Noel Whelan ‘An electric atmosphere at Elland Road…Newcastle weren’t really hurting us’
Former Leeds star turned pundit, Noel Whelan, thinks that if only Leeds had been awarded a penalty it could have been different.
Leeds United boss Garry Monk embarrassed himself with similar claims after the final whistle, though Whelan is more accepting of who was the better team.
However, he does claim that Newcastle ‘weren’t really hurting’ Leeds despite dominating the ball for long periods.
The thing is, watching NUFC this season under Rafa Benitez, there does follow a pattern in most matches. Newcastle taking control of possession and passing and passing the ball, usually scoring by midway through the first half, then posing the question to the opposition as to whether they can then break the Magpies down.
The answer is usually, no.
In nine Championship away games Newcastle have only conceded three goals, so it is little wonder that Rafa’s team are confident that they will keep a clean sheet even when the opposition have a bit of pressure.
Sunday was a classic tale as well of Newcastle soaking up a little pressure and then really put the game to bed with a second goal of real quality.
The Benitez tactics are to keep it tight and not let the other team get any encouragement, he doesn’t go looking for a bucketful of goals.
This was just another regulation win for Newcastle and a reminder for Leeds of the gap in class that exists between the two teams.
As for the ‘electric atmosphere’ at Elland Road, yes it was full but not exactly the cauldron of fear we were promised!
Noel Whelan talking to the Yorkshire Evening Post:
“You know you are up against a quality side in Newcastle when you see the strength in depth they have and the players that are in the starting XI.
“Jonjo Shelvey typified them, he controlled the game, and he is a very experienced player who has been at some great clubs.
“While Newcastle had a lot of possession during the game, they weren’t really hurting us. Overall, in the 90 minutes, when I look back at the game, their keeper has had more to do than Rob Green so it shows that we can compete with these teams.
“I don’t need to say too much about the first goal we conceded – Green knows he’s made a mistake – and Dwight Gayle probably won’t score an easier goal in his career. We still had a go at them but I just felt we were that half a yard short. But we can still have a play-offs push here.
“We are one point off the play-offs so what we’ve got to do now is learn from it which I think a lot of the young boys will do when they are playing against the likes of Jack Colback and Shelvey who are extremely good players. They will learn from that and this is a learning process.
“But we were competing all the way through 90 minutes – we had some good spells in the game and maybe a little bit of luck with the penalty decision may have changed it and swung it back in our favour.
“ It wasn’t to be, but it shows that we are not getting outclassed by any teams and we can compete with most teams, especially a Newcastle side that is sitting top of the league and will probably romp to the Championship title to be honest. From what I have seen, they are different class.
“But there was an electric atmosphere at Elland Road yesterday with the capacity crowd and it was great to have a full house again.”
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