Nabil Bentaleb reflects on his debut in the mess that was Newcastle 0 Oxford 0
Nabil Bentaleb made his debut on Saturday for Newcastle United.
The midfielder signed on loan from Schalke until the end of the season, with an option to buy (reported to be £8.5m) in the summer.
Steve Bruce put out a strong (at least on paper) side against League One Oxford United but it was a shocker of a performance by NUFC.
The team booed off.
The game proved yet again just how dismal Newcastle are when it comes to creativity and scoring goals, though how much Steve Bruce’s tactics make the situation even more difficult, is an unknown.
Only four shots on target in the entire game and one of those was from Nabil Bentaleb, a long range effort straight at the keeper. Which was no surprise as it is 38 months since the loan player scored a goal that wasn’t from the penalty spot.
It was a very average performance from Bentaleb though he was far from been the worst in black and white, plus he hasn’t played any first team football for over nine months.
Sounding schooled already in NUFC PR, Nabil Bentaleb declared: ‘We’re a little bit gutted by the result but, at the end of the day, we managed to not lose.’
Hopefully the loan signing can help Newcastle United produce more from central midfield as he gets regular football once again BUT with no great track record on scoring or creating goals, you have to wonder at Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce’s priorities in this transfer window. Surely a playmaker in midfield and a goalscoring striker should have been the top priorities.
Nabil Bentaleb talking to the official site:
“We’re a little bit gutted by the result but, at the end of the day, we managed to not lose.
“We have a replay where we can show much more quality.
“We expected a tough game and that’s what Oxford brought to the table.
“It’s disappointing because we had a lot of chances and knew we could win this game.
“We had enough chances to kill the game but some days, you have games like this where the ball just doesn’t go into the net.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game and we now have to recover, focus on Norwich and after that, we can speak about going to Oxford.
“I think it was important that we didn’t concede.
“We stayed strong defensively to keep a clean sheet but we have to show more in the replay.
“We know how important it is for the club to get through to the next round and we are willing to work very hard to achieve that.
“It was exciting to make my debut in front of this crazy crowd.
“I’ve missed this feeling and when I first entered the stadium, I saw this unbelievable atmosphere.
“It was a special feeling which brought back a lot of memories.
“I always loved playing in England, even when I left.
“I wanted to come back and now I am back and so pleased to be at a club such as Newcastle with some crazy fans like they have.
“They pushed us through the game today and, unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get the win but we will try to be better next time.
“I haven’t played for a long time so I was just focusing and getting ready to rumble.
“I prepared myself for a long time and I think I need to take it step by step to get back to 100 per cent in terms of my quality.
“We know the (next) game will be very tough.
“Norwich play good football even though they are bottom of the league.
“We know they have some good qualities and they can be dangerous at times.
“We must be at our best and fight for the points.
“We know, deep down, we have the quality ourselves to beat any team in this league.
“We have seen that in the previous games so we will go into that with the belief that we can get the win.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 0 Oxford 0 – Saturday 25 January 3pm
Possession was Oxford 38%, Newcastle 62%
Total shots were Oxford 8 Newcastle 15
Shots on target were Oxford 2, Newcastle 4
Corners were Oxford 4, Newcastle 7
Crowd: 52,221 (incl approx 3,800 Oxford)
Referee: Robert Jones
Newcastle team v Oxford:
Darlow, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Sean Longstaff (Hayden 87), Bentaleb (Atsu 80), Almiron, Saint-Maximin (Matty Longstaff 70), Joelinton
Elliot, Fernandez, Sorensen, Allan
(You couldn’t make it up…Embarrassing Steve Bruce complains about FA Cup fourth replay – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 0 Oxford 0 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s dismal draw – Read HERE)
(Newcastle United reach FA Cup Fifth Round…Draw! Dismal Newcastle 0 Oxford 0 – Read HERE)
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