Last night marked the first time this season that Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle had reached the English Championship summit. With many games still to go over a hard ol’ slog of a season, consistency will be what keeps us there.
Dwight Gayle, a player who is after each passing day, justifying his £10 million transfer fee from Crystal Palace in the summer, netted twice again to bring his season’s tally to 11. And whilst there were splutters and stutters in an otherwise uneventful first half, the Toon got well into their stride in the second period with Gayle not hesitating to rifle home our first from close range after 49 minutes.
Scoring at the ‘perfect time’ is somewhat of a cliche these days, but with just over 20 minutes to go, Gayle’s second from outside the box brought the hammer down on a Barnsley performance which did not deserve anything more than 0 points. Whilst defensively they were spirited, it was always going to be a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ with Rafa’s burgeoning Newcastle side bearing down on them in the second half.
They tried to frustrate us and alienate us but after our early season mishaps, you get the feeling that this Newcastle side is now made of sterner stuff. Mid-summer defeats to the likes of Huddersfield has taught us some valuable lessons about a league that is rarely forgiving.
As Shamrock pointed out yesterday evening, it seems as though something has finally clicked. With our rightful place at the top of the Championship pile taken, what are we supposed to do now?
Curiously, I believe this advice from terrible boss David Brent from the hit show the Office, sums it up perfectly.
‘If we’re facing in the right direction, all we’ve got to do is keep on walking.”
Until next time…