For such a miserable time in our lives, the atmosphere was strangely upbeat before the match. Rumours began to circulate that a Peter Kenyon takeover was in the pipeline and the sun shone with unseasonable gusto on a packed Strawberry Place for the latest, and biggest so far, round of protests.
There was a sense of the carnival as huge flags were unfurled from the Gallowgate concourse with images of Keegan and Benitez, depicting the virtues of Honesty and Hope respectively. The staff at the club have no such qualities however, as jobsworth stewards were soon on hand to remove both, adding fuel to the fire of hatred for an oppressive regime taking any opportunity to throw its weight around.
The air of defiance grew as a van depicting an unflattering vision of the owner did laps of the street (in amongst the unfathomable dafties who choose this time of week to take the Nissan Micra to Eldon Garden) and the police struggled to keep the roads clear for said silly sods as both sides of the road were packed out with the chanting disenchanted, interspersed with pockets of curious Leicester fans taking pics and having a bit join in. There’s never a dull moment round here is there?
Actually, there is a dull moment. There’s 90 of them every weekend now. I used to struggle to condense games into reasonable sized match reports but I reckon there’s about a paragraph’s worth each week now as we really make that ‘last on Match of the Day’ spot our own.
Moments of note first half were Perez playing a perfectly weighted through ball to send Joselu away clean on goal. Joselu’s excruciating, laborious waddle towards goal looked slow motion from the Gallowgate, allowing Harry Maguire time to cut over and clear when our bargain bin lone striker should at least have made Schmeichel move.
This wasn’t to be our best chance though. Mo Diame timed his run into the box brilliantly to meet Atsu’s teasing cross, but his unchallenged header was pitifully wide. Diame for me epitomises the folly of transfer gambling, as his stellar form in the latter part of last season suggests there was no need to strengthen in the middle. With Diame returning to lesser form and Shelvey struggling with injuries this year, this is a problem that can’t easily be unlocked, especially with Ki missing.
Shelvey also got in on it, spotting Schmeichel off his line and looking to do a Philippe Albert from within his own half, but the Dane managed to scramble back in time to prevent the spectacular and preserve what was now a lead for his side. Shelvey’s effort would be our only shot on target.
It’s debatable whether Yedlin’s handball in the box was unlucky or foolish, but my immediate reaction was that it was a blatant penalty, as he jumped with his hands above his head and effectively did a basketball charge down from a Leicester corner. The American has arguably been one of the better performers early on, but he’s had some poor moments at SJP, snoozing to allow Alli to win it for Spurs and popping in the Chelsea winner himself prior to this indiscretion. Dubravka got as close as he possibly could to Vardy’s penalty, but it was smack in the bottom corner, filed under ‘you don’t save them’.
Current form suggests that there is no way back from falling behind and the crowd increased its efforts to let the surprisingly present owner know what they think of him, Ashley responding with a repulsive smirk and a mutter to Keith Bishop, possibly suggesting they dredge up some new disgraced no mark to deflect attention in the coming week.
The second half began with Maguire performing a move known in wrestling circles as the Rock Bottom on Perez in the box, but we aren’t allowed penalties and it’s a bit probable someone would have missed it anyhow.
Things were then put firmly to bed as makeshift left-back Kenedy conceded an unnecessary corner, booting over his head inexplicably and Slabhead Maguire headed City’s second.
By now some of the paltry attacking impetus had been lost, with the withdrawal of Matt Ritchie, who at least looked up for having a go. The crowd voiced displeasure at this, which some have erroneously attributed as negativity for the oncoming Murphy, and Ritchie seemed to share this disbelief. There is a question mark over Rafa’s tactics of course, as we look on collision course with the Championship, but I think this is dangerous chat.
Yes, Rafa may have introduced Muto earlier, changed the formation, withdrawn the anonymous Atsu etc but this is all just rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. The issue is that the squad is not equipped for the Premier League, with the absence or loss of form of any key player causing the team to look utterly woeful.
Add in the fact that the manager is almost certainly just seeing out his contract and the misery from the stands and you have a permeating sense of hopelessness that’s manifesting on the pitch. The tactics may be negative but focusing on that deflects attention from the big fat smirking iceberg that has brought this ship down, and to dwell on this would be playing directly into his hands. So please don’t.
The Kenyon chat is likely to fill some newspaper space this week and my take on this is that we are looking at Staveley mark 2, as Ashley courts an alleged buyer to remove pressure and forge an excuse for zero investment come January. Kenyon is arguably too credible a character to be played like this, but I’d advise everyone to just assume the worst and be pleasantly surprised, rather than risk another disappointment.
The sight of Ashley’s minions tearing down a giant black and white banner proclaiming ‘Hope’ could turn into the single greatest metaphor I’ve ever seen in real life.
We still have that banner though.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 0 Leicester 2
Leicester: Vardy 30, Maguire 73
Possession was Leicester 59% Newcastle 41%
Total shots were Leicester 12 Newcastle 6
Shots on target were Leicester 5 Newcastle 1
Corners were Leicester 9 Newcastle 5
Referee: Simon Hooper
Dubravka, Yedlin (Manquillo 80), Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie (Murphy 65), Shelvey, Diame, Atsu, Perez (Muto 69), Joselu
Darlow, Schar, Longstaff, Hayden
Crowd: 51,523 (3,000 Leicester approx)
(Video – Absolute disgrace as Mike Ashley sends in his people to take down Rafa Benitez and Kevin Keegan banners – Watch here)
(To read instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the Leicester defeat go HERE)
(To read the Newcastle player match ratings go HERE)
(Disgraceful lies as newspaper headlines claim ‘Newcastle fans turn on Rafa Benitez after Leicester’ – Read HERE)
(Paul Merson has his say on the Leicester match, Mike Ashley and Newcastle United HERE)
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf