The Newcastle United Blog

News and Commentary On Newcastle United By Ed Harrison, A Proud Exiled Geordie And Lifelong Fan

The Newcastle United Blog header image 2
Howay The Lads!!

This Former Weakness Now A Masssive Strength At Newcastle

3:25 pm, Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 79 Comments

One of the (many) pleasing aspects of Newcastle’s play this season is when new players come into the side they seem to fit right in and know exactly what’s expected of them.

Ciaran Clark came in for Chancel Mbemba last night at center-back and he looked extremely solid and comfortable alongside captain Jamaal Lascelles.


Two goalscorers – center-backs Grant Hanley and Ciaran Clark

In addition the former Aston Villa player scored his first goal for the club, as did our other new center-back signing – former Blackburn Rovers defender Grant Hanley – who came on as a sub in the second half.

After the game this is what Ciaran told the local press:

“I was buzzing to score.” “I wasn’t too worried about Mitro in front of me.”

“I just tried to keep my eye on the ball and make sure I got a good connection, and thankfully it went in.”

“With the quality of the set-pieces coming in, we’ve always got a chance of getting on the end of them.”

“Jonjo and Matty are brilliant with corners and free-kicks and we are a real threat from them now.”

“We practice it in training and thankfully it came off out there and I managed to get my head on one.”

“We knew it was going to be a tough game but we managed to get off to a good start and it just went from there.”

“We looked dangerous, we created a lot of chances and we could have scored more, but more importantly, we managed to keep another clean sheet, which is something we really wanted to do.”

“We knew that at 2-0, if QPR had got one back it would have been a totally different game.”

“Thankfully we came out after half-time and got a couple more which did seal the game – and then it was all about concentration and making the right decisions, which I felt we did.”

“Keeping a clean sheet was massive. It’s something we have been working on and something we want to continue to do.”

“That’s your foundations to build from, as if you can keep a clean sheet then you’ve got a chance in any game.” “We are just as happy with the clean sheet as we are with all the goals.”

And we are scoring so many goals these days from set plays – from corners and from free kicks and as Ciaran says the lads practice it during training and it shows.

Practice makes perfect.

Under Alan Pardew didn’t we go seven years without scoring from a corner – or so it seemed – yes – maybe a slight exaggeration there.


Rafa certainly has our players well schooled in their outlook on the game and concentration is certainly key to getting the wins that can take us straight back to the Premier League.

And our lads have been concentrating extremely well during our six game winning streak – and we are hoping we can extend it by a few more games yet.

Howay The Lads!!

Tags: Championship · Ciaran Clark · Grant Hanley · Other News · Set Plays

79 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Veltman // Sep 14, 2016 at 3:28 PM

    Aye swemag, have you just mentioned Sissoko?
    You shouldn’t done that as his bashers will come out now and feed us with the Sissoko drums.

  • 2 Spoof // Sep 14, 2016 at 3:28 PM

    Confidence in football is vital, at the start of the season we looked nervous, dis-organised and Rafa had too many defensive players on the pitch.

    Fulham we had Anita, Hayden and Colback in midfield and against Huddersfield we had Anita, Hayden and Shelvey in midfield.

    At that point I was pleading with Rafa to stop playing a side which looked as if it was designed to protect a 2 goal lead in the second leg of a 2 legged cup tie and drop one of the 3 anchor men and have another attack minded player instead.

    From that point onwards Anita has been played at RB leaving two DM’s and we have had another attack minded player in their replacing Janmaat, and what a difference it has made, a few wins on the spin confidence sky high and we really do look a good side.

    How long did MacClaren persevere with Anita and Colback as a pairing, they were dreadful but McClaren insisted on keeping them together as a pairing, Rafa also got it wrong, but come the 3rd game he changed it around and we have benefited greatly.

    That is the difference between a good manager and a poor one, a good manager will see that he has got it wrong and change it quickly, whereas McClaren didn’t change it at all.

  • 3 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 3:52 PM

    I must say, it is nice to have a defence worthy of note. I don’t think it’s been anywhere near this in my lifetime. It still makes mistakes, but it gets better every game.

  • 4 Essex Geordie Bill // Sep 14, 2016 at 3:54 PM

    With regard to the mild if Shelvey gets injured paranoia, if that was enough to derail our promotion hopes then we probably wouldn’t deserve promotion.

