So Newcastle United take another stumble on the road to promotion with a defeat down at Hillsborough.
I have to say, I didn’t expect us to lose the game down at Sheffield with a draw the probable outcome, but hadn’t banked on such a collective malaise from those in black and white.
After the match on Saturday, my initial thoughts were that of disappointment.
Disappointment that we had lost – but maybe more than that…yet again we hadn’t really played well enough to win (or draw) the game. Looking at the stats the next day, they actually indicated that we had many shots on target (8-3 in our favour) but as I’ve said after every win this season, the stats can lie somewhat and mean very little.
How many times this season have we been outplayed and still won the game? It’s why we are where we are. We have that little bit of extra quality when and where it matters.
On Saturday we looked a bit ‘off’ as a side. Nobody played well, no one.
Excluding the goalkeeper, nobody comes out of the match without blame or a reputation enhanced. Mo Diame gave his usual missing in action performance but the same could be said about Gouffran and Perez.
Looking at the back four and they were all nervous with Lascelles looking far from a captain fantastic. Also, hopefully this will put a bit of water on the fire raging that Chancel Mbemba should be playing every week.
Yes you could point to the fact that Barry Bannan should’ve walked after smashing through Matt Ritchie, but with the nature of the referees at this level, it was hardly surprising that he stayed on. Other than that, Shelvey rattling the crossbar from range was the only moment that really stands out.
On the subject of Jonjo Shelvey…
“In the first half they had a few chances but I thought we done enough throughout the game to get the three points.”
I’d agree that the stats show that but once again it was a tepid opening 45, which is no doubt part of the plan. Frustrate the opposition and nick whatever we can on the break. Nothing new in that, away from home many sides do it, even in the Premier League.
The trouble arises when the plan hits a setback, like suffering an injury, a sending off, or going a goal down. The lack of a Plan B at times this season has been alarming.
But lets not worry too much, we WILL still go up as time and games will beat those chasing the top two spots. I said before the Wigan game that four wins will see us promoted and we’ve managed two in three games. That’s the reality of the matter, win two out of three in this league and you won’t go far wrong.
Going up as Champions depends on whose form is better between now and the end of the season between us and Brighton.
There are a few players in this squad that will be able to step up next season in the Premier League, but there are far too many that are much of a muchness, who will shine just long enough at this level and then fade from view for long periods, but they certainly won’t get away with that in the big league.
A final word from Jonjo Shelvey taken after Saturday’s game:
“I don’t think Sheffield Wednesday are a tremendous team to be honest with you but it is what it is.”
That quote is quite a telling one, for I could replace ‘Sheffield Wednesday’ with ‘Newcastle United’.
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