Time and again Newcastle fans have said all they want is to support a side that competes for the major prizes. They’re on the road to doing that once again.
After 20 years way from Europe’s premier club competition, the Champions League, Newcastle are back as they secured their place in the top four on Monday night.
Their goalless draw against Leicester certainly won’t live long in the memory but 52,000 Geordies inside St James’ Park won’t care about that.
A football mad city was starved of even the slightest bit of excitement for many years under Mike Ashley’s ownership, but their beloved team has been on a rapid ascent up the Premier League table since the second half of last season.
It would be ludicrous to not credit the huge Saudi-backed financial muscle they have as the main reason for their excellent progress but the work manager Eddie Howe has done shouldn’t be understated.
Howe inherited a team with no identity and a group of players playing within themselves, but he’s helped transform their fortunes over the last 18 months.
Things were tough at first, though with Newcastle having to wait until December for their first win of last season – Howe was well into the job at that stage.
Relegation was still a very real possibility until the Magpies hit a run of form in the second half of last season to survive with relative comfort, but Howe says he and the players couldn’t have done that without the loyal support of the Toon Army.
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On uniting the fans and the players, Howe said: “I think it’s the most important thing. If you’re not united with the supporter base I think regardless of how you want to play and what you want to achieve I don’t think it’s going to work.
“The first thing was to show how important it was that we represented the supporters and the people in the city in the right way. That’s through sheer determination, all the core things that bring you success in any walk of life.
“We had to show the fan base that we were here to make them proud if we could every single game and I think the players have done that incredibly well.
“The challenge only gets bigger to keep that but I think the supporters here, even in the dark days during the first few weeks, have been absolutely incredible.
“They’ve stuck with us, they’ve galvanised the squad this year without a doubt.”
The scenes after full-time demonstrates there’s a family feel between the club and fans as players, staff and family members alike posed for a photo in front of their famous Gallowgate End.
And everyone connected with the football club can smile knowing this is just the beginning.