3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Newcastle 3 Manchester City 4
Friday night’s match ended Newcastle 3 Manchester City 4.
Ahead of each match we ask one of our writers to come up with 3 positives and 3 negatives following the game.
Seven goals in the space of 41 minutes and twice Newcastle held the lead, plenty of entertainment and incident on Friday night but ultimately no points.
This time it is Billy Miller:
Return Of The Entertainers?
Guilty, I’m being facetious.
However, the last couple of weeks and the thirteen goals we’ve witnessed have been a pleasant upgrade from tepid draws against the likes of West Brom and Villa that we were stumbling through not long ago.
Yes, Man City played a lot of their second string. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know Scott Carson was on their books. Turns out it was his first appearance of a two year loan from a Championship club and it was his first Premier League game for a decade. What a strange scenario. I was also surprised to find out he’s only 35. I assumed he was much older and he definitely looks it. I’m 33 and he looks like he could be my dad. Anyway, enough writing off Carson.
This game certainly wasn’t what I anticipated. If someone had informed me it was going to be a seven-goal thriller I would have been keeping my fingers crossed for scraping a goal in a 6-1 loss.
Man City dominated but we looked dangerous every time we broke away. The game went back and forth, inside out and topsy turvy.
Who would have thought Joelinton would have the nerves of steel to smash home the penalty he’d earned? I was groaning when he snatched the ball up. Surely Ritchie is our penalty taker if Wilson isn’t playing. He has been for the last six years. Looks like if Wilson isn’t on the pitch, it’s a case of you earn it, you take it, considering Willock later got similar honours.
Dare I say it, there probably wasn’t a pre-game plan for penalty takers and it was more of a free-for-all. It worked on this occasion even if Willock got a little bit of fortune.
Mighty Rafa Can’t Be Beaten
I know, I know. Stop childishly comparing Bruce to Benitez…but they started it.
It doesn’t matter that two years have passed and millions have been spent. If Bruce overtook Benitez’ points tally it would be lauded by the man and pundits alike that he is our greatest manager since Sir Bobby and that a statue should be erected in his honour.
We all know it’d be a small victory, but for a man with a small mindset and small ambitions, it would be glorious.
Between that and his manager of the month accolade, his head would swell beyond all proportions and be a guaranteed first prize at the next Annual Cabbage Growing Awards. Even matching Rafa would give him an inflated sense of brilliance. One draw and one win from the next two please.
We Are Definitely Staying Up
I’ve said we’re nearly safe…and we must be safe…in the last two editions of this article. Both times I was confident that the relegation battle was over but now it’s a bona fide, guaranteed, rubber stamped certainty.
As it happens, the fight was sucked out of Fulham and they have slipped out of the division whimpering. Let’s enjoy the rest of the season. We have nothing to lose now and can go out and give another couple of uninhibited performances.
If we play against The Blades like we did at their place, Bruce might find St James Park with fans a rough environment.
What matters most is what happens between now and the first fixture in August. Staying up will feel like a punishment rather than a reward if we’re exposed to the same garbage that we’ve had for nine tenths of this season.
We Haven’t Reached Our Potential
A lot of fans write off our ‘mediocre’, ‘bang average’ or ‘Championship’ squad.
The team isn’t fantastic. They were never going to be competing for European places this season. However, the last couple of weeks has really shown that they aren’t all that awful either. I genuinely believe a quality manager would have us finishing somewhere between eight and twelfth.
We don’t have great depth to our squad and that plays a part. But I think the head coach and staff are the Championship level element that has dragged us down.
Murphy and Ritchie aren’t going to be snapped up by any top clubs but they provide great delivery, energy and commitment at wing back. We have a raft of options at centre back and if we had the likes of Lejeune and Schar performing at the level they had previously, then that position would be solid.
Behind them we have a top goalkeeper.
Midfield is our biggest weakness but with shrewd investment (and the departure of Shelvey and Hendrick) this wouldn’t be such a problem area.
Then the attacking trio of Wilson, ASM and Almiron can be brilliant on their day.
We just haven’t seen enough of any of them playing to their full potential. I don’t believe these last couple of games have proven what a great manager Bruce is. I think they’ve been an indictment of how underutilised this team and these players have been.
Nobody To Witness It
The next game will be the first with fans in the stadium. It’s a shame that event couldn’t have come a few days earlier.
I personally still won’t set a foot inside St James’ until a certain man no longer owns us but for those that do decide to go, this would have been a hell of a first game back.
Hands up if you predict Wednesday won’t be quite as dramatic.
Will We Look Good Without Willock
I’ve rambled on about us not playing to our potential. Of course, for half the season we haven’t had a certain fella in midfield. In fact, for half the half season we’ve had him, he hasn’t played half as much as he should have.
We have all the makings of a solid counter attacking team. However, our loan star Willock is a key part of that. His energy, skill and determination compliment the attributes of ASM, Almiron and Wilson perfectly. He brings a real link from midfield to attack.
Whilst Shelvey laboriously slings the ball forward or slides it the width of the pitch to a defender or midfielder, Willock drives forward. He’s shown in the last two games that he can get stuck in too. Pressing and forcing mistakes or winning the ball back himself, he is every inch a box-to-box midfielder. With each game he plays he seems to take one step further away from being attainable in the summer.
If I were Arteta I would be giving him a chance, let alone increasing his asking price. The bloke has scored more goals in his brief spell with us than any current Arsenal player has in the same period. If he is available for the £20 million that some have mooted, he would be an essential signing. Forget his goals, as important as they have been, his all-round play and attitude has been outstanding.
A real success story and a lad I hope will get cheered by our fans forevermore, regardless of where he ends up next season.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 3 Man City 4 – Friday 14 May 8pm
Krafth 25, Joelinton 45+6 pen, Willock 62
Cancelo 39, Torres 42, 64, 66
(Half-time stats in brackets)
Possession was Man City 82% (81%) Newcastle 18% (19%)
Total shots were Man City 15 (8) Newcastle 11 (5)
Shots on target were Man City 6 (4) Newcastle 5 (2)
Corners were Man City 5 (3) Newcastle 4 (2)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Dubravka, Murphy, Fernandez (Gayle 88), Krafth, Dummett, Ritchie (Sean Longstaff 84), Shelvey, Willock, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton (Lewis 84)
Mark Gillespie, Ciaran Clark, Andy Carroll, Jeff Hendrick, Javier Manquillo, Matty Longstaff
(Newcastle 3 Manchester City 4 – Entertaining and confusing in equal measure – Read HERE)
(Hopes all but disappear of Newcastle United signing £20m Joe Willock this summer – Read HERE)
(Steve Bruce says he’ll ‘grow an even thicker skin’ as Newcastle United fans set to return – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 3 Manchester City 4 – Watch all 7 goals here in official match highlights – Watch HERE)
(Newcastle 3 Manchester City 4 – A shockingly excellent performance and an even better match! Read HERE)
(Newcastle 3 Manchester City 4 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Friday’s defeat – Read HERE)
You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin
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