Well, after a week that promised much, we watched another dire performance from Steve Bruce’s team. We really must be the most unpleasant team to watch in the league, yet somehow we keep picking up points.
Another undeserved point earned through heart, sweat, some decent defending, luck, and of course Martin Dubravka against bottom of the table Norwich isn’t exactly cause for celebration, but we’re slowly eeking towards safety.
There was a fear of nervousness ahead of this game, and rightly so as it’s exactly the kind of game we usually struggle in. Against “inferior” opposition we can struggle to force the issue, we’re better without the ball and my word we were awful on it today.
Bruce made a couple of changes with Bentaleb given his Newcastle Premier League debut, while Yedlin came back with Hayden moving back into centre midfield. For the first 15 minutes, we looked as disjointed as Yedlin’s hair, and Dubravka made a great save from Sam Byram, then again when Pukki smashed a 25 yard piledriver.
Then we started to gain a bit of momentum, and Saint Maximin was brilliant to watch every time he got the ball, despite some cynical fouling from the visitors on our creator in chief.
We nearly took the lead on 20 minutes when Krul saved brilliantly from Joelinton’s header after a sweeping move started by Jamaal Lascelles, but Almiron really should have buried the rebound, but the Paraguayan isn’t really renowned for his heading prowess and he headed wide. However we were very much second best to the Premier League’s worst team who looked more composed, and seemed to have an open invitation to shoot from distance. However we held firm and managed to see it through to half time at 0-0.
The second half started exactly the same, and to be honest the Pukki of earlier in the season would probably have had another hat trick. Norwich were wasteful and we were lucky. Lazaro finally came on for the simply woeful Yedlin on 53 minutes and Sean Longstaff replaced Isaac Hayden who had a poor afternoon too. We started to push and threatened to finally get into the game, and everything good came through Saint Maximin. However despite him having the beating of the Norwich defence, we simply couldn’t get Almiron or Joelinton into the game.
Then, Bruce took Saint Maximin off for Danny Rose. The game just seemed to fade out and we didn’t even look like we wanted to win it to be honest. At the final whistle Norwich players looked gutted they hadn’t taken all 3 points.
Normally, being on 31 points at this stage of the season would probably be only a couple of wins away from safety and maybe a springboard for a push for Europe, but this season has been anything but normal. It’s so bizarre that there are even a lot of pundits speculating about a record high points total being needed this year.
We’re into the top half, but it was a very poor performance and we’re fortunate to come away with a point to be honest – and that’s worrying against the league’s bottom side.
A nervous 13 games await.