Watford 1-1 Newcastle: Wasteful Mags miss massive chance to secure first win

If we can’t win that, you have to wonder what games we are going to win this season…

We dominated the first half, had 20 shots and a chance to win it late on when Jacob Murphy burst through on goal, but it’s Ismaila Sarr’s 72nd minute leveller that’s denied us all three points.

Sean Longstaff opened the scoring midway through the first 45 after smashing into the top corner from 25 yards. It was an impressive display in many respects, with us benefiting from a return to a back four, however our failure to finish off a second best Watford side has cost us dearly.

Bruce made one change for this one, bringing in Federico Fernandez for the injured Jamaal Lascelles. Many expected Joe Willock to be missing with a toe injury, so it was a welcome bonus to see his name in the starting 11.

The first half was a brilliant watch from a Newcastle United perspective. We were first to loose balls, had a real sense of purpose to our play, looked organised – having good shape at both ends of the field – and were creating chances.

Darlow helped us through an early scare, with him saving twice to deny former Toon target Dennis just 60 seconds in, however we took a deserved lead through Sean Longstaff on the 23rd minute mark.

After the typically elusive Saint-Maximin laid the ball back, the midfielder whipped 25-yard strike into the top corner. It was via a deflection from who else but Moussa Sissoko and went through Foster in the end, but it was a goal both his and our first half display deserved.

That said, the big complaint going into the break was the fact we were only 1-0 up.

We had ASM clean through after an awful back pass from Cathcart – a chance that fizzled out after the Frenchman opted to take on Foster before Longstaff blazed over – saw Clark head over from close range, Willock hit the side netting after more good running and ASM see a shot blocked after dancing past the Watford defence just minutes before the break.

More of the same in the second half and we’d win this comfortably. They couldn’t cope with our intensity in midfield, Willock’s running and ASM, so we had to keep at it – NOT sit deep and hope to hold onto this 1-0 lead.

The new system was working. Hayden was mopping up in front of a flat back four, Longstaff and Willock were constant pests with their non-stop pressing, Almiron and Joelinton were outlets out wide but defending well and ASM was causing chaos in that free role up top.

One concern heading into the second half was the fact Matt Ritchie was on a yellow card and up against one the league’s quickest wide men in Ismaila Sarr, with Manquillo also cautioned and walking a tightrope.

10 minutes into the second half, there was an anxious feel about where this game was heading. Watford, without creating any big chances, upped their intensity and we were enjoying less controlled spells of possession, giving the home crowd hope that there were going to get back into a game that could’ve been over at half time.

Thankfully, our composure returned just after the hour mark and more chances came our way – not that we were able to take any.

First Almiron saw an effort from range parried by Foster. Joelinton almost converted the rebound, but the Brazilian’s shot was blocked.

Then it was Willock. After being slipped in behind brilliantly by ASM, our £25m man saw a shot saved by Foster. Yet another big chance spurned and soon we would be punished.

After Almiron gave away a cheap corner from a flicked pass that went wrong, a front post flick on from Josh King saw an unmarked Ismaila Sarr head home at the back post. 72 minutes played and it was 1-1.

A head in hands moment, yet entirely predictable when you miss your chances, gradually sit deeper and give a previously battered opponent a glimmer of hope.

One change that made little sense seven minutes on from their equaliser was Bruce’s decision to take off Almiron – one of our best players on the day. Murphy may have had the fresh legs to hurt an ageing Danny Rose, but it left many scratching their heads.

As we edged closer to a frustrating draw, it could’ve actually got much worse. With minutes to spare, Moussa Sissoko’s low shot was tipped out by Darlow and turned home by King.

Vicarage Road went wild and the away end couldn’t believe their eyes, however a roar from the travelling Toon Army soon erupted as VAR confirmed that goal had been disallowed for offside.

Just as we were recovering from that scare, Jacob Murphy was through on goal.

The winger was put in behind by ASM and only had Foster to beat, with the entire away end waiting to go wild, but he never looked convincing and ended up scuffing an attempted chip straight at the Watford stopper.

1-1. Game over and a really frustrating day.

We played well in large spells and should be sticking with this system, yet it’s another game where we’ve failed to beat a struggling side who were there for the taking.

