Newcastle photo Roy Keane will hate hints of new hope, emotional players and Staveley’s reaction – Ciaran Kelly
Eddie Howe hit the air and screamed; exhausted goalscorer Callum Wilson looked skyward before collapsing to his knees; supporters chanted defiantly: “We love Newcastle, we love it”.
It had been a long time since we had seen happy scenes like these full time in St James’ Park. Newcastle United had not lifted a single cup; the Magpies had just won their first game of the season.
You can see why this 1-0 win over Burnley meant so much, however. It had been 195 long days since Newcastle last claimed the three points, but even longer since some of those supporters witnessed a victory in person – and not just because of the pandemic.
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Many fans made the difficult decision to walk away during the final years of Ashley’s regime, so this victory was all the more special as this new era has finally begun.
Indeed, Wilson was the first to admit he was “a little emotional” in the lap of appreciation after the game because he “just wanted to get that first win for them.”
It would have been hard to imagine that the owner, head coach, players and supporters were all on the same page in Ashley’s day, but something is moving again in St James’ Park as this club begins to rebuild itself.
This is perhaps the biggest takeaway from the first month in charge of Eddie Howe. This club, so fractured for so long, feels united again.
Nothing captured this unit as much as the players and staff posing for a group photo in the home locker room after the game.
The message was clear: it was a joint effort. Kit man Neil Stoker and physiotherapist Daniel Marti were in the front row; assistant Jason Tindall was right in the middle of the shot with his arms around Federico Fernandez and Miguel Almiron; and Allan Saint-Maximin was sandwiched between first-team coach Stephen Purches and Howe at the back.
The starters, unused substitutes and coaches all had big smiles on their faces. Having inherited an insecure squad, Howe has breathed new life into the camp as players and staff push each other.
Indeed, it was noticed how Matt Ritchie was one of the first on the pitch to congratulate Jamal Lewis after the game despite the left-back actually taking his place in the squad.
These kinds of scenes aren’t for everyone, of course. Roy Keane once said modern players “were having almost too much fun” when the cameras came out in the dressing room after a game and the Manchester United legend warned they had to “move forward fairly quickly and prepare for the game. next battle “.
However, Keane need not worry about this with Newcastle. It wasn’t a slap on the back; it was a timely reminder to players and staff of the added incentive to win games.
Howe will be going through clips and charting sessions soon for a crucial clear week on the training ground ahead of the trip to Leicester and the 44-year-old knows the Magpies have to build on that first win.
Although Newcastle remain three points from safety, ahead of a brutal series of games, the players sincerely believe they can get away with it.
No team has ever stayed in the Premier League after failing to win any of their first 14 games, but Howe has already challenged their players to ‘change history’.
It would be quite an achievement. Since the introduction of relegation at the end of the 19th century, only three clubs have enjoyed a streak of 14 games without a win since the start of a top-level campaign and have remained standing: Sheffield United (16 appearances in 1990-91 ), Portsmouth (15 in 1937-38) and Leicester City (15 in 1975-76).
This decisive victory, however, could still prove to be a turning point. Newcastle have played better in spells in other games and have yet to secure the rewards here, against a relegation rival the Magpies edged them out despite a poor start to the game.
It will encourage Howe. Newcastle showed good spirits after coming down to 10 men against Norwich City four days earlier and, against Burnley, Black and White had to dig deep again.
It was everything you’d expect from a six-point run – tight, stop-start and scrappy – and Newcastle were second best in the early stages.
The hosts looked a bit on their feet after their efforts against Norwich on Tuesday night and Johann Gudmundsson sent an early warning when his deflected shot hit the post in the 13th minute.
However, as long as Newcastle have Wilson on the pitch, the Magpies still have a chance and the number nine shot their side just before half-time.
Nick Pope, under pressure from Fabian Schar, dabbled in Joe Willock’s teasing cross and the ball fell gently on predator Wilson inside the box.
The striker touched the ball to snatch the ball away from defender Nathan Collins and Burnley’s goal, but still managed to take his place and drive the ball into the net at a tight angle despite the presence of three players from the opposition.
The goal changed the whole atmosphere inside the stadium as elated co-owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi kissed in the directors’ box.
Previously it had been a bit nervous in the first half at times, but after the break Newcastle supporters were pushing their team to go get a second.
You might understand why. Newcastle had failed to keep their clean sheet all season long and memories of Teemu Pukki’s late equalizer on Tuesday night were still fresh in the memories.
This second goal would not come in a game of few chances, however. Miguel Almiron shot right off after being played by Wilson in the 55th minute while Jonjo Shelvey’s effort from a distance was knocked down by Pope in the 79th minute.
Just as the fans urged their team, they also stayed with the players when Burnley bombarded Newcastle’s goal with long balls forward late and every clearance was cheered as if it was a goal.
Substitute Jay Rodriguez had a goal ruled out for offside in the 83rd minute, but it was as close as the Clarets equalized as Newcastle’s defense held on. At last.
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