I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for the opening game of a league campaign. Thinking back, maybe Keegan’s ‘last first game’ away to Manchester United… ironically only a couple of weeks before he was due to leave the club.
Is it just me or did this summer bypass us incredibly quick? Usually it is the summers with no international tournaments which tend to drag as the football season is upon us.
Perhaps this is just part and parcel of supporting the new Newcastle United… tension, excitement, anticipation. All words we have not been able to associate with our football club for the past 15 or so years.
I did not visit home as much as I would have liked to this summer. Work, business travel and holidays had kept me away, so I caught a train from London on Thursday night to sample in the whole weekend catch up with friends and family not seen since Leicester back in April.
A new season, and a new pub! The Junction was chosen as the pre-match boozer… after all, who would stomach the Beehive in this weather?
Quick question – Is Barluga the only bar in the history of the city of Newcastle to ban you from entering with ‘football colours’ on? F… me, what a way to lose business.
We made the decision to get in early to sample the atmosphere. Wor Flags, as per usual, did not disappoint. There was a sense of expectancy in the stand. It oozed around the whole stadium before the game had even begun.
I used to stumble in 2-3 minutes after kick off but the build up to games now is almost a must not miss.
As for the game itself, can you remember the last time you were so relaxed watching Newcastle United? It was almost inevitable that we were going to win. We played with quality, intensity, pace, desire. On another day it could have finished 5 or 6.
We probably could not have asked for an easier fixture to kick off the season. I will be surprised if we face a worse team in the league at SJP all season to be honest with you. It was only at the end of the game that I realised Forest’s Jesse Lingard was even playing!?
Almost ironically, I thought Jack Colback was Forest’s best player… so that was the standard we were attaining to on Saturday. Take nothing away from the team though, it was as good a performance as one could ask for.
I’m still not sure why Sven Botman was left out of the starting x1 but Burn and Schar were more than capable. I personally prefer Fraser to Almiron but really no gripes with the line up. We do have a strong starting x1, there is no doubt about that. However, this side definitely has the potential to be clutching at straws with a few injuries to key players (Wilson, Bruno, Targett).
Nick Pope looked comfortable in goal. Kieran Tripper, as captain, is as good a right back as any other in the world (although I don’t think he had his best game), Burn and Schar have proved they are capable Premier League defenders. I think with a more quality defender next to him, Schar has the potential to be that next level too. As for Matt Targett, he started the season how he ended last… looking like a no brainer for 12 million.
For me, Joelinton and Joe Willock were the stars of the show. Big Joe was everywhere and dominated the midfield, with Willock posing a constant threat in behind. It says a lot about their performance that another flawless display from Bruno went somewhat under the radar…
Who will be Newcastle’s main man this season?
Well the end of last season, and the start of this season, has demonstrated that success will solely rely on Callum Wilson’s fitness. If he stays fit, and inevitably scores goals, then we could be looking at European football and a decent cup run this season. Wilson, personally, could be on his way to Qatar too… however, if his usual fitness struggles impede him, and we are left with no obvious replacement (or Chris Wood), it could be a season spent looking over our shoulders for the most part.
You would hope, and somewhat expect, that there will be one or two more signings coming in. We are desperate for another wide attacker, and equally in need of that back up for Wilson. We cannot rely on ASM, nor Wilson, nor are Fraser / Almiron really good enough to lead the line.
The new owners have been fantastic so far, obviously. Their movements in the transfer market appear to be smart and astute. It would be an own goal though not to move for an attacking player before the end of the transfer window… even if that means paying over the odds.
Anyway, look at us! Talking about football again. No more moaning, no more evil owner, far less infighting amongst fans… Newcastle United is a far far happier place.
Onwards and upwards.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0 – Saturday 6 August 3pm
Schar 58, Wilson 78
(Half-time stats in brackets)
Possession was Forest 38% (35%) Newcastle 62% (65%)
Total shots were Forest 5 (3) Newcastle 23 (14)
Shots on target were Forest 0 (0) Newcastle 10 (6)
Corners were Forest 1 (0) Newcastle 11 (7)
Referee: Simon Hooper
Attendance: 52,245 (Forest 3,000)
Pope, Trippier, Schar, Burn, Targett, Willock (Sean Longstaff 80), Bruno (Botman 90+3), Joelinton, Almiron (Fraser 81), Wilson (Wood 90), Saint-Maximin (Murphy 90)
Dubravka, Dummett, Ritchie, Anderson
(3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0 – Read HERE)
(Eddie Howe reflects on Newcastle United beating Forest, Lascelles injury and central defender dilemma – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0 – Instant NUFC fan / writer reaction to Saturday’s excellent victory – Read HERE)
(Alan Shearer loving Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0 – Salutes goalscorers and ‘Fantastic’ man of the match – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0 – Dominant classy opening day for United, just look at these stats – Read HERE)