Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 3 (AET) – Wednesday 23 August 7.45pm
It has taken me an extra day to write this match report (finished it on Friday night), partly due to work restrictions and partly because I think an extra day was needed in order to realise some perspective from Wednesday night. Obviously, Newcastle United crashed out early from another cup competition.
There is no denying that on the whole it was a shambolic performance from start to finish. It is funny because I know that I should know better but once again, before the game, I had that funny feeling that this might just be our year!
Perhaps, I thought, Newcastle would be one of those teams that struggles near the bottom of the league but has a good cup run. I was very wrong, and once again, it was the performance from the team that was most disappointing.
At home to Notts Forest you expect us to be able to dominate, or at least look like the better side. The truth was that every time Forest went forward they looked like scoring. On the other hand, we never looked like doing anything, with Rolando Aarons being our only creative force during the game. Jacob Murphy may have huffed and puffed but his final product was consistently poor.
It would be foolish to panic. Losing our first three games and getting knocked out of the League Cup is not the end of the world. It is worrying, yes. However, we are only three games into the season and perspective is needed. Much more will be said after West Ham and then again, once the transfer window has shut.
When I saw the starting 11 I actually thought that this was a side that would be good enough to win the game.
I don’t think Rafa can be criticised for fielding a team deemed not good enough… they simply just didn’t play good enough.
What it did show, against a Championship team, was that this is a Newcastle team filled with Championship standard players. Gamez, Hanley, Sterry, Diame, Saivet, even Mitrovic and Murphy, are still probably Championship standard players.
Even those players who did perform, such as Barlaser and Aarons, have never shown themselves to be good enough for the Premier League (albeit Barlaser hasn’t had the opportunity at senior level).
What it did show was that Newcastle and Rafa Benitez need money, and they need it in these next few days.
Despite everything, Newcastle made a great start and scored after three minutes. Rolando Aarons set up Mitrovic who finished brilliantly. Aarons was a constant menace to the Forest defence and he could have set up a few goals if it wasn’t for some poor finishing.
While Newcastle huffed and puffed with some half chances, it was Forest who dominated the game after going 1-0 down. They could have equalised straight away with the two centre halves caught out with a ball over the top, luckily Karl Darlow rushed out to make the save.
Within the space of two quick first half minutes, Forest equalised and then took the lead through Jason Cummings – although he was aided by some atrocious defending.
Newcastle’s equaliser came through a great goal from Aarons.
The second half was a close fought contest, but in truth, United never really looked like scoring. Even after the introduction of Matt Ritchie and Isaac Hayden, we never looked like opening up the Forest defence.
The closest either side came to a breakthrough, was through a Forest free kick in the last minute which cannoned off the bar. Having got lucky, maybe we would kick on in extra time, but it was not to be.
We all know what happened in extra-time, Forest went 3-2 up and Newcastle never looked like replying. It took Rafa 105 minutes to introduce Joselu, which wasn’t good enough for me. Even when he did, he brought Mitrovic off and we were still left with only one up front.
As far as performances under Rafa go, it was probably as bad as it gets.
Rafa is in a tricky place at the moment. I have said it before – but the fans must continue to be positive and show the manger unrelenting support.
Of course he can, and should, be criticised for mistakes that he makes (like refusing to play two up front no matter what the circumstances). That is football. Rafa isn’t perfect, far from it, but he is a bloody good manager, and the best we are going to get. Almost feels like a small pocket of support are taking him for granted already.
If Rafa didn’t care then he wouldn’t be here. Which is why the fact he is still here, shows that at the absolute least, we have a manager who wants to be here. It had all been plain sailing for Benitez so far under Mike Ashley, this is his first real test, so lets hope he doesn’t run.
I was surprised to hear that it was 27,000+ in the ground. To be honest I thought that it was much less. Obviously, there were a lot of day trippers who made the most of cheap cup tickets, however, I am not sure that excuses the chorus of boos that rang around the stadium on multiple occasions.
I think if we want to go with the mentality of being positive, and having a positive impact on the team, then the boo boys really have to stop. At least until there is something that is really worth booing inside the stadium.
On and off the pitch, we must improve at the moment.
A worrying performance but Rafa won’t need us to tell him, I am sure he knows what needs to be done. We just have to wait and see if it gets done in these remaining days of August.
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 3 (AET)
Newcastle: Mitrovic 3, Aarons 45+1
Forest: Cummings 29, 31 Walker 97
Possession was Forest 51% Newcastle 49%
Total shots were Forest 16 Newcastle 29
Shots on target were Forest 7 Newcastle 7
Corners were Forest 9 Newcastle 11
Darlow, Sterry (Lazaar 58), Mbemba, Hanley, Gamez, Aarons (Ritchie 77), Saivet, Barlaser (Hayden 70), Murphy, Diame, Mitrovic (Joselu 105)
Woodman, Lascelles, Manquillo
Crowd: 27,709 (approx 1,000 Forest)
Referee: Darren England
(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the match go here)
(Read Rafa Benitez’ opinion on Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 3 here)
(Read what Mark Warburton had to say about the game here)
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])