Why Swansea experiment can’t be repeated for Newcastle v Manchester City
Along with everybody else, I was a very happy and relieved Newcastle fan on Saturday night.
The first United win for two and a half weeks and a glimmer of light at last, at the end of a very dark and long tunnel.
I celebrated afterwards like everybody else but in the following days I do think that a few people had a few more drinks than me in the city centre on Saturday night…
There was much to praise in the Newcastle performance, with Rafa Benitez making some brave decisions in his team selection and the team responding with a committed display.
When I saw the starting eleven it was obvious to me that Rafa had only one thought on his mind.
Let’s get to 40, 50, 60 minutes and make sure we haven’t conceded, make sure we haven’t lost the game before we have a chance to win it.
After the horrific defending and goals conceded at Norwich and Southampton it was perfectly understandable, Newcastle getting the run around first half in both games and lucky to be one and two goals respectively down at the break.
There was no real plan for that starting eleven to create many chances, it was all down to making sure nothing went in at the other end.
As it happened, it was a rare case of ‘fortune favouring the cautious’.
Shocking defending allowing Newcastle to score from a corner, Jamaal Lascelles taking full advantage to score a rare cheap goal courtesy of the opposition.
It was obvious that this team/formation couldn’t last the distance with so little attacking threat and as Swansea increasingly dominated the game and possession, Rafa had to make changes.
So we saw a series of attacking substitutions as Shelvey, Perez and Mitrovic replaced Tiote, Wijnaldum and Cisse in a series of substitutions.
It was only when that trio were on the pitch that belatedly Newcastle looked a real attacking threat and scored the other two goals.
The team really rode their luck at 1-0 and against a team like Manchester City it is highly dubious that the likes of Aguero would have passed up those chances.
Yet I have heard and read fans talking of the Swansea win as some kind of major sea change in how Newcastle should be playing.
The players deserve all the credit for grinding that win out but in reality the late two goals massively flattered us,
Rafa needed a starting point for this relegation fight and put a team out to not concede, only to then get rare luck with two soft goals from corners.
This isn’t a blueprint to carry Newcastle United forward. It was a one-off to stop the rot.
If it is repeated for Newcastle v Manchester City then we will simply be inviting the visitors to camp in our half and sooner or later pick us off.
On Saturday, Andros Townsend was the only attacking presence/threat in the team and you simply can’t play Colback AND Tiote.
Jonjo Shelvey has to come in and supply some extra ambition going forward, while Mitrovic is surely a no-brainer to replace Papiss Cisse as well.
The Swansea experiment was one that worked but now we need a completely different set of ingredients for this one tonight.
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