Magpies are flying.

Published: Monday, 24 October 2022

I said in my first blog of the season that the debate over the ownership of Newcastle was over.  I know it won’t ever be for some - the same people that still find it hard to accept that the WC is being played in Qatar next month I suppose, but it is and Newcastle are owned by the Saudi’s.

Relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia are far more convivial now - and the piracy of our product at beIN has ended. I guess we’ll never really know who was behind the theft!

So that said - isn’t it good to see the Toon in amongst the big boys again? I wasn’t sure if Steady Eddie Howe was going to be the right man to take them to the promised land, but I am now. He definitely is.

His team obviously enjoys playing for him. He’s grown into the job of managing a big club. That was one of my doubts - I wasn’t sure how deeply he was scarred after relegation with Bournemouth or if he’d been away too long. He’s put those concerns to bed as well. My last lingering doubt was whether nice guys can really succeed in the hurly burly, cut throat world at the top end of the PL. We haven’t got the answer to that one yet, but he’s certainly making a good go of persuading us that they can.

I thought they were terrific at Spurs. The first goal sparked a debate that‘s still raging, but I’m glad it was given. Lloris simply ran into Wilson when he knew he’d lost the ball. No foul, but I understand why some have argued that it was.

The second was a gift for Wor Miggy, but Newcastle forced the error. They set up as if they were expecting that kind of error from Lloris and they pounced once they’d forced it.

They should’ve had a pen for handball. What was the difference between the one we saw at Spurs and the award that Fulham got v Villa from Michael Oliver?  Ah - perhaps I’ve answered the question? Michael Oliver.

Not for the first time this season VAR let Newcastle down and that’s another reason why I was happy to see Wilson’s goal given. No team in the PL has had more VAR decisions go against them than Newcastle.

The other thing I said in that first blog was that if Newcastle weren’t the best of the rest than Howe would’ve failed. Right now they’re better than that. Although finishing in the top four will be a big ask - don’t rule it out.

They look solid. There’s goals in them. And they’re playing with a belief. You can’t say the same about Chelsea or Spurs right now. Who knows with United? They really do blow hot and cold, but they’re a work in progress - making small progress.

So why can’t Newcastle finish top four? I think the race is wide open. Good luck to them.

There’s another nice guy at Chelsea and I’ve got all the same doubts about his personality that I had about Howe’s. There’s no ‘devil’ in Chelsea anymore.

They’re neat and tidy - they’re big Brighton really. They’ll win more than they lose - many more - but I don’t see them putting big games to bed with the same efficiency that they once did. I can’t imagine a team led by John Terry - or coached by the likes of Tuchel or Mourinho - leaving the door open for United to nick a point as they did. Chelsea would’ve won that at one time. No question.

Klopp cost Liverpool at Forest. His team selection was all wrong. I know they’ve got injury problems and losing Tiago so late was a real blow, but you can’t then leave out Henderson and Alexander-Arnold. He had babies in mid-field and they weren’t good enough. They tell me that Henderson needs to be ‘managed’ these days. Maybe he does, but he’s only started eight games this season. Surely he’s got more in his tank yet?

We were right about Gerrard weren’t we? I was told last weekend that it was all over, which is why I couldn’t understand why he was in charge at Fulham. The message from the dressing room was very clear. Villa played with a freedom - and crucially width - as they swept away Gerrard’s era. I hope Steven learns from his first PL managerial experience and has another go - although I think he’ll have to take a club into the league for that to happen. I don’t think he’s going to get another PL job quickly.

I’m pleased to see Leicester winning again - but Wolves are in trouble. Big trouble. I wonder how Steve Davis felt when he was given the job until the end of the year because his chairman doesn’t believe there are any ‘outstanding’ candidates for the job. Thanks chairman. That’s a real vote of confidence.

Sadly we’ve got to give VAR another mention. Lee Mason had a shocker in the bunker as City beat Brighton. He got a first half hat-trick of wrong ‘uns.

Haaland is brought down by the keeper early on - it’s a pen. He fouled Adam Webster before scoring the second - and the decision to give City a pen when Silva went over was ridiculous. If that was a pen - why wasn’t Joelinton’s at Spurs? That was more of a pen.

I’d be surprised if Jesse Marsh makes it through the week. The only thing that will save him now is a sequence of games that sees Leeds go to Anfield and Spurs - with Bournemouth in between. The owners might feel it’s better to get those games out of the way and leave the new man - whoever that is - with an easier start after the World Cup.