Well, if anyone was trying to recover from a hangover today, or was planning on having a dry January, your task was surely made harder by the fact you’re a Newcastle United fan. What a horrible day.
It seemed ironic that we started the new decade against Leicester City. If you think back to the difference between the fortunes of the two club’s over the last 10 years it highlights Mike Ashley’s putrid tenure in all its horrific light. Leicester had just been promoted from League One ten years ago. Now they are everything we aren’t and want to be on and off the pitch.
Bruce sprung a surprise by giving Yoshinori Muto a game in the place of Andy Carroll, and the game started exactly how you would expect, with us on the back foot and unable to string 3 passes together against a vastly superior team. However who needs quality and superiority, when we’re in such a generous mood as we have been over the last two games.
There’s no getting around it, Florian Lejeune had an absolute mare in the first half but his two errors will probably switch the attention away from how bad we were. Of course it was Ayoze Pérez who scored, and Maddison’s strike was just brilliance from a brilliant player. Here’s both goals:
Joelinton also struggled badly, failing to convert a huge chance at 0-0 and seeing most balls bounce off him. I’ve tried to defend him but it was hard to today.
Half time ended with the added ridiculousness and disappointment of Sean Longstaff, Emil Krafth and DeAndre Yedlin replacing Jonjo Shelvey, Javier Manquillo and Jetro Willems, all due to injury.
Then on top of that, Fabian Schar pulled up 20 seconds into the second half meaning we had to play the none event of the second half with 10 men.
I’m not even going to bother summarising the game, there’s no point. I’m doing match ratings after this and I’m not putting myself through it twice – it was that bad!
The only other thing I have to report is Hamza Choudhury’s goal, which was brilliant. But again, it had to be him didn’t it. The man who has deprived us of Matt Ritchie with that disgusting tackle back in September.
We’re back down to earth with a bump, we’ve lost 3 games against 3 good teams and it’s important to remember that over the next few days.
I wrote an article on Christmas Eve praising Steve Bruce for the start to the season, and how he has done brilliantly to come in and stabilise the club after a toxic car crash of a summer. I stand by that 100%. I also said earlier in the season and also in that article that I have concerns long term, and that Bruce’s career shows a pattern of good starts and then nosedives. Sadly I also stand by that 100% and I have everything crossed in hoping I’m wrong.
We’re now entering a dangerous period and a difficult run of games, and Ashley needs to help his manager in January.
Bruce can’t be blamed for the individual mistakes that we’ve seen over the festive games, and while the injury situation is unlucky to a point, there is a worrying bigger picture. I haven’t mentioned Rafa in a while, but it sadly isn’t coincidence we had a good record with injuries with the meticulous nature of his back room team, compared to the problems we’re currently having with Bruce’s “tape em up and get them out there” approach. The fact Schar tried to run off a hamstring injury is just baffling.
Today was an absolute nightmare. We simply have to dust off and move on, just how we did after the last horror show against Leicester.
Credit to the players for not completely folding here like they did that day with 10 men. Many people probably expected a similar result.
An FA Cup exit at Rochdale is unthinkable, hopefully it doesn’t become a reality. Our start to 2020 can’t get any worse!