Newcastle 1 Bournemouth 3 Saturday 5 March 3pm
I have to admit I’m at a bit of a loss here.
To be honest, the events of this game are only partially relevant to whatever the hell is set to happen/not happen at St James Park and the only people with any desire to relive the 90 minutes from Saturday, will be web surfing Bournemouth fans and slightly sad mackems. Apologies to both for any lack of depth.
To summarise, today was when Steve McClaren’s position became utterly untenable at Newcastle. A must win game against an erstwhile fellow struggler that would have propelled us out of the relegation zone, was absolutely last chance saloon stuff in front of a crowd that was highly dispirited by the sorry non-effort at Stoke. It’s a toughie, but I think it’s fair to say what was actually delivered was the worst performance of a miserable season.
The players’ alleged statement backing McClaren was instantly betrayed to be the ghost-written nonsense it always was, as the unwilling, heartless display from the first whistle gave you that early indication that this would be a bad day. The reinstatement of misfit Rivière as our lone striking option, lent credence to the conspiracy theory Schteeve was trying to engineer his own pay-off, it was such a baffling decision. Not that the kid had much sight of the ball to show what he can’t do, firing wide with what seemed his only touch of the first half.
For the record, Bournemouth took the lead when Jack Colback lost possession far too easily. Shelvey bust a gut to regain it but ultimately the Cherries shifted the ball out wide and Joshua King’s dangerous centre was diverted into his own net by Steven Taylor. I know only too well the panic of rushing towards your own near post with no idea who’s behind you, so understand Taylor’s misfortune, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that this concession was the end product of a consistent period of underwhelming sh**e.
After a suitable booing at half time, and doing nowt with it instead of Rivière, but no different in the appalling attitude or lack of tactical capability.
It seemed to me that Eddie Howe had set Bournemouth up to withstand a siege, with five across the back and a deep lying midfield. However, United’s lack of interest handed the Cherries so much possession that they seemed a bit unsure during their constant attacks, seeming unsure why they were attacking in numbers as opposed to grinding out a backs to the wall defensive performance. By the 70th minute they had recovered enough from the shock of this to finish off one of their many attacks, King lacing a loose ball past Elliot.
Many left at this point as the recriminations grew in volume. My mate Simon said he wasn’t leaving and missing “the best boo of the season.” This sounds a bit negative, but the fact is that the stage was set to remove all doubt as to where McClaren stood. Chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning” (with the visitors in support) and “Steve McClaren – you’re taking us down” echoed more loudly and consistently, perhaps even than the various anti-Pardew demonstrations ever had.
With Lee Charnley pathetically out of his depth and maintaining a pro-McClaren stance, it is infinitely more likely that the presence of Ashley’s PR man Keith Bishop at the game will have been important in terms of delivering the message. Even without the robust fan vote (which he doesn’t care about), surely the owner will be petrified enough at the prospect of losing 100 millionquid that his various yes men will be comprehensively overruled?
I don’t know what the managerial position will be when this hits, with the club dragging their feet as ever, but it’s a simple call for me. Any manager with a bit about him can galvanise this team to take 5 wins against the rest of the bottom six, which would be enough. The fixtures are kind and the talent is there. Stick with Mac and the derby will see us down by April in the most excruciating fashion imaginable.
As regards those players, they have more than played their part. Yes, the main problem is the Ashley regime and its appalling restrictions, but the tactics and selections should still be far more effective so McClaren has failed.
However, looking beyond that still, some of the gutless wonders we continue to employ are absolutely laughing at every one of us. The sound booing that Sissoko received on his substitution let them know that we are at least wise to this, though whether they care or not is a different matter altogether.
Of the overblown squad of never weres, couldn’t cares and world wearies, Ayoze Perez is one of few (plus Elliot and the new signings?) that commands any kind of affection or respect. He was actually interested enough to fire us back in the game, from a fine Shelvey pass as the last ten minutes threatened to be interesting.
This prompted deep discussion amongst the variously scattered fans. An equaliser would return a valuable point but could save Schteeve’s job. In the short-term, would it be better to take this defeat and look to salvage things under the new bloke? No need for dilemma as Bournemouth were the ones with an extra goal in them, Daniels drilling in an injury time third.
I honestly don’t know what happens next, as I check Twitter for the thousandth time since the game finished in the hope that someone has agreed to our SOS and the whole McClaren experiment has been consigned to history before the most important derby in 25 years.
I can barely even contemplate the alternative, as so many are surely set to give up altogether.
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Bournemouth 3
Newcastle: Perez 80
Bournemouth: Taylor (OG) 28, King 70, Daniels 90+2
Possession was Newcastle 49% Bournemouth 51%
Total shots were Newcastle 14 and Bournemouth 16
Shots on target were Newcastle 3 and Bournemouth 5
Corners were Newcastle 5 and Bournemouth 4
Team: Elliot, Janmaat, Lascelles, Taylor, Dummett (Anita 31), Shelvey, Sissoko (Aarons 69), Colback, Wijnaldum, Perez, Riviere (Mitrovic 46)
Unused Subs: Darlow, Saivet, Gouffran, Doumbia
Ref: Paul Tierney