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Opinion

Newcastle United scapegoats – People lazily picking the wrong ones

1 month ago
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The Newcastle United trolls were out in force at the weekend.

Both media ‘experts’ and Newcastle fans having a go at certain players after the Liverpool match.

Yet again though, they end up picking on the wrong people.

Not that I think anybody should be made a scapegoat of course.

However, I do feel it necessary to defend certain players, from abuse/criticism on TV, social media and elsewhere.

Martin Dubravka is the main exhibit.

The thing is, you could make any goalkeeper look bad by putting together clips of his very worst moments. It is exactly the same as with any striker, except with them it is the opposite, no matter how useless they are, a forward will score some goals and show some touches that you can cobble together in a video. With a goalkeeper, if they make a mistake then it will almost always end up in conceding a goal, string a few of them together on a video and it won’t look good.

On Saturday, Martin Dubravka was at fault for the second goal but it wasn’t as bad as some made out, such as Jermaine Jenas: ‘The keeper needs to sort himself out, he will be absolutely red in his face at half time, he was just weak, he needs to be stronger than that. He has almost looked at that and thought ‘he’s going to hurt me’…

Dubravka is anything but soft/weak when it comes to his goalkeeping and is one of the bravest Newcastle have had in terms of being willing to come for the ball both in the air and on the ground. Watching it back later on TV, I think he is simply unsighted as Sadio Mane blocks his view of the ball just a split-second before it reaches him, meaning the ball hits his hip rather then going into his arms. Then it was total bad luck when the ball then spun straight to Mane in front of goal.

It was a mistake by the keeper but no worse than Atsu so weak and caught in possession in the middle of the pitch, meaning Firmino ten had acres of space to play Sadio Mane in.

Martin Dubravka, along with Fabian Schar, is one of Newcastle’s best two players and a record of only 67 goals conceded in 55 Premier League games is remarkable when playing for such a poor team.

I think each of the last two seasons he was the key reason why Newcastle didn’t get relegated and any serious injury this season to Dubravka would serious increase the risk of relegation happening this time.

Another player is a slightly more difficult case to argue but still valid.

I see more and more people increasingly wanting to blame Miguel Almiron for the team’s failings. It’s crazy.

Yes he has still get a goal or insist for Newcastle but he is vital to our chances.

Almiron is the only one brave enough to run with the ball and with so little movement from his teammates, it makes it so much easier for the opposition to deal with him. A number of times at Anfield he dribbled and bravely kept the ball, only for his teammates to give him zero help and predictably he either lost the ball, was fouled or won a throw in.

So often in games, Miguel Almiron will run with the ball and the camera then pans back to see most of his teammates motionless. This is particularly the case with our central midfielders, very rarely is there any help at all for the likes of Almiron and Joelinton, plus none of them are willing to try and carry the ball.

On Saturday, both Hayden and Shelvey hardly moved with the ball, often just aimless hoofs up the pitch. Miguel Almiron tries to do something different and retain possession. For so many people they then think that looks worse when Almiron is eventually crowded out by two or three opposition players, than those others who just gift possession by aimlessly booting it away.

I wouldn’t make scapegoats of them but I thought Newcastle’s weakest players at Liverpool were the two wing-backs who were so poor defensively at times, along with Shelvey and Hayden in midfield who managed so little control of the game. The goal came via a long ball from the back that bypassed that central midfield, Atsu then laying it off to Willems to finish.

A lot of weaknesses in this Newcastle team/squad but Almiron and Dubravka are not two of them.

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