It was never going to happen overnight. They knew that. Even the ones wearing Arab robes and headdress, or carrying toy camels on the Metro.
Even those that had boycotted the ground for more than a decade, or those who truly believed Kylian Mbappe might one day lift the Champions League trophy in a black and white jersey. They knew alchemy could not be performed in a matter of days. They knew it was going to take more than one big cheque to make all their dreams come true.
They expected better than this, though. They dared to imagine the corner had at last been turned, Small beginnings, but they really did think they’d win this one. With the ground full, and in fine voice, with the flags flying and the hated Cockney Mafia gone, this was going to be their day.
Tottenham goals from Tanguy Ndombele (centre), Harry Kane (left) and Heung-Min Son (right) spoiled Newcastle’s party
St James’ Park’s atmosphere was electric as the Magpies fans sported Arab headdresses in celebration of their new owners
Newcastle’s new Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan and Amanda Staveley were in attendance for the first game of their regime
Newcastle (4-1-4-1): Darlow; Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie; Hayden; Saint-Maximin, Willock (Murphy 77), S Longstaff (Shelvey 60), Joelinton; Wilson (Fraser 77)
Subs not used: Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Fernandez, Gillespie, Gayle
Goals: Wilson 2, Dier own goal 89
Bookings: Clark, Hayden, Longstaff, Joelinton
Red card: Shelvey
Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Emerson, Romero, Dier, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Skipp; Moura, Ndombele, Son; Kane
Subs not used: Sanchez, Winks, Gil, Lo Celso, Alli, Gollini, Bergwijn, Tanganga, Davies
Goals: Ndombele 17, Kane 22, Son 45+4
Referee: Andre Marriner
A giant banner was erected. ‘Cause this is a mighty town, built upon solid ground, and everything they’ve tried so hard to kill, we will rebuild.’ The lines were taken from Jimmy Nail’s anthem about the region, Big River. There’s another song of that name, mind, by Johnny Cash. ‘Now I taught the weeping willow how to cry, cry, cry,’ it begins. ‘I showed the clouds how to cover up a clear blue sky.’ By the end, it was Cash’s river that seemed to have the strongest flow..
With 16 minutes to go, all optimism had gone. There were cries for Steve Bruce to be sacked, taunts that it was going to happen the next morning. Maybe it will. Either way it was a sadly unedifying conclusion to his 1,000th game as a manager. And Jonjo Shelvey got sent off.
Embarrassingly, he had only come on after 60 minutes, was booked for a foul after 79, then dismissed for bringing down Sergio Reguilon five minutes later. It was an act of utter stupidity, one over which Bruce had no control, yet seemed to sum up Newcastle’s malaise.
Jonjo Shelvey (right) hammered Newcastle’s despair home after being booked for a foul against Tanguy Ndombele (left)
Shelvey had only been on the pitch for 25 minutes before referee Andre Marriner (right) sent him off for a second yellow card
Callum Wilson provided the perfect start for the Magpies as he dived to head it past Hugo Lloris from Javier Manquillo’s cross
This ship is mightily off course, the good mood can swiftly sour, and it is hard to see how Bruce can rebuild his relationship with the locals without more pressure being heaped onto a struggling team. There are more practical concerns, too.
While Newcastle remain threatened by relegation who, exactly, is going to buy into this project no matter how huge its potential? Some mercenaries, yes. But James Tarkowski of Burnley is supposed to be a target. Say he gets to choose between Newcastle and a Premier League rival in January – maybe even Tottenham? Could he risk ending up in the Championship next season, if Newcastle fail to turn the season around?
Yes, there was the merest glimmer of a grandstand finish at the end when Eric Dier inexplicably headed the ball into his own net from a Jacob Murphy free-kick, but it was more by luck than judgement. Newcastle were poor after the bright start, Tottenham were in control for much of this match and the boos that arrived on cue at the end may be the final word on Bruce’s sorry reign. The stadium announcer revealed the next game here was against Chelsea and ‘completely sold out’. To masochists, obviously.
What an incredibly strange day it was, though. At the end of a week when football was made to seem the most important thing on earth, a matter of life and death to a city and its people, suddenly a moment of shattering perspective changed it all.
