‘Lifeless’, ‘limp’ and ‘pathetic’ are just a few of the words I would use to describe the Newcastle United defeat to Everton.
Especially in the second half, the lads went down without even a fight, we could have been playing till next week and still wouldn’t have scored!
Yes, in the first half Matt Ritchie and Mikel Merino were unlucky to see their excellent strikes rebound off the post, but apart from those chances, we created nothing.
Meanwhile, Everton strung together one actual piece of football, which led to a goal courtesy of Karl Darlow’s awful error. After that, Everton had Morgan Schneiderlin sitting as an extra centre back and invited us to break them down, but in the second half it just looked like the lads gave up and the match petered out to another defeat.
The fault for this awful run of form we are on, which at the moment means we are very likely to go down, rests on Rafa Benitez and the players, plus of course the board (Mike Ashley) for not making good enough signings in the summer.
In terms of Rafa, he is not immune to criticism.
Yes, I believe he is by far the best option as manager we have, and I also believe that with the takeover hopefully completed soon and with some money to spend, he can once again turn us into a force in the Premier League. However, at the moment he is making mistakes which are costing us dearly.
The main issue I have with Rafa Benitez is his team selections. God only knows what he was thinking about when starting Diame against Everton, he was awful and has been since he joined us last season. On top of this, the continued decision to leave Mitro either out of the squad, or bring him on as sub in the last ten minutes, makes no sense to me. As even though he isn’t the greatest player in the world, he does have an impact and would likely offer more of a threat than Joselu.
I don’t think it is any coincidence that our only point in the last eight games came from when Mitro was on the pitch for 20 minutes, as he bullied West Brom’s defence and played a big part in us getting that point, he should certainly play against Arsenal and/or West Ham.
In terms of the goals in the last few games since Lascelles got injured against Bournemouth, almost all of the goals we have conceded have been directly from individual errors.
Only against Man United and one of the Chelsea goals have they been purely down to our opponent’s good play. Against Chelsea, goals two and three were directly from errors by Matt Ritchie, against Leicester Darlow should have saved the first one, the second one was a deflection but if Lejeune had not turned his back then it wouldn’t have went in, and the third one was a combination of Clark for leaving Okazaki unmarked, and Perez because unfortunately he scored the own goal.
Individual errors in the Premier League will be punished and the players need to concentrate for the full 90 and try and make us hard to beat again. I hope that the return of Lascelles will go a long way into sorting this out, as he is an excellent organiser at the back.
Hopefully Mike Ashley will soon be gone but he has created a potentially disastrous scenario, after simply not giving Rafa enough funds to buy the players he wanted in the summer. We go into January needing a left-back, a goalkeeper, a striker, and a creative midfielder who can play in the number 10 role. All players who should have arrived in the summer. This despite Rafa clearing the wage bill to make room for signings.
I do though believe that the form from the beginning of the season can be found again. To do this, I believe we have to go back to being hard to beat, focus on getting some clean sheets and try to play on the counter, as well as scoring from set pieces.