I hope Mike Ashley isn’t hearing what these Newcastle United fans are saying
It is an emotional ride for Newcastle fans..
I won’t say rollercoaster when describing following our football club, because that implies that there are as many ups as downs, which is clearly not the case.
Especially these past 12 years under Mike Ashley.
Like all other Newcastle fans who were there on Saturday, I really enjoyed the afternoon.
What’s not to like when winning 3-0, especially in front of the home crowd.
This was the first time in eight months that Newcastle had won a Premier League match by more than one goal.
That the victory also took Newcastle out of the relegation zone was huge, an extra reason to celebrate on Saturday night, which we did.
I had a great night in Newcastle city centre but some of the comments from a few of my mates concerned me and then in these days that have followed, plenty other Newcastle fans online have puzzled me further.
It was a must win game against Cardiff, it was a massive relief that the team did so, it was huge to climb out of the bottom three…but that does not equal a suddenly transformed side in terms of quality/ability.
Saturday was the perfect, almost scripted scenario, for a must win match.
Cardiff have arguably the weakest squad and team in the Premier League, they somehow put together a run in October to December of winning four home matches out of five (Fulham, Brighton, Wolves and Southampton). Much as I don’t like him, credit to Neil Warnock for this, though it does show that especially at home, on any given day, you can give anybody outside the top few clubs a game.
However, only Fulham have picked up less points away from home, Cardiff arrived with a record of won one, drawn two and lost seven, that one win was a total fluke when Leicester battered them but somehow lost 1-0. Added to this, Cardiff have scored the least away goals of any PL club, only six in eleven now.
They arrived at St James Park having not scored a goal in January, hammered 3-0 at home by Spurs, losing 1-0 at League One Gillingham in the FA Cup, then somehow emerging with a goalless draw after rock bottom Huddersfield dominated in Wales against them.
On top of that, Cardiff came to Newcastle missing their two key central midfielders, Arter and Gunnarson.
Warnock was so desperate up front, they signed Oumar Niasse on the Friday and then put him straight in the team. The last time he’d started a Premier League match was eight months earlier and actually played more minutes (64) on Saturday than he had all this season (58) as a sub in PL games.
This is not to do Newcastle down, they did everything asked of them and deservedly won the game, the third goal may have been a little unfair on the visitors, but Rafa’s players were definitely worth at least a couple of goals victory.
It was a dream scenario though, one of the weakest teams anyway who are terrible away from home, coming to St James Park and surrendering the middle of the pitch, with zero threat up front. If you read the comments from Cardiff fans beforehand it told you everything, they were all predicting three and four goal defeats, like ourselves they know their own team.
I have seen the local papers trying to make out that this was somehow Newcastle/Rafa discovering the mystery winning formula but it was just a case of a poor team being professionally dispatched. Newcastle didn’t get significantly better, the opposition just got far far worse, even Rafa’s underfunded squad would be looking at a Champions League place if this was the type of opposition they regularly played.
The media and some Newcastle fans are even trying to link this up with the 4-2 win at Blackburn in the FA Cup, the message being that NUFC are now running into some kind of form and finding this winning formula that had previously eluded them.
Blackburn are only freshly promoted from League One and if we’re honest, after going 2-0 up in the first half, Newcastle were second best after that.
Once Joselu got that goal against the run of play halfway through extra time, it understandably wiped them out, Perez then quickly adding that excellent solo fourth goal.
However, we have to keep things in perspective, with maybe Ayoze Perez being the perfect example to use.
Until that Blackburn away game, Perez had only contributed two goals and one assist despite playing in that number 10 position.
He has some ability but especially playing in a limited poor team, the Spaniard struggles to both score and create goals. Coming on as a sub against a tired Blackburn and then facing such a poor defensive Cardiff who handed over control of the game, these were ideal conditions for any attacking player.
It was only really once Cardiff conceded a second and had to try and do something, that Perez really came alive. The extra time and space made all the difference, time and space he won’t get in 90% of Premier League games.
Not just Perez, you could say similar about many of our players, they looked far better on Saturday because it was poor opposition who then lost all heart, especially the final half hour when two down.
We will be a whole lot wiser once these next three games have gone by, Man City at home and Spurs & Wolves away will be the acid test.
It’s great that all of our players look as though they give 100% but as I say in the title, I just hope Mike Ashley isn’t taking too much notice of the local media and some Newcastle fans.
This team/squad desperately needs strengthening in these final days of the transfer window, obviously Rafa’s targets should have been gone for as soon as the window opened, but it has to happen now.
Newcastle won none of their first ten Premier League matches, then three in a row, before only one (away at rock bottom Huddersfield) of the next nine, before Cardiff on Saturday.
Rafa Benitez has a really weak team and squad, relying on those three clubs below us not picking up points is something only a fool would do.
To have any confidence in getting to that 35 or 36 points total that will probably be enough, Rafa has to be given some extra quality, especially in the last third.
If Salomon Rondon got injured…
Enjoy the victory but keep it in perspective, the message to Mike Ashley has to be loud and clear, Rafa’s preferred signings are an essential this month.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]