After watching our new right back against Cambridge and Watford I took two things away from the game. The first was that in the first game he was easily our best player and in the second he was probably our best defender, though that may be harsh on Paul Dummett’s performance that day. The second was something that I was keeping an eye on after a piece I wrote about needing a new leader to get this club believing. In the first game he talked Emil Krafth through it and tried to point Ryan Fraser into the gaps he wanted to go into. In the second when Jamal Lascelles allowed Andre Gray in, it was Trippier shouting for the captain to calm down.
Now some of this we should have expected as in terms of quality and experience we knew how much of an upgrade we were getting. This is an England international who played in the final of the Euros and won La Liga last year whilst playing in the Champions League. He has earnt the respect of his new teammates through his career before Newcastle and it has taken only two games for him to show his quality. I wasn’t at Elland Road but fan opinion seems a bit split on his performance as some felt he left too many gaps at the back, where others thought he was trying to marshall the troops. However, Alan Shearer then said on Match of the Day that “he will be a future captain of Newcastle” and with Lascelles injured, is now the time to do it.
— NUFC Supporters Trust (NUST) (@nufctrust) January 24, 2022
The obvious issue is that Shelvey and Ritchie are the current vice-captains and Trippier is the new man through the door. But it is obvious that if we are to stay up we need to show that the club is moving forward and bring those players here with them. Shelvey has been here six years, we know what his qualities and his weaknesses are, but one thing he is not is a motivator. We also need the leader to deliver performances week in and week out, presuming that Ritchie won’t be picked every week we can probably rule him out. Trippier is English, can communicate with the whole squad, is the sign of the route the new owners want to go in and will hopefully be used to attract other high quality players to the club. Rumours persist that conversations were encouraged with Lingard as they would know each other from England squads and could be used to attract him for a permanent move. This could be nonsense, but I can’t think of another player in our squad who this rumour could even have been possible with.
Presuming that it is two months out, that this two week ‘work break’ in Saudi Arabia are going to be used for team bonding, now could be the time to set that tone. Eight weeks could be a rough period before Lascelles is back, by then two more defenders could be signed who are of higher quality (please Mandy) and his place in the team may not be as assured. Barring injury or suspension you would presume Trippier is certain to play the seventeen games remaining, unless Southampton get their way and he isn’t allowed to play. If that is the case, I presume Rafa will come back for the game at Goodison? A ridiculous idea and somewhat laughable.
— True Faith: Newcastle United Fanzine and Podcast (@tfNUFC) January 24, 2022
Another example of why I would have him as leader came in the game against Watford. An incident occurred on the Milburn touchline where Joao Pedro ran a good twenty yards to get involved in an altercation, Trippier stood his ground. Second half he looks to get away up the touchline, deliberately and cynically taken out by the same player. He goes to apologise, Trippier has none of it. We need that edge, that little bit of pointed aggression, belief in standing up for yourself and the idea that we don’t have to always be nice.
A video appeared on social media of Leeds fans making comments about Trippier being interested in the money and a greedy so and so. This was as he ran over to take a corner. As they continue to sing it, Trippier winks at them. He is happy to wind up the opposition, players and fans. He is improving the standard of player and performance, because he wants to go to the World Cup in December and won’t accept mediocrity. He has signed up knowing the risk of relegation but also how much of a hero he could be if we can continue to pick up points. Over the last ten games Eddie Howe has ten points, were that to continue Newcastle would end the season on thirty-two points. That probably isn’t enough, so we have to hope that the improvement (five points from eleven before him) can continue and we pick up at leasttwenty-one from seventeen.
In 2016 a meltdown from Lascelles in defeat at Goodison led ultimately to a change in captain and the rebuilding of squad unity. Possibly the moment that we change leader and be hauled towards safety began as Shelvey’s freekick hit the net and Lascelles’ hamstring was injured. The first person to chase after the goalscorer was the man who should have the armband when Everton visit for me, Kieran John Trippier the Newcastle leader of the future.
Stephen Ord – @smord84