And with that, the season is over. Ah, it’s going to be a couple of tough summer months without the Magpies in action, but thanks to the new board and last October’s takeover we should at least get some transfer-market entertainment. Let’s not get too much ahead of where we’re now, though, and hand the last three Seahorse Awards of the 2021-22 Premier League campaign to the last that put on the best performances in the 1-2 win away at Burnley.
Here are your Top-3 players of Match Day 38, along with some quotes from the very own protagonists of the weekend.
In his first game fully fit and with the legs in their place, Wilson simply excelled. Yes, Callum already played and captained Newcastle last Monday against Arsenal, but he was coming off a 23-minute outing prior to that and he ended the day getting subbed off and with only three shots on the night for just a measly 0.4 xG figure and no successful dribbles at all. That pales compared to yesterday’s masterful outing. Wilson proved his worth for the Magpies and the absolutely perfect role he plays in Eddie Howe’s tactical scheme above the likes of Chris Wood upfront. C-Wil completed 9-of-11 passes, hit a penalty and an open-play goal, and could have had three or four goals had some passes reached him or balls bounced his way. The 1.4 xG (or 0.7 removing the bonus points earned by the penalty kick) and 0.1 xA were the highest combined mark of his injury-riddled season. Pinpoint accurate finishing for a man already 30 years old but solid as hell and with a bright future in Newcastle’s new era.
Will he stay, or will he not? We don’t know about that yet as it seems Eddie Howe and the new owners have yet to sit with Targett and discuss their potential incorporation to the club on a full-time basis after getting to Tyneside on loan from Aston Villa last January. While others such as Jamaal Lascelles and Dan Burn got the bulkier stats on things such as clearances compared to Targett, the latter had the most important deflection/blocked-shot one as he prevented Burnley from tying the game in the last minutes of the match thanks to a goal-line header that saved the Magpies day for good. He intercepted a couple of balls while also completing three tackles in his 90 minutes on the pitch while completing 71% of his 32 pass attempts even creating a big chance for his teammates to take advantage of. Can’t ask him for much more. Whether he stays or he goes, he deserves all of the plaudits for this latest performance and the full sample of games played in black and white threads.
When the man is on, the man is on. Trippier is the standard-bearer of the New Newcastle, and there is just no arguing that at all. Trips started on the right flank of the defensive line, logged the most touches of any and every Magpie on Sunday (74) by a mile (Bruno was second with “only” 60), and didn’t lose possession of the ball at all. With 35-of-48 passes completed, the only negatives came on crossfield crosses (he went one-of-six), but other than that Trips was Gucci and also contributed nicely on defense when Burnley went all-in and started to throw bodies up the field without the slightest remorse. Sublime signing by the Magpies to carry the team forward for years to come until he has to hang his boots and call it quits once and for all finishing his career as the ultimate New Newcastle Legend.
In Their Own Words
Pulling some quotes dropped after the last game of the season.
Newcastle’s gaffer didn’t hide his feelings when discussing the Magpies’ 11th-position finish after all of the things they’ve gone through during the past few months.
“I’m not sure I could have said I’d have seen it coming, to be honest with you. “December was a very difficult month for us.”
“We came in and on the horizon was a very tough month [...] and we had a squad that was suffering with injuries at the time. Then we suffered the low of Cambridge (in the FA Cup).”
“This was a position that seemed a long, long way away then.”
Speaking about the squad's effort to make that near-top-half finish a reality.
“I have to compliment the players for how they have dug in, for how they have united together.”
“There were plenty of examples throughout the team of players fighting for the shirt, giving their all, and I think the players deserve a huge amount of credit.”
No need to say it, Eddie! Yall had us sweating when your run started, indeed. Not yesterday, nor for the past few weeks, though. About the victory over Burnley, sending the Clarets one division down to the second tier of English football, Howe had some more words to share.
“Today was a very, very difficult day for me because obviously I have emotional ties to Burnley.”
“All my thoughts are with the supporters, players and staff, the directors, it’s a very proud football club and it hurts to see the club being relegated.”
Of course, Eddie Howe himself got Bournemouth relegated a couple of years ago in the 2019-20 season before parting ways with his long-time club by August of that year before COVID arrived on mother Earth and broke everything. Speaking about Burnley’s relegation...
“I’ve been in that position, I know how difficult that can be, I know the emotions going through everybody here, and just big respect to them.”
“I hope they bounce back very quickly, I’m sure they’re capable of doing it, but we know the Championship is a very difficult league.”
After locker-room celebrations had gone down, the victory pic had been taken, and everybody was cool and collected, Howe commented on the whole evening and what went down behind closed doors and the fact that the meeting right there in the depths of Turf Moor could have been the last one between him and some players poised to leave the club this summer.
“It was quite an emotional moment actually.”
“Just a big thank you from me to them for everything they’ve given the team, the club. A big thank you to the staff as well because it’s been a real team effort.”
“The unity and togetherness we’ve had has been something that has been great to be a part of.”
“I’m privileged to lead the team. There are some incredible characters in the team, in the changing room today and through the season, so it was a very special moment.”
Lastly, when asked about Joelinton’s early exit from the game with a foot injury, Howe calmed the Toon Army.
“It didn’t look good. I could see by the way he went down, I thought ‘this could be serious”.
“He was in good spirits in the dressing room though. He had a boot on, but said he was okay, so that’s great news.”
The worst—a torn ACL—was feared for a minute, but it all turned out to be a “deep laceration”, clarified by the very own Howe.
“I think the doctor, initially when he saw him, could see part of his bone, so I think it was quite deep. We knew immediately we had to withdraw him.”
So good, this New Newcastle, that even when faced with adversity and a potential dark spot entering the summer they still found a way to dodge another bullet. Nothing seems to possibly go wrong for the lads, who most fans can’t surely wait to watch back on the field for a full of year of Howe Ball next season.
Howay the Lads!