Is it a case of Newcastle disUnited at St James’ Park? Not a chance, says full-back DeAndre Yedlin.
After a troubling week, in which managerial uncertainty and transfer disappointment has set the tone, the American believes the Magpies’ show of strength both on and off the park at the weekend has went some way to proving the club’s critics wrong.
We really showed unity - not just amongst the team but the fans as well
From minute one, the sell-out crowd chanted Rafa Benitez’s name and got behind their side.
On the pitch ,Yedlin & Co had to dig deep, too.
A deflected Matt Ritchie strike was all United had to show for an otherwise dominant display against Steve McClaren’s Derby County.
That wastefulness in front of goal again, as it did against QPR last week, ensured a fraught, backs to the wall final 10 minutes, in which Yedlin himself was forced to head off the line.
But unlike on Wednesday, Benitez’s men stood strong and repelled the Rams’ advances.
USA international defender Yedlin, who was again excellent in a forward sense, as well as showing considerable defensive resolve and awareness, thinks the players and fans proved to everyone that after so much conjecture, unity is the order of the day on Tyneside.
“I think it was an important win. As a whole it’s a good grind by the team,” said Yedlin.
“We were playing against a good team that create some good chances. With a little bit of luck on our side and some good defending we were able to hold out and get a clean sheet.
“It was huge. One thing we talked about after the QPR game was just sticking together and that’s one thing we really showed on Saturday, the unity – not just amongst the team but the fans as well.
“They were behind us every second of the game and it helped us a ton.
“If it helps us, then it makes it tough on other team, so credit to them.
“It comes down to the character of the team and I think our team has a great character. Sometimes, like in the QPR game there is a down but we come right back up and get great win.”
While Scot Ritchie will righfully take the plaudits for his match-winning 12th strike of the campaign, the contribution of Yedlin, as well as the likes of returning Grant Hanley, Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett, who put in arguably his best performance in months, cannot be forgotten.
When asked whether he thought his 95th minute clearance from under his own bar to deny Darren Bent was as crucial as a goal, he said: “Yeah.
“It wasn’t just that, though, the whole team in general defended well and I was just fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.
“I’m just pleased it helped us to get the three points.”
The whole reason the Magpies were in that position was again their lack of cutting edge in the final third.
Missed chances are becoming a common denominator for United in recent weeks and Yedlin admits the players are frustrated with their inability to capitalise in games.
He said: “It’s frustrating but it’s one of those things you need to work through.
“As a professional you can create a lot of chances and sometimes they’re just not going to go in for you but the most important thing is we kept a clean sheet.”
One massive factor in United’s win was the return of Mo Diame.
Benitez’s men have missed the drive the Senegalese international gives them from midfield while he has been at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Yedlin concurred the former Hull City man’s return was a big boost for Newcastle.
“It’s huge. We’re in this position because of everybody in the squad and having those guys missing, it’s hard because you don’t have the same kind of depth,” he said.