After a summer of uncertainty off the pitch, Newcastle United capped off a positive week for the club with all three points and a fantastic performance, against West Ham on Saturday evening.
If West Ham didn't think they were in for a game, they certainly found out early on when Andy Carroll clattered into Tomas Soucek. Newcastle's number seven bullied the West Ham defence all evening, it was very much the Carroll of old. Eyebrows were raised when Steve Bruce decided to go with Carroll and new signing, Callum Wilson up front together, which meant Miguel Almiron had to settle for a place on the bench. The partnership worked extremely well, causing David Moyes' side all sorts of problems. Carroll looked sharp and more importantly, fit. The strikers' injury woes are well documented, however, should he keep up the level of performance shown against his former club, Newcastle will have a terrifying partnership on their hands.
Comfortable and controlled in possession, Newcastle looked much the better side in the opening stages, despite Angelo Ogbonna seeing his header crash off the top of the crossbar. Newcastle have options now, keeping in mind that Martin Dubravka, Ryan Fraser, Matt Ritchie, Paul Dummett, Ciaran Clark and Fabian Schar didn't kick a ball for the Magpies. While, Joelinton and Almiron made an appearance from the bench. Bruce has shown Mike Ashley just how important the summer signings are to the club. Finally, some decent depth in a squad that has been paper thin for far too long.
What a difference a striker can make. Newcastle struggled for goals last season, the need for a striker was massive. Not just any striker, Newcastle needed one that would be a complete and utter nuisance for defenders. Bruce certainly found that in Wilson. The former Bournemouth player held the ball up well, ran in behind and helped Newcastle get on the front foot. Newcastle look far more of a threat than they did last season. Although it's early days, this was such a promising performance from Bruce's men.
Newcastle took a deserved lead in the 56th minute, the impressive Javier Manquillo drove down the right before finding Jeff Hendrick. The Irishman did fantastically well to head the ball on to Wilson, who, just beat Lukas Fabianski to the ball for a poachers finish. It is no less than Newcastle deserved, having looked the better side throughout.
(Credit: Bleacher Report)
To a man Newcastle were excellent. They won the majority of the second balls, contested for everything and passed the ball very well. It was certainly a fresh approach from last season where Newcastle were criticised for sitting back far too often. Newcastle got their second goal three minutes from time. What a lovely goal it was too. Another new signing, Jamal Lewis opened his body up and pinged a great ball to Almiron, who controlled beautifully and drove at the West Ham defence. Almiron turned and fed Hendrick, who's shot arrowed into the top corner from just inside the box.
Allan Saint-Maximin will be feeling battered and bruised after being kicked constantly by West Ham. It was an obvious tactic by Moyes' side in attempt to stop one of Newcastle's most threatening players.
This was the first time Newcastle had picked up all three points on the opening day in eight years. It wasn't just the result that will please Bruce but the performance was one of the best under his management.
For all the negativity during the end of last season and throughout the closed season, Newcastle have come out the other side looking like, dare I say a normal football club with a positive buzz around the place. The three points will taste all the more sweet for Bruce who has been criticised on a daily basis since arriving at the club.