It’s three years since I stood and got soaked watching Newcastle wimper out of the FA Cup 3rd round in Brighton. That day – the chants reigned out at the end of the game “We want Newcastle back”. Three years on, and it all just felt like deja vu, as the away end once again questioned what on earth has happened to their club. Apparently different this time round – the club actually want to try and win a cup. A pathetic exit against Sheffield Wednesday at home in the League Cup, has now been followed up with being dumped out at the first time of asking by a newly promoted side. That’s some trophy desire for you right there.
Certainly not for the first time this season, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at how we managed to get ourselves in at half time behind. Steve McClaren (rightly) put out his strongest possible side, whilst Watford- made a few changes. Most notably- dangerman Ighalo was on the bench. The game was there for the taking.
After dominating possession for the first five minutes, the home team quickly looked like a weaker newly promoted team. Both our fullbacks were notably pushed higher up the pitch, and this helped encourage most of our attacks down the flanks. In particular, Janmaat was our biggest outlet- as he has been for one and a half seasons.
It was Janmaat who had our first chance seven minutes in- shooting straight at the keeper after bustling his way into the box. Our next real chance came about 20 minutes later- once again from the right hand side. This time it was Sissoko who played the ball back across goal, with Perez slicing the ball wide. During this period, Watford barely had one attack of note, with their main tactic being hoofing the ball up to stand in striker Oularé.
The dreading feeling of missing goal scoring chances started to feel very real again. Mitrovic glanced a header wide half an hour in to the first half, and seeing the big Serbian squander chances is now an all too familiar sight. Newcastle plugged on and maintained their pressure. After some nice footwork by Mitrovic in the middle of the park, Mbabu charged forward with the ball, and his well hit shot was unfortunately straight at Watford keeper Gomez.
Not really wanting the half time whistle to come, the game took its all too predictable turn. Out of nowhere, a sloppy pass back from the anonymous Wijnaldum was straight into the path of Deeney. The Watford captain rounded Elliot with ease and slotted in. I didn’t even feel much anger if I’m honest. Just shrugged my shoulders as I do most weeks.
Lascelles came on for Colocinni at half time. Our captain mustn’t have enjoyed his rare FA Cup outing.
The next 40 minutes was a microcosm of modern day Newcastle United. Lack of belief, ideas, and a feeling of nothingness. God knows what McClaren’s half time game plan was, as I can’t recall one worthy chance of note. In fact- all I can remember is seeing £13m Thauvin spend most of his time on his arse or squandering possession. I’m all for giving players time to adapt, but they have to at least show some sort of ability- especially for such a substantial amount of money. Graham Carr obsession Florian has the aura of Jean Alain Boumsong about him. An expensive French donkey.
RICHARD SMITH – Follow Richy on @richysmith100
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