Newcastle 0 Leicester 3 Saturday 21 November 3pm
Going into this game there could be some semblance of positive taken from recent matches, so a decent performance against the season’s early surprise package would have signalled the potential for an upturn in fortunes.
What actually happened was a display of such ineptitude and poor character that it may well be remembered as the day all pre-season optimism was totally extinguished, as fans came around to the conclusion that the McClaren experiment would be a failure.
Leicester arrived in a deserved lofty position thanks to some excellent attacking performances. However, their defence has not been the best and United should have looked to exploit this.
I don’t know what exactly it is United did do as the game plan and tactical awareness is completely non-existent. I honestly can’t think of a moment of note in the first half, as Leicester were a bit more reserved and some kind of initiative may have seen chances created.
With Mitrovic effectively a lone man up front, he showed the same kind of application that saw him falling out with his Serbian teammates midweek, by sluggishly ambling about and offering little. His handbags with Robert Huth that saw another theatrically tumble, was probably the low point of an anonymous display.
He wasn’t alone in disgracing the shirt though, as just about everyone had a day to forget. Honourable mention to Rob Elliot who snuffed out the game’s first real threat by being quick off his line to block an effort from Jamie Vardy, chasing a Premier League record 10th consecutive scoring appearance. He’d come to the right place……
With the 45 minutes up, there were a few extra minutes due to Cheick Tiote’s earlier injury and withdrawal. Newcastle players, as we know, do not seem to think these minutes count and switched off.
Coloccini stood tight to Vardy as he picked the ball up on the left and squared it to Ulloa. Then our illustrious leader just ambled off, leaving the unmarked Vardy to run around him and pick up the return ball before beating the unfortunate Elliot at the near post.
Vardy took all the headlines for this strike, as he equalled Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s Premier League ten game scoring record. Incidentally, Van Nistelrooy also set this record with a goal at St James’ Park v Newcastle, so it was lovely to become yet another footnote in Premier League history.
Background characters standing there while others achieve. If the Premier League was Star Wars, we would be the Stormtroopers, running about in fetching black and white uniforms often failing to hit achievable targets that belies the investment in personnel by our evil overlords. When it comes to the crucial moments we serve as little more than cannon fodder to be swept aside by the established, more relevant characters or emerging talents.
Vardy was applauded off by some at half time, and more so later on in the game when he was substituted. I don’t know how I feel about the appreciation of a vanquishing opponent, but perhaps people just wanted to show their respect for someone giving their all. This was not going to be applicable to anyone in a home shirt.
By the time of Vardy’s departure he had gone close to adding a second, smashing one against a post. He’d also ruined a Leicester counter attack by electing to go alone when the unmarked Mahrez had a clear run at goal, but you can’t blame him for fancying his chances against our back four.
Mahrez had his moment though, popping a straightforward cross over for Ulloa to head in an unchallenged second, Janmaat the guilty party in this latest piece of non-marking. Two-nil was the cue for people to start leaving, the game as a contest was over without doubt by now.
For anyone daft/committed enough to still be there on 83 minutes, there was due reward in the shape of a Leicester third, with substitute Okazaki bundling in after Elliot parried Danny Simpson’s shot.
Elliot for me is the only one escaping the inquisition here. From my position in the Gallowgate I noticed at least three occasions where he confidently claimed a ball into the box then bounced forward off his feet, looking to throw the ball out and catch Leicester on the counter. Each time he was faced with ten disinterested backs. Whether this is individual attitude or an inherent problem at the club I don’t know. Either way, if it goes on unchecked it will end in the Championship.
Due credit to today’s opponents who deservedly took their place at the top of the league, I genuinely think it would be fantastic if they stayed up there for the duration. However, their own progress was a sharp contrast to our own miserable existence of disappearing crowds, disinterested players and a management experiment that seems to have failed quickly.
Where we go from here is anyone’s guess.
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Possession was 54% Newcastle and 46% Leicester
Total shots was 9 for Newcastle and Leicester 18
Shots on target was Newcastle 1 and Leicester 7
While corners was Newcastle 4 and Leicester 9
Team: Elliot, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba, Dummett, Tiote (Thauvin 20), Anita, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Perez (de Jong 81), Mitrovic (Cisse 62)
Unused Subs: Woodman, Lascelles, Sterry, Gouffran
Ref: Mike Jones
Crowd: 50,151 (3,200 Leicester)
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf