Obviously still gutted after throwing away the matc on Saturday, Rafa Benitez has been talking about Newcastle’s shortcomings and though he didn’t name names, quite clearly Cheick Tiote was one of those at the top of his list.
Tiote was dragged off at half-time after a shocking first half, though he wasn’t alone in that.
However, the days of him being any kind of asset to the team look deep in the past, as the liability side of Cheick Tiote tends to be all that we see on the rare occasions he is available.
As well as being way off the pace against Norwich, a couple of reckless challenges could/should have seen the Ivory Coast midfielder booked.
However, the crucial incident just before half-time sums up how much of an own goal Tiote’s presence can be. Norwich striker Mbokani was facing away from goal towards the right touchline in a non-threatening position, when the Newcastle midfielder manhandled him and gave away a needless free-kick.
Rafa Benitez says that Newcastle have to improve on this area of their game and not make ‘silly fouls’. Tiote’s silly foul gave Norwich the chance to put the ball in the box yet again and the combination of Newcastle’s inability to defend set-pieces and Norwich being quite good at attacking them, wasn’t a good combination.
Newcastle gave away 11 free-kicks to Norwich’s 6 and often United gave them away in those wide positions where it is ideal to put the ball into the box and create mayhem.
Rafa Benitez also warned (Jonjo Shelvey obviously) against the ‘Hollywood’ passes (obviously picked up from Steven Gerrard…), telling the players to ‘play it simple’.
With so little pace in Newcastle’s attacks, the long balls forward are generally a bit of a waste of time anyway, unless Jonjo Shelvey starts playing them long to Mitrovic and get people alongside and playing off him.
Rafa Benitez talking to BBC Newcastle:
“If you remember, the first 10-15 minutes we were fine, we weren’t bad, but we then made one or two mistakes, made bad decisions, we gave them belief that they could create something.
“When then were a little nervous and started to make mistakes, throw-ins and free-kicks, a chance (for Norwich) to push on or attack.
“When you are in a situation like this you can’t make mistakes, you have to play it simple.
“Maybe you won’t find that Hollywood pass but you can’t give the ball away so easily and give them the hope that they can win.
“We made those mistakes in the first half and then we made them late in the second half – this is something that we have to address and change.
“When you are at the bottom of the table, people are nervous and they’re going to try and win the ball, make these silly fouls – we have to improve on these.”