Saturday finished Newcastle 2 Bournemouth 1.
A very entertaining match where both teams had chances but Salomon Rondon’s double strike in the first half proved enough to win the game.
The second win of the season and consecutive victories means that Newcastle are outside of the relegation zone as we head into this latest international break.
The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game…
Positive Number 1: The Clash: Rondon Calling:
For the first time in a long time, a powerful centre forward turned up in a black and white shirt and bullied the opposition.
United had a focus to their attacks, someone who could hold the ball up and gave confidence to the midfielders to abandon their defensive positions and make forward runs. This was only possible because Rondon kept the ball on the ground or won the ball in the air and knew where he was heading it on.
It wasn’t just the pencil-tached South American’s two goals, it was the missed chances by Perez, Ritchie, Kenedy and Rondon himself that showed us that we were an attacking force again.
This wasn’t just down to the striker, but his performance was one we have been consistently missing since, Demba Ba. That word ‘consistently’ is the key. If Rondon can turn in another dozen performances like that before May then Newcastle will stay up comfortably. And after all this won’t you give me a smile?
Positive Number 2: Sung-Y and Schar: A Cowboy’s Work is never done:
NUFC’s scatter-gun approach to recruitment is a highly contentious issue with both the manager and the supporters. The club just doesn’t seem to have a plan, probably because they don’t have anyone in a position to make one, or the clout to carry it out.
Against Bournemouth, for once, the new recruits all made a contribution. Dubravka’s performances are never in doubt, Rondon and Kenedy’s abilities not a factor, just their motivation. Saturday saw major contributions from them and free transfer Ki Sung-yueng and £3million defender Schar. The South Korean was excellent in midfield, both in defence and with his distribution, and now looks a genuine contender for a place in the centre.
Schar wasn’t so great, but for a fourth choice centre-half he was committed, confident and hard-working. He made a couple of mistakes, but we are not expecting Chiellini here, at least Rafa knows he can rely on the fella now. The cowboy in charge of recruitment knows that today his work came good. Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves? Not on Saturday, for once.
Positive Number 3: The Jam: Start:
Return of the Entertainers? Not quite – but at least it wasn’t the Aren’tertainers.
We started the game with forward momentum, created chances and scored goals. All against a team who are no slouches. This wasn’t the slightly fluky 1-0 win over Watford, a team who will be lower mid-table and missed some great chances to win. This was a win against a team who will be top half, played with confidence and ability and have goals in their team.
Every part of our team looked keen to attack and have a go at scoring goals. This was the first time this season at home when we looked like the team that finished 10th last season. It isn’t That’s Entertainment, but it is a Start.
Negative Number 1: Dizzee Rascal: Can’t Tek No More:
For some reason, very few of our players seem to be able to put a 90 minute shift in. Some players lack game time, the likes of Muto, Rondon and Ki have put some international miles in and been injured, so they have an excuse of sorts, but others like Diame, Ritchie and Kenedy just don’t seem to be fit enough to last 90 minutes.
I don’t know the reason, perhaps they are carrying knocks but it’s almost like come the hour most of our team Can’t Tek No More. No matter what the reasons, we look like we need to take all six midfielders and forwards off because they are knackered or limping midway through the second half. Not only is it not possible to do that, but even if it was, Benitez doesn’t have six more players to bring on.
Negative Number 2: The Smiths: Panic:
Between the 47th minute and the 87th minute of the game, my nerves were completely shredded. It wasn’t just that Bournemouth were attacking constantly, I sort of expected that given that they are a decent team, they had the momentum of the goal at the end of the first half and Rafa sets his teams up to sit back when they are ahead. It was more Newcastle’s inability to keep hold of the ball when they had won it.
At 2-1 up, we should have been keeping that ball but too many times the players chose a ball which put us under pressure. Even worse was our inability to clear our lines handing them corners and throw-ins, something which we know they are good at, it was those sorts of set-pieces which cost us points against the Cherries last season. We had no momentum, no energy and completely ran out of steam.
Perhaps this was because of the first negative, as a team NUFC are not as fit as other squads, perhaps because they are not used to being ahead. Either way, for most of the second half we seemed to have no game management, it was complete Panic.
Negative Number 3: Wilson Pickett: Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You:
Two wins out of two, seven points out of nine, out of the bottom three, brilliant. That those points came against Southampton, Watford and Bournemouth and not Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea tells its own story. The two teams we have beaten in that run will almost definitely finish above us this season, Bournemouth probably by some distance.
The reality of Saturday is that while we can compete with Bournemouth over 90 minutes at home, we can’t compete with them over 38 league games and two cups. They have a strong and settled squad with a manager comfortable in his position, so he can get on with his job and owners investing in the team.
The TV said that in the time Benitez has been manager at SJP he has made £40million in his transfer dealings while in the same time Eddie Howe has spent £115million. I don’t know if that is true but Bournemouth can spend £24million on established players like Lerma and £11million on young talent like Brooks and have enough confidence to bed them both in from the off. They can show enough ambition so that a player like Ake can leave Chelsea to play for them and pay the likes of Defoe £100K to play his part, thankfully not this weekend.
We can offer nothing like that. We won’t pay £24million for anyone, pay anyone £100K a week, show enough ambition for our Chelsea loanees to want to stay or put young, inexperienced players in the mix in a virtually pressure free environment. We finished one goal ahead of Bournemouth on Saturday but are miles behind them as a club. A crack has been papered over, but other cracks are available in all sizes. Three points on Saturday was great but Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Bournemouth 1
Newcastle : Rondon 7, 40
Bournemouth: Lerma 45+6
Possession was Bournemouth 61% Newcastle 39%
Total shots were Bournemouth 14 Newcastle 18
Shots on target were Bournemouth 4 Newcastle 6
Corners were Bournemouth 10 Newcastle 7
Referee: Lee Probert
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie (Hayden 74), Diame (Atsu 80), Ki , Kenedy (Clark 78), Rondon, Perez
Darlow, Joselu, Manquillo, Longstaff
Crowd: 49,266 (Bournemouth approx 600)
(Alan Shearer Match of The Day comments HERE)
(Salomon Rondon rates it ‘The Perfect Saturday’ – Read HERE)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to beating Bournemouth HERE)
(Paul Merson covered Newcastle 2 Bournemouth 1 for Sky Sports – Had plenty to say afterwards HERE)
(Match ratings of all NUFC players HERE)
(Honest Eddie Howe reaction to the match and result HERE)