Where to even start. What a day. A sunny, happy day at St James’ Park. A day when it all went right (again). A day when our lads are so superior to theirs that you get a glimpse of what life could be like under a different owner.
This team. This manager. I love them. Better players will pull on the black and white but none as united and committed. The Wor Flags banner said it better than I can or will. The Gallowgate glistened in the sun and 13,000 plastic cards and then we won the game.
United could have been three or four up at half time today. Playing Champions League chasing Chelsea. We are a match for anyone at home but even by 2018’s high standards this was specatcaular to watch. First to every ball and winning every header. No one can match us for graft and intensity when we’re at it. When we aren’t at it (which isn’t often) it’s not pretty. Today we were at it and then some.
The game started and Chelsea’s plan to give Shelvey as much time and space as he’d like went badly (for them). He and Mo absolutely dominated the midfield and as a result United were able to switch play with ease, causing Chelsea all sorts of problems. As a result of Ritchie putting numerous balls into the box, their back four got deeper and deeper and it only seemed to be a matter of time before United took the lead.
Murphy did really well to get on the end of a Ritchie cross and Dwight Gayle got an absolutely deserved goal for his efforts this season, nodding in the rebound after their keeper saved well to save. Gayle has given us everything this season and his graft has been a crucial feature in our renaissance this year. I’m delighted for him to finish the season like this. I think we all want to see another striker (probably two) come in this summer but I’ll always have a soft spot for Gayle.
From there on in it remained one way traffic and Diame and Perez almost extended the advantage. The first half was almost perfect from United. Chelsea failed to register a single shot on goal in the first half. Rafa’s United and that.
The idea that Chelsea couldnt be as bad second was discussed at half time by the lads I was with and we all agreed that their bench was dangerous enough to see us in trouble if we didn’t get a second. At the start of the half Dubravka pulled off two incredible saves to keep the scores level. He’s fucking mint you know. The save from Barkley in particular was superb. He’d no right to make it. That’s why he’s so good.
The second goal was brilliant from Shelvey as his shot looked goal bound regardless but was turned in by Perez, who was brilliant all afternoon. The pressure was off and the noise around SJP deafening. This is why we go.
The icing was well and truly applied when a great set piece routine was expertly applied. Lascelles stood five yards offside and Chelsea’s defence allows Lejeune to cross (unchallenged) for Perez (unchallenged) to smash in. Three nil and still loads of time to go. ‘Stand up if you love the toon’ range around SJP. If there’s ever a sign that SJP is a happy place then that’s it.
Some of the football United played to see out the game was superb and we didn’t look like conceding. Mohammed Diame is a pleasure to watch, if you like massive hard blokes tearing round the pitch terrifying opponents (I like watching that).
The full time whistle went and that was that for another season. The owner put out a statement after full time but all of that can wait for another day. The team delivered another lap of honour and for the third season in a row under Rafa, as the crowd serenaded the side for the last time this year.
10th Place is a great achievement for this side. Rafa has pulled every ounce of ability from them. He needs some better players to add to this squad to take us into the top eight and beyond. That team were brilliant today though, Chelsea were never in the game and a few of their lot emuliated our Wearside neighbours and left at half time.
Overall a hugely successful return to the Premier League. What a season and what a club. What a manager and what a team.
See you next season
ALEX HURST – FOLLOW ALEX ON @tfalex1892
You can still get at the issue of THE SPECIAL published on the morning of this match. To get FREE access immediately, just click here
true faith – Newcastle United Fanzine – Issue 138. 2017/18.
This is the latest issue of true faith. It is issue 138 of the fanzine we’ve been producing since 1999. The fanzine is over 90 pages of fanzine writing which is a heady mix of analysis of Newcastle United now and in days gone by. We have loads of other types of material in there for you as well. The fanzine is FREE to download. You can download the fanzine and read it offline if you choose. We all hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did putting it together.