Everyone is talking about tickets - but Newcastle have a major test on their hands before Wembley
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Tickets. The word that has dominated chatter on Tyneside in recent days and weeks.
A chance to watch Newcastle at their first major cup final in almost a quarter of a century was always going to be a popular one within the fan base. 32,761 lucky supporters have been given the opportunity to watch the Magpies potentially lift their first piece of silverware since 1969.
However, with that number comes a host of disappointed fans that will watch the clash with Manchester United away from the national stadium. Priority windows and ballots have come and gone as focus now switches to on-field matters.
However, for a large section of Newcastle fans, disappointment at not being able to watch their team at Wembley remains large. Such disappointment was ablaze on social media earlier in the week, leading the club to defend their ticketing policy through the Newcastle United Supporters Trust.
In an email to members, Newcastle stated that ‘97% of the tickets available within the priority periods have been purchased by current season ticket holders, with a very small allocation made available to members and supporters with a purchase history in the Carabao Cup.’ Adding that they ‘considered our options around ticket sales very carefully and worked hard to ensure tickets were made available to supporters in as fair and equitable a way as possible.’
It will come as little consolation for those who didn’t receive tickets, but it's good to see the club, once again, be open and transparent and address these matters publicly - a far cry from the previous ownership. All signs off the field are positive, however, there are one or two headaches for Howe to consider on it.
There is of course the small matter of Liverpool at home sitting between Newcastle and their date with destiny - a game that will mean even more to supporters than usual. Memories of their last-gasp defeat at Anfield still loom and it will be a result the team will aim to avenge this weekend.
And they will do so backed by a sell-out St James’s Park crowd that will undoubtedly be up for the game. Wembley dreams will be put to one side for 90 minutes as Newcastle are roared on against the last side to beat them on their own patch.
Even Jordan Henderson admitted that Liverpool are facing a ‘tough’ test this weekend, saying: “The next game is a big test, Newcastle are flying this season. I think they are unbeaten in 11 , something like that.
“So it’s a really, really tough place to go and play but if we can perform like we did tonight and more than you never know what can happen.”
Henderson and co will start Saturday nine points behind their opponents as a crucial few weeks for the Magpies begins. Banishing demons of a sub par couple of games is paramount for their success this weekend.
The team won’t be allowed to dream about Wembley before Liverpool have come and gone - but fans in the stands have every right to do that. The ticketing situation may have dampened spirits for a few, but Newcastle need a united fan base once again.