Newcastle v Man U last night was a poor game but ironically (the original) United had more than enough chances to win the game.
While the visitors also had their share of opportunities before they were eventually gifted, it was a match that really only showed up how bad the Premier League is when you peel away the hype.
The chances that ended up being created at both ends were almost exclusively due to mistakes rather than great football, the late winner summing that up.
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What though did the game tell us about Newcastle’s players overall? Based on what I have seen previously and on what I watched last night, I think ten players are neatly split down the middle – five decent/good footballers and five who clearly aren’t Premier League players.
The odd man out in the starting eleven is Ryan Taylor, harsh to judge him in any way after coming back from those injuries but he does look way off the pace. Luckily he was up against the worst £60m winger in world football! Di Maria does look the worst signing ever made, Torres at £50m looks a bargain and Carroll at £35m looks a snip, compared to the player who broke the English transfer record.
Anyway, back to the five good/five bad, starting with the positives:
Tim Krul – Barring that late clanger (which bizarrely John Carver says he attaches no blame to his keeper for), the Dutch keeper reminded us of just how good he can be. Hopefully was just coincidence that his big admirer was in the opposition dugout.
Daryl Janmat – Didn’t manage to get forward much but did ok defensively, has shown over the course of the season that he is a very decent player, plus easily has the highest number (six) of assists in our squad.
Fabricio Coloccini – A bit like Krul he has never repeated the consistency of that stand out 2011/12 season but despite the odd slip…he is by far our best central defender, though the competition is a bit scarce.
Moussa Sissoko – A quality player who could be devastating in a team where he is given the room to use his explosive pace. Minimal chance to show that last night but his turn of speed and quality ball that should have seen Riviere put us one up in the first half, reminded us of what he is capable of when he has the opportunity.
Papiss Cisse – Let himself down with the spitting incident and looks nailed on that we are going to be without any striker for the next few matches. Snatched at a couple of chances but his scoring ratio both in terms of minutes per goal and per chances created is excellent over the season, very unlucky with a brilliant late header that De Gea superbly turned away.
The not so good:
Mike Williamson – Wasn’t terrible last night but he’s a permanent accident waiting to happen. Quite amazing how he has so many Premier League games, must be unprecedented for such a limited player.
Sammy Ameobi – Rubbish. John Carver talks proudly of playing with two wingers – well they don’t resemble anything that I would call wingers. Incapable of crossing the ball in open play, created nothing and simply kicks the ball at the man in front of him when trying to deliver the ball into the box.
Gabriel Obertan – See comments above. Playing ok for a one and a half matches early in the season got a few people a bit over excited, the only debate surely is whether he is even worse than Sammy.
Emmanuel Riviere – Not a credible striker, well certainly not a Premier League one. Carver says he has low confidence because of his goal drought – well the fact that last night was only the ninth time Carver and Pardew had started him in the league tells you everything. Despite Newcastle’s shocking weakness up front, the French journeyman forward has consistently been overlooked. I have a feeling we are definitely looking at another Marveaux/Obertan situation, with Newcastle stuck with a player on far too big a contract and wages too prohibitive for a French club to take him back over there. Will see out his contract here, with only maybe a loan deal a possibility in the meantime.
Mehdi Abeid – Maybe the most debatable of the five but I think we are all guilty of wanting him to be a decent player, rather than really judging him properly. Many supporters were hopeful he could fill Tiote’s boots as the Ivory Coast midfielder’s popularity has bombed in recent times. Like Obertan he had one or two decent games earlier this season and because we’d hardly seen him play, we hoped he could push on from there. I think he has a bit more about him than the four above but doubt very much his level is Premier League.
Like every club, what happens in the next season relies a lot on how well you do in keeping your best players and recycling (replacing) your weakest.
In our case, the five better players, with the possible exception of Coloccini due to age, will all be the subject of transfer speculation in the coming months, whilst I have every expectation (fear) that we’ll see a new contract agreed for Sammy shortly and all five of these second group of players as part of next season’s first eighteen.
I hope I’m wrong.