The morning after the night before. Pah.
A belly sloshing with Caffreys and bile. A black and white scarf crumpled on the living room floor. Now the aftermath.
No full English or brisk walk is going shake this off. It’s not a hangover you see, it’s worse than that.
It’s a gut wrenching and debilitating disease known locally as Newcastle United-itis.
After relegation, somehow amidst the fall out, Rafa has managed the situation brilliantly, embracing the fans and tackling the squad head on. Out went the old guard, well some, and in come the new.
Players have come here, because they want to be here – refreshing. But and it’s a big but, not as big as Anita’s – but definitely big.
BUT, even though we the fans are giving them the best support ever seen in the Championship, the lads seem to be crippled by fear. Whether it’s the pressure of being favourites, who knows?
One thing we have done very badly over the last two to three seasons is beat the teams you are supposed to. We react badly to being a favourite and invariably blow our beans. Peversely most of our points last season came against the so-called big hitters.
So the post-mortem begins.
Yesterday was just weird. The game started with a cracking atmosphere, it was great to be back. Huddersfield had a cracking following too, good on them.
But for whatever reason, the lads in black and white just played well within themselves, safety first passing. Slowly ticking from left to right along the back and playing in front of Huddersfield until Shelvey would get the ball and attempt a 90 yard pass, at an altitude that would concern passing aircraft, to an isolated Gayle.
We created a couple of headed chances first half, but really we have nobody in defence at all capable of putting their foot on the ball and making an incisive pass into midfield. Dare I say, like Colo would do in times of old.
Don’t want to be slating anyone at all. Long season ahead, but our defence is cumbersome and it’s worrying. Poor Dummett, regardless of what league he is in, is just not good on the ball, but yet he kept getting it! Cue a prolonged dally on the ball before giving it back to Huddersfield to break away, or lofting another poor ball up front.
Shelvey kept dropping deeper and deeper, practically in line with the centre halves and again trying to be superman on the ball. Well he needs some kegs outside his shorts for a start, but after all the problems linking defence to midfield – he kept getting the ball to be Mr Creator and linking midfield and attack – and failed massively.
To be fair to him it was like musical statues out there.. and once the music stopped we barely twitched in the first half. No prizes from Rafa though as just like Fulham, another punch to the bread basket just before half time. Jesus, Mary and Joseph. FFS.
Being a defensively minded tactical genius, this must have Rafa going into meltdown.
Still, in Rafa we trust, most definitely. Though playing Anita in any form of attacking position should not be used as a plan again. Like Friday last week, this just added to the crab like passing, not seen since Vinny Samways trademarked it for Spurs in the early 90s.
Second half was an improvement – due mainly to a player, supposedly not being fully match fit, coming on and showing the sort of speed of pass and intensity that absolutely nobody had in the first half.
Ritchie, the Gordon Ramsay lookalike must be thinking WTF is going on here?
Huddersfield were well in their comfort zone until he came on and put them under something called ‘pressure’. You heard it here first folks, that’s the aim of the game!
He missed a gilt-edged header from Dummett’s cross but still looked the only one capable of playing to the occasion – not shrinking and ingesting their testicles.
Diame was added for pace and power but he left Gayle isolated 99% of the game, apart from the penalty incident – a penalty that nerves meant we tried our best to fluff. Not sure if he was match fit, but he looked lost to me. One to watch.
We should have then gone on to win the game. The guy I was sitting next to had a bet on 4-1 and was pumped ready for the onslaught! Hmm, not the licence to print money that he’d thought.
We huffed and puffed but ultimately were lacking in most areas and then the counter and knockout blow with a breakaway goal, Town slotting past a poorly positioned Sels. Anybody convinced by this keeper?
So, what happens now? I can see some panic bids and buys happening this week. A striker, winger and left back needed. If it means paying over the odds a little – so be it.
These need to be players capable of handling the pressure and the shirt. A former Manager recently mentioned that the shirt is a heavy one and a certain character is required to fill it. I agree with that in a way – but if they are good players they will never have a better platform than what the fans are providing them to shine.
Last time we were promoted, we didn’t lose a game at home all season and only lost four in total. We’ve got 44 games left, so time to evolve and grow, but no time for passengers.
Reading is now absolutely MASSIVE!
Well played Huddersfield, I’m sure they had a cracking day out, that ominously every single other club in the league is looking forward to.
We need to rise above that. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed we do that.
You can follow the author on Twitter @JamieSwan1