Our unimpressive season took a sharp turn for the worse after an embarrassing afternoon against a very decent Leicester team who ended the day top of the league whilst we trudged away in abject misery. McLaren kept the team the same from the poor performance at Bournemouth and despite an injury scare, Jamie Vardy was named in their team as he looked to equal the record for consecutive scoring in the Premier League era. Mind, if he’d had his foot amputated in midweek he’d have been begging for a start against our back four, but more of them later.
The first half trundled along with our usual lack of direction but what little semblance of a formation we were playing to came to an end inside 20 minutes when Tiote limped off with what looked like a hamstring injury. For a normal club, his exit should have been at worst shrugged off but on trotted Thauvin and I’d have to guess at this because I’m still not sure after the following 70 minutes, but I think it meant Perez dropping back into midfield, Wijnaldum held in an electromagnetic forcefield with a ten yard circumference around the centre circle and Sissoko running around like a blundering arse with the ball intermittently ending up six yards ahead of any run he attempted. Presumably that was the ‘system’ they’d been asked to play anyway.
We had created barely anything and had received a couple of warnings ourselves, notably when Mahrez skinned the pitifully terrible Dummett to pull a dangerous cross back from the byline before they took the lead just before half time. Predictably, it was Vardy that broke the deadlock with a crisp yet alarmingly simple finish. The move itself stemmed from an aimless hump upfield from Janmaat to no-one in particular that was worked at pace back to the England striker and he made no mistake, to generous applause from the home fans. In the ever prickly debate over what we are supposed to clap, what we’re not and which disasters are or aren’t worthy of a minute of our time, I joined in with the applause. Fair play to the lad, I’d love him at our club.
If the first half was terrible, it was nothing on the second which was as concerning as I’ve seen at SJP in a long while, which when you consider the context is going some rattle. We didn’t start whatsoever and Vardy turned Mbemba with ease before rattling his shot against the bar. The words ‘he is a class defender’ might fit neatly into a terrace ditty, but let’s be honest, he’s not is he. Low concentration threshold, easily bullied, positionally dubious. If Thauvin is no better than Cabella, is he any better than Mbiwa?
Mitrovic was mercifully dragged off after an hour and the more I see of him, the more the awful realisation dawns that he’s actually a big fucking plank. He was atrocious today and I’ve seen barely anything at all from him in his United career so far to suggest that he’s worthy of, in Simpson’s words this week ‘building our team around’. Aside from the fact that he’s got the finesse of Shefqi Kuqi, his reputation as a ‘hard man’ seems hysterically far from the mark when he’s up against a big lad. Oh and he never really puts himself in a position to score either. If he gets double figures this season I’d be astonished. But then, who at the strategy meeting this summer thought that the answer to our consolidation in the Premier League rested on a 21 year old from a tinpot European league with no pace, a volatile temperament and no obvious goalscoring ability? For £12m?
Cisse’s introduction predictably did little to further our cause and they doubled their lead when Ulloa headed in at the back post with no-one within a mile of him. Dummett was nowhere to be seen when Mahrez put the ball over but I can almost forgive him on the grounds of him neither being good enough or playing in his correct position but the responsibility for tracking Ulloa fell to Janmaat and for me, he’s been disgraceful this season. Palpably not trying, that lad. By all means lambast the likes of Sissoko and Coloccini for their arrogant wretchedness but don’t forget our Dutch fullback in that bracket.
I buggered off to the Telegraph when malingering tosspot Siem de Jong came from the bench to replace Perez (do yourself a favour, eh Ayoze and fulfil your talent – just remember to say nice things about us) and was just leaving the ground when they scored a third through Okazaki.
Fair play to Leicester, they looked a very reasonable team and of course wouldn’t be top at the back end of November if they weren’t doing something right, good luck to them. I’ve barely scratched the surface on the situation we find ourselves in within the confines of this report so let’s just keep it simple. We are institutionally rotten. Our owner is a nightmare, our chief executive is a joke, our manager wouldn’t be in his position in ‘normal’ circumstances, our coaching staff are abysmal, our youth set up is alarmingly amateurish and, here’s the crunch our players are fucking garbage.
I’ve stopped subscribing to the ‘they are a better side than this’ argument because I can’t pick one player who I don’t think is playing to the level of his ability. After three years, I don’t think Sissoko is a thrusting, international midfield dynamo. He’s an unintelligent coward with the touch of an elephant. I don’t think Thauvin looks shite because he’s playing in a poor side, I just think he’s shite. Look at all of those players and ask yourself, seriously, based on the evidence in front of you who you think is majorly underperforming.
We are where we belong, in every sense of the word except for our supporters.
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – ELIOTT 4, Janmaat 1, Coloccini 1, Mbemba 3, Dummett 1, Sissoko 3, Anita 3, Tiote 3 (Thauvin 3), Wijnaldum 2, Mitrovic 0 (Cisse 3), Perez 3
Ref – Jones – 7 – Never noticed anything amiss.
Our Fans – 3 – If anything, I thought the team got away lightly. It’s miraculous that anyone can muster any sort of support on afternoons like this, so 3 for trying
Their Fans – 8 – Very good, enjoyed themselves and why shouldn’t they?
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
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