Tin men…

Stoicism (noun) – The endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.

I think it’s fair to say that the above describes the way in which Newcastle United fans have handled our ‘performances’on the pitch since the Barrack Road landscape changed on 7th October 2021.

Well, after yet another ‘Must win’ passed us by yesterday I am sensing a step change in the mood amongst Mags of both the match going, and social media variety.

After what was St Maximin’s only notable contribution, Watford were there for the taking yesterday afternoon. A 1-0 lead, in a bouncing St James’ Park, against a side that had lost 7 on the bounce. There should only ever have been one outcome.

But this is Newcastle United we are talking about. A teamthat is so lacking in character, ability, and mental strength, they have now gone ahead in 10 games this season and have proceeded to win the princely sum of 1 game.

1 Fucking game, It is both cowardly and unforgiveable in equal measure.

Wood aside – he gets a free pass as it was his debut – only three players showed anything like the heart required to wear the black and white jersey yesterday – Joelinton, Dummett and Trippier. The rest of them? Well, it’s safe to say that the entire British Medical Association would struggle to find a functioning aorta valve in any of them.

If I have to see St Maximin feign injury when things get a little physical, or Lascelles, Schar, Shelvey and Longstaff stare forlornly and silently at the grass as they trudge back to the halfway line like a group of scalded schoolkids after conceding yet another soft goal one more time, it’ll be too soon.

Where is the fight? Where is the leadership? Unfortunately, I think what we are seeing is a core group of players who know their time on Barrack Road is up, and as a result their willingness to fight and battle for our just and righteous cause disappeared as quickly as Tesco’s beer supplies did on that heady Thursday night in October.

I hope I am wrong, sincerely I do, but the players are running out of time to change our collective black and white minds – and if it is to change, it has to start on Saturday, because if it doesn’t there is only one way this ends.

The fans are doing their bit, it’s about time the tin men being paid handsomely to represent us began to return the favour, because the fans can only do so much.

Lee Forster @LeeDForster

Frustratingly lacking…

A catastrophic result. Having been on course for a crucial win over a relegation rival, Newcastle once again failed to secure all three points at home.

The team displayed an element of cowardice after taking the league, shrinking into their shells, and retreating towards their own goal as they sought to protect what they had and see the game out for a 1-0 victory. Sadly, this emboldened Watford who started to pour forward, cutting through our defence, and building momentum which ultimately resulted in a heartbreaking equaliser for the visitors with a few minutes to go. This points to a mentality issue, something Eddie Howe correctly picked up on in his post-match comments. It highlights the size of the task for the manager in turning this sinking ship around.

The match was yet another reminder of how callow the spine of our team is. Jamaal Lascelles is just not Premier League class (particularly in a back four), while Jonjo Shelvey and Sean Longstaff are out of their depth, lacking the athleticism and nous to manage games. Chris Wood also had very little impact on his debut, looking sluggish and failing to capitalise on the few half chances that came his way. And in Allan Saint Maximin, whilst we have a mercurial talent who scored a terrific goal to give us the lead, the Frenchman is venturing into the extremely frustrating category – slowing down the play, running into two or three defenders and the SJP crowd were becoming increasingly agitated with his contribution.

Watford were woeful, and we still couldn’t beat them. That’s two games against them this season and we should have taken maximum points. We have taken two. We lack a ruthlessness, a cold edge to the side to put games to bed, to control matches. Everything is too hectic, too chaotic, and in those circumstances, teams can punish you despite having little of the ball and overall play.

The long and short of it is that no one could grumble if we were relegated this season – we simply haven’t been good enough. Hope is running in short supply.

Craig Shaw@shawzey15

Unanswered questions…

The big question all week was could United handle the pressure and hold their nerves and beat Watford.

That question was again emphatically answered. They couldn’t do either.

The scenario is a recurring one. We get the lead and then drop back. And back, and back again, to the point where it’s an inevitable equaliser or winner.

All questions about staying up are immaterial until we stop doing this. To stay up we need to win a lot of games, these players haven’t got in in them.

The simple fact of Saturday was we were never in control of the game and never did enough to do so. Quality is bound to be a glaring omission from 4th bottom v 2nd bottom, but the onus is on us to do the basics of attacking and creating chances at home.

Watford should be disappointed they didn’t win. How Sissoko missed is a mystery and they had five shots on target to our one, maybe we got away lightly but the fact is Watford were awful and so were we.

Howe was frantically telling his side to get out seconds before we conceded. He knows what the problem is, but he’s been here a few months now It’s time for results.

For me only Dummett, Trippier, Dubravka and most impressively Joelinton carried out the jobs properly. Others reverted to type. Again.

St Maximin scored a brilliant goal but was awful besides. There lies a major problem for Howe. We need him, but we don’t need him if you know what I mean.

For the first time crucially, the fans seemed deflated at the end, we have to keep the faith but in the meantime the players have to start learning the basics again.

Another must win passes us by.

Scott Robson

More retreat, more surrender…

After a promising, if unspectacular, first half, Saint-Maximin’s intervention at the start of the second should have lit the blue touch paper to ignite a comfortable victory. In that first half, Fraser and Trippier had linked up well. Wood had shown encouraging signs, on one occasion nearly getting in behind, as well as making his physical presence felt. And again, Joelinton showed what an asset his own physicality can be in midfield. Just a shame that he was the one on the end of our two most presentable opportunities. Watford? Piss poor.

Instead, it heralded the dampest of damp squibs, as poor 45 minutes of football as we’ve seen in the last three years. And that’s a tough list to break into. All our worst habits returned. We ceded the initiative, defending deeper and deeper as the half wore on. We proved entirely incapable of retaining the ball and controlling the match. And, after two warnings went unheeded, we inevitably conceded the equaliser. With it, our survival prospects declined from cautiously hopeful to miraculously outlandish. Injury-time felt like a question of desperately avoiding defeat, rather than an opportunity to find a winner.

Takeaways? 1. Saint-Maximin was consistently atrocious, except for 10 seconds in the second half. Bizarrely, the more he undermines our overall team play, the more dependent we are on his occasional moments of brilliance. 2. Dummett provided solidity, but he also showed his attacking limitations. He surely has to move to centre back alongside a footballing left-back. 3. Judging from his (lack of) substitutions, Howe has no faith in his squad. If Murphy is our best option off the bench we really are screwed. 4. Longstaff and Shelvey are simply not up to it.

Is there any hope to be found amidst the rubble? Not much. I suppose Watford are still only two points away, although that seems likely to change in the next week. Maybe, just maybe, two players could transform us: an able leader at centre back to push our ever-retreating line up the pitch; and a dynamic defensive midfielder able to secure and retain possession. Do I believe that transformation will take place? No.

Matthew Philpotts @mjp19731