Keep the faith…

 

We will stay up. There, I’ve said it.

 

Yes, we may have dropped two much needed points yesterday in what was a hugely entertaining encounter, but I saw enough to fill me with confidence that Eddie Howe will be able to get enough out of this team to see us avoid the drop – which let’s be honest is his only task this season.

 

Much discussion was had outside Loco’s at 2pm as the line up was announced as to which formation would be deployed, and the general consensus was that this would be another United line up that was built on a defensive minded 5 at the back – for me however that notion disappeared immediately as Shelvey kicked off with Ritchie and Murphy both literally straining at the leash to press the opposition back as they started the game on the halfway line.

 

In possession, United adopted an attacking 3-4-3 formation, only reverting to a back 5 as and when the need arose, and as a result we looked dangerous every time we attacked – ASM in his preferred position looked far more like the player we have grown to love, and Joelinton…well, Joelinton just looked far more like a player.

 

Goals win games, and for the first time in two and a half long and painful years our approach yesterday was one that saw us look like we had remembered that very fact – each and every player in black and white stripes visibly attempted to play 10-15 yards further up the pitch in comparison to previous games on Barrack Road this season.

 

If we maintain that approach in games against teams in and around us for the rest of the season, we will win more than we lose, because based on yesterday’s performance we look like we have goals in the side.

 

That’s the positive part out of the way…

 

Defensively we are still a mess. Clark, Lascelles, Schar and in particular Darlow were woeful and Eddie Howe needs to somehow get a tune out of the defenders he has available to him – a good start would be the reintroduction of Fernandez and Dubravka at the Emirates next Saturday.

 

Collectively, the four players mentioned above were the reason Brentford escaped from St James’ with an undeserved draw, and that area of the team is one that simply has to be the focus of the coaching staff in the coming weeks – if they can instil sufficient discipline and organisation, at least until we can bring in more capable defensive reinforcements in the transfer window, there are plenty of points to be picked up before we’re belting out Auld Lang Syne.

 

Lee Forster         @LeeDForster

 

Entertaining but in the end, close but no cigar.

 

That was a real transformation of a Newcastle United squad that is desperate for a win.

 

Playing on the front foot from the off, we really took the game to a Brentford side coming into this one with four defeats in a row. Joelinton played like a man possessed in the first half. His attack minded play surprised the capacity crowd, and he took his goal brilliantly. More of this please Joe.

 

A mention in despatches must also go Jonjo Shelvey who ran the midfield today. His passing was a joy to behold and if we can get the best out of him then we’ll always create opportunities.

 

However. the defence was a shambles. All 3 centre halves were shocking, and Toon reject, Ivan Toney ripped them apart whenever he had the ball. Don’t get me started about Darlow. He clearly can’t marshall the defence and his own performance suggest to anyone with eyes that this was wor new gaffer’s first mistake. Dubravka simply has to come back in next weekend!

 

We left the ground enthused by the attacking performance, but time is running out. We need wins and we need them quickly. If we are adrift or forth bottom come January, no one with any pedigree is going to sign.

 

We need to get it right, and quickly!

 

@peekeekay. Paul Karter

 

Better, but not good enough

 

Leaving an electric SJP there were plenty of positives, but ultimately it felt like two points dropped in a must-win game.

 

Even with Swiss dreamboat Schär back in the side we shipped three goals and looked horribly vulnerable to the counterattack. Howe’s substitutions left a lot to be desired, and Longstaff was a liability – we played worse after he came on. He looked off the pace and gave the ball away at a time when we needed precision to find the fourth goal.

 

The game also encapsulated the Shelvey conundrum. On the ball he was brilliant, spraying superb passes out to the wings and moving it quickly in midfield. Without the ball, he was largely hopeless and helpless. My nana would have made more tackles than Shelvey. She’s been dead for 25 years, but the sheer indignity of watching Brentford waltz through our midfield would have reanimated her corpse. A ball-playing midfielder with legs is surely a priority for January.

 

With those gripes out of the way, this was a much-improved team performance. Joelinton was man of the match – a sentence I never thought I would write – and his goal crowned a truly impressive display.

