3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Newcastle 1 Fulham 1
Saturday’s match ended Newcastle 1 Fulham 1.
Ahead of each match we ask one of our writers to come up with 3 positives and 3 negatives following the game.
Third bottom Fulham coming to St James Park and dominating the match, Steve Bruce saved by the disputed penalty / red card incident.
This time it is Billy Miller:
Wilson Work Rate
Whether he scores or not, Callum Wilson is regularly our best player.
He has truly filled the void left by Rondon. He’s quick, good on the ball, tireless and has Herculean strength. When he goes shoulder-to-shoulder with a defender you rarely see him get shrugged aside.
First half he had a thankless job, leading the line for a team that had 34% possession. Second half, he was still starved of service but managed to single-handedly turn the game on its head.
The penalty was contentious, to say the least. That Herculean strength I mentioned seemed to vanish for a few seconds as a tiny tug and kick sent Wilson sprawling in the penalty area. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it was followed up by the red card. Once given, I had no doubts that he would tuck away the penalty. He’s filled that void alright.
My fear is that he’s filled it so well that he’s now widened it further. If he has a spell on the treatment table, which everyone seems to for significant periods at Newcastle, I can’t imagine Joelinton, Gayle and Carroll all bunched together could fill the new Wilson-sized void.
Mitrovic Not Missed A Bit
He had something of a cult following during his time at Newcastle.
I was fond of him and was desperate for Benitez to give him more of a chance. The writing appeared to be on the wall after that ridiculous sending off in our 5-1 thrashing of Tottenham in the finale of the relegation season.
He’s been phenomenal at Championship level for the Cottagers and gave a decent account of himself in their previous Premier League campaign. But despite being one of his country’s star players (only seven goals away from becoming their all-time top scorer) he is seeming extremely unlikely to live up to his early years billing as the ‘Serbian Ibrahimovic’.
Against us he looked so poor. His touch was terrible, his movement more sluggish than ever. I still wish the lunatic well and will always have a soft spot for him, but I think he would be woeful in our current team.
At Least I Had A Giggle
Whilst going a goal down should never be amusing, I couldn’t help but chuckle at Ritchie’s own goal. I’m not sure his head would have snapped back more dramatically if it had been Anthony Joshua’s fist connecting with him. For comedy footage, it has to be up there with the infamous Steven Taylor handball/assassination.
I’m sure we’ll see that clip again many times in the future. If Ritchie had managed to find a goal in the right end afterwards, I wouldn’t have wanted to be the corner flag.
Dominated By The Promoted
We’ve played three games in a row against the promoted sides and not been the better team in any of them.
We beat West Brom in an even game, Leeds blew us away, then Fulham came and controlled the first half. It’s all very well Bruce thinking that we can’t compete against teams like Tottenham and setting up to absorb pressure. But we should be going out to battle for every ball against a side that only became a Premier League team via the play-offs and haven’t strengthened considerably since.
In my opinion, Fulham don’t have many players that would get into our first team. There’s respecting the opposition and then there’s laying out the red carpet and bowing down as they stroll right through us. We could have easily gone in more than a goal down at half time and then I don’t think we would have got back into it.
We were the better team second half, but we spent two thirds of it with an extra man, and still didn’t really look like winning. We look wobblier than jelly on a waltzer in possession. Against Leeds we only completed two thirds of our passes and, although this improved against Fulham, we still didn’t look comfortable at all with our ball retention when it was eleven versus eleven. We must be the only team who look as likely to concede as score when in possession.
Mind The Gap
A win would have seen us take another big step away from the relegation mix. We’re still eight points clear but our next three games are Man City, Liverpool and Leicester. It would be just like us to fluke a win against one of those teams but if we play like we usually do, and those teams play like they are capable of, we could be finding ourselves in a much more perilous position in the new year.
Burnley are sat in eighteenth, have a game in hand on us, and I think are likely to get out of trouble by the end of the season. It’s early to be calling it but I personally think it’ll be West Brom, Sheffield United and Fulham that go down.
With more than half the season to go though, other teams will undoubtedly be dragged in, us being a prime candidate.
It just seems to be another year of hoping three teams are worse than us. If we don’t get taken over, I wonder a) how many years we will have Bruce as our manager and b) how many years there will be three worse teams than us.
Any insider knowledge on what’s going on here? The rumour mill is at it’s most productive currently. Some are saying he’s fallen out with Bruce and jumped on a jet to France. Others claim he’s one of the virus victims and is still recovering, whilst some just believe he is injured.
I, for one, think he is injured. He’s still retweeting a lot of Newcastle related posts and it was announced that he’d picked up a groin injury before the Palace game. So, he may still be recovering from that.
Injured or not, he has been out of sorts. It’s been just over two months since he ran Burnley ragged but it feels like a lifetime ago. His performances since then have been abject, he’s rarely smiling on the pitch and he doesn’t seem to know what his job is.
The Fulham game would have been perfect for him, especially once they were down to ten men. With the opposition likely to be doubling or trebling up on him every time he got the ball, he would have created acres of space for his teammates.
We not only need him back soon, we need him BACK soon.
Whenever he walks onto the pitch next, we need him out on the wing cutting in and out, tormenting and twisting defences and providing the focal points of our attacks. What we don’t need is him playing in a ‘free’ role or as a borderline wing back, expected to run the length of the pitch every time he receives the ball.
It wasn’t long ago that he looked like a future world beater. Will he ever achieve that level under Bruce?
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Fulham 1 – Saturday 19 December 8pm
Wilson (Pen) 64
Ritchie OG 42, Andersen Sent Off 62
(Half-time stats in brackets)
Possession was Fulham 51% (66%) Newcastle 49% (34%)
Total shots were Fulham 11 (8) Newcastle 12 (6)
Shots on target were Fulham 4 (2) Newcastle 5 (2)
Corners were Fulham 9 (5) Newcastle 2 (2)
Referee: Graham Scott
Darlow, Yedlin, Fernandez (Hayden 45), Clark, Dummett (Fraser 79), Sean Longstaff, Shelvey, Ritchie, Almiron, Joelinton (Gayle 75), Wilson
Gillespie, Carroll, Krafth, Lewis, Hendrick, Murphy
(Jake Humphrey calls out Robbie Savage, Chris Sutton and other anti-Newcastle fan trolls – Read HERE)
(Alan Shearer only needs one word (but he uses more) to describe Newcastle against Fulham – Read HERE)
(Steve Bruce claims big Newcastle United problem is ‘inconsistency’ – You have to laugh – Read HERE)
(Scott Parker wants ‘criminal’ act at St James Park investigated but it wasn’t the only one – Read HERE)
(After we had endured Newcastle 1 Fulham 1 I had no reply when my wife said this – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 1 Fulham 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s draw – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 1 Fulham 1 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)
You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin
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