Boxing Day verdict – Misadventure
Well, what a misadventure that Boxing Day sale turned out to be.
You build yourself up for days/weeks in the hope of something exciting, something to raise a smile and perk your spirits, only for the event to arrive and find slim pickings, disappointment, dejection and a feeling that you’ve wasted your time and money on something you could have done without.
That was the feeling I had leaving St James Park on Monday night after watching Newcastle 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1, one of the worst collective displays from all parties involved in a football match. Be it the home side’s manager, the captain, the defence, the midfield, the attack, the referee, the opposition – all go towards contributing to a shambolic evening’s ‘entertainment’.
Now far be it from me to tell so called professional people how to do their jobs properly…but it can’t be that difficult to spot and therefore attempt to rectify what is going wrong right in front of our very eyes.
Looking at the game as a whole, Sheffield Wednesday aren’t a good side. They are in and around the promotion hunters and have every possibility of sneaking up to the Premier League next season.
How big an indictment of the Championship is that? That a team of cloggers, journeymen and out and out spoilers could be in contention for playing in the top league in this country. A 90 minutes spent smashing through the back of the opposition like hard men and then rolling around and feigning injury for minutes at a time in an attempt at delaying the game, only to make miraculous recoveries seconds later.
And that the man in the middle bought this time and time again, is a further indictment on the officiating at this level. Put simply, if Wednesday had had a player or two sent off, it wouldn’t have been surprising, As 23 fouls and 6 yellow cards only tells part of the story, for if the referee had clamped down on the away side’s tactics earlier in the game, then the game itself would have flowed and been more of a contest. However, that it wasn’t, was down to a little more than just a lacklustre man in black.
Quite how much turkey and wine our lot had consumed the day before is open to debate, as I can’t see how supposedly fit and proper professional footballers can turn in such a listless display. Having a couple of players off their game is going to happen every now and again, having seven or eight is downright embarrassing.
Further to the lack of effectiveness from the players, the manager failed to see what was glaringly obvious. Sheffield were there to spoil and disrupt, but upon turning up and realising that the turkeys wearing black and white were in no state to actually hurt them, must have thought that it might be best to plough on and see what dessert was on offer. If you give a side, any side, enough incentive to win a game, they will take it. That it happened in the early stages of the second half was probably a blessing for Newcastle, as at least it provided almost 45 minutes to mount a response.
So did it galvanise those players? Did it s***e!
The side continued to look toothless and inept. That it took until 70 minutes to hook Mo Diame was a joke, as what went on in the 69 beforehand gave more evidence to the skills of Shola Ameobi and attitude of Moussa Sissoko. This hasn’t been a one-off, far from it. The amount of good games he’s had is minimal in comparison to the bad, however if the manager keeps picking him and is let down, then he (Diame) can’t be totally at fault.
Sheff Wed were obviously physical in their approach and our attempts were blantantly not working by the hour mark, if not sooner, so why oh why was it decided in the dugout that Ayoze Perez was the answer? A bit like taking a vegetarian to an abattoir.
Then on 80 minutes, almost half an hour after going behind and having been battered from pillar to post by the opposition, on came Mitrovic. At least twenty minutes too late if you ask me and not for the first time this season. Put simply, you can’t expect to get out of jail like we did against Norwich, every week.
We huffed and puffed in the final ten minutes but to say we warranted an equaliser would be seriously stretching things. With more time-wasting and histrionics (no problem with that, as infuriating as it is when getting beat) Sheffield Wednesday did what Huddersfield, Wolves and Blackburn have done so far this season and claimed all three points when deciding to simply have a crack at us.
I can look at the referee and say he was weak, look at the opposition and say they cheated, for the want of a better word…but what I can’t abide and accept is the collective malaise from those in black and white and the decisions made on the bench.
If we are going to be promoted this season – and we probably still will be, we need to shake off this lack of ability to kill teams off in this division, which let’s be frank, is awful.
We can point to the loss of Jonjo Shelvey as a big factor for our lack of creativity and guile against Sheffield Wednesday – but we need to find a different way of beating teams in his absence. When the rest of the team fail to turn up and step up to the plate while he’s out (exception being Karl Darlow by the way, who has been consistently outstanding), then we start to look over our shoulders and realise we aren’t as bloody good as we thought we are.
The message to the players for the revenge visit of Nottingham Forest is simple – DON’T let it happen again!
Here endeth the lesson.
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