But Tottenham were soon level when Ndombele received space just outside the box and curled home a delicious effort
Harry Kane deftly flicked the ball from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s chipand the ball nestled neatly past Karl Darlow in the goal
The game was then brought to an immediate halt due to a medical emergency involving a fan in attendance in the crowd
That most anonymous of figures, a lone fan in a stadium among tens of thousands, collapsed amidst the drama and excitement of the occasion. Awaiting a Tottenham corner, the players were close enough to notice the commotion in the East Stand. It was Reguilon who brought it to the attention of referee Andre Marriner. He suspended play. Reguilon’s team-mates sensed the increasing urgency. Dier sprinted across to the Newcastle dug-out miming the exigent need for a defibrillator. It seems incredible if there is only one in a stadium of this size.
The players came across to the dug-outs and waited. There were occasional rounds of applause for the emergency services, maybe encouragement for the patient. A plan to restart was quickly abandoned after fans in the vicinity made it clear this would be disrespectful.
Instead, Marriner led the players off. When it was finally announced the first-half would restart with seven minutes additional time, it was apparent the worst had been averted. The supporter was removed on a stretcher to applause, and was soon on his way to hospital, stabilised.
Play resumed. Tottenham scored again. When the half-time whistle blew, Newcastle trailed 3-1. It was not just the optimistic new beginning that was responsible for the muted disgruntlement as Marriner brought the half to a close. A brush with mortality affords proportion.
Newcastle club doctor Paul Catterson soon after rushed across to help the stricken fan carrying a defibrillator to the stands
Tottenham defender Sergio Reguilon (centre) spotted the incident and urged referee Andre Marriner (left) to halt play
Eric Dier swiftly reacted and sprinted to the Newcastle dug-out calling and gesturing for a defibrillator to be brought across
Of course, until calamity struck off the field, perspective had been in short supply around these parts. A team that hadn’t won a game all season was going to be transformed by the presence of new executives. Of course, these individuals – proudly introduced before kick-off to something bordering rapture – bring hope immeasurable to both the club and the region.
For now, though, expectations exceed practical reality. Newcastle sent their fans into the stratosphere after two minutes then returned them to earth much as a balloon might if attached to a block of cement.
Less then two minutes had elapsed when Geordie Arabia took the lead through a quite lovely move. Allan Saint-Maximin fed Javier Manquillo on the right, he struck a beautiful cross to the near post, and there was Callum Wilson diving towards the ball to steer it past Hugo Lloris. What a goal, what a start.
Up in the best seats Amanda Staveley and new chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan celebrated as if to the Gallowgate End born. The euphoria did not last. Soon there were wearing the sort of expressions that suggested they were beginning to see why Ashley looked so happy as he thanked them for their business that last time.
In a league as competitive as this one, £300m brought roughly 16 minutes of joy. That was the time between Wilson’s opener and Tanguy Ndombele’s equaliser, and it was largely downhill after that.
Heung-Min Son netted Tottenham’s third goal after play resumed with seven minutes remaining of the first-half
Reguilon was the provider, and Ndombele used Jamaal Lascelles advance to disguise a fine curling shot which utterly defeated goalkeeper Karl Darlow. Newcastle still looked sprightly going forward, but this is a team with weakness at its core. Every time Tottenham attacked, a second goal seemed possible. Just five minutes later, it arrived.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s chip found Harry Kane but it was what England’s striker did with it that showed how foolish it can be to doubt him. He may have arrived on Tyneside without a goal this season, but no-one would have known it from this display. His deft flick nestled in the net, only spoiled by a raised linesman’s flag. VAR to the rescue. The very first replay showed Newcastle were in trouble. It was tighter than tight. Advised by Chris Kavanagh, Marriner gave the goal. The party had been pooped.
By the time Tottenham’s third went in, it felt like it had been raided by the police, the local council’s noise abatement department, everybody’s angry parents and a passing chapter of the Hell’s Angels. Lucas Moura was quite brilliant getting past Isaac Hayden and finding Kane, whose cross was simply converted by Hueng-min Son at the far post. To think this was a Tottenham team that were supposed to have been stricken by coronavirus and about to meet an unstoppable force in the form of a revitalised Newcastle. Those erroneous tests were not the only false positives, it seems.
Tottenham defender Dier then have the hosts hope after getting in a muddle from a free-kick and scoring an own goal
New Newcastle United chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan and Amanda Staveley were met with applause before the game kicked off
Catch up on all the action from Tottenham’s 3-1 victory over Newcastle with Sportsmail’s ISABEL BALDWIN.