WHAT A DAY. The final game of the season and one to remember, with the boys securing our place in the top 10 with an outstanding performance, full of everything we’ve loved about this team this season – desire, spirit, energy and passion.
It was a brilliant atmosphere, a top class display and a perfect end to a season where we have well and truly exceeded expectations. Benitez has worked wonders, but the job those players have done has been nothing short of sensational too. Everyone has played their part – fans included(and just look at this display in the Gallowgate today).
Yes we’ve been tearing our hair out at times and bemoaning the lack of quality or final product within our ranks, but one thing you have never been able to question this season is their fight, togetherness and commitment to the cause.
Now to the game itself. I wasn’t sure whether we’d see a Chelsea side gunning to keep their top four hopes alive or one who’d be sulking from their midweek slip up and focused on staying fit for the FA Cup final and World Cup above all esle. It’s safe to say it was the latter! They were an embarrassment really, putting in an absolutely pitiful performance given they had to win today – but we took full advantage and for every bit they were poor, we were brilliant.
From the off we were first to every ball. We out-passed them, out-jumped them, out-muscled them, out-ran them and out-played them in every single department. The 3-0 scoreline does not flatter us one bit, but we needed it, with our emphatic win making sure we finished 10th – above Palace, Bournemouth and West Ham who all won today:
Diame a colossus in midfield yet AGAIN, Shelvey pulling the strings (how hasn’t Southgate called him up yet?!), Lejeune with one of his best displays in black and white (a player looking better and better with every game), Dubravka with another home clean sheet and TWO vital stops, Lascelles leading by example once again and Perez alive in the box once again to take his tally to 10 for the season. The list could go on – they were all absolutely excellent today.
A 3-0 over Chelsea with what many have called a ‘Championship’ team says so much about Rafa’s capabilities at this club. Yet another reminder to Mike Ashley that the Spaniard is a priceless asset to Newcastle United and someone we (and he!) simply can not afford to lose this summer.
The players deserve huge credit for their hard work, ability to follow Rafa’s instructions and commitment to the cause, but it’s Benitez who is the glue that holds us together. A world-class coach, the perfect ambassador for our great club & an all-round class act.
This summed up by him giving the soon-to-be released Massaido Haidara a warm embrace on the sideline just as Justin Lockwood introduced him back onto the field before the lap of honour. He also went over to shake the groundsman’s hands at the end and made an effort to interact with the player’s kids during the lap of the pitch. It’s the little things like this that make him such a special manager and one who’s a perfect fit for us here on Tyneside.
I love this group of lads and I love the man who is striving to bring greatness back to our beloved football club.
Let’s pray that the right decisions are made this summer to maintain momentum and allow Rafa to keep us moving in the right direction, but for now, let’s just enjoy a superb end to an up and down season.
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About Olly Hawkins
Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.