Newcastle, New King: September 2017

Welcome to part two of our September review. Newcastle have made an exciting start to their Premier League campaign, defying pre-season expectations. Manager Carl Potter has the team playing well, but few expect this form to continue for much longer.

What will happen next? Let’s find out…

 

Monday, September 18

 

Tuesday, September 19

 

Saturday, September 23

 

”They’ve picked up 10 points from their first five games and are flying high in the Premier League. Despite a setback in midweek, losing to rivals Middlesbrough in the EFL Cup, the good times are on their way back to St. James’ Park. Nobody could have expected Newcastle to start so well after such a tumultuous summer, least of all Isaac Hayden. Ahead of their game against Leicester City tomorrow, the tireless midfielder sat down with Bianca Westwood.”

 

”When Newcastle secured promotion from the Championship at the end of last season, all the talk in the city was about a positive future for the club. Fast-forward six weeks and they had parted ways with Rafa Benitez, spent almost their entire transfer budget and appointed a rookie manager. It seemed like the same old Newcastle: Promising so much but failing to deliver.

“Fast forward another two months and the atmosphere has changed at the club again. Performances on the pitch have been exceptional and the club finds itself in 3rd place. Couple that with news this week of a takeover and the fans are talking positively again. A big part of that has been the rise of Isaac Hayden in the heart of Newcastle’s midfield…”

 

”We’ve got a great togetherness in the squad right now and I think you can see that in our performances. The manager has given us the freedom to go out there and play, and I think we’re all enjoying that. We’ve started the season really well and I think we can keep it going.”

 

How does Carl’s management style compare with Rafa?”

 

”I think they’re just very different people, you know? Rafa was a lot more regimented, whereas the new gaffer encourages us to have fun. I think that’s been a big part of why we’re doing so well.”

 

”You’re playing a very different style of football to last season. How easy has it been to adapt to that?”

 

”Yeah, it’s been pretty easy, to be honest. I think because we’re all having fun, it’s just been quite easy to get used to it. The boss joins in during training as well, so it’s not like a dictatorship. He gets stuck in as well.”

 

“Can he still play?”

 

”Haha. Yeah, fair play to him, he’s still got a decent left foot.”

 

”Isaac Hayden made 33 appearances for Newcastle last season, but it’s his performances this season that has really caught the eye. England manager Gareth Southgate has been to watch the former Arsenal man on three occasions, but he’s keeping his head down.”

 

”Yeah, I mean, it’s nice to get recognition for my performances. I feel like I’ve been playing better than at any other time during my career, so it’s nice that people are talking about it. I don’t know if I’ve done enough to get in the England squad, but of course, that would be a proud moment. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing and see what happens.”

 

”He was also upbeat about Newcastle’s chances this season.”

 

”Everybody keeps talking about a relegation scrap, but we’re not focusing on that. We think we’re good enough for a top half finish and maybe push for Europe, if results go our way. Obviously, we don’t know what’s going to happen with the Chairman, but that won’t affect us as players. We’ll just keep doing our jobs and everything else will just fall into place.”

 

”Things are looking up at St. James’ Park and if players like Hayden keep playing as they have been, the sky is the limit for Newcastle United. But as they have already shown us this season… Things can change very quickly in football…”

 

Sunday, September 24

 

Saturday, September 30

 

 

”… Alan… Where do we begin?” asked an awe-struck Gary Lineker. “Four-nil winners, top of the Premier League… Nobody expected this at the start of the season.”

 

“No, nobody could have predicted this” replied a delighted Alan Shearer. “In fact, it was the total opposite – everyone was expecting Newcastle to have a tough time staying in the division. But they were excellent today, as they have been all season. West Brom couldn’t cope with the pace Newcastle set, their speed and movement… Newcastle have come away with a deserved three points.”

 

”You know, when the news came out this morning that Slimani had picked up a knock, a lot of people wondered how Newcastle would cope” added Martin Keown. “I was one of them if I’m being honest, but they were excellent. The decision to play Kenedy on the left side of that front three raised some eyebrows, but he was excellent. They all were.”

 

”As I said, this win puts them top, after Manchester City’s defeat at Bournemouth… Can they stay there? It’s still early days, but they’ve done well so far…”

 

”Look, let’s not get carried away. With all due respect to West Brom, they’re not the biggest test in the division – they’re in the relegation zone for a reason. Newcastle have proved they are far better than that and I think we can forget about a relegation scrap. Winning the league is a completely different level, though, and Newcastle don’t have the quality for that.”

 

”Maybe winning the league is too much, but with new owners possibly coming in with money to spend… Could they push for Europe, if they spend well in January?”

 

”Possibly, depending on how much money is available. If they want to compete with the big boys, they need better players all over the pitch. This group has been excellent, but they don’t have a big enough squad. We’ve seen it today, they had to play Kenedy up front. He did well, as Martin said, but he’s not a striker. If the club wants to reach the upper echelons of the game, they need to spend big. The new owners have to show ambition and back the manager because he’s already proving that he’s the man for the job.

But to answer your original question, Gary, the acid test for this current crop will begin at the end of next month. Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham all within the space of a month – that’s when we will see where Newcastle are.”

”Well, for now, they’re top of the Premier League. Nobody would have expected that Newcastle would finish September top of the pile, so let’s take a look. Newcastle fans might want to pause their television to take a photo…”

 

So, here ends an eventful September. An unlikely start for Newcastle sees them top of the table after seven games. Only a defeat to Arsenal and a draw with Manchester City blemishes their record. Can they keep it up? Join us again next time to find out…