  • 5 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:00 PM


    Massive difference, isn’t it?. Rafa basically just kept tweaking until he found the right balance and team chemistry. Wally just kept it the same thinking it had to work eventually.

  • 6 swemag // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:03 PM


  • 7 swemag // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:04 PM

    I just thought I’d mention it.

  • 8 swemag // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:04 PM

    Anyway, moving on is not for me.

  • 9 Spoof // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:15 PM


    Exactly mate, it was if McClaren believed that getting it wrong would make him a poor manager, it doesn’t, it means you’ve made a mistake, all manager make them and I believe that Rafa did, but I also feel that Rafa is a good manager and he quickly saw that he was getting it wrong so he done what good manager’s do, he changed it, but how often do we see manager’s make the same mistake time and time again.

  • 10 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:24 PM


    Our last 3 managers always struggled to learn from mistakes.
    Mistakes are actually needed. You can’t fix it if you don’t know whats broken. You’re right about McClaren, he seemed to think it was a point of pride to stand by his selections no matter what.

  • 11 Bambams // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:31 PM

    Look how far we have come since relegation.

    None of us really thought Rafa would stay, we all thought either Pearson or Clarky or the ilk.

    I am so very optimistic for the short and long term futures

  • 12 firebug666 // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:35 PM

    Having seen Newcastle win five games on the bounce, most recently their 6-0 thrashing of QPR, bookmakers Ladbrokes are offering odds on the Magpies breaking their Championship record points tally.

    During their last spell in the second tier, Newcastle won 102 points on their way to promotion, and Ladbrokes have given Rafael Benitez’s side a price of 9/2 to score 103 points or more.

  • 13 Ketsbaia9 // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:38 PM

    I think we’ll get 117 points and Mitrovic will score 63 goals.

  • 14 Wayayman // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:39 PM

    In other news: Spurs reckon they have 90K fans going tonight to wembley? They must literally be giving tickets away, surely?

  • 15 Oldgit1 // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:41 PM

    @ Bambams – hopefully the long term.

  • 16 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:46 PM

    Although it was never mentioned after Llambias infamous statement the eleven purples policy was very much in place. McCardew accepted this as part of the job and don’t deserve any sympathy for failing by it. A few on here like to spring to the managers defence by saying it was the policy in place that was the fault of our demise. No doubt it was but Mcardew I, II and III were all willing to accept those policies when signing their lucrative contracts.

  • 17 lochinvar // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:47 PM

    If Spurs think they have 90K fans going to Wembley they are deluded.
    What they might have is some of their own fans and a load of opposition supporters and a load of bored overseas tourists in London thinking that a night at a English football match would be fun….then again Spurs might have recruited some new supporters from QPR, Palace and even Arsenal if they want to see he who can’t be named here play……

  • 18 Spoof // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:52 PM


    My brother has a bet placed pre-season that we would win the league with a Championship points record, we wouldn’t say how much or what odds but I believe that 106 points by Reading is the record, knowing my brother he will stand to win a few grand if it comes off, I just have tiddly little bets for fun, I have a tenner on us to win the league at 12/5 in a double with the unwashed to go down at 5/2, the odds are now us at evens with the sad ones at 6/4, if I cash in now I would more than double my stake, but the cumulative odds work out at nearly 11/1, so do I cash in or carry on and go for it.

  • 19 hibbit // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:52 PM

    lad’s i am over the moon Rafa decided to stay but let’s not get to carried away
    Rafa has been able to carry out a quick fix with the first team squad which we are now seeing the benefits of
    but the rest of footballing side of the club needs more the a quick fix it could take years to bring in line with top clubs after years of neglect

    bringing the whole footballing side of the club up to an acceptable level could be a long job but probably just as important as getting us back in the prem

  • 20 lesh // Sep 14, 2016 at 4:54 PM


    What’s Sperz doing playing at Wembley? Is White Hart Lane not big enough for them these days?

    90k spectators? We’ll see.

  • 21 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:01 PM

    What in the name of gawd did Ashley turn to Dennis Wise for to help him run his new 200M investment?

  • 22 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:07 PM

    It will also puzzle me for the rest of my days as to why Ashley took on KK when it is clear that he had no intention of carrying out whatever they had talked about to make us successful. I just can’t see any sense in hiring a manager that you know will go pear shaped when you don’t live up to your promises.

