It’s the morning after the night before and I can’t believe I’m writing about anything other than last night. I’m exhausted today. Imagine how the players and coaching staff feel. We pick ourselves up and go again where a sold out 2,500 away end (50 points got you a ticket, so I’m looking forward to that) in Rotherham. That’s bottom of the league Rotherham with one win to their name this season.
Last night though. I was sat on 90 mins thinking that this wasn’t the end of the world. Norwich were very beatable and that despite some horrific mistakes (again) from the team, I still back us to win the league. The reason for that is between now and Christmas we face only 4 sides in the top half of the table. That’s 11 of 15 against bottom half sides. To collect 13 points from the 6 games we’ve just had – is exceptional. If we can take 30 from the next 15 we’ll be top of the league in January. Two points a game gets you promoted. We’re on the way.
Rotherham have been really bad this season. Their only win came against Brentford, surprisingly, a 1 0 win at the New York Stadium in August. Since then they’ve lost at home to Cardiff and away to Blackburn. They’re nailed on for relegation under new manager Alan Stubbs. This game could be seen as a ‘freebie’ or as a game they need to take something from. They were better, by all accounts, in midweek at Huddersfield, going down 2 1. That’s all I have for you on Rotherham.
United were superb for the first 40 minutes against Norwich . They were not superb for the next 40 minutes and then they finished well. Giving away the once customary goal before half time was maddening and our left hand side was consistently exposed on Wednesday. Goufrann made up for that error with the equaliser and must eradicate these tackles from behind if he’s to stay in the team. Wednesday gave me flash backs to John Carver’s 3 0 defeat at Everton where Goufrann gave away two pens. No more of that please, Yoan. Yedlin and Ritchie on the other side were excellent but marked out of the game until the 90th minute so we need more from our left side.
I thought Clarke was superb at centre half and must play. What a brilliant tackle in the 90th at 2 3. As good as a goal. Lascelles will probably start alongside him but I’d like to see Mbemba and Clarke paired at some point, though Rafa favours Lascelles height over Mbemba’s (usual) composure. Colback had a shocker (which has delighted his many critics – I couldn’t hear you after his displays at Derby or Bristol) and should make way for Hayden or even Tiote. Diame was poor again but has flourished at away games so I imagine he and Gayle will continue to play. Gayle is the real deal. He’ll get 30 this season if he stays fit. His pace terrifies defences. Get him the ball in the box, he’ll score goals. Mitrovic did really well to win the ball for the last two goals, but is still a liability. It was interesting to see Gayle remonstrating with him after he was booked after 60 seconds from coming on for being a pathetic wind up merchant. I believe the other players either have tired of him or will tire of him if he needs to create a mass brawl just to get going in a game. I don’t hate him. I want him to play like a professional and contribute towards the team. He did that at the end of the game on Wednesday but only after giving the referee a decision to make.
Darlow did okay in goal. No real saves to make and didn’t have a chance with the goal. His kicking isn’t the best but there was a crucial moment at the end of the game where he rushed from his line and caught the ball ahead of the striker right on the edge of the area. That’s why he should keep his place ahead of Sels. He also talks a lot to his defenders when corners are coming in. I don’t see that from Sels. Hopefully the break will do our big Belgian good and he’ll come back even better – much like Darlow did last season.
Last time we headed to the team bottom of a league was Vile in May. That was a bad day and a bad performance (despite dominating). This is a good test of the team. We stuggled at Fulham when they put 11 behind the ball and asked us to play football in front of them. I have a feeling if Rotherham do the same they’re in for a hiding.
Prediction 3 – 0 United,
true faith – issue 126 is still available for you to download and read at your pleasure. It is also 100% FREE and works superbly on any device you care to mention (though we think its particularly mint on a tablet or i-pad). Just click on the image below and you’ll be transported to Newcastle United’s longest running and most popular fanzine.