If we can’t win games like today or last week, when are we going to win?

STARTING 11: Darlow – Manquillo, Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie – Hayden – Almiron, S Longstaff, Willock Joelinton – Saint-Maximin.

SUBS: Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Krafth, Hendrick, Murphy (79), Fraser, Anderson, Gayle (83).


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!

88 thoughts on “Watford 1-1 Newcastle: Wasteful Mags miss massive chance to secure first win

  1. Sharpy: we all know there were behind the scenes shenanigans with the PL, “Big 6” and Hoffman/Masters. Proving it is another matter, as is getting the takeover done as they are different issues to whether the PIF passes the O&D test. As I have said before, that crooks, Oligarchs and Nation States own PL clubs doent matter either. They changed the rules since most of these were approved.


  2. I dont think the PL would have pushed so hard for arbitration if they didnt think they would win. But that whole process is a win/win for the PL. To start with it is secret and even if the takeover was approved they would still be OK with their paymasters – the Big 6 – because they would say they tried.

    Ashley can hire all the high priced lawyers he likes but if it comes down the separation of PIF and Bin Salmon he is onto a loser. I dont even care that the Govt are being hypocrites by dealing with bin Salmon, that will not affect us unless Boris steps in directly and that is about a 1 in a million chance.


  3. The only chance we have is that they procede with this CAT case and it gets tried in the court of public opinion, forcing the PL to back down to save face and Hoofman and Marsters’ jobs. If it goes to arbitration I think we have no chance.


  4. It seems ok for six clubs to try and blow up the PL as a going concern without so much of a slap on the wrist but as soon as NUFC want new owners they’re threatened to be thrown out.

    All comes down to one point. Always has. KSA and whether they should be directors and therefore take the O&D’s test.


  5. Jabba’s legal team say he’s had “credible” offers since the PIF deal collapsed so that tells me he’s wanting to recoup some money from PL if he has to take a lower price.


  6. Call me conspiratorial but I think these CAT judges and the Arbitration Board, plus the PL execs will stick together to block Ashley. They are all probably Old Etonians and Oxford. I dont care how many of their kind Ashley hires – De Marco, Justin Barnes – they will still see him as essentially a barrow boy. A very rich barrow boy but not one of them.


  7. By the way, I hope I am wrong on all of this:

    I hope they are not all Old Etonians putting the Barrow Boy in his place.

    I hope they see Mash Holdhings, SJPH and NUFC as separate entities

    I hope they see the smoke and see there was a conspiracy here at the highest levels of the PL and involving the self interest of certain clubs. This would probably be criminal if it wasnt a closed shop.

    I hope they will see that Qatar are corrupt and tried to weild influence – OPENLY.

    I hope they see that there are many human rights and corruption issues with other PL owners and the Saudis are not unique in this.


  8. I have to say I will be very flabbergasted if they can prove that PIF and the KSA are separate. Considering most of the board is made up of Royal family members and their chairman is MBS.


  9. Guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens next, I am unusually optimistic about the CAT case for some strange reason.