  • 23 Ian Toon // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:16 PM

    Spurs have sold more than 80,000 tickets for their first Champions League game at Wembley against Monaco tonight. Their new stadium is due to open at the start of the 2018-19 season.


  • 24 EllaGuru // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:16 PM

    Hibbit: I feel that the process of rejuvenating our club, under the watchful eye of Rafa, will be the most exciting. It will be great to see progress in all areas of the club. Communication, medical, scouting, performances.
    Those on here who keep rattling on that this team would not compete in the PL need to get a grip. We can only beat what is in front of us. We are a Championship team. Rafa has bought as such, however most recruits will be able to step up to PL, even as squad players.

  • 25 Novocastrian66 // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:17 PM

    Lesh; They’ve supposedly sold out for tonight’s game. Like you say we’ll see.

  • 26 Mister Tuff // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:22 PM

    White Hart Lane has a capacity of 36,000.
    They currently have a season ticket waiting list of over 50,000.

    So a massive crowd tonight is not out of the question.
    Posted about this a couple of weeks ago.

  • 27 Novocastrian66 // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:22 PM

    JFA; Keegan walked out in his first spell in charge when Sir John held the purse strings. It was his way of getting what he wanted. He did it again, to try again to get his own way. Regrettably, Ashley backed the wrong man, however you cannot keep running home with the ball because you don’t always get what you want.
    Trouble was both Ashley and Keegan were too stubborn to back down and the club ultimately suffered.

  • 28 Ian Toon // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:38 PM

    Pochettino, has admitted that his side will have to “adapt their game” in preparation for Wembley. At 105 metres by 69 metres, compared with 100 metres by 67 metres, it has a larger playing surface than their regular home.

    “It’s a good chance to play on a big pitch, but we need to feel good at Wembley,” Pochettino said, revealing that he has had two pitches designed at Tottenham’s Enfield training ground with the same dimensions as Wembley.

  • 29 GeordieTwo // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:45 PM

    We’re just rounding into form now. A lot of goals in the side. I’m surprised by Shelvey. He is now back in form and scoring for fun. If we get Mitro and Perez scoring regularly we will get goals from the midfield as well. We scored 90 last time in this division. I think we can break that.

  • 30 Bambams // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:47 PM

    I think even the stubborn Ash realised that his blueprint buy cheap, sell at a profit was never going to work all the time. I just wonder what Wise was telling him for him to side with him rather than KK. To be honest what is Dennis Wise doing these days, has he been employed in a role again similar to what he had at ours ?

    I agree with HIBBITT and yes we have started something but we are years behind the clubs in the top eight of PL. I do genuinely believe with Rafa we will have a better chance of gaining ground quickly ‘IF’ Ash is happy to fund him.

    Rafa has a three year contract, no more and to be fair none of us genuinely believe if we do get promoted this year will Ash definately back him or will Rafa have to do a type of ‘Keegan Roulette’.

    I try not to get carried away with a few good results, but after our recent years of utter chaos it is difficult NOT to get carried away.

    The same thing happened in the early 90’s and what i would give for similar days to return

  • 31 hibbit // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:50 PM

    who’s cares what spurs have done or not done we have our own club to think about
    me i hope Monaco kicks their butt out of the champions league and shitoko never kicks a ball in it
    but that’s just me

  • 32 GeordieTwo // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:50 PM

    Getting us into the top 8 of the Prem will be difficult, even for Rafa. The spending now is obscene. The managers at that level are tremendous. Players good enough in quality to make a difference are very expensive. I think we can get up to around 8th when we get back but our best chances are the domestic cups. Anything more will take absolute genius from Rafa.

  • 33 GeordieTwo // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:54 PM

    How about a 7th or 8th place team in the Prem with regular decent cup runs and solid youngsters coming up from the youth teams? Would people be happy with that? I know I would.

  • 34 Ibizatoon // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:58 PM

    G2…It really is as simple as “a club that tries for me”. Constant attempt at progression. Surely that’s what it’s about. A bit of entertainment along the way perhaps…

  • 35 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:58 PM


    I think 8th max and a chance at a cup are realistic in the short term. If rafa stays beyond that, there is no reason why he cant take us higher than that.

