With the excellent form of Mo Diame in the holding midfield position, 22-year-old Isaac Hayden hasn’t played too much for us this year.
And Newcastle have done well since we beat Stoke City 1-0 away on the first day of the year.
We have won three (Stoke, Manchester United and Southampton) and drawn four (Swansea, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth) and some of those could easily have been wins – such as at Bournemouth as one example.
In any case, the lads have only lost two games at Manchester City and Liverpool, so it’s taking a good team to beat us this year.
Newcastle now have 32 points from 30 games, and our next game at home to Huddersfield is a must-win game.
If we can get the 3 points that will take us up to 35 points with 7 games still to play and we’ll be in excellent shape.
Isaac Hayden – in action earlier this season
We have lost too many points this season by not being able to manage games when we are ahead.
That’s an areas Rafa seems to be improving this year, and the lads have given two excellent performances at home against the Red Devils and the Saints to get 6 points.
Hayden has been speaking to nufcTV in Spain and has talked about our recent form and how the lads are getting better – slowly but surely.
Here’s some of what Isaac has said in the interview:
“Whenever you win a game in the Premier League, it always gives you a bit of a spring in your step.”
“We’ve had quite a few good results against Man United and Southampton and we may have had a bit of a blip against Liverpool.”
“But going away from home that was always going to be a difficult game.”
“Since 2018 has started we’ve done really well as a squad; we’ve won a good chunk of games and I feel we’ve learned not to lose games.”
“We’ve learned how not to lose points by making sure we draw games.”
“We’ve definitely improved and I always said at the start of the season that the team would be better come the second half of the campaign – and we’ve proved that.”
“It wasn’t ever going to be a holiday out here.” “We’re football players and we’ve come here to work during this big break which is 21 days in between games.”
“It gives us a chance to work on things we need to improve on, and for some to get a little fitness for those lads who haven’t been playing as much recently with substitute appearances or whatever.”
“So it’s good to come out and have a few training sessions, working hard in the hot weather.”
“Of course I’m disappointed I haven’t been playing as much recently.”
“But you can’t complain when the lads are beating Man United, beating Southampton and playing as well as we did for the first 80 minutes against Bournemouth.”
“You can’t complain, you just have to keep your head down, work really hard in training, and then whatever chance you get take it.”
“I’ve had a few substitute appearances in a row and whatever I get – be it 10 minutes, 20 minutes or whatever – I have to do my job for the team and try to help them for the best way possible.”
“I’m a hard trainer and I train how I play. I’m always going to try and keep fit and do well in training, but you can never really replicate the match fitness that you get from playing a game.”
“It’s important to keep that up and try to get as many minutes as I can. This friendly gives everybody an opportunity to get a good amount of minutes in a competitive game.”
“You can always get minutes under you belt playing U23s, but it’s not competitive and it’s never going to be a true representation of what you’re going to facing if you do start a Premier League game.”
“This is a great idea, Royal Antwerp are a great Belgian side so it gives us an opportunity to play against some good opposition – and also try out a few things as well.”
Our lads are working hard in Murcia and will play Royal Antwerp tomorrow in a game having three 45 minutes periods, so all our players will get a game.
The lads then return to Newcastle, and the two-week International break starts.
It’s still a long two weeks to the Huddersfield game (for fans and blog-writers alike) – but that’s all that matters – that we get another win against the Terriers.
If that happens, we’ll be very very happy.