Glenn Roeder, Chris Hughton and Eddie Howe all have more in common with each other than you might think.

Obviously, all three have managed Newcastle United.

Whilst all three had fairly decent careers as defenders

All three played most of their football south of Watford, though we didn’t hold that against them..

All three are quiet and unassuming characters.

All three did significantly better here than in their other managerial appointments.

However, here’s the one that is relevant to this article.

All three are motivators.

Roeder and Hughton did well wherever they went, for a year or so, then performance dropped off.

The beauty of a motivator is that they can get much more out of a player than you would normally expect.

The problem, however, is that it only lasts for so long.

Obviously we’re all disappointed that we didn’t get to bring the trophy back with us and have that open top bus parade that would have been so spectacular, but I think even the most ardent Toon fan would have to agree, that just getting to Wembley was in itself a huge victory.

To add a little perspective, it’s only just over 13 months since we were sitting in 19th place, a point off bottom, having managed to accrue a paltry average of just over a point a game. We were without doubt major league relegation fodder.

Then we hit the sweet spot of mid – late January when things started to change.

At the end of April last year I got a bit of stick for claiming that the fixture list had been a generous contributor to our revival. We were sitting in what was considered a miraculous ninth place when I suggested this a bit inflated by the fact that our games against the big six had been unevenly distributed throughout the season. We played seven of those 12 games before mid-January with another three coming in the last month of the season, giving us not so much an easy three month run in between, but at least a less difficult one.

Of course, when you have the gall to suggest something like this, regardless of how accurate it may be, there are always going to be a few detractors, who, as is now fashionable, “take offence”.

Before that impressive three month run (that saw us rocketing up the table) we’d had a pretty dismal December schedule that gave us games against Liverpool, Man City and Man U, all on the bounce.

I’m only digging over this old ground because having tripped up recently against Liverpool, then succumbed to Man U in the cup, we now find ourselves playing back in the league, and who’s waiting for us other than Man City! Déjà vu all over again! Another game that could see us caught short in the quality department, especially considering their recent habit of winning stuff. I think it’s fair to say that 21 trophies in 10 years constitutes a habit.

We’ve been on such a phenomenal high this season, the mere thought that we might have “peaked” will seem abhorrent to most, but if the last couple of games have shown us anything, it’s that we are still some way from being the finished article, and this little fixture list blip of a reality check may be just what we need to get us to focus a bit more on the next couple of months.

In the good old days we were guaranteed goals from the likes of Shearer, Cole and Ferdinand, whereas last season our revival was not so much down to individual brilliance as it was to the 17 different players who made it onto the scoresheet.

It’s hardly a secret that we lack the edge up front that we need if we are to really be a consistent threat, but that is an edge that we have lacked all season, our problem at the moment is something else.

Is it possible that we are starting to suffer the motivator’s curse?

We have a number of top-notch players in the squad.

Then we have a few who are not quite so top notch, but who with Howe’s motivational skills, are playing fairly consistent pseudo-top-notch football. The right motivation is like a squirt of Nitrous Oxide. It will give you a power boost but it is only temporary, and too much will burn out your engine.

Then we have the hot and cold ones. The trouble with hot and cold is that we tend to only remember the hot, regardless of how infrequently it occurs. If you doubt this, just think Hatem Ben Arfa.

Then we have a couple that Rafa brought in to get us out of the Championship, and they just forgot to leave.

The point is, on the right day, when everyone’s up for it, we can put out a team that can beat anyone. The problem is that with most of the crowd we have, the whole motivation thing has become old hat.

When you are coming up against a team that has fielded a bench just shy of 350 million quid, you have to have all your ducks AND your planets in a row to stand any chance of getting a result.

I’m not trying to be negative here.

I think what we have achieved here is phenomenal and I’m sure there are a few more wins still to come, I just wouldn’t be too disappointed if, having sprinted off the line at the beginning, we have a little hiccup in the middle.

We have a run of matches after Man City where the points are there for the taking.

Let’s not allocate too much importance to the Man City game.

I said last week that if everybody turned up for the cup final we had a chance. They didn’t.

As for this week – see previous statement!

As a bit of a P.S. on this piece I’ve no doubt you have read that the US PGA is currently at odds with LIV Golf, a PIF funded foray into the highest echelons of professional golf.

A federal magistrate in the US courts has “ordered” PIF to turn over documents and are demanding that Yasir Al-Rumayyan sit with the PGA lawyers to be deposed.

PIF have responded, quite reasonably it would appear, that the US courts have no jurisdiction over the Saudi entity, claiming that they are a “sovereign instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”.

Media all over the planet is jumping on this saying that this contradicts the proof that PIF provided to the FA when they bought Newcastle United, that they are not part of the Saudi government.

I’m not a lawyer but I would guess that to comment on this you have to nail down exactly what an “instrumentality” is, and if it is the same as being “a part of”.

And that’s where PIF have been a bit on the smart side.

Well, here’s wishing the team all the best for Saturday!

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