Isaac Hayden reveals what he did while serving three-game ban at Newcastle United
It was a long five weeks for Isaac Hayden.
Hayden last act in a Newcastle United shirt had been to get himself sent off at the King Power Stadium.
The midfielder had taken a step back while he served his three-game ban – he had “looked at things from an outside perspective” – and he was ready to make a timely return at the London Stadium, where Steve Bruce was without the suspended Sean Longstaff.
This time, Hayden – who had played in midfield alongside Jonjo Shelvey – left the field in a happier mood following a remarkable 3-2 win over West Ham United.
Shelvey, Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez scored to lift the club up to 15th in the Premier League ahead of Saturday’s home game against Bournemouth.
Reflecting on his time out of the side, Hayden said: “It felt like the longest suspension ever!
“I think it was five weeks in the end. It was disappointing. But it gave me a lot of time to work, do things that I don’t normally do, get in the gym a bit more, look at things tactically a bit more and look at things from an outside perspective.
“Sometimes – I played every Premier League game since Boxing Day, I think – you don’t get to see it from the outside view, so it gave me a chance to look at from the outside and see a few things that could help my game. I said when I come back in the team it’s up to me to stay in the team.”
Matty Longstaff, Sean’s younger brother, deputised for Hayden during his enforced absence.
The 19-year-old, playing alongside his sibling, scored on his Premier League debut against Manchester United at St James’s Park and held his own against Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
And Longstaff’s performances didn’t come as a surprise to Hayden, who has trained alongside Longstaff since the summer, when he was called up into the first-team squad.
Bruce opted to start Shelvey at the London Stadium as he felt his passing ability would be important against West Ham, the Romford-born midfielder’s boyhood club, given manager Manuel Pellegrini’s preference for playing a high defensive line.
Asked about Longstaff’s first-team breakthrough, Hayden said: “To be honest, it didn’t really surprise me. All the lads had seen him in training every day since pre-season. It was kind of a similar situation to Sean last year. We always knew that he had the ability, it was about getting the opportunity to show it.
“Matty, at 19 years of age, doing what he’s doing so far in the Premier League for Newcastle, the world is his oyster.”
Newcastle had gone into the West Ham game having scored just six goals in 900 Premier League minutes.
And he build-up had been dominated by talk of Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, who had scored one goal between them.
They did everything but score at the London Stadium, where Newcastle netted three goals in a blistering 51 minutes. They should have been at least 4-0 up at the break.
West Ham’s late comeback – the home side scored two late goals – gave the scoreline a flattering look given the visitors’ dominance.
“Every three points in the Premier League is important,” said Hayden, who is in talks over a new deal at the club.
“It was a bit disappointing the way that we ended the game, but I think the first half was scintillating. We could have been 5-0 up, I think. If we were being critical, we could have taken at least one of the chances. Still, to be 2-0 up is a good position, and to get the goal early in the second half to make it 3-0 was very good.
“It was a very nice cushion, but I always felt that they had to improve. It was disappointing to concede two goals.”
Hayden, 24, believes that goals will come for the club’s £77.5million front three, who lack Premier League experience.
“The lads that are here now that have replaced the lads that have gone, and people have to understand we had (Salomon) Rondon last year, who was 30 and had had a lot of years in the Premier League,” said Hayden, signed from Arsenal three years ago and under contract at St James’s Park until 2021.
“We’d had (Ayoze) Perez, who had had a lot of years in the Premier League.
“We’re replacing those players with young players who have come from foreign countries. They’re not going to come here and do the same as those lads from the off. We’ve had to be a bit patient with them.
“You can see what Jo, big, strong, physical, is about. Allan, the same, and Miggy as well. You can see his workrate defensively and attacking. The front three will improve week on week the more games they play. The lads are very happy.”
The club’s fans were happy as they left the London Stadium.
After the game Hayden tweeted: “Very important three points, nice to be back out on the pitch. Need to continue sticking together and working hard. Safe travel back for the fans and thank you for the support, always fantastic.”