Originally, having gone to the game, I had no intention of doing Newcastle player ratings v Sunderland for our u21’s side against the Mackems.
I barely know any of the lads out there, I don’t watch them every week, and in all honesty the football itself was always going to be a bit of a sideshow.
However, as I travelled through to Newcastle from Durham on Wednesday I picked up the Chronicle to read on the bus. If you thought the back page debating whether Newcastle were going to give £100k a week wages to Miguel Almiron was funny/daft/embarrassing enough, I had a read over the feedback from the game and the player ratings.
I don’t know why but the player ratings given did somewhat grind on me. Not because I particularly disagreed with the numbers given but because of the lack of effort that went into them (call me a hypocrite given my first paragraph, but hey, I’m not a paid journalist am I?).
I just felt like those lads out there deserved more than an incredibly generic one liner in the Chronicle given that for most of them, it might turn out to be the best night of their careers… although I hope they all go on to much bigger things than that.
Anyway, I thought I would try and given them a better, honest, ‘proper’ write up…
Nathan Harker – 7
A big week for him having made the first team bench against Blackburn in the cup.
I think the first thing that stood out was perhaps physically most of the lads were way off this Sunderland, which is completely expected. However, I thought he handled himself well. His distribution was solid, and he made a few good saves in both halves.
Despite his lack of physical presence, he didn’t let that deter him from being confident enough to come out of his six-yard box at times to beat the ball away.
Oliver Walters – 8
I thought that Newcastle’s two best performers were their full backs on the night. Sunderland were always going to be a threat from out wide, and after the first few minutes, Jerome Sinclair looked a real threat. However, both Walters and Gibson were terrific defensively.
They might not have galloped forward as I like my full backs to do so but I bet they would have been knackered if they did! Not afraid to pick up the ball from the goalkeeper and play their way out when they could.
Kelland Watts – 7
If it wasn’t for that own goal, which if you’ve seen it was so incredibly unlucky, then I would have given him an eight because aside from the goal, I thought he had a great game.
Remember both Watts and Bailey were playing against Sunderland’s main number 9. They weren’t bullied and Watts in particular was more than up to the challenge.
Owen Bailey – 7
Handled himself brilliantly and didn’t put a foot wrong for me.
Shape wise, Newcastle were spot on defensively and the only thing that let them down on the night was the physicality of the game, which is completely understandable.
The highest compliment I can pay both centre halves is that if there was an injury crisis and they had to step in for a game, as long as we weren’t playing one of the top six, then I wouldn’t be too worried.
Liam Gibson – 8
Like Walters, he showed great confidence on the ball, and didn’t give his opposite number much to talk about. Decision-making was spot on in terms of when to try and play it out from the back and when to knock it into an empty stand. Got forward when he could but in the main was brilliant defensively.
I don’t know Liam, and even though it may true, I thought the rating in the Chronicle which suggested he would just be happy to be out there was quite patronising for a young lad who is a professional footballer. A big night for him having battled back from a terrible illness, but he also played really well, and showed like a few others that they hopefully have a future league career ahead of them.
Mo Sangare – 7
Had quite a difficult night up against Bali Mumba who you’d have to admit looks like a really good player.
However, positionally he was spot on in the holding role and broke up quite a few promising Sunderland attacks. He was always there, as a spare man to pick up the ball in the middle from either centre backs, or full back too. Big lad but very good on the ball for a player of his stature.
Thomas Allen – 8
A very very good first half performance. In the first 10 minutes he looked like our best player and I had actually assumed that ‘this must be the Sorensen player’ we hear so much about.
Was a threat to Sunderland in the first half, showed great technique, a little bit of pace on the ball and linked up well in the final third.
The early goal in the second half pretty much killed the game off for Allen and Roberts who then tired early, and spent most of the second half defending. A promising game though nonetheless.
Matty Longstaff – 8
Looks like a good player in a very similar mould to his brother. Never hid away from taking possession of the ball. His passing and technique was spot on all night.
Made several drives forward from deep positions in the midfield and had a game he could really be proud of. Looked like just a little lad from the top tier but didn’t play like one!
Adam Wilson – 7
I thought this was always going to be a hard game for Wilson, a winger who relies mostly on what he does going forward. It was going to be a big challenge for him to have an impact on the game with the likelihood that he would mainly be picking up the ball in deep areas.
Nonetheless, when he did get in possession, especially in the first half, he looked a constant threat. Won a few free-kicks in dangerous positions and did his fair share of tracking back as well.
Cal Roberts – 7
The most experienced player in this line up and I thought he had a good game. Physically he looked a tad stronger than the rest of his team mates and technically was very good. Nearly made a few things happen that should have led to a first half goal.
As mentioned, once the floodgates started to open after Sunderland’s first goal, he found it difficult to get into it but a promising performance and the one player in there who you’d expect to see in the football league for a few years to come.
Elias Sorensen – 7
Got the impression that he was a marked man by Sunderland defence. A hard night for him with two massive centre halves pretty much up his backside all night.
He still did well to hold up the ball and link others into play at times. Wouldn’t mind seeing him on the bench in the Blackburn replay.