Tottenham wreck Newcastle’s takeover party after Harry Kane inspires comeback win

Newcastle 2-3 Tottenham: Callum Wilson’s early strike was cancelled out by Tanguy Ndombele, before Harry Kane scored one and set up Son Heung-min for another

Miguel Delaney
St. James’ Park
Sunday 17 October 2021 19:42
<p>The England captain and his Spurs teammates spoiled Newcastle’s day with their new Saudi owners </p>

The England captain and his Spurs teammates spoiled Newcastle’s day with their new Saudi owners

A game of many moods, and a day of many forms.

It was certainly one of the strangest in Premier League history, even if it will end up serving as a landmark for the competition given its most controversial ever takeover.

What had been a grand welcoming for Newcastle United’s owners and consequently a grand exhibition of how sportswashing works became a very serious health emergency, a huge show of relief, a game that ebbed in all manner of directions and – ultimately – a classic football reality check as Newcastle United lost 3-2 to Tottenham Hotspur.

It was difficult to know how to feel after it – other than that Newcastle remain quite a poor team and Spurs a confusing one.

More than emotions, three very different images will remain in the memory.

The first was that of paramedics gathered around a supporter who had collapsed in the East Stand. He was mercifully stabilised and brought to hospital, but it naturally conditioned the feel of everything that had happened before and after.

The second had come in the moments before kick-off. That was when the stadium’s announcer asked the entire stadium to give a “huge Geordie welcome” to new chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan. Most of the crowd dutifully turned to applaud the figure who is also the chairman of Saudi Aramco. Amanda Staveley was beside him, beaming with delight.

There was no similar announcement for Steve Bruce despite the fact this was his 1,000th game in the Premier League. It may well be his last for Newcastle United, depending on how sharp the new leadership are. Long before the end of a 3-2 defeat that was hugely flattering in scoreline, the crowd had gone for repeated chants of “we want Brucey out”.

This resulted in the third image of the day: Newcastle’s hierarchy and so many fans in thobes looking glum.

The match gave rise to serious concerns about the season, despite the takeover offering them optimism for the season.

The two didn’t seem to fit, but that was kind of the story of the whole day.

It had already been strange when it became very serious.

Shortly before half-time, fans in the corner of the East Stand and Gallowgate End behind Karl Darlow’s goal began frantically gesturing to those on the pitch, to divert their attention to what the PA described as a “medical emergency”. A fan had collapsed and was receiving CPR.

Once the players realised what was happening, they ran to the benches to try and get a medic on, Eric Dier creditably leading the way. The Spurs defender motioned for a defibrillator to be brought over.

The game was halted for 20 minutes, during which time the atmosphere in the stadium of course completely changed.

Fans looked shellshocked, with some even leaving. Those who stayed applauded the medics as well as the supporter, who was eventually stretchered out. The information from the club media team was that his condition had been stabilised and he was being brought to hospital.

It had already been announced that the players would be returning to play out the rest of the first half, but such was the mood in the stadium that there were fair questions whether that felt appropriate.

When Son Heung-min scored within minutes to make it 3-1, the actual football did feel incidental.

The game, mind, had already finished as a contest.

The emotional momentum of the day had evaporated from the Newcastle team within minutes. Although all the energy had immediately produced that early goal from Callum Wilson, it was like they were only playing off emotion. Spurs had started so badly, as if the day had got to them in another way, but soon came to their senses. It was actually as if Tanguy Ndombele’s speculative strike snapped them out of it. From that, Spurs simply played as if they knew they were far superior to Newcastle. They were far superior to pretty much any of their own performances this season, as they began to keep the ball with flair, and just play around and through Bruce’s side.

This was when it became a training session.

Even Harry Kane looked back completely at ease with himself, scoring his first Premier League goal of the season by casually lofting the ball past Darlow like he was back to his best.

That was pretty much it as a game, but it begs bigger questions of what Newcastle’s season is going to see. For all the optimism before the match, the reality brings rather different feelings.

This is now a club who have 11 fixtures before the transfer window opens, full of players who know their futures are uncertain, currently playing under a manager whose authority has been completely eroded as he awaits an inevitable sacking. There are even fair questions over the type of manager they can get to actually make the best of this situation. The very best currently have no interest. Worse, any manager that would fit the future may not fit what is required for a fight.

They could end up in real trouble.

As the reaction from both the Spurs fans and players showed, there will also be a real will from other sides to get at them.

Among the chants from the away end were:

“You’re just a sh*t Manchester City” and – most damningly – “no noise from the Saudi boys”.

On the other side, Spurs now find themselves into fifth place, above Manchester United.

It was that kind of day, when the feel of it all didn’t always match what you were seeing, that so often felt quite dislocating.

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