Five positives to take into Watford on Saturday despite the 4-1 defeat at Man Utd

Don’t get me wrong folks, it’s disappointing to lose any game you take the lead in, never mind lose it 4-1, but I believe there’s positives to take from Saturday’s defeat at Man Utd.

It was our third successive defeat in the league, raising valid cause for concern, but here’s 5 plus points I we can take from the game ahead of our crucial encounter with Watford at St James’ on Saturday:

1. Gayle back in the goals

The NUFC number 9 has tended to look so out of sorts and off the pace when he’s played this season, but he has looked sharper in his last two and got his rewards last night, bagging his first goal of the season – a good finish too.

Getting off the mark could be a turning point for him and us, with our lack of goals up top having been our biggest issue so far this season.

Hopefully he can take confidence and kick on from here – a fit and firing Dwight Gayle would improve our goal threat.

2. More like it from Murphy

The England U-21 winger was our most expensive summer signing but had struggled to make any sort of impact in his brief appearances so far this season.
He didn’t set the world alight at Old Trafford, but there were definite signs of improvement.
He worked his socks off, had a go and even though he sometimes made the wrong decision in the final third, he’ll take confidence from his improved performance.

3. A measured display from Jonjo Shelvey

As talented as he is, Jonjo’s slightly over adventurous style can sometimes see him be quite wasteful in midfield, but he got the balance just right against Man Utd and didn’t try too hard – even if he might’ve been tempted to in a bid to prove Gareth Southgate wrong.

He kept it moving for us, had a few positive forays forward, barely gave the ball away all game and made some cutting passes like this one below to get Jacob Murphy in behind:

He can be his own worst enemy at times as we know, but he’s the man who makes us tick from the middle and could be the key to wins in the coming weeks if he can continue that level of performance.

4. An improved offensive performance

Prior to Saturday’s game, we hadn’t scored in our last two and has looked pretty toothless in both prior to a promising first half against Bournemouth.

The biggest criticism of our season so far has been our lack of goal threat – especially on the road – however we gave Man Utd a real game in the first half and looked like we could score every time we went forward.

We had 12 shots to their 16 and Gayle’s goal was the first league goal they’ve conceded at home all season – suggesting we did something right in the attacking third.

Yes our slightly more adventurous approach saw us look uncharacteristically open at the other end, shipping 4 goals in the process, but it was good to see us actually have a go.


5. A warm applause from the travelling Toon Army – something we must give them on Saturday

As I previously mentioned, it’s tough to be positive when you lose a game 4-1 after taking the lead, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort or enthusiasm going forward.

Yes we ended up being picked apart, but it was at the hands of one a top class team full of world class players. For perspective, their four goalscorer’s cost over £200m combined! Over three times the amount of our entire XI.

My point is, the players put in a shift and gave it a go and the away support was superb.

They kept with the team from first minute to last, applauded them for their efforts and bold approach to the game and thats’ exactly what I hope to see from 52,000 at St James’ on Saturday.

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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

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