This wasn’t just any weekend in the recent fractured history of Newcastle United.
This was a defining weekend in many ways, from two red cards to the manager imploding post-match. Amongst all the uncertainty, one thing can be sure: Newcastle United are a mess.
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Let’s start with the actual game. Some 30 seconds after the kick off, Newcastle were already 1-0 down. If you do not have the required work rate, attitude or character, then tactics are irrelevant. The body language of the Newcastle players after Ulloa had given Leicester the lead, was abysmal.
For a captain to walk nonchalantly away from his teammates, not communicating or offering any sort of encouragement, is nothing short of a disgrace. News that Tim Krul (despite recent poor form, continues to at least try) is alleged to have had a ‘disagreement’ with Coloccini on the team bus back to the airport, does not surprise me one bit.
Despite Newcastle failings, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that Leicester were superb. Nigel Pearson has had his critics, but what cannot be denied is the team spirit and belief he has instilled in his team. Further goals from Wes Morgan and another from Ulloa via the penalty spot, gave Leicester a comfortable 3-0 victory.
It could have been a lot more, against a team lacking discipline, finishing with just 9 men on the pitch.
As for Mike Williamson and Daryl Janmaat, only they can explain their actions. Was John Carver right to insinuate Mike Williamson got sent off deliberately? Probably not. That sort of accusation should have been kept behind closed doors.
What can be certain is both yellow cards for Mike Williamson, were nothing short of pointless. The ball, and Jamie Vardy, were heading off the pitch for the second offence. That tackle was needless and petulant. Given his recent performances, and the circumstances surrounding his dismissal, I would be very surprised to see Mike Williamson in a Newcastle shirt again, despite his subsequent apology.
Daryl Janmaat has probably received less criticism, due to the fact he is one of the few Newcastle players whose performances have been OK during the current losing run. But again, given the lack of defensive options at the club, his sending off was brainless.
Who the back 4 against WBA will be is anyone’s guess. Most probably, if fit and/or not falling out with teammates, the back 4 will line up as Anita, Dummett (if ok after picking up a hamstring injury…), Coloccini, R Taylor. Enough to strike fear into any Premier League striker …
Post-match, Newcastle imploded. John Carver is a fan. Geordie born and bred. He is not a football manager.
If you gave any fan in St James’ Park a chance to manage the club, they would snap your hand off. Would they know what they doing? Not in the slightest. That is John Carver’s downfall. The fans know it, the players know it and the media know it.
During the post-match press conference, John Carver reverted to being said fan. Frustration boiled over and he let rip. Only Tim Krul and Jack Colback escaped criticism, two players who appear to actually care for the club.
The rest deserve every ounce of criticism that comes their way. They are not only a disgrace to the shirt, they are a disgrace to the game. For that criticism to come from your own manager however, in the public realm, is dangerous territory.
If he hadn’t lost the dressing room prior to this match, John Carver certainly has now. Whether his offer of resignation is true or not, one thing for sure is the Newcastle board have put him in an impossible position. Is it any wonder Steve McClaren turned Newcastle down? What self-respecting manager would want to manage a club with these players, with this owner, and with the responsibility of clearing up this mess.
With John Carver now being told he is to see out the season as manager, I feel a nail has been hammered into the proverbial relegation coffin.
The only hope I can see for Newcastle United, is that the players react to the widespread criticism from manager, media and fans alike. If they can be motivated by reducing the damage to their personal pride and professionalism, then maybe, just maybe, Newcastle can get some points from their final 3 games.
Staying up this season however, will just paper over the cracks. And those cracks are enormous …
The atmosphere is toxic. The club is being run into the ground. The place needs fumigating from top to bottom.
Whether that is in the Premier League or Championship, is now out of Newcastle United’s hands.