When Siem De Jong somehow missed from all of a yard out against Aston Villa on Saturday, I had a horrible feeling. A feeling that this would almost certainly come back to haunt us at the end of the season.
It’s often said you never know what’s going to happen next in football. Rubbish. If De Jong had stuck in a chance which my grandmother could have converted, we win the game.
The Villans looked pretty dire to me up till that point and had offered hardly anything going forward. As soon as our Dutch number 10 blew going 2-0 up at home to that lot, it seemed almost inevitable that Rudy Gestede would come off the bench to immediately change the course of the match against us. Suddenly they looked dangerous, and exactly four minutes after the sitter, they were level.
It sounds a cliché but such moments undoubtedly shape seasons, particularly when fighting the drop.
Now obviously, I am not trying to pin all of the current problems at Newcastle United on the often absent Dutchman, but when such big chances are missed you kind of sense that a season firmly embroiled in a relegation battle is a cert.
Hopefully this will stop the amount of garbage I keep seeing about De Jong, being some kind of saviour in this team. His turn of pace is non-existent, and despite been constantly told he has ‘leadership qualities’, it does not mean he is worth having on the pitch when he misses chances like that. When you are battling against the drop, every home again against the poor sides has extra significance; proof is evident in our last relegation season.
Cast your minds back to Monday 20 October 2008, 10 man United are four minutes away from a potential crucial win in the battle against the drop, against Manchester City. That is until Steven Ireland (remember him) ran beyond a tiring backline and slipped the ball into the Gallowgate goal. Two huge points dropped.
At the end of the season, as we all know, those two points would have kept us up. I still hate the bald little Irishman to this day. The Man City game though was not an exception during that fateful 2008/2009 season. We drew at home with Wigan, Stoke, West Ham and Portsmouth. These are the sort of games that at the end of the season will cost you, particularly in an unforgiving premier league season like this one.
At the start of the season, I optimistically thought this might be a season we were not in a dogfight; unfortunately it now looks like I was very wrong.
This is why, despite the recent upturn in form, I found Saturday a real kick in the teeth. We had a great chance to bury Villa, certainly on the night, potentially for the season. It was a game McClaren should be targeting as a must win, or at the very least must control. A failure to dominate possession and control the tempo in this type of the game is inexcusable.
To come out, as he did, and say 7 points out of 9 is ok, for me is not good enough. We cannot be seriously saying that just because we beat Liverpool and Spurs, that it is fine to not win at home to a team that has not won since the opening day. The back-to-back wins had only made up for the no-shows against Leicester and Palace.
The one positive to come from Siem’s miss might be that another disappointing result may convince Ashley to make funds available to Carr and McClaren in the January transfer window. A few seasons ago the 2-1 home defeat to an awful Reading team, prompted a spending spree that eventually helped us maintain Premier League status.
Saturday may be this season’s equivalent…more quality is needed.
Regardless of who comes in, home form will be hugely important. Due to Saturday’s result we are now potentially right back in the muck if we lose to Everton on Boxing day. Not ideal.
These types of seasons are becoming all too regular for me.
The best present we could get for Christmas would be three new quality players, no more Thauvin/De Jong types though please Santa.
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