around the game at present, could easily top what he’s getting from Fatty.
            He stays because he’s a romantic,were a football city and he can see what we could achieve with a bit of investment.
            What we need to worry about is Rafa being forced out as he was at Liverpool under the despicable Hicks & Gillette. Two bob millionaires using the income to service the loan they used to buy the club whilst starving the team of resources.
            We’ve got a 10 bob millionaire but the scenario is the same. He doesn’t want to spend either.

    • robbersdog

      Perez has a very good second half of the season. He’s really put in a shift and I’d like to see him playing alongside someone better than Gayle.

      I reckon he’s a class act, he’s very committed to our club and if we sell him, we’ll regret it when he becomes star player somewhere else.

      • FatParosite

        That was the perennial lie told to most about Ameobi. The truth is he won’t.

        • robbersdog

          I haven’t lied and Perez and Ameobi aren’t comparable situations.

    • Paul Patterson

      We can’t just go and replace everyone. Priorities are striker and keeping the status quo in Kenedy and Dubravka. Theres £60m before you start looking anywhere else

    • Dillon Tovak

      Perez with a good striker would be decent.
      With Gayle? Terrible combo of 3ft weaklings.

      • Philippines

        AGREE.

  • Dillon Tovak

    Jonjo should score and assist more and he does give the ball away cheaply at times. The latter being why he won’t be at the WC.
    However, on his day he is unplayable.

  • thewildchimp

    I understand where you are coming from when assessing Shelvey’s playing. However, he’s the main reason why we create 90% of our chances. We have only 3 people capable of beating their man in 1-on-1s, Kenedy, Murphy and Yedlin, and sometimes, rarely, Perez and Ritchie. That makes two reliable people who can create through dribbling in the first 11. That’s not nearly enough to build around it. The other option in our current formation is the midfield triangle with wing play. But we have Perez, Gayle or Joselu sitting on the top of that pyramid, who couldn’t keep the ball safe for their life. We have no reliable #10 to work those channels or be our focal point, so in-game rotations and circulations are not the answer, although that worked a few times this season. The only somewhat reliable thing we can do is Shelvey’s pinging. Of course he will miss often but there’s only a few players in the Prem right now that could play like he does. He does seem to prefer this style of playing and it definitely looks thoughtless and lazy, but what else can he do? It would be different if we had a player up front who could hold onto the ball, like Mitro, or dribble and pass like Firmino.
    I don’t rate this way of playing myself but I don’t think we can do any better at the present.

    It is the “passers curse”. You can have all the precision, technique and vision you want, yet you are ultimately only as useful as the people you’ve passed the ball to are.