An absolutely woeful performance from Newcastle today, with Kenedy and Joselu the worst of a bad bunch as we crashed out of the FA Cup at home to Watford.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance and my marks out of 10:
NUFC XI – (3-4-2-1): Woodman (6) – Fernandez (6) , Lascelles (5), Clark (5) – Manquillo (5), Hayden (4), Longstaff (7*), Ritchie (5) – Murphy (5), Kenedy (2) – Joselu (3).
Woodman – 6 – Could’ve done better to stop Gray’s opening goal, which was smashed past him at the near post. He made a decent save from a swerving Quina shot from range in the first half, claimed the odd cross well and was quick off his line on one occasion, but he’ll be frustrated to have let their first goal get past him.
Fernandez – 6 –Read the play pretty well and made some important tackles and interceptions to get us out of some potentially sticky situations during Watford counter attacks. Should have done MUCH better early on from a dangerous Murphy cross, with him failing to make contact despite getting into a good position.
Lascelles – 5 – A solid performance in the main, but he played a part in their opening goal, failing to track Gray’s run. He cut out a few dangerous crosses and was pretty no nonsense, giving as good as he god in a real physical battle with Isaac Success. A steady performance, but one error cost us in what was a shocking game.
Clark – 5 – Was out of position when Hughes played the ball in behind for Gray, leaving Lascelles to come over on the cover. Was sometimes left a little outnumbered when Janmaat and Hughes got in behind Ritchie. An average performance amongst a bad bunch today.
Manquillo – 5 – Made a good weaving run in the second half, with his resultant lob giving us our first shot on target in the 67th minute, but that was as good as it got really. Distinctly average at both ends.
Hayden – 4 – Just about every one of his passes was backwards, with him doing very little to get things going with a battling Sean Longstaff alongside him. Made a reckless and late challenge on Janmaat right on the edge of the box – something that could’ve EASILY been a penalty given VAR was in action and it was inches from the penalty box. Could’ve been booked twice for me.
Longstaff – 7* – This rating may be a little generous, but he was the one player who really got stuck in and battled for every ball today, with him always doing his best to keep the ball and pick his head up the find a forward pass. Had little help from Hayden and so little to work with ahead of him, so it was a pretty solid display in the circumstances.
Ritchie – 5 – Didn’t look comfortable defensively early on when Janmaat ran at him, with he and Hughes often getting in behind him. Put in the odd good delivery when he got forward, but positionally he was neither here or there at times. You could tell he wasn’t always sure when to push on or drop back, although he got little help from the woeful Kenedy in fairness.
Murphy – 5 – Aside from one brilliant run from the half way line to force a corner out of nothing, he did very little. He showed the odd glimpse when he bursted forward with the ball, but to say he was on the fringes of the game would be an understatement. He completed just FIVE passes and had a few too many careless touches and passes. Final ball poor.
Kenedy – 2 – Absolutely abysmal, unfortunately. Where has the Kenedy from 12 months ago gone? He pressed well early on, but his energy level quickly faded – and his lack of control, awareness or precision on the ball was worrying bad. I’ve never seen a player constantly try the spectacular when they’re regularly failing to do the simple things right. As today showed, he’ll try a 40 yard shot but fail to get his head up and play a 5-yard pass. Looked unfit and out on his feet late on, making it all the more odd that Rafa took Ritchie off and not the Brazilian.
Joselu – 3 – Perhaps a little harsh given how little service the Spaniard had, but he was pretty hopeless in attack. Never looked a threat, didn’t have a single shot and completed just 50% of his attempted passes. It’s painfully noticeable how poor his hold up play and all round game is compared to Rondon – and that’s probably why Rafa decided not to risk bringing the big striker on in his place late on!
Atsu – 5 – Did very little. Tried to run at them on the odd occasion but didn’t have much of an impact.
Perez – 6 – Actually gave us a bit of spark when he came on for the final 20 minutes, but no one around him was in the mood to make use of his odd moment of quality.
Schar – 5 – Came on for the final 10 minutes and tried to create from a defensive midfield role. He tried to get us moving up the pitch and probably attempted more forward passes than Hayden did all game, but nothing really came off of any note.