I saw today as a genuine test of where we stand with Steve McClaren’s Newcastle United. After finally bothering their arses to show the footballing basics (namely running, pressing, tackling, and graft) last week against Liverpool- could they put in at least the same performance against Spurs in the Capital a week later? Failure to show this level of effort, for me- would be the end of McClaren and a telling sign that things really haven’t improved one jot since the dreadful days of Pardew and Carver.
Walking up to White Hart Lane, I was reminded yet again of how much of a shit hole many of London’s Premier League stadium locations really are. Grim, run down holes- which often are a pain in the arse to get to. And I actually reside in North London! Makes you realise how lucky we are to have a stadium actually IN the city, in the pleasant surroundings of
Unsurprisingly, McClaren put out an unchanged side to the one who beat Liverpool seven days earlier. Can’t complain at that really. What I would say however, is that Cisse playing essentially as a lone striker, is a completely failed and wasted venture. It’s been proven across 3 managers now, with neither Pardew, Carver, or McClaren really getting their head round it. Surely what Cisse can do- Mitrovic can do at least as well, but can also offer an actual outlet, target, and ability on the ball.
The first half saw United apply worthy effort which was the first tick in the box, but that was coupled with gaping holes of quality. For thirty minutes, neither side really tested the goalkeepers. Newcastle only really looked like an attacking threat when Sissoko carried the ball- which is so often the case. The frustrating French midfielder has looked more arsed in the past week, which is surely a positive.
Half an hour in, the game finally came to life. United had their first proper chance when a rare Dummett cross from the left was met by Cisse, who headed wide of the mark. This was followed by two top class saves from Elliot in quick succession. The second was particularly eye catching- a point blank tip over from Lamela. Elliot had a lot of shite
thrown his way when called in to replace Krul, most of which was completely unjustified in my opinion from a bloke who was our third choice keeper. He was outstanding today- and added assurance to his saves. He doesn’t look out of place in the Premier League one jot.
Unfortunately the Spurs pressure was shortly after rewarded. An Eriksen corner was met by an untested Dier header, and Elliot’s fingertips weren’t enough to stop the ball hitting the net. It was really poor defending.
Despite going in at half time 1-0 down, due to it only being a one goal deficit, hope still remained. I did feel that the only way of us getting back into the game was taking the completely ineffective Cisse off, allowing us to get more runners in behind and pressing higher up. United came out unchanged however, and started the half really positively.
Early on, another Sissoko run resulted in a great through ball for Cisse, but the striker pulled the ball miserably wide. This was followed by yet another goal bound save from the excellent Elliot. It’s worth noting the consistent touches of class by Wijnaldum in the middle.
Often, with two men on him, he would work his way out of tight spaces with the ball at this feet. He looked a level above any other player on the pitch in periods. We won’t hang on to him for long.
The games direction really did change following McClarens first two substitutions. Perez came on for the largely ineffective De Jong, and Mitrovic replaced the awful Cisse. It was all United from that point, with wave after wave of attack helped by constant ball winning in the middle by the likes of Colback and Anita. I thought Colback was another
who was excellent today. Covered miles of grass and never stopped.
We were rightfully rewarded for our attacking prowess on 74 minutes. Worky ticket ex mackem Danny Rose handballed to the left of the Spurs box to give away a free kick. This was well delivered by Colback to pick out Coloccini at the back post who headed it back into the area, and super sub Mitrovic somehow managed to poke it home. Raptures of delight
in the away end. Why wasn’t he on from the start?
Although most Mags would have happily taken the point pre match- the match only looked like it would have one winner from that point. Ayoze Perez was in blinding form running through the middle, and made us look a much more expansive side- and allowing Sissoko to make more runs in behind Rose at full back. Our defence was resolute and snuffed every
Spurs attack out- they didn’t look like scoring.
The game was nearly won when a brilliant Sissoko cross across goal on 90 minutes was agonisingly missed by Mitrovic, but the despair was short lived. Mitro was involved again looping a header over the top of the Spurs defence, into the path of the imperious Perez- who stuck it in the back of the net from a tight angle. Absolute scenes from the travelling
supporters and another rare moment to cherish. The final whistle was responded to with a warming show of solidarity from the players celebrating on the pitch, and an absolutely bouncing away end.
Have Newcastle finally turned a corner? Has the penny dropped? On this performance, you would certainly feel inclined to say yes, given the quality of the opposition and the character showed when going a goal behind. Villa have to be put to the sword next week but in the meantime- let’s all enjoy another Monday morning after a wholly unexpected
Newcastle United: Elliot 9 (MOM),Janmaat 7, Colocinni 8, Mbemba 8, Dummet 7, Anita 7, Colback 8, Sissoko 8, Wijnaldum 8, de Jong 6, Cisse 4
Subs: Perez 9 Mitrovic 9 Gouffran 6
Their fans- 5 bit of noise first half, but anonymous second half
Our fans – 9 – sang hearts out for the full 90 and not many nob head radgies which is a nice change from the norm.
Ref: Roger East- gave Spurs some strange decisions and didn’t give us a lot throughout. The booking of Perez a particularly strange one. Fell on his arse and received the textbook cheer from the crowd.
RICHARD SMITH – Follow Richard on @@
Post-match Interview with Ayoze Perez courtesy of Radio Newcastle – just click here
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