Details have emerged of what is claimed to have gone on in the Newcastle United dressing room at half-time on Saturday.
Another feeble first half display, very reminiscent of Norwich last week when the Canaries led 1-0 (could have been 3-0) at the break, saw Southampton stroll to a two goal lead via Long and Pelle.
Rafa Benitez said after the game that he couldn’t believe how bad it was, especially after all the hard work put in the previous week on defending and not giving easy goals away…only to see Shane Long waltz through the Newcastle midfield and defence after only four minutes.
Daryl Janmaat is believed to have two broken fingers after punching the dressing room wall but that is not all that went on at half-time according to the Mail.
They claim that their information is that a full-blown row erupted between various players, with Rafa Benitez allowing it to escalate so that he could inject some of the passion into the team that was clearly missing in the first half.
Various pundits have said that in recent matches the Newcastle players don’t look to have the bottle to play from the start when there is everything to play for, instead waiting until the game is all but lost and the expectation/pressure not as high, before mentally they are in a good place to try and play some football.
At Norwich, Newcastle twice came from behind in the second half and at St.Mary’s, after falling 3-0 behind there was definite improvement as a fe chances were created and Andros Townsend scored a wonder goal.
Too little too late on both occasions.
Rafa Benitez may have inadvertently hit upon a solution to the team’s lack of passion/focus from the very start of games, the only question being how can he get them agitated and the adrenaline pumping before the first half, not just the second?
Maybe the pre-match dressing room talk should concentrate more on stick than carrot, telling the players that if they don’t perform they will come back to the dressing room to find their expensive threads cut to pieces, jewellery donated to charity, or a few of the worst offenders seeing their fancy motors given away to the suffering fans in a free raffle.
The question at the heart of it of course is not a new one, with football players guaranteed tens of thousands of pounds per week no matter how good or bad they are at their job – just how do you motivate them?
Prevention of course is better than a cure and the recruitment process has obviously failed miserably year after year.
Rather than potential resale value dominating everything, emphasis should be put on the character of players when they are being scouted.
Another major factor is surely the age issue, bringing in 20 year old (Mitrovic, Mbemba) and 22 year old (Thauvin) players from far weaker foreign leagues, is a million miles away from bringing in at least some experienced proven players, in terms of both ability and character, who can be called upon – especially when times are tough.
Instead Newcastle have a really weak combination of young recent signings and any number of older players who have accumulated because nobody else wants them, due to their lack of ability and/or character.
You can make your own list but for starters: Coloccini, Taylor, Marveaux, Obertan, Gouffran, Tiote, Cisse…