The tone of this Ipswich 3 Newcastle 1 match report has changed significantly after Derby’s late equaliser against Huddersfield.

We now only need one more win, as long as Huddersfield slip up once more. While this now seems like an absolute no brainer, we cannot take anything for granted. Anything can happen in football.

Although it is true that NUFC have reached the 85 point mark completely on merit, it is embarrassing the way we have limped towards the line since January. If we do go up, we will have succeeded in Rafa’s “mini league” not because we were good, but because the likes of Huddersfield and Reading were just the little bit worse than we were.

On the day, Newcastle United were terrible. I said to a friend at half time that the first half was probably the worst first half of football I have seen from a Newcastle team in a long time.

I don’t know about others reading this, but it always seems to me that the further you travel, the harder the journey, and the more expensive the ticket (£37.50 in my case)… the worse we tend to perform.

Before the game, Rafa reverted to his usual policy of tinkering with the side. Some changes were expected, such as Diame and Murphy replacing Perez and Mitrovic. However, others were rather inexplicable to the average fan. Yedlin came in for Anita after his best game of the season against Leeds, and Hanley came in for Mbemba, who has looked accomplished since coming back into the team.

The Game

As with most Newcastle away games this season, the first half was exceptionally boring. Ipswich could have had an early lead but a foul was given on Jamaal Lascelles. I received two texts from people watching the beamback at SJP, who said that it wasn’t a foul and the goal should have stood. So Newcastle got lucky early on.

Newcastle were shambolic in the first half, they did not look anything like a side who were chasing promotion and needed to win. Instead they were being out-fought and out-ran by an Ipswich team that needed a win just to make mathematically certain that they won’t be relegated.

The only chance Newcastle did have in the first half was a big one, and Matt Ritchie missed it. Paul Dummett briefly turned into Roberto Carlos to take on his man and deliver a wonderful cross into Ritchie who missed wildly from 12 yards.

That miss was further compounded when only a few minutes later Ritchie gave the ball away inside his own half and Ipswich bared down on the Newcastle defence. While Ritchie was mostly to blame for the goal, the defending from the two centre halves was laughable. Both of them backed off and backed off and backed off and backed off and backed off… until both Ipswich strikers found themselves in the Newcastle box. The inevitable happened and Ipswich were 1-0 up, deservedly.

Sears and McGoldrick ran Newcastle ragged in the first half, perhaps if they had a little more quality then Ipswich could have scored a few more goals. I am not quite sure why Rafa went with Hanley over Mbemba. If Ipswich had a big man up front, who posed a threat in the air, then I could understand Hanley being brought in to counter that. However, given the fact that Mbemba is a far better defender than Hanley, and has performed well since he came back into the side, the decision seemed illogical.

Rafa made no changes at half-time. This is no surprise, as he never does, but there have been so many games this season where it is so obviously not working – so why does he stick with it? I have no clue.

Newcastle started no better in the second half and were very poor going forward with Diame and Ritchie offering very little. Atsu did create a few chances on the left hand side but as per usual his final ball was lacking.

The equaliser came out of nowhere to be honest as we did not look like we were threatening to score. Paul Dummett provided a suberb ball to Atsu down the left hand side whose cross into the box found Daryl Murphy in the right place at the right time.

Murphy may not put himself about as much as Mitrovic, or get the fans going etc. but he is a centre forward whose job is to score goals. If Mitrovic did less playing to the crowd, and more ‘being in the right place at the right time’, he might have a future at Newcastle.

Almost immediately though, Ipswich were back in front thanks to some terrible defending on the right side of pitch. The defence is something that needs addressed in the summer (in fact the whole team does really). I hope that Rafa starts next season with a solid centre half partnership that he knows he can trust.

Ipswich scored a third goal late on… and they could have had a fourth when Lascelles inexplicably couldn’t pass a ball 10 yards to a black and white shirt.

Jamaal Lascelles also walked straight off the pitch at the end of the game, ignoring the Newcastle fans who travelled all those miles and paid all that money to watch the team. This for me is almost unforgivable, especially from the captain.

Emotions are obviously high but the very least I ask for at the end of the game is for players to come over and just say thanks. Really really poor from the captain, whose place in the side should be questioned once Clark comes back.

Lee Ryder wrote in his match report that “Ipswich couldn’t believe their luck” – what luck? They were the better team for most of the game, and well Newcastle have played like that for 4 months now. If anything Newcastle were lucky to only come away with a 3-1 defeat yesterday.

Rafa

One thing Rafa will learn soon enough is that Newcastle fans are lots of thing. We are fickle, we are short-tempered, sometimes unrealistic, hugely passionate, but we are not stupid. We know our football.

We can see when something isn’t working, we can tell a good player from a bad player, a good pass from a bad pass. We know our football – so while Rafa is without doubt the best thing that has happened to Newcastle since Bobby Robson. He should not expect an easy ride and should be questioned when he gets it wrong.

