Newcastle United beat Crystal Palace in sixth win St. James’ Park

Newcastle United beat Crystal Palace in sixth win St. James’ Park
Miguel Almiron’s goal help Newcastle secure a win at St James’ Park. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 21 April 2022

Newcastle United beat Crystal Palace in sixth win St. James’ Park

Newcastle United beat Crystal Palace in sixth win St. James’ Park
  • PIF chief joined club co-owners for celebratory kickabout on the pitch

NEWCASTLE: Public Investment Fund chief Yasir Al-Rumayyan finally witnessed a Newcastle United win in the flesh — and made sure his time on Tyneside was memorable by celebrating on the St. James’ Park pitch.

It was third time lucky for Al-Rumayyan, having seen losses to Tottenham Hotspur and Cambridge United live on Tyneside, as Miguel Almiron’s goal saw the Magpies see off Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace.

It was a result that extended a sequence of home wins on the bounce to six — their best return since 2004 and the days of Sir Bobby Robson and Champions League football at United. It also took the Magpies to within a few goals of a place in the Premier League top half — no mean feat, given they failed to win any of their opening 14 games in the top flight this season.

And this was not a fact lost on Al-Rumayyan, who with a Saudi and PIF contingent, flew in to their stately Northumberland retreat especially for the encounter.

The Newcastle non-executive chairman was pictured waving a black and white flag with pride pre-kick-off and made sure after the joyous crowds flooded out of St. James that he did not miss the opportunity to get in on the action, bounding down to the turf for a kickabout.

He even showed skill with left foot and right, sharing passes to fellow co-owners Jamie Reuben, of RB Sports & Media Ltd., and Mehrdad Ghodoussi of PCP Capital Partners. Even Majed Al-Sorour exchanged a few well-placed passes.

The deft footwork was a joy to behold for the handful of stragglers left in the ground and the gaggle of media and corporate customers. It was a far cry from what fans have had to endure under 14 years of Mike Ashley ownership.

Finally, they can like, even love, and relate to those trusted with the keys to their much-loved football club.

Toasting the win, Reuben tweeted a jubilant picture of himself flanking a beaming Al-Rumayyan with Al-Sorour and Ghodoussi, with the caption: “40 points baby.”

The last time Al-Rumayyan came to the North East, he trudged down to the home dressing-room to give them a pep talk after dropping out of the FA Cup in such disappointing circumstances to League One Cambridge. Things couldn’t be more different now.

“You had to remind me about that,” Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe joked when asked about that visit.

“I have to say the chairman came in to see me after that game and he was excellent. He was really, really good — and I know he was with the players.

“It is so important in difficult moments that you keep your head and support each other, and it is a big thank you for supporting us that day, as hopefully we have been able to repay that support [with the result].”

So, did Al-Rumayyan come to the dressing room this time, and if so, what did he say?

Howe said: “Yeah, he did come into the dressing room. He shared a moment with the players.

“He didn’t say anything, but he shared a moment and experienced the highs that winning brings. I fully embrace that.

“I feel if we can be as close as we can be, as one, that will benefit everyone.

“You have to be aligned in your vision. That is so important when you are trying to take a club forward into hopefully a successful period.

“You have to be on the same wavelength with your decision-making process, because if you’re not aligned then problems occur.

“I think it is a two-way thing. We have to talk regularly, communicate well, and then iron out any differences we may have.

“So far, it has been a very positive relationship. January was key. I think we can all see the benefits of what January did for the team.”

Despite the busy schedule, Howe picked an unchanged team for the visit of the Eagles, with Almiron retaining his place on the right.

And it was the Paraguayan who proved to be the difference on the night, with the standout bit of quality in the whole game winning it for United.

A sumptuous ball over the top by Bruno Guimaraes set the wideman away, and using strength and pace, Almiron worked his way around the Palace backline to pick out the top corner of the Leazes End net.

And despite an under-par performance, one goal was all United needed.

There is no doubt Al-Rumayyan will have been impressed with what he witnessed, especially from the record-breaking $52 million Guimaraes.

Asked whether he thinks that might be enough to convince the PIF and Al-Rumayyan to again dig deep to strengthen in the summer, Howe said: “I think that will be for another day.

“I was so pleased that he was here to see the team and share in the experience of what the relationship is like with the supporters.

“It was great for him. And hopefully we are building a solid relationship where we can take the club forward to what lies ahead.”