Where are we on the learning curve?
So what have Newcastle fans learned from THAT game?!?
With such a big cloud hanging over the club in recent times, it was somewhat of a shock that rather than the shelacking that was expected, see the Toon get not only a much needed 3 points, but dare I say it, deserve it.
But in reality, what does this victory against a resurgent Liverpool say about this club and its players?
To start with, it has been pointed out that our three victories this season have all been in front of a live TV audience.
Some will say this is simply coincidence, others may suggest it is because the players only care about performing when they are showcasing themselves…putting themselves in the shop window so to speak. The reality is probably somewhere in between.
It is also worth pointing out, before people get too carried away by the result, that Liverpool made a host of changes to their line-up and while the game had few chances, Liverpool still had theirs and could easily have levelled…had they done so it would have provided much more of an assessment at our players’ mental fragility.
One thing I am thinking though, is how the players are coping with pressure and more importantly expectation.
No one gave us a chance against Liverpool. There was no pressure on the players, Newcastle fans expected to get beaten and beaten by a lot. There-in lies the conundrum. Give us a top team and we seem to play well, give us a team we are expected to win against, or at the very least compete with, and we freeze like rabbits in the headlights.
Is this a case of players buckling under pressure from fans, their coach, the media? Or is it simply a case that they only get themselves mentally prepared for the big teams and think they have done enough and slacken off against the lesser ones? Again, it harkens back to a question of selling themselves, proving they can compete against the best in a hope of pushing through that big money move…or perhaps just a sense of thinking themselves better than they are.
The standout player for me was actually Siem de Jong, he was that player who not only gets forward but also tracks back, working hard box-to-box to ensure that the team has numbers going forward and never caught short defensively.
Perhaps his leadership on the pitch is the reason? Who knows, but let’s hope he keeps fit and can cement a place in the side now and help us push up the league to safety.
Take nothing away from the players for this game though, it was a hard fought, well played contest that they deserved their three points from, a desperately needed win to put us back within touching distance of sneaking out of the drop zone. But the real test will be how they pull up for the next game. Hopefully this will have given them new belief, a sense of purpose and a desire to have that kind of atmosphere, rather than the boos and shouts in recent times.
This is a welcome win and whilst again we aren’t expecting much from the Spurs game, it means nothing if we fail to beat Villa in a fortnight’s time.
Now it is up to the players to prove they can handle the pressure and can put in the same performance regularly, even when it isn’t against a high profile club in front of a TV audience.
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