What is perfection? One description says that it is the action of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible. If this is true, and perfection truly lies with improvement to the point of being blemish free, then November 2018 was the definition of perfection for Newcastle United. There were three matches in the month for the Toon Army and all three resulted in victories. So let’s recap the biggest moments of a month that was night and day when compared to September and October.
Take Your Chances:
When Newcastle United took on Watford on November the 3rd, they were still looking for their first win of the season. After losing their previous two home matches (to Leicester City and Brighton) without scoring a single goal, the outlook was bleak for Newcastle United but this was where things would begin to turn around. The match began in the fashion that most expected it would, and Watford looked likely to score on more than one occasion. Gerard Deulofeu in particular missed a few easy chances on both sides of the half that looked like sure goals, and Newcastle United looked likely to continue struggling into yet another month of the season.
Newcastle United had not been particularly threatening during the match but managed to take one of their few chances once the opportunity arose. A free kick from just outside the box was swung in towards Ayoze Perez from Ki, and the Spaniard did well to stay onside and direct his header on target. The resulting goal gave Newcastle United the lead and a much needed win over a quality opponent. Newcastle did not create nearly as much as Watford did, but took their lone real chance and turned it into three points.
Setting An Example:
Newcastle’s only other real chance to score against Watford came later in the second half. Already nursing a 1-0 lead, a 2nd goal was almost added when a corner kick was sent into the box and knocked into a good position before being bungled towards goal. The half chance was cleared off the line by Ben Foster, the Watford keeper. The resulting counter attack found the Magpies outnumbered at the back with Andre Gray unmarked in the middle of the park. The ball was played in from the right side towards Gray and the tying goal was a certainty.
The shot never came. Kenedy, the Brazilian winger, had tracked back and caught Gray off guard with a tackle that sent the ball out of bounds and saved a sure equalizer. Kenedy had been jogging back to defend when the ball was flicked forward on the counter. Seeing the danger, Kenedy began sprinting and managed to catch Gray who had been a good 25 feet ahead of him at one point. The effort displayed by the Brazilian in that one moment not only set an example, but it triggered more of the same from the rest of the team throughout the entire month. Hustle and overall effort like that is what lead to Newcastle United claiming a very important 9 points in the month of November.
The Bournemouth match showed just how good Newcastle United could be when everything is clicking offensively. Salomon Rondon struck early and showed just how solid he could be when deployed as a target man, he was too much for Bournemouth to handle. As good as Rondon was against Bournemouth, the beauty in his second goal was provided by two other players. Ki swung a perfect pass from the right side with pinpoint accuracy to Kenedy on the left wing. Kenedy’s control was perfect but his cross was even better. He delivered a beautiful, arching ball that found Rondon just between the penalty spot and the six yard box and a thundering header by the Venezuelan left Bournemouth’s keeper no chance. The 2-0 lead proved to be very valuable as Bournemouth would mount a late comeback that threatened to steal some points away from Newcastle United. The goal turned out to be the winner as the match ended 2-1.
Moment of the Month:
After months of worrying about a season long relegation battle, Newcastle United managed to put together a perfect month and climb the table. I was tempted to select Ayoze’s goal versus Watford as the moment of the month as it kick started the trio of results, but could not deny the beauty of “the cross.” Ki’s pass to Kenedy, followed by Kenedy’s cross and Rondon’s header exemplified everything that is the beautiful game. Kenedy’s pass could not have found Rondon’s head any more perfectly had he walked over to him and placed it there. If perfection is improvement to the point of having no flaws, that moment was it at its peak for Newcastle United. There’s still a lot of football to be played, and a transfer window to come, but November erased a lot of fears for Newcastle United fans. Going forward the team will certainly fall short of perfection, but they showed that they could not only win, but look capable while doing it.