  • 36 JamesToon // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:58 PM


    Please don’t start talking about premier league. It’s just cocky really.

    Not having a go, but just don’t want us to get complacent, I’m enjoying this league anyway!

  • 37 Bambams // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:58 PM


    I agree it will be very difficult to get anywhere near the top eight,

    Leicester were a fluke and i cant see that happening again. Where i do see us having to improve is the commercial side, lets face it Wonga?SD are not exactly loved by all…..

    An american sponsor or….well i dont know but something better than Wonga and a company that can offer excellent funds is just what we need, knowing how Ash works he will ask for Greggs to sponsor as long as he has three mince pies thrown in each day.

  • 38 JamesToon // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:59 PM


    I agree with that statement. Just want to have a club to be proud of

  • 39 JamesToon // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:59 PM

    Which I am at the moment

  • 40 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:59 PM


    We can be as complacent as we want…. as long as the team don’t 😀

  • 41 hibbit // Sep 14, 2016 at 5:59 PM

    GeordieTwo @ 33

    that would be a good target but even getting to that level will be hard
    in my mind getting up and staying up is the first target and of course Rafa staying

  • 42 Bambams // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:00 PM

    Off to the gym…Catch you lot later

  • 43 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:01 PM

    As long as the team aren’r*

    My previous made ni sense

  • 44 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:01 PM


  • 45 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:02 PM

    Ffs. Touch screens!!!


  • 46 Ibizatoon // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:05 PM

    Yeah, well the “for me” shouldn’t have been included in that 🙂 I don’t take it that personally that I think the effort is for me solely.

    James…Agreed. It’s nice to have some pride back. Not sure it’s cocky to talk about the PL. It’s clearly the aim and target for this season. As would be expected. Complacency needs to be watched though. Expectations too, whilst it’d be nice, I doubt it’ll all be clear sailing and games like last night are unlikely to be happening week in, week out.

  • 47 Ibizatoon // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:06 PM

    Mark…”My previous made ni sense” Nor the subsequent ones it seems.

  • 48 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:06 PM

    I am not putting one Iota of thought in to who we will sign or where we might finish in the PL until we get there. I argued until I was blue in the face with TDSarf who insisted we had to establish ourselves as a top ten club, this was after we finished fifth? This time round, if we get promoted I will be more than happy to have a goal of tenth, then take it from there. We simply don’t know if Ashley will want to retain Rafa or get a new McCardew with a few lessons from Rafa taken on board. Simply can’t worry about that at the moment and just want to enjoy sh!t like last night.

  • 49 Ibizatoon // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:13 PM

    Jail..Yep, very little point entertaining those what if’s at this stage.

    Live in the moment. Far out. Peace.

  • 50 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:13 PM

    I still think TDSarf was working with Lee Marshall and Wendy Taylor.

  • 51 Ian Toon // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:17 PM

    It was barely 10 months ago that Jonjo Shelvey was playing for England, and the way he masterminded Newcastle’s demolition of QPR last night, he would be justified in harbouring hopes of an ­international recall.
    The former Liverpool and Swansea midfielder has changed clubs and dropped a division since last November, but if he and his team-mates continue in this vein of form they will be back in the Premier League sooner rather than later. Last night’s comprehensive victory was their sixth in succession in league and cup, and took them to within a point of Championship leaders Huddersfield.
    Rafael Benítez has assembled a side with a solid base and attacking flair, and at their heart is Shelvey. He started the scoring with a ­deflected shot in the 12th minute, curled in a spectacular third goal shortly after half-time and never stopped driving his team-mates forward. He was not in the team on the opening day of the season, and Benítez thinks it was a wake-up call.
    “He worked very hard in the summer, and didn’t start the first game so maybe he thought it would be tough for him

  • 52 Ibizatoon // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:18 PM

    Jail…In a perverse kind of way, the blog was better for it.

    Only joking TDSarf, it’s still too soon.

  • 53 WWSBRD // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:18 PM

    Top 8 and Europe through a cup when we are promoted I reckon

  • 54 TyneMouth // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:22 PM

    Rafa Bingo
    Close, but no cigar! 10 out of 11
    Didn’t pick Gouffran.
    The Sports media on Monday were sure Gouffran, Mbemba or Colback were fit after the Derby game.
    Replaced Mbemba with Clark, and Colback with Heyden.
    Moved Ritchie to Gouffran’s position on the left, and selected Yelin to start where he finished in the Derby match.
    …but Rafa he say no! Gouffran starts!
    No body out-guesses the Gaffer.

