Liverpool 2 Man Utd 0. The Red Devils' lack of quality is jarring
To some Geordies, the draw is a good result, considering the massive injury issues plaguing the Magpies. But, to other Newcastle fans like myself, it was rather hard to watch as the players looked…well, just bad all round.
I think England and Newcastle legend Alan Shearer will disagree with that assessment, seeing as how this is his response to ex-NUFC player Michael Chopra’s thinly-disguised criticism of current manager Steve Bruce.
But much as I respect Shearer and his opinions, there are clearly many reasons why Newcastle are where they are today – stuck at ‘lucky number’ 13 in the English Premier League (EPL).
The match against Wolves showcased the best and worst of the club. Because the Magpies actually got off to a great start, as forward Miguel Almiron scored with only his second attempt at goal.
After that, however, Newcastle pretty much resorted to Icelandic defending of the worst kind.
Even though it was great to see Paul ‘Dumbo’ Dummett back in the first-11 after returning from injury, he was clearly not match-fit, as he kept messing up in defence.
UnFortunately, the Welshman succumbed to injury again, and Florian Lejeune eventually replaced him.
Then, our stand-in captain Federico Fernandez failed to mark his man, allowing Leander Dendoncker to score an equaliser so simple that even my platoon sergeant’s grandmother could have done so. The only argument I can make in defence of Fernandez (which already is more defending than what the Argentine did for Wolves’ goal) is that maybe Adama Traore’s ginormous biceps distracted him in the build-up.
Dwight Gayle compounded Newcastle’s misery by being their second player in the first-half to be substituted due to an injury – this time, because of a hamstring problem. He, at least, had played a crucial role in Newcastle’s opening goal before leaving the pitch.
With that said, however, he’s still far from being the Gayle that we saw when he was on loan at West Bromwich Albion last season – the one who often haunted the nightmares of defenders as he went on to score 24 goals in 41 appearances for the Baggies.
Nonetheless, given that Gayle has joined the long list of injured Newcastle players (the number stands at 11), it’s understandable that Chopra had unkind things to say about Bruce’s training methods.
So, Steve, what exactly do you do in training? If Wolves can rely on a mere 19 players for all their competitions – which include the UEFA Europa League – without facing that many issues, why is the Magpies’ injury list so extensive?
Perhaps the lads have had too much Newcastle Brown Ale. Or, the club just has a ‘rubbish’ team of medical staff and practices.
I sincerely hope that they don’t actually use those garbage bins for the players’ ice bath after the game!
Alright, let’s take a look now at Mr Average Joe himself – striker Joelinton. How did he become a mere shadow in this Newcastle side, after the club blew their transfer funds on the Brazilian in the summer?
He couldn’t hold the ball upfront – something that even Andy Carroll managed to do (with extreme gusto, no less) after joining the fray in the 79th minute – and he stumbled on the pitch so many times that he actually made that slip in 2014 look par for the course.
Also, can we stop caring so much about the ‘special’ number 9 jersey, which Joelinton currently dons? Yes, legends like Shearer have previously worn it to great acclaim, but frankly, it doesn’t matter what your jersey number is. All you need to do is play well and, if you’re a striker, score consistently.
And, given his current form, Joelinton (number 9 though he may be) barely deserves to play for Newcastle, let alone start.
But, while there are many things wrong with the club at the moment, there are at least two things going right for Newcastle that us fans are ever so grateful for: Almiron and Martin Dubravka.
Bruce depends on Almiron chiefly to pull the strings in attack for his side, by making defence-splitting runs off-the-ball and tenacious forward play. But, did you know that the Paraguayan also did a hell of a lot of defending against Wolves?
The 25-year-old made a bunch of tackles that broke Wolves’ attacking charges time and again, but therein lies the problems. If our main playmaker is busy cleaning up the mess for our defenders, who’s going to score the goals? Joelinton? Don’t make me laugh.
Then, or course, there’s Dubravka’s heroics in goal. If it weren’t for him, Newcastle could have easily lost the plot – and the game – at Molineux. This is assuming that Bruce and the Magpies actually had a plot in the first place.
But, given the current trajectory of the club, I don’t think there was. I mean, this Tweet below is all you need to know about where the club is at the moment…*FACEPALM*
So, somebody save us, please!