Newcastle United bravery rewarded as Eddie Howe's bold call pays off at Burnley

Newcastle is a city which built its fortune on shipping a black gold down the Tyne on barges. Now its currency has turned from coals to keep a nation's fires burning to goals destined to gladden every Geordie heart.

A football club which has worshipped No9s since the days when a former pitman Jackie Milburn plundered sackfuls of them has discovered its greatest asset once again.

United are currently the definition of goal kings. They have amassed 78 of them to smash their Premier League record for a 38-match season and there are still three games to go. That makes them bigger gluttons than Billy Bunter _ having done Burnley well and truly the Mags have now scored four goals in half a dozen fixtures against Crystal Palace, Chelsea, Luton, West Ham and Spurs at home and the Clarets at Turf Moor. Five have been notched when Aston Villa and Sheffield United came up here and a whopping eight upon visiting Bramall Lane. Oh, and on top of the PL goal glut we stuffed Paris Saint Germain 4-1 here in the Champions League and they could be playing in the showpiece final at Wembley!

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It is wonderful, is it not, that Eddie Howe has abandoned fear and put United on the front foot after the negative tactics of Steve Bruce under miser Mike Ashley. It would have been the more obvious choice to adopt a cautious approach to progress which would have taken endless time and it is equally easy to put bravery down to a healthy bank balance but United have not bought success. They have gained it through positive tactical thinking.

As against Sheff U the previous week the trip to Burnley was a no contest between a team that cannot stop scoring and one that cannot do it regularly enough.

Incredibly when we popped in to Sheffield for the reverse fixture the black and whiters boasted eight different scorers and another visit to the doomed across the border in Lancashire saw the spread of goals cover four different heroes _ Callum Wilson, Sean Longstaff, Bruno Guimaraes and Alexander Isak. United score from all over the park. It could have been worse for the hosts with Isak actually missing a spot kick which was something of a rarity. Newcastle had scored their last 19 penalties dating back to a Joe Willock blank against Manchester City.

To think I like one or two other Geordies was worried about a couple of telling stats before kick-off _ Burnley had lost only one of their last eight PL matches while United had lost 10 out of 16 away. Boy, were we wrong to work up a sweat of apprehension.

Both sides ignored the manuscript. Burnley were as solid as confetti in a high wind while United were as ruthless as Genghis Khan.

Chris Sutton used to be a decent striker in his own right _ Alan Shearer's partner when Blackburn won the league title in fairytale fashion and he couldn't stop waxing lyrical about the power and pace of United's front three Wilson, Isak and Gordon. Mind you, don't forget Jacob Murphy. He was magnificent.

It was a bold call of Eddie Howe to team Wilson with Isak from the start for the first time this season and, brother, did it pay off. They are both natural finishers and United had to go for broke in their chase of European qualification.

Howe deserved a reward for his bravery in his 100th PL game in charge of United when going back to a club where he was boss for 18 months. It improved his record to 49 victories and few will have been sweeter.

There were a couple of more milestones along the way. Martin Dubravka was making his 150th PL appearance for United at a time when the sight of Nick Pope on the subs' bench reminded him there will not be too many more while Dan Burn completed a century of Magpie outings in all competitions. Ta to both, criticised at times but contributors without question.

For England boss Gareth Southgate looking on it was a case of 'something old, something new' as he saw Wilson and Gordon sparkle in the Burnley gloom. Callum is one of his old selections, Anthony one of his new.

Wilson sickened Maxime Esteve so much the Burnley central defender went off suffering from a twisted sock before half-time but he wasn't the only one to be over powered. United generally threw a hand grenade into Vincent Kompany's dressing-room blowing up their survival hopes on a day when their defeat was further decimated by a Nottingham Forest away win.

Still we are more concerned about European qualification and this was most definitely a big step forward. Three games to go in a week to seal our destiny. Home next, away day blues banished before Manchester United and Brentford. Let's go for it.