The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous
Finally, a first win for Newcastle United in a somewhat frustrating opening to the season against Norwich City.
In true Newcastle United fashion, it was far from straightforward, despite what the scoreline may suggest.
Gini Wijnaldum is proving to be an excellent signing so far and a bargain to boot.
£14.5m is a lot of money to clubs like Newcastle, but when you see Manchester United splashing £25m on Memphis Depay (who has been bang average at best so far), you can’t help but think Newcastle secured the better deal in bringing one of PSV’s title-winning talisman to England in the summer.
The four goals, to bring his season tally to six, were nothing short of remarkable. Not since Alan Shearer in 1999 has a Newcastle player scored 4 or more goals in a game. Even more credit should go Wijnaldum’s way, considering that technically he was operating from the left wing throughout.
I felt Mark Lawrenson’s analysis of Wijnaldum on MOTD2 was very similar to this game, bizarre. Wijnaldum was buzzing around throughout, opening up space for others, excellent on the counter, not to mention the goal-line clearance. An excellent show from a very talented player.
Alexander Mitrovic is also starting to come into his own and if he continues with performances of this calibre, it surely won’t be long before that 4 and 5 on the back of his shirt add together to make a 9.
His finish was full of strength and power, much like his all round game. But it is his presence, his ability to hold up the ball to bring others into the game, and his ability to cause an absolute nuisance of himself, that gives Mitrovic all the elements to make it in this league as a striker. There will not be many defenders who will look forward to duelling with Mitrovic this season.
There is also the seeds of a good partnership brewing between Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez. By his usual standards, Perez was actually slightly more quiet than usual, but took his goal extremely well. His determination and dogged approach to the game was evident with his well taken strike.
Then we come to Moussa Sissoko.
Four assists in any game is outstanding. I don’t think anyone quite knows what Sissoko’s best position is, but operating on that right wing seems to showcase his attacking talents well. He played with power, pace, his passing was exquisite at times, and he looked very much like a ‘Top 4’ player … for 50 minutes. Which brings me onto …
Moussa Sissoko. The only player I have ever seen to be the best player on the pitch, and then arguably the worst, all in the same game.
Much like Newcastle United as a whole, Sissoko is consistently inconsistent. His tracking back and the defensive side of his game was absolutely dreadful. Daryl Janmaat was left exposed so many times during the game, and it’s no surprise both Norwich’s goals came from moves that started down Newcastle’s right hand side.
If Sissoko really wants to achieve his Champions League dream; discipline, defensive positioning and teamwork are certainly aspects he needs to work on.
Cheick Tiote’s yellow card after 3 minutes made it feel like he had never been away. Hauled off at half time to protect him from the inevitable red card, Tiote’s 45 minute cameo was disappointing. I may be being harsh here, but to put it politely, he doesn’t look fit either.
Bad egg or not, Tiote needs to look at his professionalism and remember how good he can be (see his first season at the club).
To single out defenders individually would be unfair, though I felt Paul Dummett made a welcome return at left back.
As a unit, Newcastle’s defending was atrocious. I feel this again comes back to question marks over Coloccini’s effectiveness as a captain.
Chancel Mbemba was criticised by various pundits for the first Norwich goal, however for me, Colo was to blame, being out of position and not marshalling the defence as say a John Terry or Vincent Kompany would (not to compare Coloccini at all to either).
We have, individually, a decent defence. I have particularly been impressed by Mbemba. Daryl Janmaat needs to wake up from his early season slumber and Coloccini may be nearly past it, but if Steve McClaren and Paul Simpson can keep working with them all as a unit, then I feel we have the makings of a half-decent defence. Just got to make sure nobody gets injured …
As McClaren pointed out post-match,
“It’s Newcastle, is it possible to make any sense.”
This match was no different, almost a game of 4 halves.
For the first 25 minutes and final 25 minutes, Newcastle were excellent. Some of the attacking movement was nothing short of superb. I cannot recall Newcastle playing with anywhere near the fluent, flowing football seen against Norwich during Alan Pardew’s entire reign.
Ian Cathro has clearly been working hard on that side of Newcastle’s game. I feel scoring goals is something Newcastle fans don’t need to worry about this season. This side has goals in it, which is refreshing to see.
As above, the defence is still a shambles. Improvement on that front will take time. But for the latter stages of the first half, and up until Newcastle’s fourth in the second, the whole team were dreadful. I don’t think I have ever seen such a contrast in a team’s performance throughout a game of football.
Confidence is huge in football, and you could certainly see the fear gripping many players on that pitch when Norwich came out all guns blazing looking for an equaliser. Thankfully, Mitovic’s goal calmed the nerves and allowed Newcastle to express themselves.
There is the makings of a good team here. Despite the poor start, performances have been good in patches, but a rotten fixture list has not helped the bedding in of new players and management team.
Slowly things are changing and this result should hopefully bring much needed confidence back to the club.
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