Goodbye 2018

Jack Ross has been discussing all possible options that are open to Josh Maja. Sign and stay. Leave. See out his contract. “I suppose the consequences of a deadline passing are out of my control," Ross said. "I won't treat him differently. It would possible by out of my hands even if I have a good relationship with him. It sounds as if I am absolving myself of any responsibility, but I am not. Naturally, I would say keep him here if I am asked but that might not be possible. There’s this ongoing debate about other aspects of his game and I feel like exactly the same, I work with him every single day. But to score the goals he has done in his first full season is terrific. They are not easy to come by and his goals have been invaluable this season. Naturally I want to keep him within the squad. I am also sensible enough to get the bigger picture and I bought into that when I came in. Whatever happens in the next seven days I will deal with that. I will deal with the consequences of whatever, and it’s up to me to find a solution to any problems. Genuinely it’s not the case [change of mood]. From a player to manager relationship I would still believe he will stay. As time goes on, and there’s no commitment, you have to have some doubt within it. I have said this to him, I will never take things personally. I get both perspectives on it, his and the clubs, and he knows it. When I say this is the best place for him at this club, I hope he believes that."

Although Ross is unsure about the outcome of the Maja situation, he’s pretty certain that we’ll bring in the brick shithouse centre half we so desperately need very soon. “All being well, that will happen. There are just one or two things that need tidying up, but my understanding is we should have a defensive player in by the early part of the month, most likely to be a loan."

One player that might affect is Jack Baldwin, who reflected on his recent dip in form and the disappointing draw against Shrewsbury. “We all know the first half was far, far from good enough,” Baldwin said. “The second half was better but we didn’t quite have that cutting edge in front of goal. It was a sloppy goal to concede. I’m personally very frustrated with myself after Saturday. We’ve come from behind again and shown character, and I thought we deserved a couple of goals in the second half. Teams are always going to come here and try and be as hard to beat as they possibly can, try and frustrate that. We’ve got to recognise that. We’re going to get a lot of the ball at times, us boys at the back, we’ve got to try and not, personally I get too frustrated when nothing is opening up. I find it hard to go side to side, I try to make something happen. I’ve got to get better at that, maybe as a team we need to get better [at that] and find other ways around it. We’ve got a squad of players, if you get them the ball they’ll make things happen. Personally, I find it harder when I’ve got more time on the ball because the decision making has to be spot on. When you’ve more time it’s harder. I’ll sit down with Potts and James Fowler to reflect on this game and more generally to see where I can get better. After any game that stand out and it’s always the bad points for me. A missed clearance, a poor challenge or a shot on an open goal at the end! You’ve got to find a balance but I will be critical of myself because I want to be the best I can be for myself and for this club. So, if you don’t turn out a great performance for this club then it’s frustrating. Personally, I’ve never really had a full season, I’ve always been a bit hampered by injuries that keep you out for two weeks here or there. This season, touch wood, it’s not happened and I feel like I’ve still got a lot of games left in my legs. In the bigger picture, looking to get that promotion, we’re still on that two points a game. We’ve got to dust ourselves down because we’re back to business in a few days. It’s going to be a massive game at Blackpool and we’ll have a huge following again. It’s credit to the club and fans and hopefully we’ll put on a good display.”

In other news, Newcastle United’s request for more Checkatrade Trophy tickets turned down. They’ve sold 2,800 and are entitled to "up to 10%" of stadium capacity but have been turned down by the EFL on "safety" grounds. A statement from the EFL read: "It has been determined that Newcastle United supporters will be allocated 2,800 tickets for their upcoming Checkatrade Trophy round three tie with Sunderland. The EFL reviewed written representations made by Northumbria Police and other key stakeholders in relation to supporter safety following a request from Newcastle United for an increased provision, in line with competition rules, and a recommendation was made to maintain an allocation of 2,800, which is consistent with the club's previous visits to the Stadium of Light. The EFL would like to thank Newcastle United for respecting the recommendation."