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Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players

1 month ago

We asked Ben Cooper to give us his match ratings and player comments after Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle United 1…

I have been very generous with these marks as we are entering a new phase in the football club. One of patience, understanding and positivity, hopefully one which will lead to NUFC finishing at least fourth bottom at the end of the season.

We are moving out of the vegetable patch and into fertile fields to harvest. On that basis, every United player against Crystal Palace was committed, stuck to the game plan with discipline and played in the position which they had trained in for the three days Graeme Jones alluded to post-match.

Newcastle United also got a point, which I would have settled for pre-match and only conceded one goal, which this season is an achievement. At the very least, this was not the Steve Bruce nontertainers, the entertainers in reverse, doesn’t matter how many goals we score, the opposition will score more. It was at least something resembling an organised, structured team performance.

For all of those reasons, none of the players were marked with a zero, even though in this pitiful excuse for a football match, many of the players on both sides could have been. Some could probably have been given less than zero but in the spirit of togetherness I haven’t taken any marks off for ineptitude, though I have occasionally mentioned some negatives in the text.

Let’s face it, there wasn’t time to mention all of mistakes, we all have lives to lead. Again, after explaining all of that, I have given them all at least four out of ten for the points above and extra marks for anything achieved above it.

So most of them get a four then.

Darlow – 4:

Apart from a couple of scuffed shots straight at him, Darlow didn’t really have a save to make given that Benteke hit the bar, post and had a goal disallowed, none of which Darlow could have prevented.

Despite not having much to do, he still cleaned out Clark while running aimlessly out of his area to cause needless panic and his distribution was as bad as any of the outfield players, even though he had lots more time to pick out players in black and white. Or even keep the ball in play.

As for Palace’s goal, he should have come out and caught the ball, which Benteke eventually nodded in from five yards. I feel for him in that he is a player who has been constantly reminded that he is our number two goalkeeper when for a few months last season he looked like he could be number one. That’s the end of my sympathy.

On this showing he is lucky to be our number two. Someone should work on that with him. Or sell him.

Manquillo – 4:

He is a player who seems to do better when he is one on one against a half decent winger and that is all he has to focus on. Running up and down the wing and marking one player.

Palace’s main threat was through the middle on Saturday, Benteke’s aerial prowess and the likes of Gallagher buzzing around our defensive third. This looked like it led to Manquillo being confused as to who to mark and what to do, so he did very little. He was certainly confused as to who to pass too because he gave the ball away every time he got it.

That he is our best right back is testament to a baffling recruitment policy. He is one player who would massively benefit from a consistent formation and some instruction on his role in it.

Ritchie – 4:

Whilst I do not believe in Matt Ritchie’s magic hat, I do believe that he is a committed and energetic player.

He doesn’t need the same treatment as Manquillo, he doesn’t need to be told what to do, he just gets on with it. He didn’t have to do a lot in this game, he didn’t have a lot to do except massage his plums after taking one bang on target in the first half.

Despite his day off defensively, he still managed to get forward and deliver consistently abysmal crosses into the opposition’s penalty area (when they got that far) which routinely hit the first man or ballooned in the air.

We scored from one. It had nowt to do with him. His Magic Hat says Ten points to Gryffindor and four points to Matt Ritchie.

Clark – 4:

Got cleaned out by Darlow in the second half. Got fouled for Palace’s disallowed goal at the end.

Other than that, he managed to stay out of the way, especially when being out-muscled when Benteke put Palace 1-0 up. That was the one time he needed to get involved.

Lascelles – 4:

I actually believe that the team are better with Lascelles in it than out of it. Well I used to.

On days like today, I doubt myself. This performance was only memorable for nearly being the first player to be sent off for two bookable offences in the same move, two successive rugby tackles a few seconds apart on attacking Palace players in the second half, were leniently dealt with by the referee with one yellow card. Presumably the advantage played after the first assault meant that the slate was wiped clean. Or perhaps the referee didn’t feel like sending anyone off after letting Milivojevic get away with a fourth minute tackle which might have been red carded.

Against Palace, they only really had one forward threat, Benteke in the air. Benteke was clever enough to pull out onto Krafth or Clark every time the ball came into the penalty area, Peter Crouch used to be a master at that.

Lascelles wasn’t clever enough to mark him, or perhaps brave enough to take control. Either way, that central defender in a three man defence has to be either a player who starts attacks with his possession or passing, or a reader of the game, an organiser and leader. Lascelles was neither.

Krafth – 4:

As previously stated, he was left high and dry by his fellow defenders. Not that he stood up to be counted.

His only contribution which I can remember was regularly and stupidly overlapping Manquillo and getting caught out of position because of it.

Christian BentekeLongstaff – 5:

Successfully marked the impressive Conor Gallagher and nullified his threat.

Longstaff gave him plenty of opportunity to get into the game though, every time Sean got the ball he gave it back to Palace.

So defensively a seven, in possession a generous four. Removed after 65 minutes.

