The Newcastle players who did and didn’t take responsibility against Blackburn
Obviously no need to panic but Saturday was a reminder that even against this kind of low level of opposition, there are Newcastle players who still struggle.
Never mind thinking about the Premier League, if you can’t reach a certain level of quality and at least effort against the likes of Blackburn, then you have a limited use.
Nobody played well and that can happen at any level, having an off day, but not taking responsibility isn’t acceptable in any form.
Leaving aside the defence, I thought the front six showed very contrasting efforts from various players.
The wingers, Ritchie and Atsu, did seem to be at it but just not at a high enough level, whilst you have to give Blackburn credit for the job they did against them.
However, I thought the big divide was between the attitudes of Shelvey & Hayden, as compared to Mitrovic & Perez.
Jonjo Shelvey was all over the pitch trying to get onto the ball and create something, though when you haven’t got players ahead of you giving you movement and options (more of this in a minute) then your job is near impossible.
Likewise Isaac Hayden, he ran his socks off and frequently tried to carry the ball but usually found space so limited as other players didn’t step it up and make life difficult for the visitors.
Aleksandar Mitrovic. How terrible was he?
For somebody who looks so physical, he hardly wins a header outside or inside the box and his lack of pace continues to be a massive problem.
It is all very well if we are on top of the opposition and the game is more open but when life is difficult, what does he give you?
Against Blackburn he made it so hard for Shelvey, Hayden and others, nearly every time defenders nip in front of him and win possession when the ball is played, meaning Newcastle get no chance to build up the pressure. Inside the box, does he ever get across his man when the ball is played in?
It made the Blackburn defenders look so much better than they no doubt are, when they are marking somebody who makes so little effort to be first to the ball.
As for his striking partner Ayoze Perez…
The Spaniard was the one with the dream role of wandering wherever he wants and creating stuff, as well as supporting Mitrovic. The reality though is he was back to his usual anonymous worst.
You see odd flashes of the talent Perez has got when things are going well for Newcastle but his ability to disappear is amazing when life is tough.
He never demands the ball, never takes responsibility to make something happen. Whilst the sight of him jogging up the pitch when Newcastle are counter-attacking…even Mitrovic is making more of an effort and showing more pace to try and get on the end of balls into the box.
I know he has his supporters but honestly, what does he actually do?
I’m not saying this just because Newcastle lost, it is just a question that is relevant for some 90% of the past 18 months or more.
Dwight Gayle is clearly essential in any must win match for Newcastle and must always be picked ahead of Mitrovic. Whilst Ayoze Perez would be right at the back of the queue for any of my team selections.
Jonjo Shelvey and others deserve better when they are looking for other teammates to step up to the plate – I reckon Rafa found out plenty yesterday for both the short and longer-term.
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