Newcastle 0 Sheffield Wednesday Reserves 1 Wednesday 23 September 7.45pm
Sheffield Wednesday: McGugan 76
Well, isn’t this just the worst kind of crap.
Your in-depth match review should contain synopses of moments of note, honourable mentions of those putting in the best efforts etc etc. From 90 minutes sitting watching this on Wednesday I can barely think of a thing to say in either category.
The team was again a bit of a mismatch of fringe players and members of the usual league XI, with Janmaat rewarded for his performance v Watford with the captain’s armband.
After five minutes, Obertan broke to create a three on two that he played very well indeed, drawing the man and feeding Sissoko for a one v one with the stretched keeper. Sissoko contrived to curl it wide of the far post. “I wonder if that will cost us” pondered I aloud, blissfully unaware that the only opportunity we would competently carve out in the game had been wasted.
Sheffield Wednesday made ten changes from their weekend match, showing an apparently sensible head that indicated they know the league cup is an unnecessary distraction if you want to do something in the Championship. If quick elimination was their goal, they reckoned without Newcastle’s hopelessness.
Wednesday, to be brutal, were not that good. The first half seemed to be an exercise in giving away possession for both sides, with the unimpressive Thauvin by far the most guilty in the home team. De Jong attempted to lead the line but he is not a centre forward, and United demonstrated from the off that they have absolutely no final ball.
For me, Obertan on the left looked the most likely option, as the Wednesday defence was clearly terrified of his pace and on the occasions he got involved. However, the team contrived to bafflingly go right with seemingly every attack, usually ending with Thauvin who would fail to control the ball, try some ridiculous trick, or paff a half-cross harmlessly to an opponent/out of play. The contrast with his electric performance in the last round seems to be a good yardstick for the decline of the team as a whole.
The half time change of Perez for Thauvin seemed positive, but it made little difference. At the same time, Kevin Mbabu came on for the poorly Janmaat for a debut he’ll look back on with little fondness, although his keenness to impress set him apart from some more lethargic colleagues.
The second half was the same. Chances were almost there, but clueless looking players chose to boot them stupidly wide, attempt passes to the invisible man, or trickle them harmlessly half goalward. The regular concession of goal kicks became doubly annoying in the latter stages as Wednesday time wasted horribly, but understandably.
Of course, the chance to time waste had inevitably came their way. With quarter of an hour to go, nobody bothered stifling a long-ball attack and Lewis McGugan had plenty space to drive through a plethora of defenders from outside the box. There was a deflection, but it still seemed poor from Krul to let it squirm through him.
After another 15 minutes of hopelessness, United actually created two gilt-edged chances in added time. De Jong wasted both, directing the first tamely wide and sending the second over the open goal. I am certain that many in the ground will have experienced slight relief at being spared an extra half hour on these occasions.
So, out of the league cup then in disgraceful, humiliating fashion. Even Pardew only ever exited this one to Premier League opposition. In all absolute honesty though, I don’t think actually going out of the cup is so bad. To win these competitions you need luck of the draw, and a glance at a last 16 still containing Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd, none of whom are facing each other, suggests there will be no upset in this one.
The misery for us is not the loss of opportunity, but the sorry state of our team, our club.
A side bereft of inspiration half-heartedly conspiring to do not very much and a coach openly admitting to being in crisis, is disappointingly familiar. I think even the cynical amongst us expected better at this stage of the season and even the optimistic among us will see little hope in the weeks ahead.
Finally, to Sheffield Wednesday, who magnificently filled the Leazes top tier and raucously backed their team throughout, arguably to result defining proportions.
What we have here is a fine old club who have been bitterly mismanaged over the years to become mired in a lesser league. Staying competitive in that seems to be their current mantra, with a long-awaited top flight return a frustrating over-reach for legions of loyal fans. The fact that a midweek league cup trip to a Premier League city they used to visit regularly, has so captured the imagination, is indicative of the current mundanity Wednesday fans must feel.
They shouldn’t be too down on this though, as it seems that if the lessons of this fallen giant are not quickly heeded at NUFC, they’ll be coming back here quicker than a lot than a lot of them might think.
These are the key stats as provided by BBC Sport;
Possession was 52% Newcastle and 48% Sheff Wed Reserves
Total shots was 8 for Newcastle and Sheff Wed Reserves 9
Shots on target was Newcastle 1 and Sheff Wed Reserves 4
While corners was Newcastle 2 and Sheff Wed Reserves 4
Team: Krul, Janmaat (Mbabu 46), Lascelles, Williamson, Mbemba, Anita, Wijnaldum, Thauvin (Perez 46), Sissoko, Obertan (Toney 71), de Jong
Unused Subs: Elliot, Barlaser, Coloccini, Gouffran
Ref: Chris Kavanagh