New Season – Same Old Problems

Friday evening was supposed to be the start of something special, a signal of intent, a message to all that Newcastle were genuinely the team to beat in the Championship this season. A team to be feared and a team capable of winning the title.

The incredible optimism brought by Benitez’s ‘Rafalution’ had many fans believing a Championship title would be relatively straightforward. Friday’s fateful fall to Fulham is a stark wake-up call to all associated with Newcastle. This league offers no easy victories and no free points; everything must be earned.

The performance against Fulham was just about the worst Newcastle fans could have imagined. With so much optimism before the game, to see the players perform so badly was soul-crushingly disappointing. And for all the talk about stone-wall penalties, one thing remains painfully clear…Newcastle are still a poor side.

Now it is only one match and we have 45 games left to play so there is no point being too dramatically pessimistic about this result but it was a really sobering performance from United. What we must remember is that this is the beginning of Rafa’s transformation not the end of it. With five debutants starting the game, we surely shouldn’t have expected the team to have gelled perfectly already.

Putting the disappointment of the result to one side, the game did present a few significant insights into Newcastle and the future. The performances of two United players were particularly concerning. Jack Colback was so worryingly dreadful Benitez had to hook him from the field after an hour of misplaced passes and mindless persistent fouling. How on earth the ginger one is ahead of the bald one is a total mystery. And Perez, given the opportunity in his preferred position, just off the top-man, could not control the ball, make a pass or even make a decent run. In that position Perez – who has undoubted talent – should have sparkled, dazzled and excelled against a pretty ordinary Fulham side. He blew it big time, clearly flummoxed by the expectation placed at Newcastle’s feet.

The other truly horrifyingly obvious misdemeanour was Newcastle’s inability to defend from set pieces. The Championship may be a step down in quality but it will still punch you in your nether-regions should you make such schoolboy errors. Anybody who knows anything about football knows that Fulham striker Matt Smith is good at pretty much only one thing…he can head the ball. To leave him with a free-header from around 8 yards out is frankly criminal. It was a mistake though and we can all make those, so we shall forgive young captain Lascelles for that one.

Going forward Newcastle were even worse, unable to register a shot on target in the first half. That is unacceptable. And if you think the addition of a great striker will help, Lionel Messi could have been playing up front and it wouldn’t have made a slight bit of difference. Gayle did the best he could, it’s not his fault that his teammates provided him with absolutely nothing to work with. A creative midfielder is desperately needed. Matt Ritchie tried hard but showed his lack of ability when incredibly shooting directly at the goalkeeper when it would have been easier to score. You get the feeling he may produce something every now and again but Newcastle can’t rely on him to provide goal-scoring opportunities game in game out. Diame will be a welcome addition to the midfield we saw at Fulham.

Rolando Aarons also has an important part to play and he should have started the game. The decision to play Anita at right midfield does have logic, providing Janmaat with a bit of cover so he can bomb down the right as he so loves to do. Having said that it made the midfield very conservative and Rafa soon realised he needed to add some impetus to Newcastle’s attack.

As disappointing as the game was, it’s important to remember that we are still evolving as a club and a team. It will be interesting to see how the players respond. But if anyone thought this was going to be easy, this has just shown otherwise.

92 thoughts on “New Season – Same Old Problems

  1. Think Friday confirmed that Dummett technically isn’t up to scratch for a top end championship side let alone a premier league one. No surprise the Galloway link has snowballed since.

    We will continue to be lopsided until we bring in a left back who can attack & defend competently

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  2. Dead right CC! Dummett just doesn’t have the talent to attack at all. Long ball down the wing is repeated time and again to no effect. We need an attacking full back like Enrique was or Santon even. What’s happened to Haidara? Can’t remember the last time he played. Mbabu? Colback looks increasingly poor too. Hayden and Diame there for me. I’m still not convinced by Sels, Hanley and Gayle.

