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Opinion

Alan Pardew gave up on it at Newcastle but Rafa’s making it look easy

4 years ago
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Cast your minds back to New Year’s Day 2015 and  Newcastle United were playing Burnley at home.

Alan Pardew had left for Crystal Palace and John Carver was in charge, the game ending 3-3.

However, what was significant about this match, was that after almost two years, Newcastle United at last scored from a corner, Steven Taylor achieving the impossible…

Before this ground breaking achievement, the previous one was against Norwich City on the 23 November 2013 (scored by Remy) and before that it was back in 2011.

Now though, Newcastle United look a very different beast when it comes to scoring from corners and set-pieces in general.

So far this season, Jamaal Lascelles has scored two vital winners from corners and last season Newcastle scored a Championship high of 24 goals from set-pieces. Rafa clearly identified this as a major weakness and sought about rectifying it – so far it is paying great dividends.

The tactics themselves are not complicated, combining excellent delivery from (usually) Ritchie into good areas of the box and players attacking the ball, often wanting it more than their opponents.

Rarely this season have we played short corners, as whenever we have, we have been hit on the counter-attack. Thinking about last season, we lost 3-1 at home to Fulham and I’m pretty sure all of Fulham’s goals came from counter-attacks from us playing short corners!

Both Clark and Lascelles are very capable headers of the ball and Ritchie consistently delivers the ball into areas, in which they can attack the ball and potentially score. West Brom have relied on having big centre backs throwing themselves at excellent Chris Brunt deliveries for years, helping them to usually finish comfortably mid-table.

When Newcastle have a corner now, you can sense with the crowd a genuine sense of excitement that we might score, or at least have the chance of doing so.

Unlike those dark days under Alan Pardew, where Cabaye would chip the ball back post to Williamson who was then expected to knock it back into the centre for our strikers to score, we must have tried this tactic for at least 400 corners and it never worked. By the end, when Newcastle were given a corner, everyone in the crowd knew it would come to nothing.

Hopefully however, those days are long behind us and we can look forward to a season where Newcastle United for the first time in a long while are actually a constant threat from set-pieces – so long as Ritchie keeps delivering the money balls into the box and the lads attack them, then I’m very confident that we will.
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