Newcastle United’s new era of riches under their Saudi Arabian owners has brought fresh ambition and big spending – but the £10m handed over to Burnley for Nick Pope looks like a snip.
Bigger money may have been spent elsewhere but few signings anywhere are giving better value for money than the 30-year-old England keeper and he proved more than his worth as Newcastle moved closer to the major trophy that has eluded them since 1969.
History weighs heavily on Newcastle and their fanatical support and it has been joined by huge expectation since Mike Ashley sold up. Now they will be firm favourites to reach the Carabao Cup final after Joelinton’s second-half goal gave them a narrow semi-final first leg victory at Southampton.
It has been a long, agonising wait since that Inter Cities’ Fairs Cup win, but hopes are rising that the long, barren years may finally coming to an end judging by the Toon Army’s wild scenes of celebration at the final whistle.
And at the heart of it all was the magnificent Pope and a mean-spirited defence that refuses to yield, providing a rock-solid foundation for manager Eddie Howe’s Newcastle rebuild.
Pope’s shutout at Southampton, in which he made two crucial saves from substitute Che Adams with the match scoreless, means he now has a remarkable record of 10 successive clean sheets in all competitions. According to Opta stats going back to August 2012, this makes him the first goalkeeper with a Premier League side to achieve such a feat