Something that the local journalists in the North East are too scared to do…

The Fans

You can’t fault the fans who sold out the away end yesterday. They made a noise and tried to roar the team on but sometimes its hard when you are watching such rubbish.

I admire those fans that sing for 90 minutes no matter what, no matter how boring or how bad they are. I can’t do that though.

Cries of ‘embarrassing’ and ‘gutless’ were rife in the away end. You can’t really argue with that.

Last bit…

The Derby goal has changed everything lets be honest. We should be okay, because we should win one more game and Huddersfield should slip up at least once more. That’s the law of averages.

However, this team has not coped with pressure this season, so why should we expect them to now?

For those fans that still think Rafa can’t be criticised… yesterday should be a wake up call.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Ipswich 3 Newcastle 1

Goals:

Newcastle: Murphy 62

Ipswich: Sears 42, McGoldrick 69, Huws 90+3

Possession was Ipswich 45% Newcastle 55%

Total shots were  Ipswich 9 Newcastle 12

Shots on target were Ipswich  3 Newcastle 4

Corners were  Ipswich 2 Newcastle 7

Referee: Tim Robinson

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Yedlin (Gamez 78), Lascelles, Hanley, Dummett, Ritchie (Mitrovic 82),  Hayden (Gouffran 61), Shelvey, Atsu, Diame, Murphy

Unused Subs:

Elliot, Perez, Mbemba, Colback

Crowd: 25,684 (Newcastle 2,000)

To view Jonathan’s match ratings for the NUFC players go HERE)

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])



  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Sack Rafa & get JT in as player manager, i`m sick of shyte football. it`s bearable when playing away but when we`re at St James Park & the krap opposition have 60 to 70% of the ball it`s not on
    imagine next season what`ll happen if he invites any of the top 8 to attack us, it`ll be cricket scores

    • Geordiegiants

      Gan and flap your lugs in Sunderland you tatey.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        Ha Ha, the fish has taken the bait. ha ha

      • Damon Horner

        Upvote given based on the use of “tatey” 😅

  • GToon

    Any half decent manager would have got our team in the top 6. If we go up Rafa will only have achieved what we all expected. Unfortunately he has done it with a style of football that attracts nobody and a stutter for the finishing line that fills nobody with any confidence for next season. There’s no way that Ashley will sanction the kind of spending required to keep this lot up next season. It’s this feeling that has stopped me from trying to get a ticket to any game since the Reading match. I’m not being miserable, I’m just being realistic.

    • toonterrier

      I’ve only been to one game this season and only because it was a freebie. If I hadn’t been in decent company I would have happily walked out at half time. For thirty odd years I had a ticket but with the rubbish we’re played this year wont be back until massive changes are made. Who wants to pay to watch negative defensive football.

      • nevfur

        Arsenal filled their stadium for it and won trophies. One nil to the Arsenal. I would take some of that too after forty years of following this lot

        • GToon

          True, but Arsenal didn’t lose home and away to a side in the bottom 3 or home and away to anybody who has a go at them. They did have a good defence but they also had good forwards too.

          • Damon Horner

            Which was built over time without a visit to the second tier. Surely a bit of patience has been earned by the manager and players?

          • GToon

            Patience, yes Damon but I’m just really fed up with the end of season promotion push. I will be interested to see how we play next season. In our previous promotions we have known how we would play the next season, be it a team relying on Waddle and Beardsley or the free flowing football under KK. This time round I just don’t know what we will do. And I don’t see Ashley seeing things the same way as Rafa. Lets see anyway.

          • Damon Horner

            We will have to see. Only difference then being an obvious player to build a team around.

            I think it’s odd because some fans seem annoyed at a guess Ashley won’t spend and an assumption Rafa likes and trusts this current team. None are a given. The window could spring surprises. Promotion is all we should expect, little point feeling nervous for the next season when the picture could radically change.

          • nevfur

            I think we are all tense and frustrated as we stutter and crawl over the line. If Rafa stays you know exactly what kind of football we will play next season. We’ve been watching it all of this season but the players and quality will be different.

          • nevfur

            Also true but you were talking about the tactics and style of football and they were as in your own words playing negative defensive football. The quality of players playing the system is key and we are not there yet. It takes time to take a team such as we were last season and not only improve it but change the style and tactics too.

    • Geordiegiants

      Yeah your statement makes perfect sense to me. That’s why we have an average home attendance of over 51,000 per game this season, and our away allocation is sold out every single game.

      • GToon

        Ok, can’t argue with the stats but answer this for me – what do you expect to happen next season if we play the same way as we have this season? To be honest I’m amazed we have sold out so many times at home as I’ve never known such poor performances at home when we have been so high up in the league.

        • Geordiegiants

          If we play the same next season and win as many as we have won this season, I’m sure the crowds will be flocking to the park. I know we haven’t won the league with flair, but when have Chelsea for argument sake? Look at where so called pure football has got Arsenal in the last 10 years.

          • GToon

            You are right. Winning justifies the means so to speak but we aren’t really winning and we just don’t inspire me the way the previous promotion teams of the last 50 years have done. When I was a little un I used to think we’d get promoted and then win the next league too. This time I just feel a bit flat as I think next year we will get hammered if we employ similar tactics to this season.

          • love toon despite

            Agree with you totally here GToon

          • Geordiegiants

            I agree totally with both of you that it doesn’t feel the same, though the reason for that is the fat cancer, not Rafa. He has conditioned us to expect nothing.

          • nevfur

            Although the tactics may be boring they are successful when done right so it’s rubbish to say we will get hammered next season playing that way. The problem this season isn’t the tactics it’s the lack of quality players playing those tactics and that they may be new to them. Obviously if promoted we would look to improve the quality of players in our squad as would any team using any tactics and those we keep will not only be the best of what we currently have but by then should be more used to those tactics. It therefore follows that we will be a better team and should be well enough equipped to at least not “get hammered” even if the style is still seen as boring.
            Besides, you would think the tactics had been an unmitigated disaster the way you are talking. We are second and should be going up and until Leeds equalised in the 96th minute out of 95 on Friday having been totally played off the park and surviving a nailed on penalty appeal from yet another disastrously inept referee determined to give us nowt everyone was pretty happy and we were well in the fight for the title. Ipswich was one bad game, get over it. If we win on Monday we should be up with two games to play

    • Jimblag23

      With that attitude it’s probably best you don’t come to the stadium, the atmospheres bad enough as it is.

  • Geordiegiants

    Huddersfield and reading are only slightly worse? How many point does it take to get a team promoted every season from the championship?
    I believe it is 89, if I’m not wrong. It is possible that 3rd will surpass that with out getting promoted. So with the points total possibly being above average for third, how does that make everyone rubbish? Wake up and shake your head man, look at where we are from last season and smile.

    • Jimblag23

      A few months ago predictions of the top three getting over 100 points were rife.
      Whoever finishes 2nd will have limped over the line to be honest.

      • Geordiegiants

        Yeah I know where your coming from, but the league is over a full season, not over a few months.

  • HappyToons

    The main point is that the majority of the squad are so poor that we were relegated. Rafs’s signings have been our best players after Shelvey, so proving how bad that squad is that he inherited. The squad is still poor as basically we signed relegated Villa’s cb; Palace’s bench warmer, and a player Bournemouth thought they had finished with. Three players who have gotten us into the top 2 and high quality in this division, but not in the premiership. Rafa has managed a poor squad (even if some have big names) and gotten us top 2. After the start I would have been happy to make the play offs!! Rafa knows what is needed if we do go up. We fans can go overboard. Leeds are a poor team with some good young talent and a good manager and on a bad run. We murdered them, but on the night even Rotherham would have beaten Leeds. Just like ‘mighty’ Wolves beat those ‘mighty’ Whites after. Reality says we have been poor most of the season yet won games. Rafa has set the team up brilliantly away. The players though are nervous wrecks at home, hence those certain few have found their level and can’t cut it playing for the MIGHTY MAGS!

  • MadMag83

    To be fair to Lee Ryder, he may have been referring to how bad Newcastle were at the back when he suggested Ipswich couldn’t believe their luck, making it too easy for them to score.

    Of course Benitez isn’t immune from criticism, I would hope some serious soul searching was done after yesterday’s capitulation along with some arses being kicked.

  • love toon despite

    I always said Rafa is not beyond criticism and it is galling to put him as some deity as some fans feel justified in doing.
    I think we will get promoted but for me the season has been tedious to watch hence my name on this site.

  • Desree

    Since the Spanish City shut there is clearly nothing better to do entertainment wise in Newcastle.

  • Ramalingam Raghavan

    People forget.
    We derailed Norwich City after the 4-3 victory, derailed the Terriers after which they too have stuttered.
    End of the season 2 games a week not easy..
    We were after Knockaert during summer. Should have bought him..
    We still have managed to scrape through quite comfortably..
    Jonjo’s ban, injury to Gayle n Clark have proved costly.
    We have done enough to get promoted..
    Next season realistic target, mid table….

  • Damon Horner

    I don’t think Rafa is immune from criticism. I just don’t understand the motivation behind doing so.

    Based in fan opinion, only really Mbemba should really have been given a fairer crack in terms of selection and most players aren’t good enough to be selected apparently but somebody has to be. Apparently attempts to improve the team were vetoed. He shouldn’t have to apologise for playing a style of football he always has played, fans knew that when they begged him to stay and should be the ones to adapt, not the manager.

    This season has been a one of change and Rafa has given chances to those possibly who won’t cut it. Let’s see what his true judgement’s are when we get to the transfer window.

    He isn’t immune to criticism I just don’t get how it’s productive. It’s one thing mis-selecting the maligned Vurnon Anita at RB, its another to consider Obertan a player good enough for first team football for four years.

    Let’s just criticise this time when we have a good reason, not just any reason.