About 10 minutes. That’s how long my celebrations lasted following the final whistle way back on Saturday 12th November before my thoughts turned to Wednesday 21st December, and our eminently winnable League Cup last 16 fixture against Bournemouth.
My mind may be playing tricks on me, but it has genuinely felt like the longest five and a half weeks of my lifetime supporting Newcastle United.
Yes, the World Cup at times allowed me a temporary release from my yearning for a black and white fix – but let’s be honest, there’s only one football team we all TRULY love and it’s not the one that flatters to deceive on the global stage every 4 years.
Newcastle United finally return to action this week and the anticipation and excitement amongst the black and white masses at what the remainder of season 22-23 may bring is something that I have not witnessed or experienced previously – having to stop the season in its tracks after a fifth consecutive win was something that should have been reported to the NSPCFF (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Football Fans).
39 days on, every Mag I know is rightly asking the same questions:can we secure top 4 finish, can we look forward a trip to Wembley…could Eddie Howe perform a footballing miracle and achieve both?
Personally, whilst I’d sell close family members or vital organs for either of those to happen, I feel remarkably relaxed about it all – I am simply looking forward to enjoying the ride, safe in the knowledge that both of those things will happen.
They may happen this season, they may happen next season, or even the season after that – but Newcastle United WILL qualify for the Champions League and / or contest a final at Wembley Stadium sooner than any of us could ever have dreamed a little over 12 months ago.
It is inevitable. We are inevitable.
Strap yourselves in lads and lasses, its going to be one hell of a ride.
Lee Forster @LeeDForster
Head over Heart…
For me, 2022 has arguably been the best year in the history of Newcastle United.
I mean, any fans who watched us become the Edwardian powerhouse of English football may beg to differ, but I’m not too sure there’s many of them kicking around these days. Jonjo’s scruffy free kick at Elland Rd last Jan kickstarted a revolution, and despite the odd blip & rubbish VAR decision it’s all been ‘wine & roses’ since.
So, what does 2023 look like?
I’ll admit to being generally more cautious than most. This remains NUFC after all. However, even the biggest doom mongering, mood hoovers amongst our ranks must be feeling some thrill of anticipation.
We reconvene on Boxing Day in 3rd spot(!) Are we punching above our weight, or can we make the Champions League spots our permanent dwelling? If you take your heart out of the equation, you can only use your head, and look to the evidence thus far. It will tell you that we have a realistic chance of achieving this aim.
What are the threats?
Could Eddie be tempted by a possible England call? If/when Callum gets fettled, will Isak have enough to fill his boots? Will we ‘kick on’ and bring in a game changing addition such as Maddison in January? And, what of our opposition? Can the likes of Chelsea, or more probably Liverpool get it together post Xmas?
All big questions, which currently no one has definitive answers to.
I started the season predicting 7th. I’m now going to up that two places to 5th. When I see a previously unheralded Brighton midfielder about to line up for Argentina in the World Cup final; with Dan Ashworth at the ‘sporting director’ helm, I firmly believe that 2024 and beyond will look even better.
One thing’s for sure, Mehrdad. We’re gonna need a bigger ground….
Nick Clark @Clark5Nick
We go again…
To say I’m excited about the resumption of Newcastle’s season is a wild understatement.
How we left it was as good as it gets. The Chelsea game the perfect send off for a club reborn as genuine title challengers and us having the sort of ride not seen since the days of Keegan and Robson.
That was the night that was. Ever since, we have sat and watched the World cup with our hats on the sides of our heads.
Now I’m getting jittery.
What if Almiron stops scoring and goes back to normal as opposed to superhuman? What happens if Wilson, Trippier, Pope got backache on the bench?
What about Guimaraes? Has Bruno danced too much? Ate too much Birthday cake?
Has Botman and Burn shrunk to the size of Fraser? Will Howe take over from Southgate or will PIF have an affair with Manchester United?
Will someone slap me in the face. Blackadder on Baldrick style please?
This team has been phenomenal so far this year and it’s hard to expect us to be as good again. If we are we will probably win the league so a dip in form will come at some point and with tough trips to Leicester and Arsenal rapidly coming up its going to be a tough restart, but it is for everyone.
If we can restart with any of the adventure and discipline of United pre world cup, I fully expect to qualify for Europe in the long term but lose to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup short term.
That’s us all over
To sum up I can’t wait to have Newcastle back as I don’t feel the same about any other team and a Carabao cup win against Bournemouth will mean more to me than any England world cup win.
Welcome back lads.
Questions answered on ASM and Shelvey
The biggest questions as we restart are how Howe sees Shelvey and Saint Maximin. Both made the bench before the break, but Eddie preferred Longstaff and Willock over Jonjo, while ASM was overlooked on the pitch for Jacob Murphy.
This is not necessarily a reflection on the abilities of either Shelvey or Saint Maximin – my gut feeling is it’s more about how they fit into Howe’s system, or rather how they don’t. The high intensity style of play ill suits these two undoubtedly talented lads. Unless we see either of them starting games before Christmas, I don’t think we’ll ever see them starting games again.
Beyond that, we recommence even stronger than we were before the World Cup interruption; overall a rested, healthy squad. A few players were approaching burnout – poor Miggy was so done in that his international coach took one look at him and promptly sent him home to rest. Every player who went to Qatar was used sparingly and no one picked up an injury, while we’ve also got Isak back.
It’s of course a cliché to say he’s like a new signing but we barely got a glimpse of what the boy can do before he was crocked. I’m excited to see where he’ll fit in. Will he compete with Wilson for the no9 berth? Or does Howe fancy him as a wide forward? I’d certainly like to see us at least try running Miggy, Wilson and Isak as the front three.
Beyond that I expect us to carry on where we left off, with a cup win and at least a point at Leicester on Boxing Day before putting Leeds to the sword to round off the year. And then a couple more quality signings, please, so we can still be in the top four come May.
Dan Jenkins @PlumsGinger