Time is ticking down to our first match of the new year. On Sunday, Tottenham come to a sold-out St. James’ Park which should be absolutely rocking. This is a match that will have all eyes on it despite Newcastle’s poor results this season.
It’s still unknown whether it’ll be Steve Bruce, Graeme Jones, or someone else on the touchline. The prevailing wisdom is that assistant coach Graeme Jones will have been appointed caretaker manager by then. But who knows at this point.
The dreadful start to this campaign has Newcastle kicking the new era off in a bit of a hole. Three points would be the perfect start to life under our new owners.
Injuries, once again, have wreaked havoc on the squad. The irreplaceable Callum Wilson has missed the last four matches but did return to training this week. Whether Sunday is too soon for our reigning Player of the Season is uncertain at this point.
The same can be said for Martin Dubravka, who hasn’t missed the entire season so far. The 32-year-old is back in training and should be getting close to battling Karl Darlow for the number one gloves.
Jonjo Shelvey is also back in training after missing the last six matches with a calf injury. The playmaker got a run-out with the U23s on Monday. After the match, he revealed he’s had multiple setbacks since the onset of the injury.
Shelvey is itching to play a part in Sunday’s match. He was the first Magpie to be interviewed after the takeover was announced last Thursday and expressed his delight that it finally happened.
The 29-year-old has now given another interview in which he exclusively talks about the takeover. The Mail has published the following comments from our vice-captain:
“Those scenes outside the stadium were incredible. I was going to have a drive down, I wanted to get out there with a beer myself!
“That reaction at the stadium is unique. The fans have suffered a lot in the past, so I think what we saw was a release of frustration and relief that the deal had finally happened.
“Credit to the fans, too, because they have helped push this deal through. It gives us all so much to look forward to.
“I went to watch Newcastle Blue Star on Friday night, my mate plays in goal. There were about 1,000 fans there, fully-grown men wearing Arab clothes, I couldn’t believe it.
“I got off at half-time because I couldn’t really watch the game in the end, but it was mad. They were so happy.”
Shelvey was touched by the reaction from the fans. In January, Shelvey will have been at Newcastle for six years. He arrived during our relegation season and has stuck with the club signing a new deal in March 2020.
The midfielder has also been impressed by the new owners of the club. Shelvey was asked about Amanda Staveley’s initial interviews when she spoke about Premier League titles and the return of Champions League football for Newcastle. This was Shelvey’s response:
“I probably won’t be around when that does happen!. I know how long that could take.
“But to hear someone come in and say that, as a footballer, it makes you want to stay and fight for a place to be a part of it, those aspirations and goals.
“I’ve got 18 months left on my contract, so it comes down to me to show the people in charge what I’m about. I have to look after number one, it’s my career.
“So it is nerve-racking, but I’m a positive person and I’ll try to grasp the opportunity with both hands. There is excitement and nerves, I suppose.”
Staveley stressed patience in her interviews. So it will take time for the new owners to rebuild Newcastle into a top Premier League club. Shelvey likely won’t be around when that happens. However, he can play a part in the interim and help get Newcastle up the table this season.
Shelvey also spoke about the sub-par training ground, which Stavely dubbed ‘truly awful’, and the facilities. He revealed that it has affected the players to some degree but they’ve just soldiered on:
“This is unbelievable for the club. The fans have been asking for this for a very long time. It’s great news for them.
“I understand what the fans want – they want Mbappe and Messi. All I can say is, that won’t come overnight, we have to be realistic.
“In terms of the set-up, we all know the training-ground facilities are below par when it comes to Premier League standard. As players, we’ve got on with it and we’ve had to deal with that to the best of our ability. The money just hasn’t been there. That was hard to accept.
“But the money will be there now. I understand you can’t go spending so much straight away, and it will be a long process, but it’s one that this club and the fans deserve.
“This club can achieve anything it wants now, the sky is the limit.”