The Qatar World Cup break interrupting this Newcastle United season.
An ideal time to get a snapshot of views from NUFC fans on how they think things are going.
So we sent out various questions to a number of regular / irregular contributors to The Mag.
Next up we have Jamie Smith:
Newcastle United third in the table, how are you feeling?
Brilliant, I love it.
It’s like what I experienced with Kevin Keegan but my son is sat next to me seeing his own version of an entertaining, successful Newcastle United.
The drawback is that I’d forgotten how nervy it can be playing for such high stakes and the fact that I’m once again terrified to miss the match.
The thought of life causing me to miss Eddie’s mags for weddings, birthday parties or badly planned trips has made me socially irritating at times and when the games end, you just can’t wait for the next one.
A must win game and the whole squad fit and available, which 11 would you select?
Pope, Trippier, Burn, Botman, Schar, Joelinton, Bruno, Willock, Isak, Almiron, Wilson.
I love ASM but he works as an impact sub.
Best atmosphere at a match this season?
Might be recent bias but Chelsea for me – in the top four, beating a big six club to keep our momentum going. A late Saturday kick off with St James in full effect and everyone brimming with optimism for the future.
Also might have seemed even better in contrast to the fairly flat league cup atmosphere vs Palace.
Player of the season so far (top choice and then second and third)?
Trippier. Not only a leader and defender but a valuable attacking outlet too who has transformed our set pieces in the magnificent year he’s spent here.
Also a big reason for the recent form of Almiron, who I’m putting second.
Botman has been quietly outstanding, I’ll give him third, but there’s about seven contenders for the podium, which is brilliant by the way.
The three most improved players this season (in order)?
I mean Miggy goes without saying as the standout.
Longstaff second as he has acquitted himself admirably in the constantly improving team, starting to look like the player Rafa nurtured as opposed to the one Bruce ruined.
Third is tricky, even though he was excellent last year I’m going to say Schar has stepped it up a notch alongside Botman and been another of the season’s stand outs.
World Cup break – Has it come at a bad time (breaks momentum potentially etc) or a good time (players needed break, injuries clear up etc etc)?
My gut says good time, although I’m not sure.
Rival clubs have far more people going to Qatar, it’s just the importance of some of ours who are there.
Brazil likely to go far, so Bruno may be there a while and Tripps probably starting for England. By contrast the return of a fully fit Isak, ASM and Shelvey will be welcome.
I have faith in Eddie using the break perfectly to get the squad in the best possible position to kick on.
If you are honest, ahead of the season kicking off, if you’d had to put your mortgage, rent…energy bill on it, where would you have predicted Newcastle to finish this season?
You can check my honesty in an article I wrote in May – I said we’d be top six with a top four challenge a possibility, based on the form of the second half of last season with a returning Wilson and summer signings added.
I also mentioned the punishing European schedule being a leveller with rivals, which no one seemed to be mentioning, and the same would apply to a lesser extent to the World Cup.
Same as above but where now do you predict Newcastle to finish this season?
Again, I’ve just written something dissecting this.
There are variables such as key injuries and the fact we will want to give our best in the cups but I think we’ll retain the top four place.
Eddie just has them playing as such a squad that there’s always someone to step up. Even one top signing in January would go some way to securing this.
If the new NUFC owners had decided to stick with Steve Bruce come what may, what do you predict would have happened these past 13 months and where would Newcastle United now be at?
I don’t want to think about this thank you. Good day to you sir.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how interested are you in England at the World Cup?
A solid 7. My priority is the Newcastle players coming home fit and healthy, but by the same token, their presence in the England squad increases my investment in their success.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how interested are you in this Qatar World Cup?
Probably an 8. Look, we all know it’s a disgrace that it’s there but there’s only so many times you can whistle down the wind making the same point.
I enjoy being an armchair viewer of an international tournament, getting in from work and sticking Denmark v South Korea on or whatever.
The fact it’s set against a backdrop of a successful NUFC helps massively, if someone has a breakthrough tournament you could actually entertain us signing him, whereas there’s a very real chance we could have a World Cup winner in our next line up.
Three words to describe Eddie Howe?
Perfect long-term leader
Would you rather win the League Cup or finish top four and qualify for Champions League?
The logic answer is the Champions League. It would attract signings, prevent others being tempted away and be a smart step forward.
But fans of my age just want a trophy, so I vote for Wembley, a week of celebrations and the Carabao cup. We can totally do both by the way.
Best (realistic) signing Newcastle United could make in January?
When Botman signed, you had that thing where everyone was in agreement he’d be brilliant – Howe, Ashworth, the board etc.
I get the same vibe about Maddison, another attacking edge that would add something to the team. I’ve actually stopped saying what I think when it comes to signings, I just want the players that Eddie sees as fitting the bill. The bids we pelted Leicester with in the summer suggest we are massively keen and I’m sure the lad spending a month in Qatar with three of our players will do no harm at all.
What are your thoughts on the job the Newcastle United owners have done since the takeover in October 2021?
There’s only one answer – amazing.
The progress is evident in all areas and to be where we are in the table is surely ahead of schedule, when you think we might well have been working our way back from the Championship right now it boggles the mind.
The appointments behind the scenes are already working, with sponsors starting to flood in.
If I could say anything I’d like to see, I think we could do with an update on any plans for stadium expansion as this needs to be on the agenda.
You can follow the author on Twitter @Mr_Dolf