Newcastle United need to take phone off hook so star player not picked off by ‘big six’
Suddenly, there is a bit of a buzz around the place.
Following Almiron’s arrival and the dynamic team performance against Huddersfield, there was a tangible feelgood factor, possibly enhanced by Leicester’s appointment of Brendan Rogers removing a likely alternative for Rafa.
Burnley though, were not to be taken lightly, unbeaten this year and in possession of just the sort of route one no-nonsense lumpers that can really knock a team reliant on pace and invention off its stride. They seemed set to sit back and spoil United’s game plan and to be fair, they were looking better at it than Huddersfield.
Almiron was all over once again, firing tamely wide from an early chance but opportunities weren’t coming as easily as they had on Saturday. This all exploded though after 20 minutes in spectacular fashion.
The Clarets defence were probably guilty of standing off a bit when Fabian Schar received Manquillo’s innocuous little pass 30 yards from goal. Schar was clearly affronted by such disrespect, so took a brief touch before unleashing a flaming cannonball that whizzed through time and space on its way past Tom Heaton and in off the post (in off the post always looks mint doesn’t it?). Boom.
The goal was a fine settler and United kept steady pressure on, with the lead being doubled fourteen minutes later from a hugely popular source.
Almiron spread the play out wide to Ritchie, whose poor first touch meant he had to dig his cross out a bit. Rondon went up for the tussle with two Burnley defenders, causing the ball to drop for Sean Longstaff at the back post. Longstaff’s quick control and powerful strike into the far corner epitomised his stylish, mature play since breaking into the team, and the warmth that radiated from the stands for one of our own was matched only by the delight on the lad’s face.
At this stage, I have to confess that I have already started worrying about some utter sh…house from the top six pinching Longstaff off us agonisingly early, in what looks set to be a brilliant career. Take the phone off the hook.
Burnley had a go back before the half was out, but when Chris Wood was left unmarked to unleash a back post volley, Dubravka made a fine reaction save. He was not required to react to Tarkowski’s subsequent attempt that just about cleared the Gallowgate roof from a near identical close range position.
Early in the second half there was another heart in mouth moment as Perez played a fine ball over the top for Almiron to zoom onto. Heaton had seen how horribly stranded his defence had been and was unfortunately out quickly to block Miggy’s effort, but it’s going to be great when the lad does score.
The game slowed down a bit from there, particularly later on when Burnley adjusted tactics, changing from booting it up a height to booting it right up a height, when Peter Crouch came on.
They also endeavoured to leave a mark on the game late on, with Crouch elbowing Diame and Tarkowski slyly stamping on Joselu, but a steady 2-0 was negotiated amid Rafa’s usual tactical withdrawals, no doubt with an eye already on West Ham.
Other results were kind, leaving us in 13th with a bit of daylight to those in bother at the bottom.
Possibly, just maybe, we can have a reasonably enjoyable spring. I said after Huddersfield that any positives are tainted with the fear of it all dismantling in the summer, but I make no apologies for enjoying it while it lasts.
Worrying only means you end up suffering twice and we’ve done enough of that round here.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Burnley 0
Schar 24, Longstaff 38
Possession was Burnley 46% Newcastle 54%
Total shots were Burnley 12 Newcastle 12
Shots on target were Burnley 2 Newcastle 3
Corners were Burnley 7 Newcastle 4
Referee: Craig Pawson
Dubravka, Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune, Ritchie, Hayden, Longstaff (Diame 85), Almiron (Dummett 80), Perez (Joselu 87), Rondon
Darlow, Ki, Yedlin, Atsu
Crowd: 48,323 (Burnley 1,300)
(Match ratings for all NUFC players after the 2-0 win HERE)
(Must see video as Alan Shearer celebrates that Fabian Schar opening goal! Watch HERE)
(Instant reaction from NUFC fans/writers after the victory – read HERE)
(Read HERE Rafa’s amusing reaction when asked after the 2-0 win what he would say to Mike Ashley)
(Sean Dyche give very honest reaction after the defeat – Read HERE)
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf
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