Newcastle United Goalkeeper Praises Fans as Top Four Ambitions Build

Nick Pope, the goalkeeper for Newcastle United, has shown admiration for the club’s supporters, referring to them as “mad” when reflecting on his debut season with the squad.

Newcastle United currently possesses a spot in the top four, and, with only several games remaining in the season, this success may lead to elite-level European football on the Tyneside stadium. The Magpies haven’t participated in the Champions League for nearly two decades, but this could soon change, thanks to Eddie Howe’s team’s efforts.

The weekend will see Newcastle United competing against Tottenham Hotspur, one of their primary rivals for a top-four spot. If they win, they will open up a six-point gap on the London-based club.

Although Pope did not have the ideal start when he joined St. James’ Park, with Newcastle losing to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup final, he praised the club’s fans for their influence throughout the season. In the build-up to their trip to Wembley, the 31-year-old England international spoke on Ben Foster’s ‘Fozcast’ and referred to the Toon Army as “mad” while discussing how the fans’ support impacted the team:

(45:20) “I think the first foray into Champions League football for a few years would be a massive tick-off. You saw the reaction to getting to a cup final itself in the League Cup and fans in Trafalgar Square, inside the ground like mad, like the build-up to that game was crazy because it had been so long since a cup final and, you know, a chance to win something. And the second leg [vs Southampton] to have that St. James’ Park atmosphere was unbelievable.”

Pope’s arrival in the squad this season has been significant as Newcastle has drastically reduced its defence rates over the course of the season. The 2021-22 season saw the Magpies concede 62 goals, ranking them as the sixth-worst defence in the top league. In contrast, since Pope’s arrival, Newcastle has the best defence in the league, with only 24 goals conceded. Of course, this improved performance is a result of the whole team’s efforts, including the new defensive recruits.

However, Pope has had a significant impact, as only David de Gea, with 14 clean sheets versus Pope’s 13, has surpassed the goalkeeper’s record in the Premier League. Additionally, Pope was able to interrupt Ivan Toney’s record-breaking streak of 22 consecutive penalty scores during the current season. The shot-stopper, who earns £60k per week, was hailed as “brilliant” by Newcastle club legend Alan Shearer earlier this year.

Pope’s skills also rank in the top fifth percentile for the percentage of saved shots (via FBref), indicating that at 31, he may still have a few years left as Newcastle’s goalkeeper. It’s clear that Pope is happy to be a part of the squad and loving life on the Tyneside.

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