Newcastle United lost their 5th consecutive home match, the apparently ‘must-win’ fixture versus supposed relegation rivals Brighton and Hove Albion, and in the process sank to the bottom of the Premier League with a miserable 2 points from their opening 9 games. It is quite obvious that we’re going to struggle to stay in the top flight and are looking at a 3rd relegation in what will be 11 full seasons of the Club being owned by the most inept individual ever to set foot inside St James’ Park. The possibility of being relegated for a 3rd time in 11 seasons, given that the Club had only been relegated 4 times in its entire history prior to the Dear Leader’s arrival, is a shocking indictment of the abject failure his running of a modern-day sporting institution has been. He has applied the same methodology to United as he does to his hideous Sports Direct warehouses/shops/cheap tat outlets, surrounded himself with wholly-inefficient advisers, hugely under-invested in the ‘product’, treated the manager (managers if we include Keegan and Hughton) with utter contempt and demoralised a whole fanbase. He has RUINED wor football club and this season is looking like it could well be the nadir of his gross mismanagement. I don’t know about you, but I am utterly demoralised and I’ll put in a disclaimer now – any of the positives you read below with regards the team’s performance are me desperately clutching at straws, attempting to cling to any modicum of hope that might be left in this quite frankly miserable season.
We didn’t deserve to lose this game. Brighton are awful, really, really awful and came to St James’ with no intention of winning. They created nothing of note and although the statistics show they had 2 shots on target I can’t for the life of me remember the 2nd shot. The one I do remember doesn’t even really count as a shot on target – it was a mishit shot by a player that deflected off Paul Dummett and then one of his own players. The shot came from a corner that should never have been. Andre Marriner’s decision to award the Seagulls a corner for no reason whatsoever is something that should be looked in to by the FA as it was yet another example of this man’s shocking inefficiency as a referee. He really is an absolute clown’s shoe of an official and I can’t fathom how Brighton didn’t end up with Kayal sent off and at least another 4-5 yellow cards. It took them all of 5 minutes to realise that Marriner was happy to let them get away with every single spoiling tactic in the book, with the Aussie keeper Matt Ryan openly taking the absolute piss every single time he had a goal kick or was challenged by a United player.
We started the match with a verve and determination that seemed to channel the first-half performance at Old Trafford. I think the line-up was the one that most NUFC fans would’ve wanted and within minutes United ought to have been ahead with Perez’s shot being superbly saved by Ryan. Shelvey was running things and Kenedy was looking like he was going to give the 73 year-old Bruno a torrid afternoon. However, an ‘injury’ to Ryan and then another to Glenn Murray (a genuine one) took the sting out of United’s start and saw the side revert back to the huff and puff that has been the hallmark of this season.
Brighton got their goal and the feeling of nervousness that we’re all so familiar with became apparent both in the stands and on the pitch. It’s no surprise that we collectively shit ourselves when we go a goal down as we’re utterly incapable of coming back and winning games. We’re missing Dwight Gayle’s movement up front, Shelvey is certainly missing him, we’re missing Florian Lejeune’s ability to create from the back, we’re missing having a winger a la Townsend who can and will run at a man and into space because for all of Matt Ritchie’s endeavour and ability to put in a good cross yesterday was a day for a winger who could shift up a gear and drive into the opposition’s box. Ritchie had chances, Muto had a great chance, Shelvey was unlucky with a free-kick that was deflected and saved by Ryan and Dunk and Duffy seemed to block every single bastard effort we had. However, despite having 20 odd efforts only 8 were on target. We’re toothless and again if the only option you have when chasing a game is bringing on Joselu you’re pretty screwed. Of course Rafa isn’t blameless for yesterday – the repeated crossing of balls in the air into the Brighton box when we had Perez and Muto up against Dunk and Duffy made zero sense, and I also think that, despite their obvious deficiencies, either Atsu or Murphy might have offered a bit more directness and created a bit more havoc against two cumbersome and error-prone Brighton full-backs. However, my support for Rafa is unwavering – he has had the piss taken out of him by Ashley since January 2017 and this is what you get when you’re trying the equivalent of competing in the Grand National on a Shetland Pony.
The final whistle went and boos were heard, just as they were when Muto was taken off for Joselu, so massive congrats to those booing as obviously they’re big MA fans. Rafa looked as dejected and beaten as did many of us supporters, and two pathetic NUFC fans decided to call a couple of young Brighton fans ‘puffs’ as we walked away from the Stadium. A depressing end to another shit day in the life of Mike Ashley owned Newcastle United Football Club.
NORMAN RILEY – FOLLOW NORMAN ON @LIKETHEGOAT