Quite what Newcastle fans wanted out of the Manchester City match and what they were realistically going to get, were two different things. If you had offered me a point before the game (no matter how grimly it was achieved) I would have snapped your hands off.
I can’t speak for all Newcastle fans, but I would have thought (correct me if I’m wrong) that 90%+ of them/us, want Mike Ashley to sell the club as soon as possible. As he isn’t doing the best for this club and through general incompetence, has put it in relegation peril for at least the fifth time in eleven years.
Now, to the people criticising Rafa Benitez for negative tactics on Wednesday night- If we had gone out and tried to play even a moderately attacking game against Man City, we almost certainly would have got stuffed. Playing the way we did could have ended up in a heavy defeat anyway, but it didn’t, we could have sneaked a draw. That would have been a massive turn up for the books based on what was widely expected beforehand.
This is because Mike Ashley has downgraded the squad over a long period of time to the point that it will need a lot of money spent on it, and that it is a million miles behind the big boys of this league, and it can’t hope to compete with them.
So what are some Newcastle fans moaning about? This squad has been built on a shoestring and the current manager has set his side up as best he can to get a result against a free spending squad of world beaters. Yet some are criticising the manager. You can’t have it both ways and criticise both entities.
Comparing the two squads, one has had £100m+ spent on it nearly every season for best part of a decade, the other has been chronically underfunded for a decade, with players sold for profit and the profits NOT used to strengthen the already poor side. This outcome was on display, one team fully experienced and functioning at their best this season, vs another that had just been promoted last summer and money not used to build a side that can comfortably compete with the also-rans of this league.
Instead our side is a workmanlike bunch of good Championship players, poor or average Premier League players and a couple of young prospects thrown in.
To come away with a 0-1 defeat is quite frankly a decent effort from all concerned.
If any fan says otherwise then they are seriously deluded and kidding themselves. People need to realise that we simply can’t go toe to toe with sides like Manchester City and expect to beat them at their own game, as their own game is so far above ours it’s scary.
To put it into some sort of perspective, this is essentially a Championship side that has been asked to play against a very good Champions League side. Man City could realistically win the quadruple this season and will more than likely set a record points and goals total by next May and we’ve just limited them to one goal.
I’ve heard comments ranging from the sublime to the outright stupid over the last 24 hours. People are referencing the Keegan era from the 90s where we used to play the sort of Champagne football Man City are now dishing up for their supporters and looking back wistfully on those sort of heady days where we could match the Manchester Uniteds and Arsenals on an even playing field.
That’s fine, keep dreaming. I’d love us to get there I really would, but it definitely won’t happen, unless a takeover gives it at least a chance.
On the other hand, the game has changed. Under King Kev, we were the nice boys of the title race. We didn’t have a nasty streak and we didn’t have a decent tactician as manager. That’s why we didn’t win anything.
As romantic as it was under Kevin Keegan, we never set our side up to ‘get a result’ we simply went out to win every game. This is 2017 and only Manchester City actually do that.
Most sides go to a title rival and ‘park the bus’ to stop said rival getting three points and strangling the title race their way. Jose Mourinho has done it for years and even he is now finding it difficult to get it to work even with hundreds of millions at his disposal. That speaks volumes when the side that’s second in the league is struggling to reign in the Champions elect.
We parked the bus against Man City and heck it nearly worked. Our season won’t be decided against them lot, it’ll be decided against the likes of Brighton on Saturday. Play with the same application and we can beat Brighton, although we will have to be more expansive and attack more against a weaker opponent. Supporters will have to be a little patient if things don’t immediately go our way, as Brighton will no doubt look to take a point at worst, look to nick it as a bonus.
You can look at the manager and wonder why an attacking approach wasn’t used against the lesser lights of the Premier league (a point I’ve made before), but to question why the side was set up to frustrate Man City, is quite frankly absurd.
The top four of this league have World Class managers and bucket loads of money to spend on world class players, we have the former but not the latter.
Until that changes, some fans need to let him get on with his job and stop the uncalled for criticism.