Newcastle stars Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton take on hero status under Eddie Howe as the Magpies claim a draw against Manchester United
- Allan Saint-Maximin’s strike helped Newcastle claim a point against Man United
- He scored in the opening 7th minute of the game at St James’ park on Monday
- Joelinton has also taken on cult-hero status under the influence of the new boss
- Joelinton was praised for nutmegging Diogo Dalot in the first half of the game
- The result will come as a blow to Man United – who are pushing for fourth place
It is one of the Premier League’s most storied fixtures, the setting once over for a rivalry that ran as deep as the colour of Manchester United’s shirts.
This game has made heroes of many a Newcastle player down the years, and Monday night very nearly marked another entry into those gloried chronicles.
It felt harsh on the hosts that Allan Saint-Maximin’s goal does not join those celebrated strikes of years gone by.
Allan Saint-Maximin’s strike helped Newcastle claim a point against Manchester United
A generation of fans have long since used the ‘Albert chip’ as a point of reference to the birth of their love affair with the club. That, of course, was the most fabled meeting of them all, Newcastle’s 5-0 victory in 1996 decorated by Philippe Albert’s 25-yard scoop over Peter Schmeichel to complete the scoring.
There have been others since; teenage debutant Matty Longstaff smashing the only goal two seasons ago chief among them.
The point is this – perhaps only winning goals against Sunderland mean more on Tyneside. It is a legacy of that mid-90s tussle for the top, during which the United of Manchester twice beat Newcastle into second place.
He scored in the opening 7th minute of the game at St James’ park on Monday evening
Joelinton has also taken on cult-hero status under the influence of the new manager, Howe
It remains a significant fixture – evidenced by it being plucked for stand-alone TV coverage – but that is motivated more by a ghoulish fascination in how far they have fallen. Newcastle started the game second from bottom and Manchester United 20 points off top.
Still, though, it will always be an encounter in which heroes can emerge. Until the moment of Edinson Cavani’s 71st-minute equaliser, it looked like Saint-Maximin would be that man.
From kick-off it had the feel of a special night for Newcastle – they started like a train, their visitors like a snail – and there was no shock in the sight of the French forward beating two men and curling home on seven minutes.
But the train, in fairness, did not morph into a parked bus and never did it look like being derailed until the point of Cavani’s close-range finish. That is why there is hope that the Magpies can survive under Eddie Howe.
The result will come as a blow to Manchester United – who are pushing for fourth place
United managed to muster up a point thanks to Edison Cavani’s (left) 71st-minute equaliser
The idea that they have improved since his arrival has been scoffed at beyond these parts. His results – five points from a possible 21 before this game – have hardly supported those who present their argument of betterment. But that is to ignore the evidence behind the scoreline – more shots, more possession, more running around and desire.
Supporters have recognised as much and that is why the atmosphere here was as intense and frenzied as those nights under the lights 25 years ago. They believe. They believe in Howe and they believe in the likes Saint-Maximin.
Even Joelinton – the much-maligned club-record signing – has taken on cult-hero status under the influence of the new manager.
Joelinton was praised for nutmegging Diogo Dalot in the first half of the game (above)
He struggled with the weight of the No.9 jersey following his arrival in 2019. In large part because he is not a centre-forward. Indeed, there is an argument for giving him the No.4 shirt next season, the Brazilian having masqueraded as a modern-day Patrick Vieira in recent weeks.
The sight of him galloping from a deep-lying midfield position and nutmegging Diogo Dalot in the first half won a cheer as loud as that which greeted the opening goal.
But for all of that positivity, a win that would have felt deserved still eluded them. That is one victory at the halfway point of their campaign.
If they are to fare any better in the second half of the season then the new owners will have to spend significantly next month. At least nights like this should remind them that theirs is far from a lost cause.