Newcastle United fans' Steve Bruce message heard loud and clear plus Murphy, Almiron & Shelvey praise – Liam Kennedy's SEVEN takeaways
It wasn’t pretty on the eye, but Newcastle United added another three points to their tally, taking them to within touching distance of actually beating last campaign’s 44 points.
This, of course, would be no reason for celebration, especially as this season has unquestionably been more concerning, less fluent and more fraught than the last. Flirtation with relegation was very real this time – and were it not for the awful form of Fulham and West Brom, who only fleetingly looked like making a fight of retaining their Premier League status, United could have been staring down the barrel.
However, here we are and here we will stay. We’re at the end of another campaign and mentally it feels like only the start, due in no small part to promises that may lie ahead and the return of fans to St James’ Park.
For the second last time this campaign, here’s SEVEN takeaways from the Joe Willock-inspired Sheffield United win.
‘I think that was grit in my eye’
Last night was raw emotion. For the fans in the ground and for people like me watching on from home.
The noise was incredible. All the pent up frustration and anger of the last 15 months flowed out of fans at SJP – and created something quite beautiful.
Credit to everyone who was there – and those who continue to watch on from their sofas, whatever their reasons. If one message came across from those in attendance last night it was of reconnection and love of a club that is, for all the ownership chat, essentially theirs. It always will be.
Steve Bruce gets message loud and clear
While it was a positive atmosphere at SJP, there was still some quite justified criticism of the head coach for what has been a very difficult to watch campaign.
The odd derogatory chant was heard during the game but the lap of honour brought the clearest message yet to Bruce that it isn’t juet ‘keyboard warriors’ who are dismayed at his management and the season.
Loud boos and some pockets of chanting from fans in the Gallowgate could be heard when Bruce joined the players lapping.
I’m sure the message will now be loud and clear to him – he needs to do some serious soul searching this summer and decide whether he can stomach the fight of winning these fans over.
He will not be able to get away with the consistent jibes at fans and their expectations, the gap no longer exists between manager and fanbase.
Bruce sounded more humble in the run up to the game itself, he was very good in his pre-match press conference. That needs to be his default position whatever he decides next because if he keeps up the bravado, things will very swifty turn from bad to worse.
Murphy – he just gets it
One of the most endearing images of the opening stanza at SJP was when the cameras panned over to the players on their arrival on to the pitch. And who had the biggest smile beamed across their face looking into the crowd? Jacob Murphy.
The lad was brought up black and white and understands just what it means to everyone to be back doing what they love.
When he first arrived at the club, Murphy looked timid and saw his confidence easily dented. It is so impressive to see how far the winger has come. He now looks every bit a Premier League player.
Shelvey show far from ‘toothless’
I’m sure Jonjo Shelvey will be at the dentist this morning sorting out his ivories. A challenge in the opening half knocked out one of pearly whites – but that didn’t take away from the midfielder’s performance.
For so long now Shelvey has looked like a negative rather than positive influence on Bruce’s side. Toothless, you might say. This time, though, he was aggressive, forward-thinking and seemingly full of running and energy. Long may it continue.
More like it from Almiron
For all the effort and running, Miguel Almiron has cut a forlorn figure in the United midfield.
Wednesday was the day the runs down blind alleys actually turned into clear and open spaces.
Almiron was a real catalyst for United at SJP and caused the opposition a host of problems.
Willock wonder – when will it end?
The boy just keeps delivering. Up the stakes and it just makes him even more dangerous.
Joe Willock has been a breath of fresh air and Newcastle United this season and it seems a shame, for him personally, that this season is coming to a close.
His goals and his energy have, in the words of Bruce ‘added an extra dimension’ to the United midfield – and his game is so suited to the counter attack tactics employed by the Magpies coaches.
One thing I do wonder about his recent form – and I get all the calls to ‘get him signed, whatever the cost’ – is whether this may well have only sharpened his desire to succeed at the Emirates. Will he want to leave the Gunners? It is ‘his’ club, remember.
Whatever happens this summer, United need to be involved in the conversations about Willock’s future.
Farewell AC, it was not to be
If this was the end for Andy Carroll at Newcastle United, it probably ran true with the theme of his return. Sadly underwhelming.
Everyone willed it to work, but in the end it just never really got going.
Never forget the lanky, fearless, beast of a striker, who for 12 months in black and white a decade or so ago struck the fear of god into those who faced him.
Fingers crossed Carroll’s fitness remains and, if he leaves, can help him cause havoc elsewhere once again.