The big word for me with Newcastle United was ‘relief’ on Saturday.
Relief to get that first win of the season.
It didn’t matter how it came, we just needed to get that victory on the board and hopefully help calm the nerves, on and off the pitch.
If any of you had been asked how Newcastle would potentially win the game, I think we pretty much all would have picked that starting eleven.
As for how a winning match could look, I think an early goal, or at least a first half one would have been scripted, to both give Newcastle’s players confidence and knock Watford back.
A tight defence would have been seen as essential and then the hope being that Salomon Rondon could make the difference up front, with probably Jonjo Shelvey needing to have one of his better games.
Well, we got the tight defence.
As you will all know, the game saw Watford dominate and the first 50 or so minutes should have seen them a few goals up and the game killed off.
Newcastle had tried to start quickly and press but after only five minutes of so they had to accept they were up against a better quality attacking outfit who were able to regularly cut through United’s midfield and defence.
Rafa’s team rode their luck and as the Newcastle goal led a charmed life, the home side struggled to threaten at the other end.
Definitely not in the script was to see the likes of Lascelles and Shelvey forced off with injury, surely two of the players needed on the pitch if Newcastle were to stand any chance of getting that elusive first win.
With Muto also injured, all three subs had been used after 52 minutes with Schar, Perez and Ki introduced.
Newcastle able to grind it out, character seeing them survive the substitutions, fashion a winner and actually start playing some football, with Ki at the heart of it.
Only time will tell in the coming weeks as to whether Newcastle can use this win as a mini-springboard towards a decent run of results.
However, surely anybody who was there on Saturday will appreciate that this was just a sticking plaster placed on a very serious wound.
The next couple of months will hopefully see a few more sticking plasters that will help prevent any more life/hope slipping out of this club BUT it is obvious that a full bandage needs fitting in January.
Bottom line is that due to the chronic failure by Mike Ashley to allow investment in the squad, Newcastle have been doomed this season to be one of the relegation candidates.
Only the fact there are up to half a dozen other clubs who look equally bad has prevented Newcastle’s early season results not to be a total disaster.
At this stage last season only one club had less than eight points after 11 matches, this time there are five.
Even with Saturday’s victory, if Fulham beat Huddersfield tonight, Newcastle drop back into the bottom three.
With Mike Ashley, you always think that any positive result makes it less likely there will be any investment in the team. The mantra being survival with as little spend as possible.
In January there has to be serious investment in some better quality players, certainly a striker who can score goals and a number 10 who can cause the opposition problems, are absolutely essential.
The same with the left-back situation, Paul Dummett is a great squad player but the team desperately need a left-back who can get up the pitch as well and contribute. The failure at the minute to be able to do so is one of the things that makes Newcastle’s play so predictable.
We got away with one on Saturday, getting the luck that has been missing and then having a little bit of quality to take advantage.
I think all of us would settle for being fourth bottom when the January transfer window is reached and then thinking surely this is when even Mike Ashley sees that money has to be spent to give Rafa’s squad even the chance of having a relatively comfortable survival run-in.
Failure to do so would mean not even a bandage would do any good, with major surgery needed to revive the club.