Finally, after weeks and weeks of leading the pack, Newcastle have started to form a significant gap between automatic promotion and the dreaded play-off spots.
A massive 10 points now separate Newcastle and Huddersfield Town – who seem to be feeling the pressure as both the Magpies and Brighton & Hove Albion pick up point after point, victory after victory, in the search for the highs of top-flight football.
Once again on Saturday, United failed to impress throughout the game, this time gaining a scrappy 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic – but at this stage in the season that is the least of my concerns.
Winning games is the only thing that matters, and it certainly doesn’t matter how we win them. If you offered me it right now I’d take a deflected match-winning goal off an opposition player’s backside for the next seven games.
Winning is all that matters, and if winning ugly sends us straight back to the Premier League then so be it.
What has come to my mind over the last few weeks, however, is the player of the season award.
The award will be coming up for vote in the next couple of weeks and it’s hard to pick a winner from a handful of players who, in my opinion, are all more than deserving of the fan’s accolade.
Here’s my rundown of the contenders:
Dwight Gayle: Our top goalscorer. Some games he may look quite isolated playing the solo striker role up top but when he’s on the pitch you know that he’ll always get a cluster of chances and if you create the opportunities he will find the back of the net.
Jonjo Shelvey: Without him during his suspension, we struggled – he makes this team click. With his Hollywood balls landing at the feet of our wingers and strikers he can out-pass anyone in the country, never mind league. When he keeps his cool he’s our talisman.
Matt Ritchie: Outstanding. The winger had a minor dip in form in the second quarter of the season but he’s an absolute athlete. Never backs down from a challenge and will give his all until the final whistle blows. His goals from midfield have helped this team massively.
Ciaran Clark: The defender who we all predicted would very rarely play for Newcastle United. He has been a revelation, an old school stopper who will always put his all into his defensive work. He has to be a top contender for player of the season, and he will be very unlucky not to win it for me.
So there we are. Plenty of options. It’s been a long time since a United player has been worthy of a player of the season award but this year there are for contenders who are hard to separate.
Who would get your vote?