For his defensive performance up against Palace’s best performer, a generous 5.

Hayden – 5:

As above. A mirror image of Sean Longstaff.

Put his shift in defensively, pass completion rate percentage in negative figures.

Fraser – 4:

I saw on the team sheet that he was playing.

I checked on the web after the game to confirm that was actually true.

Substituted after 65 minutes.

ASM – 4:

A top player who we all love to watch. Not today though.

He ran into a cul-de-sac every time he got the ball with his head down dribbling and Palace generally had the matching of him in terms of pace and successfully crowded him out the rest of the time.

His lack of involvement saw him removed after 79 minutes. He is entitled to an off-day, he has been great this season.

The challenge is that when he is having an off-day, someone else needs to do something and unfortunately very few of them can.

Callum WilsonWilson – 9:

Magnificent against Palace.

Ran the line, ran himself into the ground and was still making those runs even though the ball barely came his way. That is what you need from a striker (JL pay attention).

He never gives up his pursuit of a goal. He scored an absolutely wonderful goal which was the only way NUFC were getting a point.

Not only Man of the Match but our only player at Selhurst Park.

Thank you for the point and your effort Callum Wilson.


Almiron – 5:

Came on in the 65th minute just after our equaliser.

He ran the left channel from midfield fairly well and contributed to an overall improvement in intensity.

Did what he does, ran a bit, put a few crosses in and looked lively, to no general benefit.

Willock – 4:

Not fit according to Graeme Jones. He has a toe injury. Was that why he contributed nothing after coming on in the 65th minute? Who knows.

He did absolutely nothing after he came on but then again, the game was already stuck in the chasm of the devil’s dentures by then and he isn’t Messi, so it is difficult to attach too much blame to a player who looks like he needs some positive words and a bit of direction.

JoeLinton – 4:

Came on after 79 minutes so he didn’t have a lot of time to impress.

Not that it matters to him.

He could have been on the pitch the whole game and it wouldn’t have been enough time to impress.

Graeme Jones – 5:

Had a go at making the team more disciplined and committed and I think that was all he could do in the three days given, presumably two of which were days off promised by Steve Bruce.

The team’s fitness, organisation and confidence are all issues he needs to address immediately and at least one of those was achieved in this game.

Graeme JonesBy moving to a 5-3-2 the team are at least comfortable playing that, though it isn’t a formation which gives them balance or puts them further up the field. Playing the likes of Fraser and Krafth out of position in this formation was something Jones explained his reasons for pre-match so I have no problem with that. The two players might have taught him something though, given their negligible contributions. Train well, play badly. These things take time for players and managers, to know who to trust.

At Selhurst Park he made some steps forward, some steps back, but I believe the steps forward were done for the right reasons and the steps back mostly down to individual players not playing well. A problem all bosses have.

One issue he can address immediately is a lack of creativity. When Rafa played three central defenders, both Lejuene and Schar were comfortable with the ball at their feet and this meant that sometimes attacks started from defence and we always had the option of the long ball accurately played. With the current defenders there is none of that, no control of the ball. The midfield don’t help much either. Or the full backs.

That doesn’t mean he has to do what Bruce did, play eight defenders or eight attackers and wonder why we never scored any goals or couldn’t keep a clean sheet. Jones needs to get the team playing with the ball as well as defending well. If there are no changes in personnel available to him which he trusts at the back, then finding a balance in midfield and attack should be a priority. While also getting them fit. And organised. And committed. And confident.

Still, at least he didn’t blame the fans after the game.

The match

As for the game itself, well it was absolutely shocking.

Two teams who will definitely be in the bottom third of the table at the end of the season.

Palace were better than NUFC but still generally one dimensional and reliant on a forward who misses a whole load of chances, fortunately not something we can say about the Toon.

Later that evening I watched the last two episodes of season 11 of The Walking Dead on Disney+. The walkers kept the ball a lot better than the two teams I saw in the afternoon.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1 – Saturday 23 October 3pm



Benteke 56


Wilson 65

(In brackets the first half stats)

Possession was Palace 75% (79%) Newcastle 25% (21%)

Total shots were Palace 14 (4)  Newcastle 6 (3)

Shots on target were Palace 3 (1) Newcastle 2 (1)

Corners were Palace 3 (1) Newcastle 7 (2)

Referee: Darren England

Crowd: 24,609 (NUFC 2,800)

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Manquillo, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, Sean Longstaff (Willock 66), Fraser (Almiron 66), Saint-Maximin (Joelinton 81), Wilson

Unused Subs:

Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Murphy, Gayle

(Graeme Jones explains why he dropped Joe Willock and Joelinton at Selhurst Park – Read HERE)

(Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s draw – Read HERE)

(Match Report – Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1 – Brilliant Wilson overhead kick (and VAR!) saves the day – Read HERE)

(Christian Benteke reacts to VAR denying Crystal Palace late winner as Newcastle cling to point – Read HERE)


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