Newcastle ran riot on with a 4-1 win over League Two side Northampton Town on Tuesday night after fielding an uncharacteristically strong side for the League Cup showdown.
Boss Steve McClaren handed recent signing Florian Thauvin his first start and appearance at St James’ Park and the Frenchman didn’t disappoint.
Three assists and one goal quickly endeared the former Marseille man to the near 27,000 in attendance and a goal from the returning Siem de Jong was also welcome news on Tyneside.
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Best of all though appears to be McClaren’s attitude towards cup competitions.
Only Massaido Haidara and Ayoze Perez survived the weekend as the former England boss made nine changes to his line-up.
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Established players like Cheick Tiote, Daryl Janmaat and Mike Williamson joined the aforementioned star pair of de Jong and Thauvin to make a strong Newcastle unit.
Rolando Aarons and Jamal Lascelles were also handed starts – undoubtedly two of Newcastle’s brightest young stars.
Change in the times
So, what’s with the change in attitude?
The Magpies have only advanced past the fourth round of either domestic cup competition – the League Cup or FA Cup – three times in the last 10 years.
Bearing in mind last year’s League Cup quarter-final appearance was almost an accident, cup competitions just haven’t been top of the club’s priority list, even before the Mike Ashley era.
In the decade prior to that, United enjoyed two cup finals and one semi-final in the FA Cup.
Although they failed to emerge the victors on any of those occasions they still qualified for Europe via the two finals and more importantly, it gave the fans a welcome buzz.
It’s been 60 years since Newcastle won a domestic cup (even Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973) and that’s a long, cold stretch for a fan-base as passionate as the Toon.
It could be argued Newcastle have not possessed the necessary depth in their squad to challenge on all fronts in recent years and following relegation back in 2009, they’ve had to get their priorities in order.
That’s fair enough. But still, Newcastle have been humbled in some very winnable fixtures during this past decade in cup football, including back to back FA Cup defeats to Championship side Brighton and an embarrassing 3-1 loss to Stevenage during the 2010/11 campaign.
Upsets like those shape a perception of a club. It doesn’t make Newcastle an attractive prospect for players looking procure medals in their relatively short careers, either.
However, securing the club’s first win of the season in such comprehensive fashion, regardless of the opponent, has done the power of good in the north-east.
Suddenly, there’s an air of positivity ahead of Saturday’s lunch time kick-off with a stuttering Arsenal side. Not to mention, the newest flair Frenchmen, Thauvin, is brimming with confidence off the back of such a successful home debut.
Whether Newcastle make it all the way to Wembley or not, only the good fortune of the draw (home to Sheffield Wednesday in Round 4) and the teams desire will tell that.
Still, some morale boosting victories along the way and extra chances to bed the team together are perks that Steve McClaren - who won the League Cup as Middlesbrough boss in 2004 - has indicated he is willing to strive for.
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