The ups and downs of the season continued for Newcastle United on Monday night against Burnley and the same story unfolded, as seven outfield players did their jobs but crucially three didn’t. It’s now becoming a familiar tale, the one area of the field we are glaringly lacking is the attacking third.

Put simply, if you start with a combination of Joselu and Perez (I would also throw in Diame) you are at least a man down from the start. Against Crystal Palace we got away with it but this won’t happen every week.

I think most fans believe that Ayoze Perez has some ability, but that ability is sadly not showing itself at the minute, and the problem is in part to do with the system that the team plays and in an even larger part, down to the player who he is being asked to support in Joselu.

Rafa Benitez has stated this week that he is happy with the efforts of Perez and Joselu and that we must look to the work both do that doesn’t involve scoring goals, that’s fine, but I think his comments are more based on the fact that results have been coming despite what little we have been seeing from the pair of them. If results start to slide then their efforts surely can’t be enough, strikers are there to score goals.

When the ball get played up to a lone striker, the lone striker has to be strong, physical, and above all else, clinical. The ball must stick like glue and the opposing defenders must know after 90 minutes that they’ve been in a game. His strike rate must be along the lines of one goal in three chances or better. At present, if Joselu were to get ten chances I wouldn’t be confident that he would score one.

That has an effect on the rest of the team, if you have no confidence in the big man up top to put the ball in the back of the net and he isn’t going to offer an outlet to the side when under pressure, there is no point in him being in the side as the whole side is going to be constantly under the cosh.

The best of defences can’t hold out all the time. That is what happened at Turf Moor, no more – no less. We weren’t beaten by a better side in terms of quality and that’s no disrespect to Burnley, we simply showed them too much respect.

Now, I don’t want to continue the Joselu bashing, but it was about half an hour into the Burnley match when I cast my mind back and wondered why the hell we have signed a striker of his quality and pedigree for so cheap and from a Premier League rival. Was there no better?

I tell you what, Daryl Murphy would be making a better fist of things in this league. A few minutes later and I suddenly realised ‘Hang on a minute, we’ve signed the wrong Stoke City striker!’ I said to the company I was with, that if you were to start Peter Crouch in place of Joselu, or even have him as an option to bring on, this side would take off. Cue derision and dismissive glances in my direction but I meant it and still stand by it today, even after the alcohol has worn off.

Putting aside the defeat, there is a trend that has crept into football more and more over the years, ensure that you don’t lose the game and at least stay 0-0 until the last half an hour, then you can decide if you want to go on and try to win it, or hold for the draw.

I’ve always said ‘never knock an away point’ but banking on an away draw is all well and good when it works, or even better when it harvests three points like it did down at Swansea, but it can come back to bite you like when we lost at Huddersfield, Brighton and now Burnley. Like I’ve said, no disrespect to those teams, but I would expect at least three points out of that trio of games, either from one standalone game, or aggregated out over the set. We’ve got none. If we’d gone for it a bit more in the three games, I’m sure we would have won at least one.

I’ve heard a few fans saying that they’d like to see a more flowing Newcastle team and while I think the shackles could be let off in certain games, Rafa has certainly instilled something that I haven’t seen for a Newcastle side in my lifetime, a bit of defensive assurance.  I don’t see us getting smashed off anyone and for years we’ve been crying out for  a manager to bring such qualities to a Newcastle team, so I don’t think fans can grumble when one comes along and sorts out the defence, which Rafa undeniably has done and on a budget too.

I think a lot of fans are guilty of Match of the Day syndrome, whereby anyone watching a highlights package could instantly believe that they were watching a good game when actually, if you watched the full 90 minutes, you would struggle to find ten minutes that really stood out as entertaining to watch. I was guilty of this when I was a kid, switching from watching the highlights at home to watching a match live, I discovered that there are periods where not a lot happens.

Under Kevin Keegan or Bobby Robson, how many games were barnstorming 5-2s or 4-0s? Granted there were a few but there were a few nervy 1-0s as well, games that would be bottom of the bill on a Saturday night. The difference then was we always had some quality to finish off chances and better quality to fashion the chances in the first place.

Now, our chances will be at a premium so we need to get the best available player to do just that and despite the fact he is a disciplinary risk, Aleksandar Mitrovic is the best Premier League striker we have. It’s either take the chance on his temperament, or continue with the paucity and powder puff attack that we’ve seen so far.

We have got by with this current set-up so far through hard graft but you can’t get away with just that every week. At some point, quality will need to be brought into the side. It will take big finances to fund the striker we require, which won’t happen under the current owner, so we have to sit tight and wait for the reported takeover to occur before we get the top man that Rafa wants in.

In the short-term, all this can be put right with three points against Bournemouth on Saturday, to do that we need goals. So there needs to be some work done on the training ground this week and/or a change in personnel up front, otherwise it will be another game we are needlessly sweating on.

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  • HarryHype59

    Crouch on a one year deal would have been a better bet this season than Jossyloo.

  • Guest 2

    Working on defence is one thing – no one over the halfway line worth a chuff is another.

