Newcastle United cannot let history repeat itself – Norwich must be beaten

Be warned, history must not be allowed to repeat itself. Another good opportunity cannot, dare not, be squandered.

That is the reality facing Steve Bruce and his new team as they head into East Anglia to confront freshly promoted opposition.

They cannot afford to suffer what happened a year ago. Then, having lost the opening fixture at home to North London opposition (Spurs then, Arsenal now) the Magpies blew a great opportunity to gain a crucial three points away to a newly-promoted club.

A missed penalty in the last minute at Cardiff meant a super chance had been wasted with a dull 0-0 draw their fate rather than a morale lifting victory and it sparked a run of 10 Premier League matches without a solitary win.

Now it’s another City, Norwich, who are staging their big home return to football’s Savile Row against United.

It might be Krul on Tim, a loyal servant of Geordies for many a year, and on a club which is back in the big time through playing inventive soccer but Newcastle have to ruthlessly aim to see off Norwich.

Some matches are naturally targeted for the reward that awaits a bold and concentrated effort and with heavyweight challenges against Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea in their opening nine outings the Mags must make Carrow Road their killing ground.

Mind you, Canaries may well target a Magpie visit themselves given that their first five challenges upon returning to the top table include Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester City.

Newcastle United's Kenedy rues his last gasp penalty miss
Newcastle United’s Kenedy rues his last gasp penalty miss

So what will be the philosophy of those who orchestrate the battle ahead? Must win or dare not lose?

I reckon both ought to feel that they have to go for it.

It’s the way Norwich played in the Championship which means it’s ingrained in their nature, though this is a vastly different playing field as City cruelly learned at Liverpool where they were dismantled four times in the opening 45 minutes.

Meanwhile Bruce has talked of United operating on the front foot whenever possible and a first day dispirited surrender of points to Arsenal after going one down means there is already ground to be made up.

Therefore it has to be onward and upwards. Target Norwich and go for the jugular with a controlled but determined effort. Neither gung-ho nor timid. Because by general consensus if Newcastle suffered the same sort of horrendous beginning to a season they did a year ago they would not recover this time.

There is, of course, a significant long-term challenge to Bruce – how does he get 2019 big buys Joelinton, Miguel Almiron, and Allan Saint-Maximin into the same starting eleven? Particularly difficult if he stays with his preferred 3-5-2 considering United’s head coach would probably not risk the Saint in Matt Ritchie’s left wing-back role where he would almost inevitably become a sinner due to his reluctance to track back.

It would be easier reverting to 3-4-3 which is the system Rafa employed with Almiron and Saint-Maximin either side of Joelinton. That would mean dropping one of his three central midfielders Isaac Hayden, Jonjo Shelvey, or Sean Longstaff of course.

A third alternative would be to sacrifice the considerable threat of Almiron’s pace and direct running round the 18-yard box to drop him back into one of those trio of midfield slots where he tends to drift anyway though admittedly his impact is almost inevitably less.

It’s a tricky one given the signings Bruce has had thrust upon him but that is why he is paid the bucks of course.

Norwich life is very different to that upon the Tyne in more ways than one which is best illustrated by the experience of Tim Krul, once of this parish for some considerable time but now between the posts at Carrow Road.

Sporting director Stuart Webber, the young go-getter brought in to revitalise a stagnant club, has revealed how players like Krul are indoctrinated into the new Canaries family.

Tim’s father, wife, and daughter were hosted by owner Delia Smith in her private box on match day one.

“Tim’s wife said that in 10 years at Newcastle they had never seen Mike Ashley,” maintained Webber. “There was nothing to show for all that time. She added that in 10 weeks here they had dinner with the owners and Tim had the honour of his shirt being officially presented to him by Norwich’s goalkeeping legend Bryan Gunn.”

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Delia is a good mate of Ollie Burton, Newcastle’s European Fairs Cup winning central defender who lives in the area and watches Norwich home games from the directors’ box as her guest.

It was Ollie who cooked up Delia’s infamous rant when the Canaries had thrown away a two-goal first-half lead against Manchester City.

Intoxicated by the moment, telly’s celebrity foodie grabbed a mike, charged onto the pitch at half-time, and implored fans: “Let’s be ‘avin you. Where are you? Come on!”

Recalling the incident – Norwich went on to lose – Ollie told me: “Oh, it was all my idea. I’m the guilty one. Delia was complaining that the crowd was quiet as we went downstairs at half-time and I said: ‘Well, tell them. Get them going.’ I walked on into the boardroom but Delia was off onto the pitch to give it what for. I didn’t know until she came back all flushed.”

May Norwich similarly blow any lead they may have on Saturday and run out defeated once again – with or without Delia’s vocal intervention!

 

Author: Hot reporter