Sometime being a Newcastle United fan is easy. It’s fun. You watch a team you connect with wearing a shirt you adore. You watch players who strike a chord with you and share emotions with others who bleed black and white blood just like you. You travel the country with like-minded souls and optimism flows through your veins. You drink, sing and dance the night away to a sound track of majestic football sharing stories of daring do and stupidity of the highest order. Then there is following Newcastle United at the moment and none of this exists. I travelled with Barry Evans (off Eastenders) to Watford and we had a great weekend which was quite simply spoilt by the football. The 2016 version of Newcastle united is one that I don’t think I share any true connection with anymore. I go to games not because of desire and passion but more as a sense of duty. The enjoyment of last week’s two decent performances replaced by the tough realisation that we are deep in a relegation dogfight and that we don’t look equipped to get out of it. I feel distanced from the players, I feel complete antipathy towards the head coach and the management stirs hostility in me which I never thought I would feel towards the club that I love. In summary, it’s miserable being a Mag.
We took a pain free train ride down to that London and after dropping the bags into the hotel, we blagged our way up to Watford Junction with a zone 1-6 ticket when apparently we needed a zone 1-9 (I knaa, I didn’t understand either). A couple of pints in a decent little watering hole not far from the station (looked like someone’s front room though so it might not have actually been a pub) left us with a decent walk up to the ground. The sun was shining though and we had a spring in our step. Even the staged flag waving in the home end didn’t spoil the occasion too much (like a shite version of Marseille or Olympiakos – I type that whilst wiping a tear away from my eye as I had the pleasure of being at both). If there’s one thing you can rely on though, it’s that the smile can be wiped off your face very quickly following us. Because of our chronic lack of investment in defensive staff, the team was changed completely from the one who did so well against Man Ure and West Ham because we didn’t have a left back available. Three centre halves (Colo, Mbemba and Lascelles making his debut) were deployed to nullify the Watford strike force of Deeney and Ighalo with Janmaat and Aarons being used as wing backs. We started off pretty well and a decent move down the right led to a chance for Aarons who flashed his shot wide. In the 17th minute, poor play by Lascelles in the right back spot led to the impressive Elliot making a good double save from Deeney fist and then Capoue. In the 23rd minute, a nice lay off by Wijnaldum gave Mitrovic the chance to finish but his poor effort hit Gomes’s legs and spooned over the bar. Perez showed him exactly how to finish the same chance against West Ham but for reasons only known to the coaches, he wasn’t on the pitch. Now I thought Mitrovic was decent against the Hammers but he has to start scoring goals. It’s what he is paid handsomely to do and he is failing. He had chances in this game but fluffed his lines every time. We need a striker who can finish or we are down, it’s a simple as that. We have done for ages but it seems what is glaringly obvious to the fans is not being seen by the people in charge of our club – it’s criminal to be honest. A couple of half chances for both side then saw the half out and we went in 0-0 and looking ok if not brilliant. Watford aren’t a great side by the way but their application and effort is admirable. Top that off with a couple of decent forwards and a good coach and you’ve got yourself a side that can challenge in the top flight.
The second half started off terribly with Deeney shrugging off some pathetic attempts to challenge him in our midfield and lifting a ball over the top to an unmarked Ighalo who rounded Elliot and scored. All that in the first minute. Obviously another awe inspiring team talk from Schteve then? Mitrovic flashed a effort across the goal and then in the 58th minute, Watford went two up when a punt to the back post was heading back across goal by Deeney to Ighalo who tee’ d up Cathcart (a centre half) to volley a left foot shot past Elliot. Poor defending to be honest. In the 71st minute a Shelvey corner from our right saw Lascelles climb well and power a header past Gomes from about 10 yards out. By then the very poor Aarons and Saivet had been replaced by Gouffran and Perez and the little Spaniard looked determined to play some football, something that was sadly lacking by others. Elliot made another great stop from Ighalo and then three minutes before the end, Gouffran showed just how weak as piss he is when he was shrugged off the ball easily by Capoue who skied his effort miles over the bar.
Just a footnote but the setup of the side completely nullified the effect of our best player from the West Ham game. Shelvey was not influential in the game and the formation of the team was completely to blame in my opinion. I heard McClaren’s interview on Match of the Day and he is either talking shite because he thinks he needs to tell the world lies to make us feel better or he is completely deluded. We didn’t play well and we weren’t squandering clear cut chance after clear cut chance. I’ve seen this smug bastard use this line before and it’s starting to get on my tits. The team isn’t unlucky Steve, it’s poor. Players who are outstanding one week (Wijnaldum) are shocking away from home. We are desperate for a centre forward who knows how to bloody finish (Austin for £4 million for God’s sake) and we need some defensive cover badly. The coach needs to play a formation that the players understand and which brings out the best in the talent we have (Shelvey). It’s not unlucky that we are where we are. Our performances are weak and pathetic against teams around us and we seem to only play against teams who our players would like to move to. And one final thing, Perez, Gouffran and Riviere need to practice headers all week because I’ve never seen three more terrible efforts from great crosses in one game – shocking. Make no bones about it; if we continue like this, we will be relegated.
Anyway, we made our way back into central London and got smashed around Camden. Drinking cocktails (several) at a certain age doesn’t bode well. I woke with what can only be described as a chronic hang over on Sunday morning.
Newcastle United: Elliot 8, Janmaat 6, Lascelles 6, Coloccini 6 (Riviere 88), Mbemba 7, Sissoko 6, Saivet 6 (Perez 59 6), Shelvey 6, Aarons 4 (Gouffran 59 4), Wijnaldum 5, Mitrovic 4
Subs n/u: Darlow, Taylor, Marveaux, Thauvin.
Attendance: 20,611 including around 2,000 Mags
Our Fans: 8 – got behind the side and made ourselves heard
Their Fans: 3 – not offensive in any way shape or form
Ref: Andre Mariner 7 – OK but I think he could have booked more of their lot for diving and generally cheating especially Capoue.
DAVE TED EDWARDS
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