Newcastle United have nobody but themselves to blame for no end product.
The lack of attacking threat on display at Stoke was almost laughable but it’s not like we haven’t seen this coming.
Wednesday night’s woeful performance in the final third was the worst I’ve seen from Newcastle United this season…and that’s saying a lot given the year they’ve had.
Every time the ball got near the box, there was nobody running into it, looking to take a chance and make something happen. Whether it was Wijnaldum, Sissoko or Shelvey on the ball, none of them, or anyone else for that matter, took it upon themselves to support their teammate and give them something to aim for.
It was all too safe for a team that’s far from it.
When the likes of Dummett, Janmaat and Sissoko did manage to put the ball into the six yard box, it was limp and lifeless. If they couldn’t get the cross away, they didn’t look to take the man on in front of them on, they chucked it back. The amount of times the ball ended up at Rob Elliot’s feet from a pass back was incredible.
Stoke’s back four never looked more comfortable; I suspect Jack Butland was bored stiff by the 80 minute mark. A few long range shots were all Newcastle could muster.
The tactics implemented by Steve McClaren were so overtly negative that even the home fans were cheering for something to happen when the visitors got on the ball. After 80 minutes of dreary football, one chance was all Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri needed to put the game to bed.
When McClaren finally threw on Ayoze Perez and Seydou Doumbia, Newcastle looked much more threatening but sadly it was too late.
Yet this writer can’t help but feel that Wednesday night’s performance stretches far beyond the bizarre tactics and strange starting XI that were on show at The Britannia, way back to the summer, when The Magpies failed to recruit a striker who was a proven goal scorer.
It’s not like they didn’t have the options, most notably Charlie Austin, Alexandre Lacazette, and Saido Berahino were all on The Toon’s radar last year but no deals came to fruition.
So Newcastle went out and signed Aleksandar Mitrović for £13 million to join the inconsistent and oft injured Papiss Cisse up front. The burly (then) 21 year old had performed admirably in the Serbian and Belgian leagues, but it’s a gigantic step up to the Premier League, as the youngster has found out for himself.
His inexperience is telling and unsurprisingly he has struggled to adapt to the English game.
Furthermore, his confidence has been knocked by playing in such a poorly performing team that his chances are limited. At the same time, he’s not the sort of player who makes things happen for himself and rarely did he look like he’d be the one to break the deadlock at The Britannia.
Hindsight is a frustrating thing but foresight is even worse.
This was on the cards from August and Newcastle are now reaping what they’ve sown. Without the threat of a goal, there will be none, and that will be just one of the primary factors that relegate Newcastle.
So to the fans that’ll be in the stands at St. James Park on Saturday, I say good luck to you all. Bring an exciting book; it might be the only thing that gets you out of your seat all afternoon.
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