    Our most creative player (Shelvey) is so far back for most of the game he is literally part of the back 4 not a midfield playmaker!

  • MadMag83

    Never mind Match of the Day syndrome, it seems a narrow defeat to Burnley has resulted in a mass outbreak of collective amnesia. Mitrovic is potentially a better striker than Joselu, but he’s let the manager down too often with his temperament, and doesn’t really suit the system Benitez wants to play.

    What’s needed is a proper number ten to support the lone striker, even Shearer would have drawn a blank Monday night with zero service.

    I’ll get shot for saying this, but drop Perez and play Slo Mo as a number ten. With Merino and Shelvey in midfield. And play Gayle up front from the start rather than 10 minutes from the end when teams are shutting up shop.

    And please buy a proper number ten in January!!

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    You don`t need to watch Hosselu for 10 games to know he`s a Duck Egg
    Hes one of the worst strikers iv`e even seen wearing the Black & White shirt
    you couldnt flog the guy on Ebay & SloMo`s the same.
    10 million quids worth of Dung

    • ghostrider

      He’s no Aguero or Giroud but then again even those two would struggle in this set up.

    • hetonmag

      Haway triple MMM,. Old mother Riley, Whitehurst, Luque,Anderson,Pingel, to name but a few.

      • 1957

        The Burnley defenders wouldn’t have been knocking Billy onto the floor in challenges like they did with Hoss. That said Billy would have been lucky to stay on the pitch for 20 minutes

  • ghostrider

    As I’ve said before, it would take a striker and a number 10 of exception to actually come into this set up and actually look just above average.
    Rafa does not set the team up to give a number 10 or striker anything worthwhile.

    It must be soul destroying for the players.
    Joselu and Perez are doing a decent job for Rafa but they’re doing a decent job of hassling and harrying in order to stop the opposition team playing, just like the rest.

    By the time they get a chance for anything they’re 70% spent in terms of effectiveness and that’s even if they actually get the chance to do something, which is rare.

    Perez is learning the art of footballing combat first and then attempts to make something offensively happen by trying to steamroll his way through the defensive ranks without using much steam and ultimately loses possession before he can get anywhere himself or even place a pass/through ball.

    Rafa can get a lot more out of Joselu and Perez in the right way if he stops burdening them with defensive duties for just about the entire game then leave us wondering what’s going on when they miss the odd chance that half heartedly came their way, 99% of the time.

    • mentalman

      it’d be ok having one of them harrowing but its not good when your only striker spends most of the game near the half way line closing down

  • hetonmag

    If we had Harry Kane up front on Monday night it would have made no difference, how many clear cut chances did the Jos get, Yedlin put 4 or 5 crosses in which all went into the Keepers grateful hand’s. Perez had one chance which their keeper made a cracking save from so before we start bashing these two player’s let’s just have a look at the supply line first.

    • Down Under Mag

      Was always going to be a tight game with the way both sides set themselves up. We didn’t play too well as a whole and lost the game, but I would take 1 win and 1 loss rather than 2 draws from the last two games…now we move on to the Bournemouth game and hopefully get some better luck.

  • 1957

    I can’t think of any strikers we could afford who would fit comfortably into Benitez system. Holding the ball up, bringing others into play and scoring goals doesn’t come cheap, Joss did and to me he can’t do any of the above consistently. We could have the most creative midfield in the world and he would struggle to get into double figures for goals, another Stephane Guivarch

  • anyobrien

    Very difficult system to be prolific in…. He sets up not to get beat I’m not a fan of it but with the limited resources we have its working very well.

    • Down Under Mag

      I think it was a needed system for our first season back with the limited resources. Rafa is doing all he can to make us hard to beat and hope that we fashion enough chances to score a goal here and there. The forwards are never going to get a lot of chances in this team and so are probably getting a raw deal, they are working hard BUT they need to start putting the ball in the net. Merino is a massive miss and helps to link up the midfield and front players more than Shelvey…Shelvey is great but his skill is that killer through ball and he needs a fully fit and speedy Gayle back in the side to maximise on his ability.

  • Alreet

    It was the result everyone thought it would be. 1 goal either way decided it.

    The front men cant do anything without the ball. Sort the midfield and we will score

  • GlasgowMag

    The problem is investment we basically haven’t got a decent striker on our books i think mitro should mabye be given another chance but not only is he unreliable but he also misses a lot of sitters when in on goal. At least all these 1-0 results have been away from home brighton huddersfield & burnley are still to come to our place 2nd half the season so hopefully 9 points still to gain when hopefully we will have more investment in the up front positions.

    • mentalman

      one of the ways we are defensively strong is the closng down by jos and ayoze high up the pitch, Mitro doesn’t do this and is probably a big reason why he in’t playing

  • steve pearce

    All this will be immaterial come January when our new owners splash the cash and we get a new strike force, a new number ten and a replacement for Slow Mo. On the bright side we might even get £1.50 off the Makems for Perez and Hoselu as they’ll be the best players in League One next season…..