Five talking points from Newcastle away

Michael Jacobs
Michael Jacobs

1 Wigan Athletic have got their mojo back.

All right it might be a little late in the season, but the real Latics have finally stood up. Graham Barrow showed he is the man to not only motivate the players to fight for the shirt, but also set them up tactically in a way that asked real questions of arguably the biggest and best squad ever assembled in the Championship. The challenge now is to maintain that level for Tuesday’s trip to Ipswich and Saturday’s visit of Rotherham. If they can, well who knows...

2 Newcastle United Football Club are a class act. From the friendly car park attendant before the game, to the jovial security guard letting the last of the press pack out before locking the stadium - and including the media staff, hospitality crew and on-site stewards in between - the whole matchday experience simply oozed Premier League. Yes they might be working to a budget that would embarrass several top-flight clubs. But good manners cost nothing - and everyone connected with the Toon off the pitch did their club proud. On the pitch, they’re not half bad either...

3 When you’re flying high at the top of the league, the breaks invariably go your way. If you’re struggling at the bottom of the table, you get used to being kicked in the teeth. Look at Newcastle’s winning goal. An air-shot found its way to Matt Ritchie, whose initial scuffed effort found its way back to him off goalkeeper Matt Gilks, who was then in no position to prevent Ritchie heading the rebound into an empty net. As Graham Barrow mused, it was the kind of break that Latics were on the receiving end of last season. This year, not so.

4 Ryan Colclough could have a Wigan Athletic future after all. Despite being farmed out on loan to MK Dons by Gary Caldwell and then largely ignored on his return by Warren Joyce, the young winger has been brought in from the cold by Graham Barrow and has shown he can do a job at Championship level. After a lively cameo off the bench against Aston Villa a fortnight ago, Colclough played the full second half at St James’ Park, and repeatedly got to the byline - something no Latics player has managed to do all season. Will Grigg, sat injured at home, must have cried himself to sleep on Saturday night, having fed off scraps for much of the campaign.

5 Jack Byrne exists! The deadline-day signing from Manchester City has been conspicuous by his absence so far, spoken about in dispatches but never sighted on a matchday. That was until his name appeared on the substitutes’ bench at St James’ Park. Having worked his way up to full fitness, perhaps he has a role to play in the run-in.