It is too easy to look at this result on paper, see some brief highlights or even just have a quick look at the ongoing social media meltdown (of a silly minority) and start saying things like ‘worried’. That of course would be a silly thing to do; to let a few trigger happy twitter accounts, who probably haven’t seen the game, inform your thinking about football.
United have had a few off games in what has already been a long Championship season. We were told to expect this by Rafa himself. It will be tough and scrappy at times. We will make mistakes and we will lose games. It’s the end result that matters (where we sit in May). All of these things came from the manager himself and if we hadn’t been on the insane run we went on in September-November, I don’t think we’d think any differently now. The expectation that comes with winning so many games can be difficult to manage and we can all be guilty of losing focus on the task at hand because of it.
The daft thing is, today wasn’t even one of those off days! It was similar to most of our away games this season, in fact, from the off. There were hundreds of kids in the concourse singing and jumping around with their phones set to record right up to kick off. Those same kids once again seemed to lose their voices when the match started, again. I’m still in my twenties and this is a phenomenon I will never understand.
Still, the first half followed the trend of the season too. We dominated for 45 minutes. The only thing missing was the first goal. Had we got this, we’d have won 4 or 5 nil. Hayden and Gayle had early chances which came close before Mo Diamé marched through their midfield and smashed a 30 yarder off the crossbar. Moments later Paul Dummett floated a ball to Gayle at the far post, who turned inside and forced a save from eventual man of the match Luke Steele. Gayle could probably have passed here and we would have scored, but it was a great save. He was put through one on one by Gouffran shortly after that but again Luke Steele blocked well.
At half time we had had about 13 shots to their 0 and had 72% of the ball. Such has been Newcastle’s way for as long as I can remember, we are yet again sat here ruing these missed chances. Rafa will continue to improve these players to prevent this but in any case, whilst it is frustrating its far better to be worrying about not putting chances away than not creating them!
The second half was admittedly more frustrating as Blackburn shut up shop. We had less ideas and struggled to create as much as in the first. We had 2 goals disallowed (both correctly), one for offside, another where the ball bounced up onto Clark’s hand from a free kick before he put it in. Clark later got on to the end of a cross from Hayden (one of the few he put in the right place in a poor game by his standards this season) but Steele tipped onto the bar again.
We’d had all of our chances before a daft free kick conceded by Colback finally decided the game. This is a part of his game he really needs to improve on. In this league, conceding stupid fouls to bad teams will cost us points. And that was that. 3 points snatched from us again. The performance wasn’t our best but it was enough to win the game and we were just unlucky. Their keeper’s also had a blinder.
Just to be clear, this isn’t about saying everything is perfect. There is of course room for improvement. We do lack creativity in midfield with both Colback and Hayden in there. Both are decent players but perhaps don’t have enough about them together in the absence of Shelvey. We also need more options out wide. Gouffran and Ritchie have contributed well this season but we need competition in these positions and some other ideas. We’ll need much better full backs in the Prem. However, I have absolute trust that Rafa has these requirements in hand.
In any case, We are still second. We still have Rafa. Things can only improve and I think that’s a great position to be in given how close our club came to dying a year ago. As fan’s we’ve been through some shit in the last few years but we really have to dig deep and be patient as Rafa’s project at our club develops to fruition, and it will. Stick with it. There will be more days like this one, but think of the end goal. We’re on target – to put this in perspective, we had EXACTLY THE SAME NUMBER OF POINTS at this stage in 2010.
Newcastle United – Darlow 7, Anita 6(Murphy), Lascelles 6, Clark, 7, Dummett 7, Colback 6(Perez 5), Hayden 5, Ritchie 6, Gouffran 7(Atsu 6), Diamé 7, Gayle 7
Our Fans – 6 – Great turnout, obviously, but the usual concourse antics was once again lacking in the stands during the game. The loudest we got was to sing about empty seats. It’s Ewood Park lads.
Their Fans – 5 – Have to feel for them for what’s happened to their club, but they’ve clearly given up. That said I think they stayed behind to protest. Good luck I suppose.
Ref – 7 – Nothing to say here. He got all major calls right unfortunately for us.
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