Newcastle succumbed to a second home league defeat within the space of a week as Swansea ran out deserved 2-1 victors at St James’ Park yesterday.
The result leaves us with just one win from our last seven games and surely now questions have to be asked about a number of things.
Firstly the manager needs to take a fair portion of the blame. The tactics have been woeful and our displays are disappointing so the reason for that needs to be found and addressed so things can improve. Speculation is mounting that the manager has pandered to Demba Ba wanting to play as a striker, but to be fair it’s a bloody good job he is as otherwise we’d have nobody scoring goals.
The players also need to take a portion of the blame. Whilst I have no doubt that some of them have limitations and are following tactical instructions by lumping the ball up field, it still doesn’t change the fact that most of them are struggling to pass to a man unmarked merely five yards away. Quite a few times yesterday we saw our own team giving each other “hospital balls” with Cheik Tiote, Mike Williamson and Davide Santon the most guilty.
Finally those upstairs in our boardroom need to understand that a lot of this has been born from their action, or lack of it, in the summer. Injuries and suspension are hitting us hard at the moment, with four of our “purple” players out of the starting side through injury or suspension yesterday. We just don’t have the squad to cope with that which is shocking considering our participation in the Europa League.
As a result of enforced absentees Sammy Ameobi was drafted in to play around Demba Ba up front with Shane Ferguson placed on the left filling in for Jonas Gutierrez. Cheik Tiote returned in midfield replacing the injured Yohan Cabaye whilst mike Williamson continued to fill in for the absent Fabricio Coloccini.
You would have thought that the home side would have been keen to put the disappointment of the previous week behind them, but the performance seemed to suggest otherwise. A lack of urgency and what looks to be a crisis of confidence appears to be affecting the players and all they could manage in the first period was a few potshots from Hatem Ben Arfa and a glanced header from Demba Ba.
Half-time: Newcastle 0-0 Swansea
The second half started much better however. On cam Shola Ameobi to pair up front with Demba Ba, off went Shane Ferguson in a move that saw the younger Ameobi moved out to the left wing. In fairness I don’t think it was anything the Northern Ireland international did wrong, it was just the fact that Demba Ba looked isolated up front and was, in truth, easily dealt with by the Swansea defence had made light work of having just one striker to mark.
A flurry of chances soon followed and although Swansea threatened on the break at that moment in time I thought to myself that if one team was going to take the lead then it would have been us.
That train of thought hit the buffers just before the hour mark though as Tim Krul spooned a clearance straight to Pablo Hernandez who surged forward and crossed for Miguel Michu to powerfully head home and gie the visitors the lead.
From then on I had that sinking feeling. Far from inspiring us the goal seemed to knock us for six and mistakes in our game started appearing. I’m talking simple mistakes, like the mix up between Steven Taylor and Tim Krul that gave away a needless corner and the short back pass that very nearly cost us from Mike Williamson.
Swansea wrapped the points up with three minutes remaining. A quick ball saw Danny Graham released although Tim Krul was equal to his attempt on goal and parried the ball away. Unfortunately Jonathan de Guzman was first too the rebound and smashed the ball past Krul giving his compatriot no chance.
Newcastle did manage to find the net in stoppage time after some good work from Hatem Ben Arfa on the left set up a shot for Sylain Marveaux which thumped off the bar before Demba Ba could stick his head on it and guide into the Gallowgate net, but it was too little too late and the goal was barely celebrated by anybody either on or off the field.
Full-time: Newcastle 1-2 Swansea
A disappointing result with another disappointing performance to go with it. I won;t go on too much. We all have our own opinions on what is going wrong but whatever it is it needs sorting sooner rather than later, and with a trip to Southampton next up in the league things are suddenly starting to look tougher than they should be.
Howay the lads!
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor, Davide Santon; Hatem Ben Arfa, Vurnon Anita, Cheik Tiote, Shane Ferguson; Sammy Ameobi, Demba Ba
Subs: Rob Elliot, James Tavernier, Mehdi Abeid, Gael Bigirimana, Sylvain Marveaux, Romain Amalfitano, Shola Ameobi
Swansea: Gerhard Tremmel; Angel Rangel, Ashley Williams, Garry Monk, Ben Davies; Leon Britton, Jonathan de Guzman, Pablo Hernandez; Michu, Itay Schechter, Nathan Dyer
Subs: David Cornell, Chico Flores, Dwight Tiendelli, Kenny Agustien, Danny Graham, Luke Moore, Danny Graham