Date: 13th September 2016 at 3:50pm
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This may seem like an odd way to start a football blog, however I was watching Catchphrase on Saturday night and Heather Smalls was singing ‘Movin On Up’ at the end of the show.

I think it was a celebrity version which is why they had extra budget to splash out on 90s popstars.

I must admit I’d forgotten how good a song it was and I turned to my other half to let her know how full of enjoyment I was. She concurred, saying, “You’re right, they don’t make songs like this anymore”.

Delighted, I rolled off countless reasons why 90s music was best and no matter what I was told nobody would convince me otherwise.

rland - Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

Magpies manager, Benitez – Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

Now, it may have been a slightly warped fusion of watching Catchphrase with a Saturday night sherry, but it made me think; am I too narrow in my views? Maybe I need to broaden my mind in all aspects.

Earlier that evening I’d watched Newcastle United grind out an impressive 2-0 win away at Derby County. They had less of the ball, chances could be counted on one hand and yet throughout the full ninety minutes they never looked like losing. I actually sat there as a Newcastle fan, comfortable.

It was almost poetic that Newcastle’s last win against Derby was a 3-2 win back in April 2002. A game where they were 2-0 down, seemingly heading for despair. Only to pull it back all level with goals from Laurent Robert and Kieron Dyer.

And in true all or nothing Newcastle style, Lomano Lua Lua pops up in stoppage time to give us all three points.

That’s what being a Newcastle fan is all about. Victory from the jaws of defeat, or more often than not, defeat from the jaws of victory. Losing 4-3, but playing well and perennially talking about what might have been.

Things have changed now.

I enjoyed a scrappy 2-0 win just as much as I ever enjoyed a 7-1 thumping. I was relaxed as ball after ball was pumped into the box and, as though magnets we attached to their foreheads, Jamaal Lascelles and Chancel Mbemba repelled them away.

Rafa has changed how I view football and, much like my small mindedness towards 90s music, he has shown me that there is another way.

Nobody exemplifies this as much as Yoan Gouffran. The Frenchman has been the butt of many Newcastle fans’ jokes over the last couple of years and rightly so. There was a time where I was convinced he had won a competition and the club had simply forgotten to tell him he had to go home. However, so far this season he has been outstanding.

d - Yoan Gouffran of Newcastle United - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Gouffran opened his goalscoring account for the season with a venomous volley at Derby on Saturday – Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

His biggest strength of working hard is now a strength for the team. Normally when I think of French wingers in black and white I remember David Ginola’s delicate flick and sublime volley against Ferencvaros or Robert producing the best performance I’ve ever seen at St James’ with two goals and two assists in a 4-0 win over Tottenham.

Granted Gouffran’s volley against Derby could sit among some of their strikes, but he doesn’t possess their natural flair.

Yet, I’m delighted he has turned it around and you have to credit that to Rafa.

Rafa sets the team out not to lose and that starts with not conceding. Gone are the days of you score two and we will score three, it’s a new way and a new Newcastle United.

There may be some times when it is isn’t as pleasing on the eye as the Kevin Keegan or Sir Bobby Robson eras, but there’s still that that feeling of discovering something different and exciting. Like hearing a new song on the radio, I imagine…
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