Newcastle United : The next step to a wider world
Sunday’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Manchester City will go down as a significant watershed moment for Newcastle United.
There have been a few of them lately, the most obvious being the takeover and the appointment of Eddie Howe, but there have been others too.
The signing of Kieran Trippier showed that we had gained the clout to sign first class players, surviving our relegation fight demonstrated that we are club who can successfully pull together under dire circumstances, Sven Botman joining the club shows our ability to attract highly rated young players and that we are building for the future. There have been many more, so feel free to pick your own examples.
What I would like to do here though is focus on the draw with Manchester City.
There wasn’t a particular aspect which immediately jumps out as a focal point for what that game represents in terms of the recent history of our club, rather it was a confluence of a great many of the little things in and around Newcastle United over the past year or so going the right way. The club has used those marginal gains to put together an upward trajectory and that resulted in Sunday’s stellar performance against one of the best teams in the world. This was no fluke and we did not get lucky.
Moving forwards, there are a few knock on effects from this game, and while they’re somewhat subtle, they will prove to be at least as significant as some of the points mentioned above.
There isn’t a single team in the league now who will expect to come to St James’ Park and leave with a result. Even during the dark days of Mike Ashley it was often an unpleasant fixture for away sides but now it’s a fortress. The noise and atmosphere at the stadium, the positive and exciting football we’re playing, and the strong positive relationship between the fans, players, management, and owners have turned it into a bear pit. Opposing teams and opposing players know that, and that knowledge will cause many sleepless nights. Some will rise to it, but I suspect that more will fall, psychologically speaking it’s a huge advantage.
It was also a game which will give Newcastle United a boost in the transfer market. Putting in that sort of performance against a top side like Manchester City is something that will have put the footballing world on notice. The moment we got taken over we became an exciting destination for potential players but this game has demonstrated that the project is starting to come together.
The previously outlandish idea of Newcastle United once again becoming contenders no longer looks too far-fetched. A fair distance away, still, but we can see it on the horizon. It is difficult to know what sort of effect it will have had on incoming players like Alexander Isak and João Pedro, and it’s unlikely that it will have been the most important factor in their decision making, but I think we can safely say that it will have had some positive effect. This is something that we can expect to see more of in future; good results, attractive football, and a rich club on the rise make us one of the most interesting and exciting destinations in the league for any player who wants to grow their game, and develop into a truly world class player in a positive and dynamic environment.
It’s also worth looking at the effect that the game will have had on the current squad. Players who would have hung their heads and rolled over after going 1-0 down against the current champions a couple of years ago, are now players who will step up and fight for the shirt. There is a confidence in the side that they can get back into any match, no matter the scoreline, and Sunday’s result is only going to build that confidence. The players know that as a team they always have a chance, they trust one another enough to become something more than the sum of their parts. That is what winning teams do, as Manchester City showed us by coming back to earn a point from 3-1 down.
Our squad are now looking around the league at the Manchester Citys, at the Liverpools, at the Arsenals, and thinking ‘us lot, working together, are as good as any of you’. This is something that has been sorely lacking in recent years, and now that we have it again it makes Newcastle United something of a juggernaut; huge momentum driving us forward and not something that can easily be stopped.
I think many of us will look back in years to come and see Sunday’s game as the moment that everything changed. Not in any large or obvious way, we’ve put in good performances against strong sides before, but as a moment where everything came together and nudged the Premier League ever so slightly off its axis.
For Newcastle United, it was the next step to a wider world.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to firstname.lastname@example.org