    Newcastle United takeover saga shows Premier League is not fit to govern itself – it’s time for an independent regulator
    Henry Winter Chief Football Writer Thursday September 30 2021, 1.00pm BST, The Times
    When a story becomes a saga, as the Newcastle United takeover process unnecessarily has, the temptation for many is to sigh, scroll down or turn the page. When lawyers are engaged amidst daily arguing over detail, a yarn can become a yawn, but not here. This Newcastle narrative is tied up with the future direction of English football.
    One thing already very clear from the long-running Newcastle situation/farce is the urgent need for an independent regulator, a neutral judge on sensitive and complicated issues. Can the Premier League, and certain clubs with their own blatant agendas, really be fair-minded on the prospect of wealthy new owners coming in and strengthening a rival? Clearly not.
    This is a national issue, not a localised, North East one. What is happening to Newcastle affects more than one club. It affects the balance of the whole Premier League as one team is effectively being hindered from running properly, leading to a lack of short-term investment in the squad and a mood of acrimony. Where is the league’s oft-espoused sporting integrity in that?
    It is a legitimate question for Newcastle fans to ask whether fit and proper organisations are running the game. A regulator, effectively an OfFoot with all the power of government behind it, represents a fairer alternative.
    At the very least, a regulator could focus minds and expedite a decision on the takeover more swiftly. Newcastle fans have been left in limbo by the Premier League, pretty shamefully really, with what appears to many either filibustering tactics or dancing to the tune of those clubs who don’t want a reinvigorated Newcastle challenging them.
    The lack of proper dialogue with supporters, the ones who provide the passionate backdrop that the League exploits so lucratively in its broadcasting deals, is embarrassing by the league. Newcastle fans have been treated with near-contempt and their frustration is entirely understandable. It’s their club, their passion. The Premier League’s handling of the situation reinforces arguments for an independent regulator.
    Tracey Crouch, the highly respected former sports minister who spoke to Newcastle fans in preparing her brief for the Prime Minister on why a regulator is needed, has spoken of a “lack of transparency in decision making” being a “recurring theme” in football governance. A regulator could take a machete to Machiavellian manoeuvring.
    The suspicion of Newcastle fans, that other clubs conspire against them, is probably well-founded. According to Newcastle’s barrister Daniel Jowell QC, an anti-competition specialist, at the CAT (Competition Appeal Tribunal) yesterday, “a number of major Premier League clubs joined in lobbying against the takeover deal”. The Premier League was against the takeover and its stance was an “abuse of its position which distorted competition”, Jowell argued.
    PIF, the sovereign wealth fund owned by the Saudi royal family, may not be, to use the word of a leading club official, the “type” of owner that the world’s most elite sporting league wants. Amnesty International last year accused the Saudis of a “blatant attempt” to “sportswash its abysmal human rights record by buying into the passion, prestige and pride of Tyneside football”. In turn, those many Newcastle fans hoping the takeover would go ahead point out that the UK does plenty of business with the Saudis.
    If the Saudi takeover had gone through, St James’ Park would have seen protests outside the ground by human rights organisations. The first press conference with the new owners would have heard important questions about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the noted critic of the Saudi regime.
    The initial feeling with the whole Newcastle saga is that it was more about media rights, and piracy issues, than human rights. It soon became clear that it was mainly about other clubs’ internal lobbying. And this is where Crouch’s regulator, as currently being discussed in Whitehall, could step in.
    It could provide a more balanced and swifter view on whether the Saudis were fit and proper owners. It could have talked to their partners, Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers, about the possibility of finding alternative funding to PIF. It could have worked with people, rather than against. It could have worked in the best interests of the game, not in the best interests of a cabal of clubs. Ultimately, a regulator could have prevented a story becoming an embarrassing saga.


  11. It is clear NUFC DO have an anti-competition case, I just dont trust any of them. If it does go to arbitration without the CAT case, then we have no chance. I would love this case to go ahead and watch Liverpool and Spurs squirm a bit. John Henry at Liverpool is a snake. He wanted to charge outrageous fees for the new stand and was instrumental in the breakaway Super League. Both times he apologized for bad judgement. You know he was working to keep the cartel, he is a snake!

    Levy wanted to keep the status quo to protect his investment in his shiny new stadium which pretty much depends on CL football. That seems like a pipe dream but certainly would have been with a resurgent NUFC.

    Even with a full ground, Man U, Chelsea and Man City along with NUFC would have more money than Spurs. All things being equal they would have been the CL clubs most years and Levy knows it. Liverpool would even find it hard after a while to break in.


  12. The biggest inevitability in the history of football is about to happen – Ronald Koeman will be sacked by Barca. Who at Barca really thought he was up to the job? Did they see his Everton team? They should be sacked as well but it was probably the Chairman.

    Brendan is in the frame for the job. Doubt that will end well either. And if I was Xavi I would stay well clear of this mess.


  13. I keep waivering on this CAT. On the one hand we obviously have a case. On the other, I dont trust this old boys network, even though we have some of them on our side. Will they really lay bare the corruption at the PL and top clubs? I honestly dont know.

    Yesterday I thought they would all close ranks but our case is so compelling that I keep wondering. That still doesnt mean the takeover will go ahead as proving PIF and Bin Salman are separate is almost impossible and if that is the criteria it is almost certainly doomed to fail.

    Has Richard Keys piped up yet?


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