At 39 minutes in north London on Sunday gone, all was well with the world. Fabian Schar’s well-taken free-kick had us a goal up against press darlings, Tottenham and we could have been forgiven for musing; let’s just get to half-time, regroup and we’ve got something to fight for in the second 45.

That quickly went up the spout when we conceded an equaliser four minutes later and not ten minutes after the interval, we were 3-1 down and finished. A 5-1 pasting just to remind us of how bad things were not so long ago – brilliant match report from Sam Dalling here

The rest of the half was something of a car crash with United comprehensively out-played by a Spurs side on an upward trajectory of form managed by an elite coach who knows what he’s doing.

We know Spurs are better than us player-for-player but it really showed and for all what common sense tells us about the current gap between United and clubs like Spurs, it is natural we felt a bit sore by the time the final whistle blew.

That’s three defeats on the spin now (all away from home) but they each tell their own story. I’m not alone in feeling cheated at Chelsea, I felt we let ourselves down in the second half at Everton but were gash at Tottenham in that second half.

Our unbeaten run of nine games has propelled us away from the relegation we all feared as a reality back in December, so a reality check on where we are now. We are not the all-conquering heroes that no-one really thought we were. But nor are we the deadbeats we looked under Steve Bruce.

The simple truth is we are close to safety. But we aren’t there yet. We may only need another win and a draw but as a target I think we should be looking at two wins and two draws to get us knocking on the door of 40 points. That will get us up the table and feeling better about ourselves. It may also help in selling the club to players and their agents in the summer too.

We now have a perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways. Wolves have made great strides in recent seasons and there is much to admire about them. They will be a tough nut to crack. But whilst Friday night at the other end of the country is a bit shit for fans of the Old Gold, it’s brilliant for us.

I won’t be the only one looking for an early start with a few pints ahead of the 20:00 KO and SJP is always fantastic with a big section of the assembled masses tanked up and in full voice. The shabeens and flop joints of NE1 will do a rare trade this Friday and there should be a fantastic atmosphere under the lights in Gallowgate.

This is our opportunity to show our continued support for Eddie’s team and put that losing run behind us.

This is also a fantastic opportunity for the players to get back on home ground, put in a decent performance and get the result to set us up for the weekend. Wolves are a good side, with a lot about them. But they aren’t world-beaters and we should be able to take it to them.

The lads have had a long break (maybe too long) after an intense period of games but they need to demonstrate the warm weather training they have had in Dubai can be a similar tonic to the one in Saudi back in January.

I’m hopeful those three defeats, the Spurs hiding in particular puts some fire in their bellies for the home-coming to SJP. It seems an eternity since we were last making our way to the place we love so much to see United play.

Naturally, there were questions about the team on Sunday. Tactically we were too open and in the second half, a talented Tottenham side ran all over us. I thought we were a bit shapeless, our passing was poor and as ever I wondered about some of the refereeing.

There have been questions about Bruno Guimarães not starting the game which there is always going to be after a heavy defeat. No-one will ever know if that would have made any difference but that’s the beauty of a Plan B – it never gets tested.

The truth is, Howe is introducing the Brazilian into the team in the way he judges best and he knows how the lad has been training, his fitness levels and ultimately our £40m signing is for the long term, so I’m content to let the manager make those calls.

Allan Saint-Maximin has also been on the end of criticism and the reality is our French talisman could do with a good game this Friday. I regard him as an incredibly talented player, with so much potential. He is great to watch and can light up SJP. Of course he is immensely frustrating on occasion. I agree with assessments I’ve read about him from the French media who conclude he has a lack of football intelligence. I recognise that. He can hold the ball too long, not play the right-pass and his histrionics grate with a northern European football crowd.

He is also 24. An Ashley-run Newcastle United would not have been able to sign a player of his talent if there weren’t some flaws to his game or even character. That’s the reality check with the lad. The club is completely different to the one he signed for when I’ve no doubt the plan was to improve his game, impress clubs further up the food-chain and sell him on at a profit.

Frankly, he couldn’t now be at a better club, with a better manager and the likelihood he’s about to be surrounded by better players who can’t help but bring out more of his talent. He can grow his talent as Newcastle United develops in the next few years. Get with the Bruno Guimarães programme Allan.

But it is up to him. He must want to be a better player. That’s what must be his obsession. It is now no longer enough to be putting in the infrequent bravura performance and then slipping back to mediocrity.

He has it all to play for and everyone at Newcastle United, including supporters have to help him get there.

*

The club’s name is now being routinely linked to football’s stellar talent. In the last fortnight I’ve seen Newcastle United in the same sentence as Pogba, Rutiger and Neymar. Oh, and Bale and Coutinho and the goalie from Brighton. And likely more I’ve missed.

Most of these mad stories come from journalists you have never heard of and the tall tales have nothing of substance to them. My view is unless the likes of George Caulkin, Chris Waugh, Mark Douglas, Luke Edwards, Craig Hope, Simon Bird and Martin Hardy are talking about individual players then I’d suggest pressing the ignore button.

For what it’s worth I’m in the camp of evolution rather than revolution for Newcastle United. I’d be happy with four or five players to come to United this summer and be box-fresh for the first team.

Clearly, Newcastle United needs striking talent because there is a scarcity of direct goal-threat in our squad. I can’t believe Dwight Gayle will start another season as a Newcastle United player. Nor do I believe Howe and the board will allow us to go into a new season with Callum Wilson and Chris Wood as our only strikers. I would also hope we will recruit some creativity in and around our midfield.

But such has been the lack of investment in talent over many years there isn’t really a position at United which couldn’t be strengthened.  We’ve all shared our Wats App lists of players who we think should be departing this summer (I got up to ten) so there could be a busy if not crazy summer.

There is going to be a lot of nonsense written but I’d recommend ignoring all bar those named above to give your head peace.

*

Another week on and United still hasn’t agreed compensation to allow Dan Ashworth to join Newcastle United from Brighton as our new Director of Football. I’ve no idea what the glitch is but preventing a man from furthering his career isn’t a good look for The Seagulls. That’s poor form as Ashworth contributed brilliantly to Brighton’s rise. Hopefully a deal will be reached. Let the man work.

Nor has there been any news on the appointment of a new Chief Executive as the takeover celebrates its six month anniversary. I’m all on board with the maxim to better get it right than get it early but time ticks on.

Hopefully, we’ll have news soon.

*

We’re now on a run of three home games. The last time we were in this position (Everton-Villa-Brighton) we won the lot. Repeating the trick with Wolves-Leicester-Palace would be fantastic but probably unrealistic. The news about Trippier and Wilson’s readiness to come back from injury hasn’t been great but we have what we have going into the final run-in.

If we were to win two of those three games then we’d all be happy bunnies.

Beating Wolves on Friday night at a bouncing, noisy St James’ Park would be a great start to that trio of home matches. But that’s me stating the obvious as ever.

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

Michael Martin, @TFMick1892