Saturday finished Southampton 0 Newcastle 0.
A game where Newcastle United didn’t have a single shot at goal in the entire match.
Not a game that will live long in the memory.
The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game.
We didn’t lose
I know it might be difficult to see how scraping a 0-0 draw without having a shot on target against a dreadful team of no-hopers is a positive but at Newcastle United we’ve been here many times before and it feels a whole lot worse when you have lost.
A point is better than nothing and against Southampton it also deprives one of our relegation buddies of three valuable points.
If Newcastle are going to stay in this league then there can be no losing to the other teams at the bottom and this week we didn’t. The point also gives the players some reward for their efforts. They tried hard today, they always give it all they’ve got, it is just that “all they’ve got” sometimes isn’t that much. This week at least they won’t feel that it was pointless and I hope that gives them a bit of confidence.
The final bonus of not losing today was that it hacked off misery guts Mark Hughes. He’s got no sense of irony, the old blue-rinse swirled his broomstick long enough to spit this out post-match:
“I thought on the day we were the side trying to win the game and Newcastle came here to try and frustrate.”
He’d know, he’s spent a whole career trying to frustrate the opposition. Every team he’s brought to SJP spends the warm-up practicing wasting time. His post-match moaning is a welcome bonus.
Rafa’s right, there might be three worse teams than us
A point may not be a lottery win but at least we know now that there are some rubbish teams at the bottom of this league. We’ve just played one and I’m sure we have it in us to finish above them this season. We might not, but we can. Throw in Cardiff, Huddersfield and Fulham and by jingo we might just do it. As US author Jim Butcher once said:
“You don’t have to run faster than the bear to get away. You just have to run faster than the guy next to you.”
I would back our chances of being able to run faster than three of those to stay up. Whether there is any point in staying up I don’t know but I do know it is better than getting eaten by a bear.
No white socks
Honestly, you might be getting bored of me banging on about the socks week in week out but I have supported this club for a long time now and we never win when we wear white socks at home.
Whoever made the decision to play in white socks at home should have been made to watch the first eight games of the season when Ruud Gullit was in charge, with his “all great teams wear white socks” nonsense.
Does no one at the club know our history? Well, no, that’s one of the many problems. For now, let’s just play all of our games away from home or go back to wearing black socks again.
There’s no pace in the team. Or on the bench.
In the last twenty minutes against the Saints you would think that it was set up for us to score a goal on the counter attack. 0-0, they had thrown on some strikers and were pushing men forward. Rafa made what looked like sensible substitutions, removing Perez was like playing with eleven men again, Diame was knackered and had to come off (as he always is now after the first half) and Muto, well he was a victim of the first two subs making us worse.
With Rondon up top and Muto dropping in to number 10 I thought we’d counter attack well but we didn’t. The obvious and correct substitutions somehow made us worse, Shelvey never got the ball, Muto, Kenedy and Atsu when he came on ran with lead in their shoes and kept giving the ball away before we got out of our half.
Our players have all got slower. Last season we set up to play deep and counter attack. Now we can’t even do that, all we can do is sit deep and invite the pressure and hope we don’t concede. If we do, we’ve lost, because…
There’s no goals in the team
The lads we have up front have never really scored goals anywhere but Rafa has had teams like that before as well, he knows how to get a team winning without strikers who score 20 goals a season. The problem isn’t just that our strikers are not going to score though that is bad enough, now United have players who scored goals last season like Ritchie, Kenedy, Perez and even Lascelles who look like they spent their World Cup summer at Stephane Guivarc’h finishing school.
Then you’ve got players who scored goals at their previous clubs like Shelvey, Diame and Murphy and those goals have disappeared now the black and white shirt is on. Shelvey is playing well but I can’t remember the last time he scored. We used to score goals from set pieces, free kicks, corners and open play. Not loads, but some. Now we never look like scoring, we don’t even look like shooting most of the time and ……..
It’s just awful to watch
Watching this match was the football equivalent of watching Theresa May dance her way onto the podium at the Tory Party conference. There is no justification in embracing such a lack of quality, just accept it for what it is, a grim attempt to hang on to survival by any means necessary.
It’s awful to watch, desperation always is.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Southampton 0 Newcastle 0
Possession was Southampton 50% Newcastle 50%
Total shots were Southampton 22 Newcastle 6
Shots on target were Southampton 4 Newcastle 0
Corners were Southampton 7 Newcastle 2
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame (Ki 76), Shelvey, Kenedy, Perez (Rondon 69), Muto (Atsu 80)
Darlow, Schar, Joselu, Manquillo
Crowd: 30,736 (NUFC 2,450)
(Sorry but Rafa talking nonsense after this shocker of a match – Read HERE)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the Southampton match HERE)
(Mark Hughes not happy after the game – Read HERE)