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‘This defeat to Liverpool exposes which Newcastle United players have/haven’t what it takes’

2 weeks ago
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The Newcastle United players certainly didn’t lack for effort on Saturday.

Up against a Liverpool side looking to make history, it was always going to be tough.

The League Cup already won, set to play Chelsea in the final of the FA Cup, one foot in the Champions League final after beating Villarreal in the first leg of their semi, then waiting for that one mistake by Man City that will allow them to also win the Premier League.

Liverpool going for a historic quadruple, Newcastle enjoying their own relative success under Eddie Howe, coming back from what looked certain relegation to win 10 Premier League matches of their last 14, winning four in a row, victorious six times in a row at St James Park.

To that background of the relative successes the two teams had been enjoying, the Newcastle United players were always going to have a tough shift.

They often say that you find a lot more about your players in defeat, than in victory, I think this will have absolutely been the case on Saturday for Eddie Howe

For me, this defeat to Liverpool exposes which Newcastle United players have / haven’t what it takes.

As good / great as this recent run of form has been, I think a lot of fans get easily carried away. They believe certain players have revealed they are several levels above what we assumed them to be, when in reality they are simply playing at the absolute limit of what is possible in the very short term, pumped on adrenaline and able to sustain far better performances than their inherent ability, meaning they will always fall back to more like their usual selves very quickly. You often see this at any time when somebody gets a chance due to injury and comes in and does really well for a handful of games. however, with the mood and atmosphere at St James Park and the backing away from home, these recent NUFC circumstances have I think helped an even greater number of players to do this in recent months.

Starting with the best, obviously Bruno Guimaraes is Newcastle’s top player and that was very definitely on show against Liverpool. You know for a fact that if he had been playing for Klopp yesterday, he would have looked right at home.

He was the one Newcastle player yesterday who has absolutely zero problem taking possession anywhere on the pitch and keeping the ball, prepared to carry it very rarely if ever, lose possession. Like all the elite players, it is usually a foul pretty much every time the other team do manage to take it off him.

After that, well he wasn’t playing yesterday but I take it pretty much everybody would agree that Kieran Trippier is the other Newcastle player on a similar level, in terms of added quality and confident in possession. We knew that before he signed and what NUFC fans saw in the brief few games before injury, backed that up.

As for the next level of players who I thing are more than good enough for Newcastle United in their current position, we have a decent-ish number I think.

Dan Burn is good in the air and on the ground, comfortable in possession and isn’t slow. His commitment obviously doesn’t do any harm, with an extra edge playing for the club he supports. I’m happy with him in the team and confident he can play at a certain level long-term.

Absolutely the same with Matt Targett, apart from the Geordie bit. He did really well against Diaz and no surprise that Klopp was forced to move his Colombian star to the other side of the pitch.

Like many of you, I had my doubts about Martin Dubravka when he came back from missing the first part of the season due to surgery, for a second year in a row. There may be better keepers out there but not loads, I thought he had a really good game against Liverpool and if you leave out that Tottenham one-off, he has conceded only 10 goals in the last 16 Premier League matches.

I like him and Joelinton is good / very good at some stuff but takes no responsibility in final third. If in the summer another midfielder can be brought in who is closer to the Bruno G level, then very possibly the kind of grafting support role that the former Hoffenheim player does, could / would be fine and up to the job as part of a trio. I just think at the minute so much is heaped on Bruno and he needs help in making the better more difficult things happen.

The likes of Shelvey and Willock have done ok recently but I still haven’t seen anything that convinces me they will ideally be first choice next season. Maybe if you could combine Willock’s pace and energy onto Shelvey’s passing, you would have a player. However, I just think that Shelvey is too slow and Willock hasn’t enough in his game. The pair of them have just five direct goal involvements (Willock two goals, Shelvey two goals and an assist) this season between them and against Liverpool, their shortcomings were all too well exposed in terms of so little influence on the match.

Fabian Schar is somebody who has got ability and has done well overall in his time at Newcastle, particularly in these recent months and in his first season at NUFC when Rafa was here. However, his defending is at times found out. I think it is great he signed the new contract and I am not disappointed when he is named in the team, but I fully expect a new centre-back to arrive this summer as first choice with Burn.

I think Emil Krafth perfectly sums up what I am trying to say. He did ok for a few games in Trippier’s absence and then two or three really good performances, but no way he can keep that level up, plus he got exposed yesterday. It perfectly sums it up how Targett did so well that Diaz had to switch sides and when he did, he gave Krafth all sorts of problems. Whereas if that had been Trippier, I think he very definitely could have done the same kind of job as Targett did on the Colombian.

As for the rest…

Wood is going to be a decent squad option next season mainly off the bench, offering something a bit different, with Callum Wilson and surely a new first choice summer signing of a forward, to give us a mix up front.

Almiron was probably the next best when it came to keeping possession yesterday and prepared to try and keep the ball, but no more than a squad player at best next season.

Lascelles a nervous wreck when had the ball, if looking to play football throughout the team then clearly the NUFC captain won’t be part of things next season.

As for ASM, not great but I did think he was ok at times and without much help.

I feel sorry for ASM. I know at times he doesn’t help himself but every time he quickly had / has two on him because Liverpool and others know how limited our other players are. With better players making Newcastle a more dominant team in games, dictating play, I still think he could step it up.

He certainly isn’t the finished article but imagine say he had been wearing Diaz’ shirt today. Time after time getting the ball one on one with space to run into at Targett and especially Krafth? Liverpool have so many good players, Newcastle couldn’t afford to double on anybody, which then allows Diaz and others a far better platform to get at their opponent, instead of having to deal with two or more markers.

Murphy needs to move on in the summer to get regular football and looking at the rest of the bench, new clubs also for Darlow, Gayle, Ritchie and Manquillo. Whilst if you accept you can’t change everything overnight, maybe Dummett and possibly Longstaff to be kept in the short-term?

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 0 Liverpool 1 – Saturday 30 April 12.30pm

Goals:

Liverpool:

Keita 19

Newcastle:

Possession was Liverpool 66% Newcastle 34%

Total shots were Liverpool 24 Newcastle 4

Shots on target were Liverpool 10 Newcastle 2

Corners were Liverpool 6 Newcastle 0

Referee: Andre Marriner

Attendance: 52,281 (Liverpool 3,200)

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Krafth (Murphy 85), Schar (Lascelles 61), Burn, Targett, Guimaraes, Shelvey, Willock (Wood 67), Joelinton, Almiron, Saint-Maximin

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Dummett, Longstaff, Gayle, Ritchie, Manquillo

(Newcastle United stay top half and Everton now halfway through relegation trapdoor – I’ve had worse days – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 0 Liverpool 1 – Instant NUFC fan / writer reaction to Saturday’s defeat – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 0 Liverpool 1 – The three big points that I’m taking from the match – Read HERE)

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