Signings and late goals helping to lift Newcastle spirits

Amid the spikiness of protest banners and sobriety of a minute’s applause, Newcastle fans had something to cheer before their mid-week encounter with Manchester United kicked off on Tuesday night. New signings Henri Saivet and Jonjo Shelvey were paraded on the pitch.

An hour and a half later, Paul Dummett’s left boot ensured the good feeling carried on into the night, as the full-back’s thumping strike earned Steve McClaren’s strugglers a last-gasp draw.

After months of heartache, reasons to be positive about Newcastle’s future are appearing. The league table and the bookmakers may not see it – Newcastle remain in the bottom three and are still odds-on for relegation with Ladbrokes at 4/6 – but things on and off the pitch look to be taking a turn for the better.

Investment in the first team, which began with four signings during the summer window, appears to be continuing at pace with the arrivals of midfield duo Saivet and Shelvey.

Links with further recruits are ongoing. Importantly, the rumours surround more Premier League-savvy players that can help the club escape relegation now and climb the league table in the future.

On the pitch, signs that McClaren is starting to get the desired tune out of his squad are evident.

Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez are developing into a dynamic strike partnership, although the latter wasn’t at his best against United, while Georginio Wijnaldum is among the best top-flight debutants this term.

Rob Elliot has banished the panic that arose from Tim Krul’s season-ending injury and the side is playing with far more belief and endeavour than earlier in the campaign.

West Ham, Watford, Everton and West Brom are the club’s next four fixtures, from which six points should be a reasonable target. Should the Magpies meet or better that, then their price for the drop will swell rapidly.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.