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  3. Dummett seemed to do a bit better when Aarons was head of him. They seemed to have a better understanding. I don’t think Ritchie is a left sider like coz he looked more comfortable when he was moved over to the right as well.
    Dummett didn’t have a great game at all, but Rafa signed him up on a new contract last season, so I think he’ll stick with him at LB.

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  4. Pleased Toney is getting shipped out too – create some space in the forwards for a new arrival – whoever that maybe?!

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  5. I want a LB that is a competent defender first and foremost. Dummett can’t attack but he can defend. He looks worse than he is because we have no player that can pull off the left winger role. Sort the left wing and that side will be fine, but I still think we need a LB because nobody else can ay there except Dummett at the minute.

    Priorities for me are big striker, left winger, playmaker (if Shelvey is not up to it), left back.

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  6. Shamrock:
    I want a LB that is a competent defender first and foremost. Dummett can’t attack but he can defend. He looks worse than he is because we have no player that can pull off the left winger role. Sort the left wing and that side will be fine, but I still think we need a LB because nobody else can ay there except Dummett at the minute.

    Priorities for me are big striker, left winger, playmaker (if Shelvey is not up to it), left back.

    as ive said before the young swiss lad is a beast of a defender ive seen him play he frightens the live out of you,only played once in first team against Chelsea they got no change out the lad,they say hes free from injury now

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  7. whats happening with Tiote?been no sign of him lately,i see there is over fifty thousand tickets sold already for the next home game,looks like a sell out Rafa has turned the crowd round,now for the team

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  8. Ice – Tiote is another one mate. I read that UAE offered 750k for him and we dug our heels in for £1m.
    If he’s not in Rafas plans then I’d rather they took the £250k hit and get rid of him – his would be a big wage to move on.

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  9. Tiote should play instead of Colback if we are not going to flog him.

    I like Colback as a lad. He’s a hard working pro that keeps his opinion to himself. But he’s not good enough as a top level footballer from what I’ve seen over the last year or so.

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  10. Ice yeah I like Mbabu but there is a big concern over his injury record. A loan move might be good for him to prove he can play consistently and also consistently well.

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  11. Sham – Colback hasn’t played well for a long time that I’ve seen, yet he’s not really been dropped at all – we are either missing something, or the other midfielders are that pish he’s still getting in ahead of them – it happened with Willo.
    Shelvey must be one lazy git if he’s not getting in ahead of Colback IMO.

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  12. I’m not convinced by Shelvey at all tbh, he is far too inconsistent for my liking. Shame as I had thought he’d do really well. Colback gives 100% but I’m not sure the guy is good enough.

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  13. icedog: as ive said before the young swiss lad is a beast of a defender ive seen him play he frightens the live out of you,only played once in first team against Chelsea they got no change out the lad,they say hes free from injury now

    He was excellent v Chelsea

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  14. Kimtoon:
    I’m not convinced by Shelvey at all tbh, he is far too inconsistent for my liking. Shame as I had thought he’d do really well. Colback gives 100% but I’m not sure the guy is good enough.

    Kim – I’m gutted by Shelvey personally. I made it well clear I was buzzing we were getting him – he can be one of the best passers of the ball in the league. He fell out of favour at Swansea, and made all the right noises when he came to us – and hit the ground running too. But he went off the boil & the captaincy seemed to weigh him down a bit.
    I thought once Rafa came in (who signed him for Lpool) that he’d kick on again – and to be fair, he claims to have worked hard over the pre season – but if he can get in ahead of Anita/Colback/Hayden – regardless of the opponent, then I wonder about his future with us.

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  15. —————————Sels————————–
    –Janmaat–Mbemba—Lascelles—Gamez—
    —————–Shelvey—–Diame——————
    —-Ritchie————-Perez———-Aarons——-
    ————————–Gayle—————————

    ^^^ Thats how I’d go on Saturday. If Gamez is still suspended play Anita at LB Dummett gives us nothing going forward

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