Ugh. This isn’t good is it. A costly error from Karl Darlow allowed Wayne Rooney to prod home and hand Everton a 1-0 win at St James’ Park last night – leaving us just 1 point from the relegation zone and two points from the bottom.
Like Leicester on Saturday, we started pretty quickly and I was hopeful early on. It’s fair to say we looked the better side for most of the first half. We were by no means blowing them away, but with Ritchie and Merino both seeing clever efforts crash back of the woodwork, it felt harsh on us to be going in at the break 1-0 down. Rafa’s got it pretty spot on here:
? Rafa Benítez spoke to NUFC TV after tonight's home defeat to @Everton.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) December 13, 2017
As Benitez says individual errors cost us dearly once again and hampered the control and momentum we had in the game, and it’s that man Karl Darlow who has to be doing better. He should’ve done more to stop Mahrez’s equaliser on Saturday, but this was worse again, gifting Rooney an easy tap in after some really slack handling.
Darlow will get a lot of the flack, but there were a few dismal displays elsewhere. Diame was woeful (although cheering when he was substituted was poor from several inside SJP) and Lejeune was worryingly poor.
Forget individual errors or sub par performers for a minute though, the team just lacked ideas and really does lack quality and the ability to unlock the door in the final third. Everton threw very little at us, but that didn’t stop our defence looking anything from convincing either.
We never looked likely in the second half. Sometimes it looked like there was a real lack of urgency, but it was simply down to a total lack of confidence, ideas and quality that hampered us against a very ordinary looking Everton. The fact we still lost a game of this nature shows just how much we’re struggling to compete right now.
Rafa has tampered with the squad and the formation over the past three games. 3-4-2-1 at Chelsea, 4-4-2 vs Leicester and 4-2-3-1 last night, but I’m not sure its helping. The players didn’t know exactly what they were meant to be doing – a far cry from earlier in the season when each and every player seemed to know their exact role in the team.
Time for a re-think and a fresh approach. With Arsenal, West Ham, Man City and Brighton to play before the year is out, we must look to be getting result in at least two of those if we aren’t to be in or around the relegation zone come the new year.
Great news emerged on the takeover front yesterday, but the result last night was another alarming development in what is becoming an increasingly edgy season.
Survival has never looked bigger. New owners are waiting to hopefully push the club onto where we’d love it to be, but lets focus on staving off another relegation before we start dreaming of what the future may hold in an NUFC world without Mike Ashley.
Benitez and the boys have a big job on their hands to clear up the mess he’s helped put is in.