What a week at St James Park. It really had everything. Are things starting to go in the right direction? 

We had a dawn last month, wins against Liverpool and Spurs. The question at the time was whether it was a new dawn or a false dawn. We have had a lot of the latter under Ashley. 

This site has been critical of the regime. We have also tried to be constructive. After McClaren was signed we suggested that a transfer spend of £50m would see us stand still, more was needed. We have tried to be constructive with paths ahead. 

We have been critical of the balance in the squad. We have also been critical of how the resources available to the manger have been deployed. For once it is good to be able to take a positive slant on affairs at SJP. 

Back to the week that was. After another cup defeat, we had a home game against an out of form Manchester United. The game will be remembered for many things, first and foremost the goalkeeper who kept a clean sheet when we had beaten the visitors at home 5-0. 

It would have taken a really hard person to maintain a dry eye when seeing Milan Srnicek’s reaction to the expression of love for his brother from the Geordie crowd. 

Of course it was an exciting match, 3-3. Given the recent form of both sides, it didn’t tell us much apart from Newcastle United being able to score against an out of form team. 

The first two signings of the January window were also paraded, Saivet from the South West coast of France, Bordeaux and Shelvey from the South west coast of Wales. 

The question arose, since Saivet and Shelvey are central midfielders, is what happens next. Natural central nidfielders include Colback, Anita, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, de Jong, Tiote, Gouffran, as well as the on loan Vuckic and Bigiramana, arguably Perez. 

Before progressing, it is worth acknowledging Saivet, winner of 3 domestic trophies with Bordeaux. Once a winger, then attacking midfielder, he has gradually withdrawn and now surely will take the place of a Chinese bound Tiote. 

Armed with a wealth on number 10s in the Newcastle squad, it seems strange in some ways that Newcastle should go to South Wales, known as a number 10 factory, albeit in th sport of rugby, to sign another. This could prove to be the key piece in Newcastle United’s jigsaw. We are not complaining since only a fortnight ago, we called for his signing. 

Shelvey was brought up in the catchment area of West Ham, Saturday’s opponents, where another famous number 10 plied his trade, the man who linked up so effectively for England with our own number 7, Kevin Keegan. 

After the thrills, spills and emotion of Tuesday night, as it turned out with results elsewhere, Saturday proved to be a crucial game in a bid to stay up at the end of the season. Sunderland’s away win during the week had put is 2nd bottom. 

Of the 4 previous wins, Norwich appeared emphatic although in truth the result could have gone either way. One keeper saved, the other didn’t. At Bournemouth we were hammered in attempts, those on target and possession. 

Even the wins over Liverpool and Spurs, welcome as they were, could be argued to carry question marks. Both sides had seen fixture lists congested by Europe and the League Cup. Both were jaded and below their best. 

West Ham came, however, a team in the top 5 and on a run of form. The home side were very much the underdogs after 4 defeats. This was a chance for Jonjo to step up to the plate. 

As far as debuts go this must be among the most memorable. Yes, Cisse made an impact, so did Sissoko. In the past, Supermac, Keegan, Quinn, Aspirilla have done too. Shelvey’s could turn out to be as significant. 

What we saw was a player able to make space for himself, dropping back from play and allowing himself time on the ball. Yes there were short passes, there were sideways and backward passes too but these were always aimed at retaining possession and opening up play as he moved for the return. 

The beauty of Shelvey’s performance was in the orchestration. We have had players who can look up to see a pass from the middle of midfield, notably in the past the likes of Gazza and Tommy Cassidy. We also saw the range of passing, the through balls that Rob Lee could play, Lee Clark’s involvement of wingers and overlapping full backs. 

Aside from the range of passing, it was good to see that Shelvey played his defensive role, providing interference to opposition attacks. Arguable his best moment was a calculated tackle when West Ham were moving forward through the inside left channel. 

The addition of his balance even allowed Colback to hint at his hidden talent with a surge down the left. This in turn afforded Wijnaldum to move inside and do what he does best, not tracking back to left back but seeking space going forward. Janmaat was released to invade down the right with the certainty of cover behind. 

We also saw Mitrovic growing into his role with a bit of service. So he didn’t score but his hold up and lay off play was exemplary. For once he even managed to get some service to have a go at goal himself. 

We said before the summer that after Ashley’s relative inertia and profiteering, it would take £100m to make this squad progress. He is on the way there and we still insist that the squad needs a winger and striker, in time perhaps a left back and central defender. 

Warning signs have come from elsewhere, Bournemouth signing a new striker which helped them pull away from the relegation zone. Despite selling Shelvey, Swansea proved that they still have fight in them. 19 points are still needed from 16 games. 

There is still a need to reinforce a striking department that lacks depth. The obvious target, Charlie Austin, has already gone to the opposite coast. Although Colback hinted at being able to drive forward down the left, an out and out winger would provide further balance. 

Shelvey’s addition did something else that we have been crying out for. For the first time this season, Newcastle started with 3 outfield British players. Arguably, even more are needed. 

There are times we hate to be right. The £50m catch up spend has indeed seen Newcastle United stand still, competing at the bottom of the table with the likes of Sunderland. Bournemouth and Watford actually developed meaning that safety will only be assured by surpassing teams that had already overtaken us. 

So the first signing of the window adds a bit of balance to the squad. 2 more to go and, if the manager is good enough, we should then be able to look forward to safety.