Much can be said about Newcastle United’s current form. Uninspiring, insufficient, immature: the list goes on. However, while some people may argue that we are looking like a team destined for relegation, others will argue that such a lamentable lapse in form is normal, and was a matter of time before we endured a period of defeats. You see, it’s easy to get used to winning. Losing, not so much. Last season Newcastle United went on a shuddering streak of form, beating almost everyone in front of them at certain stages of the season. Manchester United , Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, and of course Sunderland all fell to the wrath of last season’s beast, but unfortunately such a beast seems to be hibernating at the moment. West Ham, Swansea, Stoke City, Fulham, and Manchester City have recorded wins against us in the last month or so, and the Premier League table bears some resemblance to that of 2009, a season which needs no profiling.
Our performances against West Ham & Swansea at home were quite unacceptable. Two home games which should have resulted in six points, or four at the very least. However, a lack of creativity, and an edgy back four ensured we failed to record any points in two very lethargic performances from the team.
Stoke City away, and more recently Fulham away were slightly better efforts, but still resulted in us trodding home empty-handed.
I felt we did more than enough to win at Craven Cottage; we controlled midfield, we created chances, and had the home crowd uneasy. As has been the story of our season so far, set-pieces cost us, alongside an own goal.
The own goal was unfortunate, but Mike Williamson’s performance was most certainly below par. For a guy that almost touches 7ft, he should dominate the air and present a stern threat from attacking set-pieces.
Yet, in recent times Williamson has proven a liability and an expensive one at that. He seems on a different wave length to Fabricio Coloccini, and his whole footballing brain seems to evaporate when within 2ft of a striker. I like Mike and I’m sure he’s a great guy, but the sooner we get Steven Taylor back and buy a new CB, the sooner NUFC will prove a tough nut to crack.
Our very last game which saw us lose 1-3 to Manchester City represented a much better effort from the lads. Even with the absence of Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, and the two Taylors – we made it tough for the champions, even if the scoreline suggests otherwise.
Our pressing was immense all game, and only for some fantastic footballing innovation from Yaya Touré, and of course a set-piece, we would have went in at HT with a real chance of winning the game.
We dominated the second half from start to finish. City made substitutions to shore up their defence and even so Demba Ba managed to get his head on a Coloccini ball and reduce the deficit to a single goal. Minutes later Cissé found himself just outside the box with the ball at his feet, and if this happened to be last season, he would have popped it in the top corner with the outside of his right. Needless to say, as his season has gone so far, he blazed it over the upright and City held on.
Touré sealed the three points with a tap-in from a City break, but the overall performance from Newcastle United was pretty credible. We showed fight, tenacity, and organisation (at stages).
If you were to ask any City fan how their team played, I’m pretty sure they’ll rank it up there with the finest 90 minutes they’ve had all season as team. Annoyingly, Manchester City always seem to turn on the form against us and if I remember correctly, Mancini has won in every encounter against NUFC.
Bringing this all back to my headline, fans need to calm down and accept that Top 10 would be a great achievement this season. Our European endeavours have cost us and our domestic form but that’s hardly surprising. I want us to do well in Europe, but if that means miring ourselves in a relegation battle then not so much.
People, fans, journalists will always overreact, and moreso when it comes to Newcastle United. We need to take a step back as fans and just weigh up how far we have come since the 23rd of May 2009. 5th in the Premier, and now competing in the latter stages of the Europa League.
Our league form will improve I have no doubt, and if we are to play like we did against City in 70% of our remaining games, then Top 10 will happen. We may be in for a difficult Christmas period with trips to the capital and to Manchester, and perhaps we’ll even be close to the dreaded bottom 3 by the time Big Ben strikes midnight on the 31st of December, but that’s how football is.
We’ll pick up wins in the New Year, and hopefully sign two new defenders to replace Willo and Simpson. With HBA, Cabaye, Saylor all back, the team will begin to click as a unit again and start playing football that will garner us enough to points to record a solid if not spectacular Premier League season, with an intriguing European adventure on the side.
There is never a dull day on Tyneside, but we wouldn’t have it any other way would we?..
Comments welcome folks, what are your thoughts?