Watching Newcastle United, it isn’t for the faint-hearted these days.
I’m not sure whether it is worse to be going to the matches or looking from afar if you live away.
At least if you are still going to games you are having the pre and post-match pub time with friends, whereas if you are watching this shambles from afar, it must take some dedication to think right I’m going to sit all the way through this torture no matter what, rather than simply switching it off and having a normal life.
It is just absolute rubbish watching Newcastle United under Mike Ashley. All clubs might go through a tough period when you just have to get through a particular season and then regroup but this isn’t what we have at NUFC, it just feels like permanently hanging from a cliff with no chance of the situation improving, it is just a case of when, not if, you eventually lose your grip and fall onto the rocks below.
When it comes to individuals on the pitch then I blame no one really. Like the rest of you I will have a moan when something goes wrong and there are players who even in this desperate squad I wonder how Rafa keeps picking them – but it isn’t as though we have brilliant players who are being overlooked.
The lack of quality throughout the team is frightening. When a player does anything remotely decent our eternal optimists pounce on it as a reason for hope.
However, the simple truth is that whilst most of the Newcastle players have something about them, it isn’t nowhere near enough for what is needed.
The whole match David de Gea didn’t have a save to make, the stats show three NUFC shots on target but these were passbacks from Atsu (x2) and Shelvey. Remember, before Wednesday night only one club outside the bottom five had conceded more than Man Utd and their defence went into total panic even when the ball was simply played over the top and Rondon was vastly outnumbered
Atsu looked quite bright again but can’t shoot or cross the ball, not good news when he looked our best attacking threat last night. He quite literally can’t cross the ball at head height 90% of the time, he struggles to get it off the ground, whilst in terms of goals, he turns 27 next Thursday and has only scored two Premier League goals in his entire career.
Salomon Rondon has done ok for us but it is hardly a sign of a glittering career ahead at St James Park.when Rafa wasn’t even allowed to buy him, so our only half-decent striker is only on loan and turns 30 in September.
The Premier League table always looked a bit false going into Christmas as our ‘easy’ run of games ended and we had eight games to play which included five of the ‘big six’ as well as Watford and Wolves away, after which there will be only 12 games to go.
This tough schedule starting at the same time as there are loads of fixtures involving teams at he bottom playing each other. You then get the added knife in the ribs of relegation threatened clubs pulling off surprise wins, such as Palace winning at Man City and Wolves, Southampton beating Arsenal, Cardiff winning at Leicester and so on.
Many people claimed Rafa Benitez was going way overboard with his claims of it being a ‘miracle’ if Newcastle stay up but that is the truth. Huddersfield are useless and already down but which other team/squad is worse than Newcastle? Even at Huddersfield Rafa felt he had to play ultra defensively and luckily two moments of quality were enough to produce a winning goal, whilst if the home side had had any kind of quality up front Newcastle would have lost.
These last 10 Premier League matches, apart from Salomon Rondon scoring (five), there have been only two other Newcastle players to have scored (Perez and Clark), the only other goal in this period an own goal by Mee at Burnley. Remember as well that this run of games was mainly in our ‘easy’ run of matches.
Our plan is simply to defend all game and hope Rondon puts away the one decent chance that comes his way. Without his goals I think we would be like Huddersfield, down already.
Newcastle are now suddenly only two points above the relegation zone as you can see in this updated Premier League table:
There looks to be no imminent takeover of the club and certainly no imminent money to be made available for two or thee better players who might help Rafa and his squad.
The run of Premier League games until mid February is Chelsea (A), Cardiff (H), Man City (H), Spurs (A) and Wolves (A). I 100% think that Newcastle need to beat Cardiff to stand any chance of not being adrift by a fair few points come mid-February.
A couple of quality creative and/or goalscoring signings could do wonders in changing this outlook and enable Newcastle to have a threat in most games remaining but that isn’t going to happen.
Looking at last night’s team, Diame and Hayden are never ever going to score, Ritchie rarely will, Atsu and Perez never look likely. With Ritchie playing as an extra defender it meant we had a front five (Diame, Hayden, Rondon, Atsu, Perez) that cost less than £18m. Do the maths.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle United 0 Manchester United 2
Goals: Lukaku 64, Rashford 80
Possession was Man Utd 65% Newcastle 35%
Total shots were Man Utd 16 Newcastle 14
Shots on target were Man Utd 7 Newcastle 3
Corners were Man Utd 2 Newcastle United 1
Referee: Andre Marriner
Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar (Muto 81), Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden, Diame (Shelvey 53), Perez (Kenedy 69), Atsu, Rondon
Woodman, Joselu, Manquillo, Lejeune
Crowd: 52,217 (3,000 Man Utd)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle United 0 Man Utd 2 – Read HERE)
(Alan Shearer talks about Rafa Benitez’ ‘Unbelievable Budget’ now we are in January transfer window – Read HERE)
(An impressive Jake Burns rant at Mike Ashley in aftermath of Man Utd defeat – Read HERE)