Wednesday night finished Nottingham Forest 3 Newcastle United 1
The latest in an ever growing list of cup upsets to lower league opposition, although just how much of an ‘upset’ this actually is, is open to debate.
A much changed team saw Newcastle trail the whole 90 minutes, only for Rondon to throw a lifeline in the second minute of added on time, that lifeline instantly thrown from our grasp and two quick goals from Forest ending our cup hopes, whatever they are.
The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game.
There really weren’t many positives to take away from last night but I thought Sean Longstaff had a good game. Forget about the fact he gave the ball away a few times in the middle of the pitch, for me, that wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t so keen to get on the ball which I admire. For the most part his link up play was good, and he wasn’t afraid to take a man on, or have a shot from distance when necessary.
The main positive for me. One chance, one shot, one goal. I just hope he hasn’t used that big moment up in the second round of the league cup defeat rather than in a premier league game. He will definitely go back into the squad on Saturday I think, although I am not expecting anything from him this weekend. I have a very bad feeling that our season will start away to Crystal Palace halfway through September, by that point, the pressure will be on Rondon to chip in with some goals.
Travelling away support
There is certainly a debate to be had about fans turning up at home in their droves and giving money (and indirect credibility) to Mike Ashley. For the moment, I remain one of them, although I do regret renewing my season ticket so early. More fool me.
Nothing can be criticised of our away support though, which I do genuinely feel is the best in the country. I would even put Sunderland’s away support up there behind us, so perhaps its a North East thing! Of course, those of you who go to away games will know there are more and more southern voices creeping into the away end which I think has helped us massively in turning out good away attendances like last night, as well as night time games in London and Brighton.
The amount of people you meet on trains, or buses, or in the stand, who aren’t directly from Newcastle/North East is staggering at times – especially for a club that is geographically miles away from the rest and has won absolutely nothing for 50 odd years.
Down the years there are many ‘non-locals’ who have given me their reason as to why they support Newcastle, some of them more shocking than others:
A parent or family member who supports the club; Keegan entertainers, Alan Shearer, Bobby Robson’s Champions League team; those who went to university in Newcastle; a young lad my age from Buckinghamshire who hated his Sunderland supporting Dad so much he decided to support Newcastle when he was 14; Championship Manager; and during my times at university down south, the most common was (in the context of Sir Bobby era) “all my mates supported Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal so I decided to support Newcastle.”
To almost fill the entire away end last night was a credit to the fans, who remain the biggest positive for the club.
Another year out of the cup early on
Now for the easy stuff!
Out of the cup again under Mike Ashley. I could have taken 5 minutes to go away and look at the stats on all the times we have been knocked out the cup in recent years but it is just too depressing to look at now. Off the top of my head I can think of Hull away and Tottenham away as the only times under Mike Ashley (in 11 years) that we have reached a competitive stage in a cup competition.
I was asked to go on talksport the other night, the presenter asked me a question along the lines of “What are your hopes for the cup” – I know I don’t speak for other fans, but I have the general feeling, especially regarding the game last night, that for the first time in my lifetime, we weren’t really that bothered about getting knocked out of the cup. Please comment if you think that is crap as I am interested to know.
It all feels like there is bigger fish to fry at Newcastle at the moment and the League Cup didn’t feel like one of them.
The standard of performance
Referring to just the football side of things, this has been the biggest disappointment of the season so far. I didn’t make the Tottenham game, although I heard we played alright! However, the Cardiff performance, the Chelsea performance and last night were pretty shambolic in my opinion.
We can all make reference to individuals playing poorly which is fair enough, but I don’t think you can criticise the effort of any individuals in the squad. However, as a team, the performances have just been depressing. We were dominated by Cardiff who are by far the weakest team in the league on paper, we couldn’t get out, or didn’t even try to get out of our own half against Chelsea, and we failed to manage a shot on target until the 92nd minute against a team in the league below us last night.
There are so many reasons for it, and we all know who is to blame for it, but the performances so far haven’t been good enough. That is a fact.
Rafa looked like a broken man
I watched the highlights back this morning and there were a few shots of Rafa in the dugout and he generally looked like a bit of a broken man. Exacerbated is probably the right word in truth.
What I think is definitely the case is that Rafa has brought the squad this far, and unless he is given support, which he hasn’t been, then he can’t take them any further. In most cases, when this situation arrives at any club, the squad tends to fall back again. I hope that isn’t the case this season but I’m not overly optimistic.
I don’t doubt that Rafa will continue to get 100% from the players, but whether it is going to be good enough to keep the team in the league, I am leaning towards no rather than yes at the moment.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Nottingham Forest 3 Newcastle United 1
Newcastle: Rondon 90+2
Forest: Murphy 2, Cash 90+4, Dias 90+7
Possession was Forest 46% Newcastle 54%
Total shots were Forest 11 Newcastle 10
Shots on target were Forest 7 Newcastle 1
Corners were Forest 5 Newcastle 3
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Crowd: 13,942 (3,000 Newcastle)
Darlow, Sterry, Schar, Fernandez (Perez 69), Clark, Kenedy, Atsu, Ki, Longstaff, Muto (Murphy 77), Joselu (Rondon 82)
Elliot, Diame, Yedlin, Dummett
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn