Despite our poor form, the news coming out of the media on Wednesday afternoon of an increased offer and impending takeover by Amanda Staveley and PCP, led to a wave optimism around the town before the game. It wasn’t quite like the return of King Kev (that night at home to Stoke in the cup) but the bars were filled with talk of hope, amazing for a club that hasn’t won in eight games! Although, perhaps all of us, have allowed the takeover to distract us from the real issues on the pitch at the moment.
The sad truth, despite my critical opinion on some of Rafa’s selections, is that no matter who he picks, it is going to be a poor 11. Even our so-called best player, Jonjo Shelvey, is proving somewhat of a liability right now. Then again, I would rather be in our situation, with a half decent manager, a potential takeover, and a bad squad, than ever have to return to the days in which a guy like Sam Allardyce is managing our football club.
If there are any Everton fans reading this, then I can only advise you not to get too excited about Allardyce. This is a guy who will play the worst football you’ll ever see and will suck the life out of your club.
I have actually never understood the hype around him to be honest. He has never won anything, never done anything, and in my opinion never even saved a club from relegation (at least not in the style Redknapp did with Portsmouth). On top of this, his short stint as England manager proved to everyone that he probably isn’t a nice guy either. Why anyone would want him at their club, especially a proud and historic club like Everton, is beyond me.
The team news came with Rafa reverting back to 4-2-3-1. Lascelles came in at the back and although we were playing an Everton side with no attacking threat, he looked strong and the back four in general looked a lot safer with him there. Christian Atsu is another one who came back in and looked like he would improve the side. The only selection that remains completely beyond me was the inclusion of Mo Diame, who does not even look like a footballer at the moment. We have seen some bad ones in recent years but Diame is up there with the very worst at the moment.
I think we all knew how the game was going to pan out, especially with Fat Sam in charge. So once again, Everton fans, you better get used to watching that rubbish every week. As for us, we just struggled to break them down. It felt like Newcastle could have been there playing attack vs defence all night and they still wouldn’t have scored. It is probably telling that the closest we came to scoring was hitting the post from two efforts outside the box.
Sitting in the top of the Gallowgate, I wasn’t sure if I was too harsh on Darlow for the first goal. Having watched the replay, it was actually worse than it looked from the Gallowgate…
Really really poor goalkeeping, that ultimately cost us the game. I know that Rafa was wanting to bring in an experienced goalkeeper in the summer, but even without doing so, he has still made a mess of the goalkeeping situation at Newcastle this season. Neither Darlow or Elliott have proved themselves to be good enough, and I still cant help but feel that Tim Krul is the strongest (and most experienced) of all our goalkeepers. Would you believe it that the other senior keeper on our books has been playing in the Champions League this season! If PCP does fund some money for us in January, you would expect an experienced goalkeeper to come in… I heard Ikea Casillas’ name mentioned in the week, thoughts?
Our most promising attacking threat came from Deandre Yedlin, who I thought had a great game. His defensive abilities can be questioned at times for sure, but I think, especially at home, he makes up for it with his adventures going forward. Merino and Ritchie would come closest by hitting the frame of the goal but, as I keep saying, we never really looked like scoring did we?
A word on Jonjo Shelvey – I actually think he is the best player in our team by a million miles. However, that probably shows just how poor we are right now. Although his form was poor before he was dropped by Rafa, I still maintained that he should always be in the squad for the class that he can bring in tight games. I take that back now. His second yellow card was an act of selfishness in which he didn’t put the team first. Going into a tough run over Christmas, and an even tougher end to the season where we will likely be fighting to stay in the league, do we want guys like that on the pitch? I am not so sure.
Rumours of around 30 million is what people are saying Rafa will be given in January… will that be enough? I don’t think so, unless the club invest well in the loan market, but I just can’t see it. Even if PCP are providing the money, can we still trust Ashley’s cronies to do a deal and entice players to join the club? They haven’t been able to do it over the past 10 years so I don’t really see how they can do it now. Ive been taught not to get my hopes up supporting Newcastle United, and I wont be doing it now. I don’t anticipate much to happen in January, it is going to be a long hard slog til the end of the season for sure.
There are a few around me, and others in the ground, who it feels like they almost want some players to fail. It’s crazy. A few people even booing at full-time. If you’re not turning up with the aim of getting behind the team and supporting them, then I’m not sure why you would be there to be honest.
I just don’t see how some fans think that getting on the players back, when they are more than ever under the cosh, is going to help. It is a natural reaction to groan and moan at a misplaced pass or a terrible shot but I do feel some are taking it too far.
Finally, if you have read any of my reports, you’ll know that I do not rate Mohamed Diame at all, I don’t think he’s very good, in fact, I think he’s rubbish. However, the sarcastic cheers when he was subbed off were beyond a joke. That is not Newcastle United in my opinion, as a fan base we are far better than that. I gave him a 0 in my ratings because he didn’t do one thing good, but c’mon, if people are going to do that in a stadium then you again have to question why you are there. Say what you want on social media and comments sections, but for 90 minutes, just get behind the lads.
On a positive, the guys in the singing section were absolutely fantastic. I don’t have a bad word to say about their unrelenting support for the team. You don’t all have to stand and sing for 90 minutes to get behind the team, don’t get me wrong, but we are all going to need a positive attitude to help stop us slipping down the league.
Wednesday night was one of the games that was especially worrying because you couldn’t look at something and see where we are obviously going wrong, Yes Darlow made the mistake, yes Rafa’s selection could include the likes of Mitro or Aarons, but when there’s 11 players out there who are clearly trying their best, and don’t look like they can do any better, then it’s hard to see where the improvement is going to come from.
Yes, we are struggling massively at the moment and I just can’t see where wins are going to come from. Unfortunately, we probably find ourselves in a situation where every team in the league, if you gave them the choice of who they wanted to play, would want to play Newcastle next game.
However, let’s not forget where we are, at least in the league table. I would have taken this position, at this stage in the season, at the beginning of August.
Only Newcastle United could be in a situation where relegation is inevitable when they aren’t even in the relegation zone.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 0 Everton 1
Everton: Rooney 27
Possession was Everton 45% Newcastle 55%
Total shots were Everton 7 Newcastle 16
Shots on target were Everton 4 Newcastle 4
Corners were Everton 1 Newcastle 4
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo, Ritchie (Aarons 74), Shelvey (sent off 90+4), Merino (Perez 86), Atsu, Diame (Joselu 67), Gayle
Elliot, Clark, Hayden, Murphy
(Read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the game HERE)
(Read what Rafa Benitez said after the match HERE)
(Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy argue after Newcastle 0 Everton 1 – Read it HERE)
(Read what Sam Allardyce had to say HERE)
(Read what Wayne Rooney said after the match HERE)
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn