Danny Higginbotham has been talking about how Newcastle have changed their tactics in recent weeks and how it has backfired.

The Sky Sports pundit thinks Newcastle started the season relatively well but that things have gone wrong in November with the team potentially getting more desperate for a win.

Analysing the situation, Danny Higginbotham explains how he thinks the central midfielders have been used in a different way, leading to problems.

Earlier in the season he says there was a definite plan of keeping the two central midfielders in a very disciplined ‘box’ shape with the central midfielders, allowing them to cover the full-back positions if attacks broke down.

However, recent games have seen a change in that tactic and as a consequence the opposition teams are having a lot more joy on the counter-attack.

Danny Higginbotham predicts this to change as of now, explaining what he thinks Rafa Benitez will do, starting at Chelsea.

Danny Higginbotham talking to Sky Sports:

“I think Newcastle started the season relatively well, especially defensively.

“But they have conceded more in the last five…double what they conceded in previous five.

“It is how they were working as a unit previously. What we were seeing earlier in the season was Shelvey, Merino, Hayden, whoever it may be (in centre midfield) – when Newcastle went on the attack you had a constant box between the two central midfielders and the two central defenders.

“If the two full-backs attacked and it broke down, you saw Shelvey, Merino or Hayden, more than happy to go into these (full-back) areas to cover.

“What that means is that at any time you still have a back four, then the recovery runs from the two full-backs, if necessary, can go into here (centre midfield).

“So therefore, they weren’t open to the counter.

“What we have seen in recent weeks has been completely different. They have been a lot more open – whether it is because they have been desperate for the win…so as the team is committing more players forward.

“I do expect them to go more defensive against Chelsea and get back to where they were.

“What has been going wrong is that the distance between the two defensive midfielders and the two centre-backs has been too great, so teams have been able to break quickly on them.

“On a number of occasions over last few weeks, we have seen the centre-backs having to go out there (full-back positions) and gaps have been too big – full-backs have been struggling back to cover.

“They conceded two goals at West Brom from crosses being put into the box and they are actually getting outnumbered in the middle – because the centre-backs are having to go out into the wider areas, centre-backs becoming full-backs.

“So they have been quite open to be countered on and conceding from crosses.

“That is something I believe Rafa Benitez will look at and say right, let’s get back to being more defensively stronger.

“Have that box – the two central midfielders sitting with the two centre-backs.”



  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Rumours abound a 2nd bid has been placed, I expect the Fat One to reject it and there will be no takeover

    • molend

      No, just another takeaway

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Nail on head! Id rather we go back to basics and hard to break. Confidence will come back and we will pick up some points. Players will step up and score knowing pressure is less on at the back as we arent conceded as easily.

  • Wor Lass

    Nothing to do with missing our captain and having a centre forward who couldn`t hit a barn, never mind the door?

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Things started going wrong before Lascelles went out it was just exasperated more as hes a big loss to the starting 11.

  • TheFatController

    DH Always provides good evidence with a theory for each term’s success failures and is no doubt accurate here.

    However, ‘shape’ with the RB forward doesn’t explain Watford’s third goal where Manquillo trotted back to leave a gap, nor Pogba’s goal at Man utd where he started behind the CM yet ended up ahead to slot home

    That is inexperience, leading to not spotting danger or ball watching, hopefully Rafa can address that as well as shape.

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Young team will always make mistakes.

      • TheFatController

        Yes, I presume that was the meaning behind Rafa saying today this team will improve defensively

        • Toonrobbybobson

          Sticking with some of this team with them being so young will see benefits longer term. Players come on leaps and bounds with experience.

  • 1957

    As Middlesbrough found out last year, if you can’t score you have problems no matter how well organised you are defensively.

  • Steve Smith

    The problem is we can’t defend crosses.

    • S.G.M.

      Yedlin has been unable to prevent crosses,