An interesting dilemma is building up for Rafa Benitez when it comes to Karl Darlow.
Undoubtedly one of the stars of Newcastle United’s season so far…but with goalkeepers, when they make errors they are invariably costly to the team.
Karl Darlow is still well in credit after his performances over the course of the season but if obvious errors are costing points, then managers have almost no choice but to act when it happens to be the keeper.
The fans were still very supportive during and after the 2-2 draw against Bristol City but that will count for nothing with Rafa Benitez.
He has already shown his ruthless streak throughout his 11 months on Tyneside, prepared to drop the likes of Wijnaldum in the relegation fight last season, then his Captain Jamaal Lascelles after only two games into this current one.
Not sure if Darlow should have done better with the Wilbraham header that opened the scoring but certainly he has to take the blame for the second.
As the goalkeeper he is the one that can see the full picture and has to take control, the comedy of errors down to him, although Paul Dummett may also wonder if he should have made a different decision, regardless of what was (or wasn’t) going through the goalkeeper’s head as he made a mad rush out of goal – only to actually make matters worse with the touch he did get on the ball.
It wasn’t just the obvious incident when a goal actually went in, Karl Darlow nearly gave a third away when charging off his line once again and his general handling of shots and crosses was way below the standards he had set this season.
Villa he performed well but at Norwich he had a similar experience to yesterday, coming way out of his goal to take charge of a situation, only to gift the Canaries a goal that ended up giving them a 2-2 draw.
When you get away with things there is always a tendency for them to be quickly forgotten, rather than regularly replayed, and the Rotherham match at home almost saw another gift of a goal.
Once again an error when Darlow came to the edge of his box and rather than clearing, inexplicably kept the ball in play as he slid out of the box – a better team would have punished the mistake but instead some desperate last ditch defending and a miraculous save from Darlow (aided by tripping over one of his own defenders!) saved the day.
Newcastle of course then instantly went up the other end and scored, going in a goal up rather than one down after a poor first half.
Fingers crossed that Karl Darlow sparks back into the composed and assured goalkeeper he has shown himself to be both in last season’s relegation run-in and the vast majority of this season.
Surely he must be working with goalkeeping coach on his decision making and better communication with the defenders in front of him.
However, any similar occurrence at Brighton on Tuesday would almost certainly take the decision out of Rafa Benitez’ hands and then see Rob Elliot back in nets.
That presenting another massive challenge, with key away games against Huddersfield & Reading and Rob Elliot not having any kind of first team action since the 1-1 draw with Sunderland only a few weeks short of a full year ago.
Until Saturday, Newcastle United had the best defensive record in the second tier but now they have conceded one more than Brighton – lets hope we are all sitting comfortably after Tuesday night with that position having been reversed once again.
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