REVENGE will be in the air when Scunthorpe United are the visitors to St James’ Park tomorrow, but Danny Guthrie believes it was the Iron who inadvertently inspired Newcastle United to the brink of promotion.
The Magpies’ season has been defined by a series of low points and their reaction to them.
October’s 2-1 defeat at Glanford Park threatened to ruin the momentum Newcastle had built up since their 6-1 pre-season humiliation at Leyton Orient. But Guthrie believes their “most painful result of the season” galvanised his team.
“The Scunthorpe game at their place was a defining moment for us, I think, and proved to be a turning point,” said Guthrie.
“It was a horrible night and easily the most painful result of the season. We got beaten down there and a lot of things were said in the group. We knew what we needed to do to make sure that didn’t happen again. I think we’d all like to put the record straight with them on Wednesday night though.
“We got the right response as a group. We had a moment to ourselves in the dressing room and just said to ourselves, ‘Right, this stops here’ because we were on a bit of a bad run at the time. It did stop and we went on a seven-game winning streak. We’re in a really strong position now.”
The Glanford Park game was the Magpies’ fourth in a row without a win but they have lost only once in the Championship since, which has put them four points clear at the top with a game in hand.
Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough was a classic example of why Newcastle are in such a dominant position. It was by no means the first time this season United were outplayed, yet emerged unbeaten. Andy Carroll’s 82nd-minute goal salvaged an undeserved point for a team which has mastered the art of not losing even when playing poorly.
“It turned out to be a good point in the end for us with other results and that has been a feature of our season so far,” noted Guthrie, once more pressed into service
in his preferred central midfield position at the Riverside. “Even when we haven’t been at our best, we’ve managed to come away with something from the match and that’s why we are where we are in the table,” he added.
“The Boro game does show once again the resilience we have in the squad. We’d have loved to have gone on to win the game after we equalised, but that might have been pushing it a bit. The most important thing was not to lose.
“We don’t know when we are beaten. That comes with confidence. We’ve only lost four league games this season. When we conceded the second goal, it took the wind out of sails a bit, but we rally and go again.”
Carroll’s performance mirrored that of his team – distinctly off-colour before he pounced for his eighth goal in 11 appearances.
“Andy Carroll is a really good target-man, he didn’t even play that well at Boro, but he got his goal and did his job in that respect,” commented Guthrie (pictured right). “I thought Jonás (Gutiérrez) was excellent again, you can see why he is going to the World Cup. He doesn’t always find it easy away from home but the ball for our first goal was a top one.”
Meanwhile, Joey Barton will step up his return from injury by playing for Newcastle’s reserves at Hartlepool tonight.
The former England international played his first football since breaking his foot in September in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Hibernian last week.
But the Victoria Park game will be the first opportunity Magpies fans have had to see the midfielder in action.