I have a feeling this is where Miguel Almiron will be for now…
Well that was a kick in the knackers wasn’t it?
If you had said we would get seven points from the last four games then I would have snapped your hands off. In all honesty, I would have taken three and been over the moon with four.
So in hindsight, I am in no doubt that we will look back on this result in a few weeks as a good point against a side who in truth, are far better than us on paper.
I gave a few 9s out in my player ratings and now that I think about it, that was probably a bit over the top when you consider that Wolves had a fair amount of chances to win the game themselves.
Just like the home game against Wolves earlier in the season, it was a fairly even game that could have gone either way.
In the end though, it is another point for Newcastle and another step towards safety. A win over Huddersfield in our next game would take us to 28 points with 11 games to go. I’d be amazed if we went down from that point.
Given this is Newcastle United though, I wouldn’t be amazed if we lost at home to Huddersfield.
This was a positive performance. We have come to expect Rafa to go away and try and grind out results against most sides, never mind the big sides. However, I think it would be wrong to describe this as a typical ultra-defensive Rafa performance.
Newcastle seemed to be playing five yards higher up the pitch from the get go, and the likes of Rondon, Perez and Atsu were intent on pressing the Wolves back line from the off. This led to a few half chances in the early exchanges with Rondon having a shot that went over the bar, and Yedlin (who I thought had one of his worst games in an NUFC shirt) another one with a strike at goal. It maybe didn’t look like a goal was coming but it was refreshing to watch a game in which Newcastle weren’t penned back into their own half for the majority.
At the back we looked decent once again. Although Lejeune and Lascelles may be accused of what I would call ‘fannying on with it’, it was again refreshing watching the side build up from the back, rather than lumping it up to Rondon and seeing what he can do.
That said, whenever the likes of Ritchie or Yedlin did look for Rondon he was invariably strong as an ox, held the ball up, popped it off, and was straight away looking to turn his man. He may not have scored on the night but it was another vintage centre forward display from him and exactly the type you want to see from your number 9.
Schar was another one who had a half chance with a long-range shot. When playing five at the back, the likes of Schar stepping out from defence into the midfield is so important to the side as it allows the likes of Longstaff and Hayden to push those extra yards up the pitch, and also gives the Yedlin the opportunity to pick the ball up further up the pitch.
I think Dubravka only had the one save to make in the first half, that was telling of how positively Newcastle played.
Despite Wolves coming out for the second half with a little more urgency, it was Newcastle who went 1-0 up thanks to a great assist by Schar, good movement by Hayden and some pretty terrible goalkeeping from Patricio.
Nonetheless, at that point I thought we deserved to be a goal up. I couldn’t speak higher of Isaac Hayden at the moment. The same goes for Sean Longstaff too, who has been brilliant. For me, it doesn’t matter who is fit, if the team continues to play well like they have been doing, then there is no way that the two of them should be dropped for Shelvey, Ki or Diame.
It says something about the pair of them that Diame was only introduced with five minutes to go.
Wolves then naturally stepped up a gear and put us under some serious pressure. They had more than a few chances to equalise but their centre forwards on the night really didn’t have their shooting boots on.
Almiron was also introduced for his debut and although it was only 20 minutes, I think he did something decent and positive every time he got on the ball. Even in the 20 minutes he was on, he looked like a player on a different level to Perez and Atsu. I suppose that is what you get for £20million – who would have thought it?
Looking forward to seeing how he gets on against Huddersfield.
Anyway, we all know what happened with the last kick of the game…
Now anyone who cares enough to keep up to track with what I write on The Mag, will know that I am the last person to bang on about how a refereeing decision cost us. As a fan of Scottish Football as well, I can safely say that the referees in England really aren’t that bad.
However, last night was one of those rare occasions when the referee’s mistake really did change the outcome of a game.
Before we even get to the decision, as a referee myself, it always amazes me that referees just make up these numbers at the end of the game. They are happy to add a whole 30 seconds in injury time for a substitution, but do they take into account the other substitutions? There was five subs previously, and a goal, and a few stoppages, which goes to show that they use this non-existent 30 second rule (which seems to have appeared in the media out of nowhere) whenever they want.
Anyway, we will give him the extra 30 seconds. Having watched the goal back this morning, a Newcastle player boots the ball away on 94:30, so why wasn’t the whistle blown?
Even before all of this, there was a clear foul on Almiron in the corner of the pitch. He did of course, make a meal out of it, but at the end of the day a foul is a foul. At any other time in the game, that is given as a free kick.
All of this is even more frustrating when you consider that it is the referee who gave a penalty against Newcastle for Liverpool on boxing day when Paul Dummett simply breathed on Mo Salah.
Then we come to the foul on Dubravka. Football fans are not idiots and they will generally accept that referees make mistakes. As a referee, I know fine well that I will make mistakes but all you can do is be honest and most importantly, consistent. I think that what all football fans, and players, really demand is consistency.
Sadly, the truth is that if that situation happens at Anfield or Old Trafford it doesn’t stand. If that situation happens at any other time in the game, then it doesn’t stand. If a footballer uses another footballers shoulders as leverage, which impedes him from reaching for the ball, then it’s a foul.
It doesn’t really matter if Dubravka should have been stronger, or should have done better. A foul is a foul.
The fact he can put out a side that can go away to a very good Wolves team and give them a really good game, continues to say a lot about how he is performing with the squad at his disposal.
With all due respect to the four players I am about to name, how Rafa has manged to comfortably beat Cardiff, beat Man City, get a point away to Wolves and a decent performance away to Tottenham ,with Longstaff, Hayden, Perez and Atsu in the middle of the park, deserves a lot of credit.
It will be interesting to see where Almiron fits in now, I hope he isn’t thrown out wide but I have a feeling that is where he will be for now.
With a nicer run of games coming up… fans will be expecting points. Starting in the next game at home to the team who are rock bottom.
It never ceases to amaze me the amount that turn up on Monday nights away from home. In a few weeks time we will have late fixtures away at West Ham and Arsenal, which although it will still be impressive numbers as usual, will largely be due to the fact that London/Southern mags find a ticket.
Yet for nights like this, it takes a monumental effort from everyone to get there, whether it be by bus from Newcastle, train and a hotel, or the car.
A win last night, and a win against Huddersfield, would have seen us home and dry in terms of our top flight status for next season. Instead the pressure is on again to get a win in our next game.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Wolves 1 Newcastle 1
Newcastle: Hayden 56
Wolves: Boly 90+3
Possession was Wolves 60% Newcastle 40%
Total shots were Wolves 22 Newcastle 9
Shots on target were Wolves 6 Newcastle 3
Corners were Wolves 13 Newcastle 1
Referee: Graham Scott
Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune, Ritchie, Hayden (Diame 86), Longstaff, Atsu (Almiron 72), Perez (Manquillo 90), Rondon
Woodman, Joselu, Fernandez, Kenedy
Crowd: 30,687 (Newcastle 2,402)
(Newcastle go one point clear of the relegation zone as Almiron makes debut – Read HERE)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the 1-1 draw -Read HERE)
(Jamie Carragher and Patrick Kluivert verdict on that controversial equaliser HERE)
(Nuno Espirito Santo verdict on the match – Read HERE)
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