Newcastle rollercoaster ride continues

Posted by Lee Ryder

Serena Taylor/Getty ImagesPapiss Cisse helped get Newcastle back on the winning track with a goal in the Magpies' Capital One Cup victory over Leeds United Sept 25.

As far as the black and white roller-coaster is concerned, the loss against Hull City proved to be only a slight shudder on what is always a bumpy ride. But that's thanks only to last night's victory over Leeds United in the Capital One Cup.

- Report: Cisse on target for Toon
- Report: Pardew hopeful ahead of City tie

An early cup exit against lower league opponents would have cranked up the pressure on all concerned at St James' Park. Instead, there was a bit of a buzz in the city this morning as Toon fans woke up safe in the knowledge that the path to Wembley was still open -- and Newcastle boss Alan Pardew appears to have listened to supporters by fielding a strong side against the men from Elland Road.

Remarkably, the 2-0 win over Leeds came on a day when the club revealed the results of a fan forum which made it crystal clear that the cups aren't the priority at St James' Park.

Of course, what is said on third round day is one thing, and given that Mike Ashley will earn another bumper pay day from the Manchester City game in the next round is likely to change the tune slightly to those in the board room.

As far as the fans are concerned, if you gave them a choice between beating Hull or beating Leeds, then most would want progress in the cups given that the trophy drought since 1969 on Tyneside continues to hang over the club. Thankfully, the season stays alive in the League Cup for at least another month with a tie with Manchester City on the horizon.

As the draw was made in the press room last night, former players like Malcolm MacDonald and John Anderson watched on as the Magpies' ball stayed in the pot until the end and with ever team plucked out, it was merely a case of whether they'd face City at home or away.

The gut reaction was: "It could have been worse."

It could have been better too, but considering Newcastle's luck in cup draws down the years has bordered from unbelievably harsh to pretty unkind -- with trips to Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United in the last decade -- the chance to get a full Geordie crowd behind the team against moneybags Man City does not steamroller hopes completely, especially as the Citizens have already flunked at Cardiff and been held by Stoke on the road when at full strength.

But that's down the line for the Magpies.

Already attention is turning to Monday's game at Everton in a fixture United haven't won since 2010 when Hatem Ben Arfa steered home a wonderful winner to announce his arrival in the Premier League.

What's happened since to Ben Arfa has been parallel with the fortunes in general of the Magpies and some might argue that's not a coincidence. Quite simply, when Ben Arfa is on song, Newcastle United are on song. And as far as the Magpies are concerned, they need him to get back to his 'A' game against the Toffees.

His form dipped against Hull City as the Tigers focused on closing him down and minimising his threat. He was an unused and unneeded sub against Leeds in the cup but the spotlight will be back on him at Goodison Park.

With a bit of luck, the roller-coaster continues on an upward curve.


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