When Wednesday night’s team was announced, it was a surprise for most to see Newcastle United’s only centre forward dropped to the bench.
Even more of a surprise when it was also the debut of Andros Townsend, the winger seemingly brought in to finally supply some decent service to Aleksandar Mitrovic.
The first half was a total shambles and it looked very difficult to see exactly what the plan was as to how to try and score a goal.
However, now Steve McClaren has explained his team selection and the tactics he employed against Everton.
The United boss says that the plan was to allow Everton to have all the possession and then use the extra pace of Ayoze Perez to hit them on the break.
However, McClaren accepts that this didn’t work, saying ‘it never really happened for us’.
I find it astonishing that Newcastle have spent all of this money on Mitrovic, Townsend, Shelvey and Wijnaldum, as well as having talented players such as Perez and Sissoko also available…yet the only tactic is to allow the opposition to have the ball, dictate play and just hope that they will give the ball away and Newcastle will rush up the pitch to score because Everton have left the back door open.
Why couldn’t we be using tactics such as employed in the first half against West Ham? Playing against a clearly nervous Everton missing some of their best players, who had played three matches since Newcastle had last played – last night being their fourth game in only 11 days.
Why not encourage Jonjo Shelvey to push forward and pull the strings, provide service to say a front two of Mitrovic and Perez, get the ball wide to Townsend on one side and Sissoko/Janmaat on the other, get them putting in crosses for Wijnaldum, Mitrovic and others?
Instead Newcastle just made it so easy for Everton, let them dictate the game, get on the ball, ease their nerves and because Newcastle were so deep, it did look only a matter of time before the home side were going to score, as the ball was repeatedly played into Lukaku and the Toffees often had great possession around our box.
Steve McClaren talking to the club’s official tv channel:
“We never woke up until the second half and when we did we had opportunities, chances, we were always in the game but two penalties in the last two minutes have just killed the scoreline and put a bad reflection on it.”
‘Everton dominated possession, particularly in the first half, your side had plenty of pace on the counter-attack – just didn’t get a chance to show that?‘
“That’s right. That was the game plan.
“We didn’t mind conceding that (possession), and allowed that, we wanted to hit them on the break which is why we played Ayoze Perez and felt that the added speed would help us in that.
“We had one or two opportunities but it never really happened for us.”