  • 55 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:22 PM

    You are 100% correct, debate was at it’s best here before all the snarling, non foreign link posting Ashley apologists went and hid under their rocks 😀

  • 56 TyneMouth // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:24 PM

    “Weren’t fit”
    Predictive tosh…

  • 57 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 6:25 PM

    You had Clarke in for Mbemba, well done. I’ll post my confirmed Rafa bingo line up on Friday.

  • 58 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:18 PM


  • 59 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:18 PM

    Where has everyone gone?

  • 60 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:21 PM

    Gawd knows!

  • 61 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:21 PM

    No comments for nearly an hour 😮

  • 62 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:23 PM

    Unless everyone is setting up spy cameras at the training ground, to get a few hints for rafa bingo.

  • 63 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:28 PM

    Pure bad luck that I’ve been home for two weeks and not got to a game, I fly on Saturday and miss three home games in the time I’m away 🙁

  • 64 sing in the corner // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:30 PM

    Now I’m not bitter, but…..
    I would enjoy Monaco grabbing an away win tonight, and seeing how that suits the Champions League standard L’Unmentionable’s twisty sour puss. 🙂

  • 65 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:32 PM


    That sucks.

  • 66 Markaccus // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:33 PM


    Aye it would serve his moany face right if he never kicked a ball in the UCL.

  • 67 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:37 PM

    Those performances in the Euros didn’t warrant him playing CL football but I guess that’s not our problem anymore.

  • 68 welshgeordie9 // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:37 PM

    If my mate who is Geordie gets a ticket for a home game, anyone up for a pint or 3, i will pay.

  • 69 Bambams // Sep 14, 2016 at 7:54 PM


    Which match you on about ?

    There are a few of us who meet for a few beers before the match at the Crows Nest. I dont get to 50% due to work though

  • 70 welshgeordie9 // Sep 14, 2016 at 8:00 PM


    Don’t know yet mate, like i said though, he’s a Geordie who lives in Swansea and his family are season ticket holders, I’ve been nagging for a while, I’m always saying to him I would love to watch Newcastle at St James Park.

  • 71 toonking // Sep 14, 2016 at 8:00 PM

    Sissoko been twisting on about want champions league, what happens, he gets a place warming the bench.

    Leicester city getting first ever CL and they 1-0up.

  • 72 Charlie in the Gallowgate // Sep 14, 2016 at 8:01 PM


    might get your wish 1-0 to monaco

  • 73 Bambams // Sep 14, 2016 at 8:03 PM


    Mate we have a laugh and that is our haunt
    More than welcome to meet up for a few beers fella.

    Mind you me and Sparky55 have been trying to meet up for a year now !

    If you get a ticket let me know fella. All depends on work if I can get time off or RD

  • 74 toonking // Sep 14, 2016 at 8:10 PM


    Sissoko think of another excuse already. This time he’ll state the team would be ahead ifhe started

  • 75 toonking // Sep 14, 2016 at 8:18 PM

    2-0 Leicester

  • 76 Mister Tuff // Sep 14, 2016 at 8:22 PM

    Cannot see the point of posting anothers words and passing it off as your own.
    Posting something then making a point about it is fine to get a conversation started.
    Ian Toon’s last post is just a “straight lift” of the match report in the Telegraph – but he does not say so or make any new comment.

    Plagiarism at its’ most rampant and strident form.

  • 77 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 8:22 PM

    I think most people expect Leicester to struggle in the league this year, it would be great if they took the CL by surprise the way they took the league last year.

  • 78 welshgeordie9 // Sep 14, 2016 at 8:23 PM


    Cheers mate, i will bear that in mind, hopefully sooner rather than later, love to spend a weekend in the North East.

  • 79 Jail for Ashley // Sep 14, 2016 at 8:30 PM

    Mister Tuff,
    A failed journalist I think, your and you’re after being told a hundred times probably fails you at the first hurdle of the interview stage at the Croydon free monthly pamphlet junior writer post.

previous post: It’s So Very Important Newcastle Keep Doing This

next post: McClaren Tries To Rewrite History But Here’s The Truth