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Jeff Stelling and Paul Merson debate Chris Wood debut – Eventually get to the truth of it

4 months ago
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Paul Merson and Jeff Stelling on Saturday afternoon discussing events at St James Park.

Newcastle United drawing 1-1 with Watford.

Paul Merson being the ‘expert’ pundit tasked with covering the game for Sky Sports and reporting back to Jeff Stelling and the others in the studio, as well as the TV audience watching at home.

Chris Wood making his debut and the main Sky Sports focus on his performance.

Jeff Stelling and Paul Merson speaking on Sky Sports after Newcastle 1 Watford 1:

Jeff Stelling:

“All eyes were obviously on Chris Wood making his [Newcastle] debut, what was your assessment of him?”

Paul Merson:

“Not really. 

“No, he was poor.”

Jeff Stelling:

“Did he have chances?”

Paul Merson:

“Not really.

“He had half a chance, a bit high and he headed it, it hit the roof of the net but…when you make your debut you usually do well, don’t you.

“I don’t think he gets the service, so I feel for him in that way.

“He didn’t really touch the ball too many times.

“I’d like to know how many times he touched the ball, I’d be surprised if he touched it 20 times in this match, I would, I’d be surprised.

“Not through his fault, not through his fault, but the number of times Fraser went down the wing or Saint-Maximin on the other side and never crossed the ball, was a lot of times, was a lot of times.

“You know, when you are watching, when you are playing against a team like Watford, who haven’t kept a clean sheet all season, and you bring in a centre-forward who you have got to try and get you out of trouble and he never looked like scoring in a month of Sundays, it is a little bit worrying.”

Nobody that watched Saturday’s match would claim this was up amongst the greatest debuts by a Newcastle striker, not exactly Mickey Quinn against Leeds, or Kevin Keegan up against QPR.

However, whilst Chris Wood didn’t impress, it was more a case of, didn’t get a chance to impress, as Paul Merson finally gets to the truth of it, after his initial ‘poor’ evaluation of the former Burnley striker.

Not for the first time this season, the service to the main striker was shocking. Callum Wilson largely feeding off scraps and the same for Wood yesterday.

Shelvey and Longstaff with no decent control of the middle of the pitch and them along with the likes of Fraser, Joelinton and ASM, not feeding the centre-forward, unless you are counting crumbs.

Things had been generally better under Eddie Howe in terms of creating chances, certainly it was more a case of chances not converted rather than not created against both Man Utd and even Cambridge (first half anyway), The rest of the team need to wake their ideas up quickly, as clearly Wood is the type of striker who needs decent service, as do the vast majority of others. That needs to start at Elland Road next Saturday.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Watford 1 – Saturday 15 January 3pm

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Goals:

Watford:

Pedro 88

Newcastle:

Saint-Maximin 49

Possession was Watford 48% Newcastle 52%

Total shots were Watford 12 Newcastle 18

Shots on target were Watford 5 Newcastle 1

Corners were Watford 4 Newcastle 6

Crowd: 52,223 (1,200 Watford)

Referee: Paul Tierney

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Trippier, Lascelles, Schar, Dummett, Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Fraser (Murphy 74), Joelinton, Saint-Maximin (Almiron 86), Wood

Unused Subs:

Gillespie, Darlow, Anderson, Lewis, Krafth, Willock, Ritchie

(Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker discuss what went wrong for Newcastle United…for the 9th time – Read HERE)

(‘And the blame for this latest (Watford) failure is down to Allan Saint-Maximin???’ Read HERE)

(Newcastle 1 Watford 1 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)

(‘My faith in Eddie Howe is now being tested’ – Read HERE)

(Claudio Ranieri reacts to Newcastle 1 Watford 1 – “I am happy…but it’s half and half” Read HERE)

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

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