Newcastle United: Three games – Three teams
It is in the nature of Newcastle United fans to have a rollercoaster of emotions, though no doubt other club’s supporters would say it is the same for everyone.
I do though think that we have it worse than most because of the unorthodox way our club has been run, pretty much for its entire history and certainly the modern era.
A bit like looking into a crystal ball, we all try to see the black and white future based on a few hazy and usually unreliable pieces of information.
Little wonder that after only two weeks Newcastle fans are trying to work out what the three matches so far, add up to.
After near relegation and years of under investment in the squad, United have appointed a new manager/head coach and Mike Ashley has allowed the best part of £50m to be invested in the team.
What’s more, three of the signings had transfer fees that were higher than anything he’d sanctioned in the entire previous eight years.
Looking at the three matches:
Southampton – Some very good attacking moves and the Wijnaldum goal was a cracking finish, with Obertan doing well to get any type of cross in, when running at full speed.
However, the defending was pretty poor, two uncontested headers and late on the centre of the defence opened up twice for Sadio Mane but he let the home team off on both occasions.
Swansea – From the first minute it was abysmal at both ends of the pitch. One shot from Obertan but once Gomis scored in the ninth minute the result was never in doubt.
It finished 2-0 but could have been a hammering as the Swans’ wingers wrecked havoc and indeed Janmaat’s sending off seemed to be the signal for the Welsh team to coast to victory
Manchester United – Newcastle could have gone behind early on but after weathering the early storm, the team looked more than comfortable for the rest of the game, though the reds had a late charge which nearly led to a goal from a corner – though Newcastle went so close to winning the goal from that counter-attack.
A performance that produced a lot of credit for the defence and despite a limited number of incisive attacks, there was enough there to suggest that there is much more to come, particularly from Mitrovic and Thauvin. With Wijnaldum also having a decent game but mostly in a defensive capacity as Man Utd had 70% possession.
It is daft to make any sweeping conclusions, either way, from what we have seen so far.
We have a team that is simply a work in progress and for this season, I think it is still very much in the balance as to which way it can go.
The quicker the better that Steve McClaren can get his first win and his preferred choice of team on the pitch, the better the chances of that happening early on.
A tough call on Saturday with it being Arsenal, our record is shocking. An article earlier today on The Mag highlighted some of the shocking statistics, such as seven straight defeats to the Gunners and only two wins in the last 30 clashes with them.
This is no criticism but merely an observation – bringing in Wijnaldum halfway through pre season and the other three first team signings at the end/after pre season has meant United are playing catch up.
Whether the signings could have happened earlier if Newcastle had gone an extra step, or whether patience has produced better signings who wouldn’t couldn’t have come earlier, we’ll never know.
The problem is that the Premier League is unforgiving and when even the worst team I have seen, Sunderland, get a draw against a Swansea team who battered us, the quicker Newcastle get it all together the more I’ll look forward to the season.
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