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Opinion

3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Newcastle 3 Cardiff 0

3 months ago
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Saturday finished Newcastle 3 Cardiff 0.

A game where once Fabian Schar scored that goal midway through the first half, there was only going to be one outcome.

It was a bonus that it ended up a three goal winning margin but by far the biggest bonus was that the result ensured Newcastle United climbed out of the relegation zone.

The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game.

Here goes…

POSITIVES

Performance

There wasn’t one player who had a bad game on Saturday.

I think I said the same thing last week against Chelsea so perhaps there are some improvements being made. It was at this time last year that the team started to drastically improve and kick on. Although I will say I think that was largely down to Rafa having the luxury of fielding the same team every week, a luxury that he does not have this year.

Anyway, back to the performance, it was great!

Cardiff were of course terrible but I don’t think that should take anything away from the way we played. Schar was brilliant, Longstaff and Hayden surprisingly controlled the game, Perez was great and although he didn’t score, I thought Rondon gave Schar a good push for man of the match.

I was interviewed on talksport on Saturday morning about my hopes for the game, and although we all would have taken a dull 1-0, I said that you can’t underestimate what a really good performance would do for the confidence and momentum of players.

Let’s wait and see.

Sean Longstaff

Another good performance from Longstaff in a game in which there was far more responsibility placed on him compared to the Chelsea and Blackburn games. In a big game, where the onus was on us to take the game to Cardiff (rather than defend against Chelsea), this was for me his first proper test and he did really well.

I will go on to say that there should not be an overreaction about Longstaff becoming a star (because there has been), because lets face it, Rafa hasn’t put him in there because he wanted to, he has been forced to thanks to injuries and the international fixtures. So it will be interesting to see what happens when Shelvey, Ki, Diame and Hayden are all available.

For the moment, all Longstaff can do is carry on playing the way he has done and do his talking on the pitch.

Out of the bottom three

Only just! But it is a start. Looking at the bottom four now, I am quite confident that will be the bottom four come the end of the season, we just have to do our best to stay where we are. A lot of difficult games coming up but I am sure the teams around us have the same kind of fixtures.

I tell you what though, Liverpool at home penultimate game of the season. They could be going to win the league, we could be trying to stay up. Rafa’s last game at SJP? Very interesting… and then we are away to Fulham the week after! It is going to be interesting.

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NEGATIVES

Overreaction

The overreaction to the last two games has been a little astounding if you ask me. I find it amazing that people can be so happy with beating Blackburn and Cardiff when the club is literally falling apart in front of our eyes.

Yet the reaction after the game was ridiculous with stories on how the future is bright with Sean Longstaff, how Perez is an integral member of the squad, how Ashley isn’t selling so that means he is buying players (yes really, look at the Chronicle today)… we beat a terrible team 3-0 and we are 17th in the league. Talk about admiring your make up while your house is on fire.

That was my last game at SJP on Saturday until Ashley goes, and to be honest, at SJP for sure, it really doesn’t feel like Newcastle United anymore. Sports Direct United more like it. I will get to a few away games when I can (albeit with no more loyalty points) but no longer am I giving my money every month to Mike Ashley while the ground I used to love is covered in Sports Direct signage.

I have said it before and I will say it again, as long as those Sports Direct signs are either side of ‘Newcastle United’, then nothing will ever change.

Alas, lets stay at the bottom of the league, no new contract for the manager, no takeover, no new signings, stadium is falling apart, no investment in facilities, no respect for fans, no respect for club legends and on and on and on but lets all forget it about it for a week and enjoy the result eh?

No positive signs on the transfer front

While all of the players played well on Saturday, it is startling just how weak the squad is. We are light at full back, which I believe has been the main reason why Rafa has switched to a back five to accommodate Ritchie. As good as Hayden and Longstaff have been, it is testament to our situation that they have played three games in a row together.

Out wide we are still very weak, with Kenedy looking like an outcast, Atsu is not a player you can rely on.

I have seen a few people criticising Ritchie which I find staggering when you consider what he gives to the team and the amount of games he has played this season. He really has run himself into the ground in recent weeks.

In regards to Rondon and Perez, they really are the only players in their position. If Rondon was to injure himself on February 2nd, we would go down. I think it is that simple… and that worrying.

Run of games to come

We may be out of the relegation zone but come 23rd February at home to Huddersfield, I think we will back in it again and going into another must win game. Man City home, Tottenham and Wolves away don’t look like winnable games to me. Plus there is the chance of a cup replay against Watford, which probably won’t help league form.

We may have picked up one more point away from home so far this season, but when you look at home fixtures left after City (Huddersfield, Burnley, Everton, Palace, Southampton, Liverpool), I think we need to win at least three of them to stay up.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 3 Cardiff 0

Goals: Schar 24, 63 Perez 90+3

Possession was Cardiff 47% Newcastle 53%

Total shots were  Cardiff 9 Newcastle 16

Shots on target were Cardiff 1 Newcastle 6

Corners were  Cardiff 10 Newcastle 7

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune, Ritchie (Manquillo 85), Hayden, Longstaff, Atsu, Perez, Rondon

Unused Subs:

Woodman, Roberts, Sterry, Joselu, Murphy, Clark

Crowd: 49,864 (Cardiff 1,400)

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn
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