Howe was somewhat shackled in his team selection by not being able to work with those players called up by their nations, so what we saw was unlikely to be his first choice 11. Lewis will surely be given a chance to shine, while we missed Miggy’s graft and ability to press the ball. The sooner Dubravka is back between the sticks, the better.

 

So, what we saw was a team in transition and one that will play on the front foot but will undoubtedly ship goals. It was Keegan-esque football but without the star players he had at his disposal.

 

Unfortunately, time is against Howe as he rebuilds this side ahead of a brutal run of fixtures in December. Relegation remains a very real possibility, but at least now, we’ll go out with a bang rather than a whimper.

 

Dan Jenkins       @PlumsGinger

 

 

 

A New Era… Part 2

 

Newcastle United welcomed Brentford to St James Park for what was meant to be Eddie Howe’s first game in charge of the club but thanks to Covid-19, that has been delayed after he tested positive on Friday during a routine test which meant that Jason Tindall and Graeme Jones took control of the squad for the game.

 

Joe Willock got the game underway for Newcastle and the opening exchanges provided opportunities for both sides. It wasn’t long before the first goal is was scored as Lascelles got the home side off to a flying start when he headed home from a Matt Richie cross in the 9th minute. In typical Newcastle fashion, their lead was short-lived when former Newcastle striker Ivan Toney levelled the scores just 60 seconds after when his effort found the back of the net. Karl Darlow will look back on that and know he should have done better. Brentford took the lead in the 31st minute after a period of end-to-end action when Rico Henry ghosted behind the Newcastle back line to head home from a Sergio Canos cross. Newcastle looked defeated and fans would have been dreading the worst when Brazillian forward Joelinton stepped up and turned home his effort which sent the capacity crowd wild. The first half finished without any further change to the scoreboard.

 

The second half started and both teams showed no signs of taking their foot off the throttle as they looked to find the next goal. Newcastle’s woeful defence record would come to bite them once more when Brentford took the lead once more thanks to a shot that deflected of Lascelles and found its way past the diving Darlow into the back of the net. The hosts pushed on for an equaliser and made their first two subs of the game with Sean Longstaff and Ryan Fraser coming on for Fabian Schar and Joe Willock, the latter finding it hard to reach the heights he did last season. It was soon the last 20minutes of the game and it was looking like Brentford would be back to winning ways… Step forward Alan Saint-Maximin who superbly prodded home a inch perfect cross by Ryan Fraser. Both teams pressed on for a winner, but the match would go on to finish 3-3 and due to other results in the league, Newcastle find themselves in 20th place.

 

Sutton’s Full Time Thoughts: From the get-go it was obvious to see the impact that Eddie Howe has had on the tactical side of play. Our forward play has improved and there seemed to be a real sense of urgency when we had the ball going forward. Our defence however is still shocking, and their three goals all come from errors by the keeper or the back line. I am over the moon for Joelinton getting his goal today and he rarely put a foot wrong during the game. He was man of the match today for me and I hope this gives him the confidence he needs.

 

What’s Next? Newcastle travel to Arsenal next Saturday for the early kick off whilst Brentford host Everton next Sunday.

 

Newcastle United Line Up: K Darlow, J Murphy, C Clark, J Lascelles, F Schar, M Ritchie, J Willock, J Shelvey, Joelinton, C Wilson, A Saint-Maximin.

 

Newcastle United Subs: M Dubravka, J Lewis, I Hayden, E Krafth, J Manquillo, R Fraser, M Almiron, D Gayle, S Longstaff.

 

Brentford Line Up: A Fernandez, M Rasmussen, P Jannson, E Pinnock, S Canos, C Noorgard, V Janelt, R Henry, B Mbeumo, I Toney, S Ghoddos.

Brentford Subs: D Thompson, C Goode, M Forss, F Ogochukwu Onyenka, S Baptiste, M Bidstrup, P Mahgoma, M Haygarth, M Cox.

 

Match Officials: Robert Jones (Referee), Edward Smart & Simon Beck (Assistants), Jeremy Simpson (Fourth Official), Kevin Friend (VAR), Scott Ledger (Assistant VAR)

 

@jsuttonwrites