He’s gone. After 14 long years filled with neglect, no hope, two relegations and literally half a lifetime (in my case) of lowering expectations, Mike Ashley is no longer the owner of Newcastle United.
Two weeks ago, prior to our trip to Wolves, writing a match preview felt so different and utterly deflating.
Like so many Newcastle fans out there, I think I was at an all time low in terms of apathy towards a club I’ve adored all my life.
A fortnight on and another defeat later, we may remain in the relegation zone, stuck in 19th and without a win all season, but the picture at St James’ Park has brightened beyond our wildest dreams.
Not only are we rid of you know who, we are now the richest club on the planet with ambitious new owners ready to gradually turn this sleeping giant of a football club into the Premier League powerhouse it deserves to be.
I could talk about the frustrating delay in sacking Steve Bruce – who will be in the dugout on Sunday – but this is a weekend where all the focus must be on celebrating a new era and supporting the players on the pitch against a very beatable Spurs side.
It’s going to be one hell of an atmosphere at St James’ Park – regardless of the result – yet a win really would be huge as we look to pull away from the drop zone and begin daring to dream.
With Wor Flags back, Wilson fit again and a sold out crowd ready to watch Saint-Maximin run rings around Spurs, this has all the makings of an unforgettable day – whether you’re watching in the stands or glued to Sky Sports while sat on your sofa.
Steve Bruce has confirmed that Callum Wilson, Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey are all ‘fit’ and set to return to the squad for Sunday’s game.
He didn’t mention Joe Willock – who limped off vs Wolves last time out – however he was spotted in training this week, suggesting he’s OK.
Miguel Almiron was playing for Paraguay in the early hours of Friday morning and won’t be back on Tyneside until Saturday, so it looks like he’ll miss out along with Martin Dubravka and Paul Dummett – two players edging their way back from long-term injuries.
Predicted line ups
(4-3-3): Darlow – Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie – Hayden, Willock, S Longstaff – Joelinton, Wilson, Saint-Maximin.
(4-2-3-1): Lloris – Emerson, Romero, Dier, Reguilon – Hojbjerg, Skipp – Lucas, Ndombele, Son – Kane.
Starting in defence, I can see Jamaal Lascelles coming straight back in for this one. He’s the club captain and tends to start when fit – and he’s ready to return after two games out, says Bruce.
Based on his shaky display at Wolves, Fernandez could be the man who makes way. I prefer him to Clark, but the Irishman may edge is given he’s the only fit left-sided centre-back available to Bruce at present.
In midfield, Shelvey may be fit again after playing the full 90 minutes in the U23’s 4-0 win over Birmingham on Monday night, however that in itself makes him more likely to make the bench in my eyes.
Hendrick scored last time out and bagged an impressive assist in his last game of the international break with Ireland, but Hayden, Longstaff and Willock seems like the preferred trio right now.
In attack, no Almiron means Saint-Maximin could be moved wide, making way for Callum Wilson to return up top – providing he is deemed fit enough to start after missing each of our last four league games.
I don’t know if I’m drunk on takeover optimism and will soon sober up when Steve Bruce’s Newcastle face the likes of Kane and Son on Sunday, but I have real belief we’re going to win this one.
The atmosphere will be electric and both Bruce and the players will have a major point to prove to the new owners – who are expected to be in attendance alongside PIF governor and non-executive chairman, Yasir Al-Rumayyan.
Also, Spurs were absolutely shocking in that North London derby defeat to Arsenal – their last away game – and were on an awful run prior to that 2-1 win over Villa two weeks ago.
A high-scoring draw like we saw last season seems very possible, but I fancy us to kick off this new era at Newcastle with a big win this weekend!
Prediction: Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham