Newcastle United – You Can’t Please All Of The People All Of The Time
Take that fairytale ending away from proceedings on Thursday night and that game was possibly the worst game of football I’ve ever had to endure at St James Park in the 35 years I’ve been going there…it was dire!
No urgency, no desire, no craft; even when the restricted Cabaye was on the pitch, our full backs never pushed on, Sissoko played most of the first half on the left wing, Cabaye was so deep he practically played within the back four, Anita was in a more advanced role than Cabaye which doesn’t make any sense to me. Tiote, Santon and Haidara looked like they’d swallowed a bottle of tranquilisers before the game and the only real shining lights were Taylor and Marveaux.
Whilst I fully appreciate Pardew didn’t want to concede an away goal which would no doubt have proven fatal, it was horribly painful having to watch a team have control of the ball in the midfield and no one apart from Marveaux and Cisse were running ahead of the ball and no one was making runs from behind the ball to make themselves available, so we could build a meaningful attack.
Anzhi came with a game plan and it was pretty much the same as many European teams playing away from home; with 4 at the back, 5 in the middle and Eto’o up front on his own hoping to catch us on the break. They basically packed the midfield like lesser teams playing Barcelona and we of course don’t have the craft of Barcelona’s midfield but even if we did, we simply didn’t have any drive or enthusiasm to commit enough men going forward to have any real chance of getting in behind them and breaking them down…the only exception of course being Marveaux.
The first leg of the tie was very similar and again I fully understand why Pardew set the team up that night the way he did because we were also without Cisse and we had to take into consideration the Stoke game, the pitch and other factors…so no qualms there. The manager and the team did what they set out to do and it was a great performance on the night, 1000 miles away from home.
Thursday night however was altogether different. What I don’t know of course is whether the occasion was simply too much for some of the players, or whether or not the team failed to adhere to Pardew’s instructions, or if the players followed Pardew’s instructions to the letter…that we’ll never know but one thing’s for sure, if we repeat that kind of performance against any of the 7 teams remaining in the competition then we’ll be going out with an absolute whimper.
Yes we got through by the skin of our teeth and yes everyone concerned should be congratulated for getting us through to the last 8 in a European competition but now we’re through, I sincerely hope in the next home leg Pardew puts out a team with instructions to play football and have a go and commit players forward because we’ll not be so lucky to get through like that again. We have the players to go out and attack any of those teams left in the competition and attack we should.
I’d much rather pay £50 to watch a good game of football and be thoroughly entertained irrespective of the result, rather than pay £20 to watch that kind of performance again.
But hey, we’re through and we live to fight another day, I just hope when we have that next fight we throw some punches rather than sit on the ropes and cover up.
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