ONSIDE: Pregnant pause before Newcastle United’s comeback is complete
SO the long wait is finally over.
Think I’m referring to confirmation of the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy? Far from it.
I’m talking instead about Newcastle United ending their seven-game winless run with the added bonus of an unexpected clean sheet.
Just as well given that the Manchester twins and Arsenal lie in wait before any old acquaintances are forgotten.
Nor should anyone get too carried away by a 3-0 victory over 10-man Wigan on Monday night.
Too many Sunderland players and fans seemed to think all ills had been cured after they won 3-1 at Fulham last month when the hosts’ Breda Hangeland was sent off.
One point from nine later and this week has been an uncomfortable first anniversary for manager Martin O’Neill.
All Newcastle can say is that they used the extra man to their advantage in a professional if not clinical manner.
Had they gone gung-ho in the second half looking for more goals then they might still await their second Premier League shut out of the season at the other end of the pitch.
With the welcome clean sheet ticking one box on Santa’s list, how about getting greedy and asking for some more festive presents?
Could Father Christmas, for instance, deliver better corners or free-licks than we have seen this season so that Newcastle can finally score from a set piece?
Then there is the even more important matter of the team breaking their away duck after 11 fruitless attempts since August.
Thursday brings another opportunity with a trip to Bordeaux for their final Europa League group game.
While qualification is already confirmed, only a win will guarantee home advantage in the second leg come the round of 32 in February.
So why not play things cagey for 70 minutes or so before launching some bigs guns – if there are any still fit – from the bench to pinch a win.
Sounds easy this managerial lark.
Mind I’m not sure what Plan B would be if they go a goal behind in France after a minute.
– GAVIN LEDWITH
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Weather for Hartlepool
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North west