One big NUFC silver lining from Nottingham Forest 2 Newcastle 1
Waking up after that scoreline of Nottingham Forest 2 Newcastle 1, it is impossible to not feel any amount of injustice.
The match officials take the lion’s share of the ‘credit’ for the shambles, whilst Jonjo Shelvey and sheer bad luck take up the rest of the slack.
However, watching last night and thinking about it this morning, there was one big positive in the match that cheered me up.
I’m not happy about Jonjo Shelvey being sent off, obviously, but when it happened it confirmed something I have been feeling for a while.
I think Shelvey is a very good player but the way he has been used has become less and less effective in recent matches.
These recent matches in particular against Blackburn, Cardiff, Hull, Forest and even Leeds, his influence has rapidly receded. At first glance it might not appear so because he still pings 40/50 yard balls around the pitch – but to what good?
Last night was a perfect example, Shelvey repeatedly dropping back next to the centre-backs and getting a five yard ball, the opposition with just one up front harrying Newcastle’s backline (and Shelvey) with the rest of the Forest team sitting deep.
They know he is looking to knock the ball out to the wings and they have plenty of players back, then even on the odd occasion when the crosses do come in, it is rare to see anything more than Dwight Gayle trying to win it ahead of two or more defenders.
In the first half hour on Friday night, Newcastle never really looked like scoring. We never try to attack the heart of the opposition, as the sole plan appears to be Shelvey (and Hayden) to sit deep and pass long, not run with the ball. I’m not Ayoze Perez’ biggest fan anyway, or Diame’s, but little wonder they struggle to get on the ball and influence games when we don’t try to play the ball through the opposition in the middle of the pitch.
Even though down to 10 men, without the sole tactic of giving the ball to Shelvey to pass from deep Newcastle started to actually play decent football, moving the ball around the pitch and cutting through the Forest midfield. United looked totally comfortable and took the lead despite being one man down, before of course the referee intervened yet again.
Looking at recent games, the goals Newcastle have generally scored, came from some decent football in and around the box, not Jonjo Shelvey’s Hollywood balls. At Leeds, Anita played a quick one-two on the edge of the box after coming inside, before feeding the ball across for a Gayle tap-in.
Both goals against Cardiff saw running with the ball creating the chances/goals, other than that we have generally struggled to score in recent times, with the shots column bolstered by unlikely long-range efforts, which has partly covered up the problem.
Newcastle had become too one-dimensional with Shelvey, everything going through him and the opposition happy to let him have the ball deep with no space to play into in dangerous positions.
In his absence I can see Newcastle potentially ending up playing much more threatening football but then when Shelvey returns, I’d hope it would get even better.
Rafa needs to get the playmaker further up the pitch and playing 10 and 20 yard slide rule balls into dangerous positions to create chances, not the good looking but almost zero effective longer passes.
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Forest 2 Newcastle 1
Red Cards: Shelvey 33, Dummett 45+2
Newcastle: Ritchie 45
Forest: Bendtner 52, Lascelles (OG) 86
Possession was Forest 52% Newcastle 48%
Total shots were Forest 17 Newcastle 6
Shots on target were Forest 9 Newcastle 3
Corners were Forest 6 Newcastle 1
Newcastle starting 11:
Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Hayden, Shelvey, Ritchie, Gouffran (Diame 77), Perez (Anita 46), Gayle (Mitrovic 87)
Sels, Mbemba, Atsu, Tiote
Referee: Steve Martin
Crowd: 21,317 (NUFC 2,002)
To view the fans Newcastle v Nottingham Forest player ratings and to add your own go HERE.
To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the Forest game go HERE.
Read what Rafa had to say about the match HERE.
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