United kept up its end in the Tyne & Wear version of Dumb and Dumber this week by meekly exiting the League Cup in front of a more than decent crowd (though heartily supplemented by an excellent turnout from South Yorkshire). McClaren’s team was booed off at HT by frustrated supporters but by FT that frustration had turned to anger with some loud choruses of “we’re shit and we’re sick of it” cascading down sections of the Gallowgate and East Stand. The McClaren idea of players, coaches applauding supporters at the FT whistle was met with abuse though the man sacked by Championship Derby in May had done off down the tunnel, doubtless to brush up on his keep smiling routine.
No-one can really blame supporters for feeling mightily disappointed by this abysmal performance against a Championship side that has hardly set the world on fire this season and who also let’s not forget rested plenty players for this match. It may well be early days to question the manager and the players but at this rate we are in for a hard, depressing season with little to provide any enjoyment to a B&W tribe that is now punch-drunk with one blow of disappointment after another. Ten games McClaren has asked for. Fair enough, let’s see where we are then but if we don’t have a win, a derby defeat and no LC run to look forward to then McClaren should justify his call for “blind faith” in whatever it is he is attempting. I’ll be honest, I can’t see a thing over the majority of his games that is remotely encouraging.
To be honest, Wednesday weren’t great but they were organised and resolute. United were utterly bereft in every department. The whole balance of the team hinted at a complete lack of adventure. It seems McClaren is too afraid of losing to put a team out that takes risks but the lack of movement, intensity and invention explains why (and I was delayed getting in by traffic, so correct if I’m wrong) we did not have a shot on target worthy of the description for the whole game.
There was no width, pace, invention and the big idea of playing De Jong up front on his own brought nothing as the so-called Dutch master turned in one of the laziest performances it will be your displeasure to watch though to be fair Thauvin ran him close. De Jong would squander two excellent chances in the last few minutes but frankly I think I’d rather have eaten my own feet than sat through another 30 minutes of that garbage. We didn’t press the ball and we were static in possession. The lack of leadership on the pitch (no Colo for another Cup game, there’s a surprise) or meaningful direction from the touchline was evident throughout the game and in truth with no pivotal player on the pitch for us, no partnerships or understanding between players to spark anything like a threat on the Owls goal we always looked likely to be breached and let’s be honest, Krul’s hands had been warmed in a manner this opposite number hadn’t been before they scored following some half-baked defending.
Where United goes following this is anyone’s guess but the sight of Chelsea in the tunnel on Saturday is one that might work in our favour. Nothing is expected of McClaren’s charges on Saturday therefore the manager will be able to indulge his de-fault setting for attempting not to lose too heavily and if we don’t, no-one will pretty much have much to say about it. As expected blah-blah, a few clichés and off we all go. If this collection of misfits look half interested that might con enough people there is something there flickering. If this great spirit in the camp McClaren keeps referring to is shown then in the court of public opinion he might get time off for good behaviour. That spirit thing is an interesting one as it exists simultaneously in players who will chuck it as soon as they experience a set-back.
Fair play to Sheffield Wednesday, a fine club with great support and a proper football city that like us doesn’t get its just desserts. I hope they do well in the next round.
Newcastle United: Tim Krul (7), Daryl Janmaat (4) (Kevin Mbabu 46 (5)), Jamaal Lascelles (5), Mike Williamson (5), Chancel Mbemba 4), Vurnon Anita (4), Gini Wijnaldum (3), Florian Thauvin (2) (Ayoze Perez 46 (5)), Moussa Sissoko (4), Gabriel Obertan (3) (Ivan Toney 70 (3)), Luuk De Jong (3).
Unused Subs: Fabricio Coloccini, Yoan Gouffran, Rob Elliot, Barlaser.
Ref: Kavanagh – wasn’t getting conned by United’s play-acting though I’d like to see the big shout from Perez for a penalty again.
Our fans: Bored with following shit (5).
Wednesday fans: Great numbers, might have thought they might have been louder (6)
MICHAEL MARTIN – Follow Michael – @tfeditor1892