After his appearance on our Opposition Opinion piece before Saturday’s game, Watford fan Gary Tucker has had his say on our 1-0 win at St James’ Park over the weekend – believing Ki Sung-Yueng changed the game and punished his side for their missed chances.
Interestingly, he also admits that it was the ‘loudest cheer’ he’d heard for ‘some time’ when Perez headed in the winner late on.
Here’s our short Q&A with Gary – who made the long trip up from London over the weekend – after he witnessed our first win of the season up in the gods at St James’ Park:
1. What did you make of the game? Fair result?
“Coming into half time I had a feeling that we’d struggle to score. I don’t necessary think it’s a fair result on the balance of play or chances created, but if you don’t take your chances then at this level you’re very likely to get punished – and that’s exactly what has happened so we can’t have too many complaints.
“The game itself wasn’t the most fluent for the neutral and was sloppy, however I thought NUFC were very organised and they certainly committed to the cause. Before the start of the game I thought we’d score twice and the chances from Mariappa, Pereyra, Deulofeu and Okaka could and should have resulted in four goals.
“We did have moments of really intelligent football so we’re kicking ourselves that we didn’t get an early goal because we feel it’s a game we could have run away with.”
2. Did any of the NUFC players catch the eye? (For good or for bad)
“Ki Sung-Yueng came on and completely changed the game from our perspective. I thought for the first 15 minutes of being on the pitch, he allowed Newcastle to take a little bit of the game back and made the NUFC midfield compete on their terms. It’s a little surprising not to see him starting on a more regular basis but saying that, I’m not quite sure on whether he’s had injuries, out of form, or other players have just been better.
“Dubravka made a good stop from Success which in fairness, you’d expect at his near post but for a team who had three golden opportunities – your goalkeeper wasn’t really tested.
“We pointed out that last year Yedlin was particularly poor and that’s how we effectively won the game, however yesterday he was much improved though I question the decision to bring Holebas into the team when Masina has played well and contributed to our consecutive clean sheets.
“On the disappointing side (which is a good thing for us), Rondon seems to do very well until the point where it really matters. One or two crosses were poor and a free header with Foster off his line should have tested us more, if not resulted in a NUFC goal. Chances like that against bigger teams than Watford could prove decisive.”
3. What did you make of the St James’ Park atmosphere?
“Probably the loudest cheer I’ve heard for some time when Perez scored and plenty of excitement from supporters on the streets at full time. You could feel what it meant for the city and knowing a few Newcastle fans and talking to them before the game, they’re fed up with the 11 years of Ashley and you could therefore forgive the fact the crowd may not be the most electric at times.
“The use of the flags are great and something we like at Vicarage Road.
“I really hope that there is a takeover as I do believe that a club of your stature should be pushing the top 6. Obviously it will take some time and a bit of money to invest in the squad, but the thought of going to SJP with 50,000 + supporters when they’re truly enjoying the football / ownership / model would be a tough trip to make.”
4. From what you saw, do you think we’ll stay up this season?
“As long as you have Rafa in charge, I don’t think there’s any danger of Newcastle being relegated.
“We saw with Palace last year that whilst a slow start isn’t great, if you have an organised team and you’re all working hard as a team then you’ll be ok – this is exactly what you have with Newcastle.
“Clubs like Burnley are conceding for fun and are in real trouble this season, Cardiff just don’t have what’s required, Huddersfield look defeated, Fulham are hopeless defensively and they’ve not recruited too well in my opinion, plus a few other teams who haven’t necessarily strengthened but will have enough.
“I’d expect NUFC to finish around 12th.”
A very fair and honest assessment from Gary, who’s been a pleasure to speak to over the last few days.
All the best to Watford for the rest of the season (aside from when we meet again at Vicarage Road in December!)