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Opinion

Lessons learnt since Newcastle United restart

1 week ago
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We are now eight days past Premier League restart and four days beyond Newcastle United having kicked off again.

So what have we learnt?

Well, one thing hasn’t changed, once football returns after a sizeable gap, it very quickly feels like it has never been away.

So many talking points across the Premier League and in particular for us, about Newcastle United.

Playing to a finish

The debate on whether or not it was the right idea to finish off the 2019/20 Premier League season, appears to have disappeared completely.

Can you imagine if we were sitting here now watching pretty much every other league in Europe playing and here in England we’d called it off?

In France they have got all kinds of serious problems, legal and financial, due to not completing their fixtures. A disaster avoided with the Premier League, still not easy as we move forward but this season had to be concluded for all kinds of reason, chiefly financial and also for the integrity of the competition.

Nothing without fans

We always knew that it wouldn’t be the same / as good without fans inside St James Park and other stadiums.

However, for me the matches so far have proved that there is plenty to still enjoy about watching on our TVs for the time being, including with Newcastle.

Entertainment / Quality

I have seen some people question the entertainment and / or quality of the PL football so far.

I don’t think it is that different, if at all, to normal.

Some great football (Liverpool, Man City etc), intensity (scouse derby and so on) and varying levels of entertainment and quality.

That is the Premier League, only difference is that maybe with all games on live TV we are seeing more football, instead of just highlights.

Advantage Newcastle United

Newcastle United have scored only five Premier League goals in 2020 (including the two bizarre late Lejeune goals that got a 2-2 draw at Everton) when the opposition have had 11 men on the pitch.

Indeed, when Gayle scored against Villa, it was the first time since 21 January 2020 (that Everton match) that NUFC had scored against an 11 men opposition.

As we all know, we have a really good keeper and disciplined defence that Rafa put in place, but this season we rarely, if ever, look like we have a clue how to create chances or score goals when facing a full team. Or at least not nearly enough chances or goals anyway.

The win over Sheffield United and the goals were all very welcome but I can’t help think we were heading for a certain 0-0 until their man got the red card.

Premier League privilege 

I’m guessing a lot of embarrassment now amongst those PL players who were talking about refusing to train or play AND still pick up their usual wage packet.

Yes we were / are all worried about the virus but to think they could have it both ways whilst the rest of us went back to work, just smacked of privilege.

Everybody has the right to refuse to work BUT I didn’t hear a single one of them saying they would take unpaid leave if not playing football.

Irrational fears

The Bundesliga had shown the way ahead and yet still we had the authorities panicking in England.

Claims of huge crowds turning up to stand outside stadiums rather than watching on TV at home, have predictably been found to be a nonsense. Even Everton v Liverpool brought no issues, whilst I don’t even hear the issue talked about now.

Allan Saint-Maximin

No surprise that ASM is looking better and better and more and more carrying an end product.

Steve Bruce’s over the top negative tactics had held both ASM and Almiron back, both expected to act more as extra defenders than attackers.

The pair of them looking far more of a threat now, especially ASM and now two goals in his last three PL matches and could have been more, plus creating for others, though so often not on his wavelength…

Praying for a takeover and a top quality manager who can put better players and system around ASM in particular.

Summer football

I felt sorry for the players last night at SJP because of the heat and just as well they aren’t playing this afternoon, it is roasting!

Just checked and thankfully looks cooler for football this Sunday when Man City visit.

Football is winter game in the UK, not summer!

Steve Bruce

No change, he is what he is.

Bruce has somehow stumbled to a safe number of points and we thank him for that.

Although safety should always have been a minimum expectation when you have this keeper and defence (last two seasons, only two clubs outside top four let in fewer goals than NUFC each season), then like of Hayden and Ritchie giving cover, plus the flair and pace of ASM and Almiron. Plus Joelinton can’t be as poor as he has looked under this head coach (I also find it unbelievable that with NUFC safe in the PL, Bruce played exactly the same team against Villa as for Sheff Utd, what about the FA Cup on Sunday???).

I can’t wait for the NUFC takeover to be announced and a credible quality manager then appointed to start getting this club working towards what it could / should be.

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