I don’t know about you, but watching the derby on Sunday, Newcastle United and Sunderland looked very much like two teams who are on their way down to the Championship.
Bizarrely though, this isn’t a view shared by former Newcastle midfielder Jermaine Jenas, he ‘wondered how either side could be down at the bottom fighting relegation’ due to the ‘intensity and fighting spirit’ he was watching.
As a Newcastle fan, for the first hour I thought we were atrocious, with the 11 players on the pitch looking anything but a team fighting for the club, the fans, or even for themselves.
Obviously the last half hour saw Rafa Benitez made a few unorthodox/unexpected changes, such as Sissoko moved back to left-back, which helped galvanise the team to an extent and Newcastle ended the match the better team. It wasn’t good though and Newcastle had nobody at all in the manner of a Shearer, a Speed, a Venison, a Nolan who got hold of the players and galvanised them to produce more.
It is not that I am giving up totally and actually at Leicester, there looked to be a bit more from the players overall BUT on Sunday it was terrible – how Jermaine Jenas thinks that this, in a derby match, was something to encourage – is beyond me.
Sunderland were the better team for that first hour but it didn’t take much. The fact they were unable to take advantage of Newcastle’s fractured team and lack of co-ordination, hardly suggests that they are better than their current league position.
Then the final half hour saw Sam Allardyce revert to type and despite Newcastle’s poor showing, had his team retreat back towards their own goal and handed United an initiative that they had never previously looked like being able to get a hold on. He had done something similar against Southampton when they only had 10 men and lost two points that day as well.
So sorry Jermaine Jenas, I think both sets of fans accept that their clubs deserve to be where they are and Sunday simply reinforced why they are bottom three – the only fortunate thing for them is that Norwich (before Saturday’s win at West Brom, Norwich hadn’t won for 11 games and had lost 9 of them) have volunteered to keep them company, giving one of the north east clubs a potential lifeline of escape.
Jermain Jenas writing for Yahoo Sport:
‘At times watching the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday, I wondered how either side could be down at the bottom fighting relegation – such was the intensity and the fighting spirit on display.
Of course, the simple answer is that neither Newcastle or Sunderland have shown that level of application nearly enough this season. And although recent improvements have been made at both clubs, it may have come too late for at least one of them.’
‘Despite Aleksandar Mitrovic’s dramatic and timely equaliser at St James’s Park, the derby highlighted Newcastle’s familiar problem of a lack of quality in the final third. A lot of points have been dropped at home this season due to missed chances and, ultimately, that could be what costs them.
I actually think Mitrovic is a good player who will get better and better. He’s strong, he’s physical, he holds up the ball well and I also believe he will score goals – but that final part doesn’t quite come naturally to him yet.’
Shearer and Defoe:
‘On the other hand, Sunderland have a striker in Jermain Defoe who is guaranteed to get you goals. I played alongside Defoe for many years, for club and country, and he’s one of the best strikers I’ve played with.
Alan Shearer would be my number one, but in terms of out-and-out finishing Defoe is next on my list. He’s absolutely relentless, deadly.’