One of the more worrying aspects of the Newcastle United performance against Crystal Palace, was the sudden evaporation of any belief, determination and positivity to build on what was looking to be a promising performance.
When Palace stepped up their game, Newcastle United did not respond. There didn’t seem to be any enthusiasm to match Palace’s sudden burst of energy.
When The Eagles came out all guns blazing, the Magpies looked as if they couldn’t quite understand why they might have to play another 45 minutes.
It was dispiriting. We looked pretty good in the first half and deserved the goal. So why couldn’t we maintain the physical and mental levels required to build on a lead and see a game out?
A Premier League team must display football intelligence at all times, right to the very last second. Very often our lot don’t.
It felt a little like going to see a band at a gig. The first three numbers are pretty good. The band is tight. The crowd is humming along. Great guitar solo; nice. Then the drum kit explodes and the guitarist wanders off for a cig.
When faced with a sudden surge of energy and drive by the opposition, there are a number of options a team can adopt.
- Disruption – break up the play with substitutions, fouls, and the like.
- Press – push on the players in possession to prevent movement.
- Possession – use the ball carefully by passing to feet and slow the game.
- Attack – match the opposition’s energy man for man.
None of this happened, really.
The defence began to look nervous and did not keep the ball. Darlow began flapping around. The midfield stopped pressing. And we resorted to clumsy tactics from set-pieces.
So it made for pretty depressing viewing after such an encouraging start.
Surely the coaching team is drilling the players with the right mental attitude?
Surely the manager is inspiring his men to push themselves to the limit, to always be at their best and to constantly look for ways to manipulate the game?
Well, if he’s telling them and they’re not listening, we have a problem. And the next ‘gig’ this particular band play won’t be in London or Manchester. It’ll be in Barnsley or Bolton.