Five Talking Points From Newcastle United v Manchester City
A two goal defeat in the Newcastle United v Manchester City opener.
Goals from Silva and Aguero at the end of each half, meant United finished pointless on the first day of our season.
Kevin Christie looks beyond the bare result at five big talking points from Sunday;
Last August I described Newcastle as “clueless”, “toothless” and “dispirited” following their opening day mauling at the Etihad. Thankfully, this time out they were anything but.
Granted, this season’s encounter yielded the same number of points but Pardew’s men attacked with intent, defended well and generally looked like a team who believed in themselves. Not only that but the new signings all gave a good account of themselves – Rémy Cabella, in particular, endeared himself to the St James’ Park faithful by marrying his trickery, vision and directness with an eagerness to track back and defend.
So, no points in the bag just yet but plenty of positives to take from the performance.
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Embarrassing PR gaffes a thing of the past?
Since Joe Kinnear’s departure, things have been pretty quiet around St James’ Park. Kinnear’s incompetence as well as his cringeworthy bluster and buffoonery repeatedly made headlines for all the wrong reasons. His successor, Lee Charnley, has not only done an excellent job by securing a number of exciting signings over the summer, he has done it all with a dignified silence and an air of quiet confidence. He walks the walk without ever feeling the need to take centre stage himself. Best of all, not only do the club now have a capable (and humble) man pulling the strings in the boardroom, but his aura seems to have permeated the entire club.
It was in this fixture last season that Alan Pardew called Pellegrinia a “f***ing old c***” and told him to “shut his noise.” This time around the Toon boss was more composed and dignified. He exuded an air of self-assurance and belief and made sure to pay tribute to fallen Toon Army stalwarts Liam Sweeney and John Alder in his pre-match interview before the respective captains, Fabricio Coloccini and Vincent Kompany, laid wreaths in the centre circle prior to the immaculately-observed minute’s silence. The club have also announced plans to create a permanent memorial to honour the pair at St James’ Park in the near future.
What better tribute to John and Liam than for their tragic and untimely deaths to be the catalyst for a sea-change in fan relations at a club that has been in danger of alienating its fan-base altogether.
Sissoko looks lost
While Jack Colback slotted into the midfield nicely and displayed some of the traditional British grit and determination that has been sadly lacking in our midfield since the days of Rob Lee and Gary Speed, Moussa Sissoko looked out of his depth yet again.
Pardew doesn’t seem to know what to do with the Frenchman and unfortunately that has been the case since he first arrived back in January 2013.
Sissoko certainly has ability and is blessed with blistering pace but doesn’t always utilise it very well. Prone to going into ‘Forrest Gump mode’ and running around for no apparent reason, he often looks ponderous and indecisive on the ball too. Ironically, it was a lack of care and composure that caused Sissoko to scuff the last minute opportunity that came his way prior to Agüero’s killer second goal.
Not very well suited to playing wide and facing stiff competiton from Tiote, Colback, Anita and De Jong for the central positions, where does Sissoko go from here?
Dummett out of his depth
While it’s great to see youth team graduates make the step up to the first team, I’ve never been totally convinced by Paul Dummett.
Granted, his presence gives the team a better balance than Davide Santon does but, sadly, he looks to be out of his depth at this level. Slow, hesitant and nervous in possession, Dummett has the look of a young lad plucked from the comfort of Newcastle University’s student bar and thrown in at the deep end to fend for himself.
He only made his debut in last season’s opening game and should be given a bit more time to prove his worth but if he doesn’t make giant strides soon, Dummett may well find himself on the way out.
Return of De Jong and Tiote could really see Newcastle click
While Newcastle acquitted themselves well in the defeat to Man City, it was in midfield that they let themselves down a little.
As impressive as Cabella and Colback were, Sissoko and Anita were equally disappointing. They contributed little and didn’t look altogether comfortable in the five man midfield. Anita was tidy and assured as always, without ever really breaking up any Man City attacks or doing much to put The Magpies on the front foot and launch forward forays of their own. Jack Colback seems to do the same job and more besides, meaning that it is the Dutchman who should make way when Tiote is back to full fitness.
Cabella’s directness was a constant thorn in Man City’s side and that, coupled with Siem De Jong’s incisive and authoritative passing, could make Pardew’s men quite an attractive attacking force in the coming months.
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