Final Reflections on the Newcastle Villa Game

There was a lot of dissatisfaction on Saturday when Newcastle could only take a point from a good Aston Villa side that we had expected to beat.

But the reaction from some fans we think has been a bit over the top.

This is a game that Sam suggested we would have lost last season – and he’s right.


Sam Allardyce – has done an excellent job in strengthening the Newcastle defense

The first think Sam had to do at Newcastle was to make the team difficult to beat – which in all honesty we haven’t been over the last 3-4 seasons.

But with the introduction of Rozehnal in defense and all players on the team helping to defend in some way Newcastle looked very solid on Saturday. When Villa did get through we had Stephen Harper to make the two or three brilliant saves to keep the clean sheet. Sam has said we need at least 10 clean sheets this year and in our first 2 games we’ve conceded only a single goal – although it was a sloppy one.

There’s no doubt that Sam and Newcastle have made good progress in shoring up our defense. When you think that we still have Enrique and Cacapa to play – and that we will probably also be acquiring Faye and Belletti this week, our defense will be strong in depth and Sam has done an excellent job there. That was his first priority.

We were lacking in creativity on Saturday in a dull match. But we also have to remember that our two most creative central midfielders, Barton an Emre, were injured. In fact Emre is now back in training but Barton is not due to return until 17th September, according to the PhysioRoom Injury Table.

We can also look on some good performance on Saturday – mainly from the youngsters N’Zogbia, Milner and Taylor. Rozehnal is looking like an excellent buy for us and has really steadied the center of our defense. David has only scored four goals in his career (1 in 75 appearances at PSG), yet in his first two games at Newcastle he has almost scored 3 times! We think Sam has challenged him to score more goals – but the bottom line is David is a terrific signing for us.

Allardyce has said we have to be patient, so we’ll need to remember that. And we’re also 2 points ahead of the champions with a game in hand and we know lots of fans would have taken that before the season started 😀

A win at Middlesbrough on Sunday and an improved performance will put the smile back on Newcastle fans’ faces and we’ll have 7 points from our first 3 games. Let’s keep supporting Big Sam – because we know he’s going to make us successful.

Comments very welcome.

14 comments so far

  • darren

    Aug 20, 2007 at 10:12 AM

    Comment #1

    yes lads we gotta be positive, at least we’re still unbeaten in da league! rozehnal gives assuranceto the back which is missing ever since woodgate left. give our present team a chance, i bet time will bear good results under SA

  • mac

    Aug 20, 2007 at 10:23 AM

    Comment #2

    Now the dust has settled on the Villa game,lets think,last season we would have lost that game,yes we didn’t play great football,but remember we had atleast 5 new signings out there a new manager an expectant crowd that all adds to the pressure. Please give Sam and the team sometime. It will come good i’m sure of it,our best 2 creative midfielders will be back soon and i think Sam will add in that department. 3 more signings and we’ll be good a top 8 finish or i’ll show my arse in Fenwicks windown.
    P.S The boo boys want to be ashamed,SCUM.

  • Sarge

    Aug 20, 2007 at 10:33 AM

    Comment #3

    I have to say I disagree with the above, Newcastle were quite weak defensively and were lucky not to lose. The home team looked like the away team which is always worrying. Sam still has a lot of work to do with this team but its still early stages. UTV

  • Rick

    Aug 20, 2007 at 10:40 AM

    Comment #4

    I agree, there’s absolutely no cause for concern just because we couldn’t score against Villa. They were tight and well organised and we’re missing door openers from midfield that could’ve made the difference – at least we were resilient in ourselves.

    I knew it wouldn’t take long after we’d dropped our first points that people would start complaining, which is a shame – some perspective is needed from some people, as i’m sure those people are the same ones that were over the moon at last weeks away win. Let’s be reasonable lads, it’s early doors.

  • Lamesley Mag

    Aug 20, 2007 at 10:44 AM

    Comment #5

    Villa played well and have 2 very good CBs that did not allow our forwards to play.

    Although we lacked creativiy in the middle of the park, the midfield did compete for every 50/50 ball, and with Barton and Emre set to return there are many positives to look forward to a successful season.

    I still believe BSA needs to bring in a RB (maybe Belleti), a replacement for Solano if he leaves, plus Faye.

  • steve k

    Aug 20, 2007 at 10:48 AM

    Comment #6

    of course the patient approach should be applied but i think some criticism of the tactics on saturday is fair. newcastle’s squad on the park that day was far stronger than villa’s. the fact that we could not get viduka or martins into the game is a disappointment. newcastle played with too little width, and against some of our attacking strengths. villa nullified our 4-3-3 formation and managed to cut n’zogbia out of the game after half an hour. from then on we showed no invention. while i appreciate barton and emre are out, and that the inclusion of enrique will allow us to play n’zogbia in a more advanced role, i thought the tactics were poor.

  • Macas

    Aug 20, 2007 at 10:54 AM

    Comment #7

    The fact is we played right into Villa’s hands and it is very worrying if that is the formation we play every home game. That was as bad as any Newcastle performance last season, and we lacked any kind of width.
    I feel quite sure we wont be signing any more creative players before the end of the month and all the comments coming from the big man suggest he will be more than happy with performances like that each week.

  • dave bulman

    Aug 20, 2007 at 11:03 AM

    Comment #8

    i agree we lacked creativity in midfield,i think playing smith, butt and geremi in middle isnt great,too similar to each other,but we have emre ,barton and duff to come back and should put geremi at right back to free up a midfield role for 1 of need time to gel and get fitness.disgraceful that people were booing after match,we played solid and didnt concede a goal against a good organised villa team,4 points from 2 games is a good start,do the fans forget our bad start last year and how easy we were to beat,sam is doing the one thing we needed in strenghting our defence and team giving it their all.give team chance and stop expecting miracles straight away,we have good chance to finish top six.this going to be toughest year in premiership,alot of teams improving.booing will not help anyone and i wouldnt be happy if i was player or manager getting booed after hard fought point.

  • Aussie geordie

    Aug 20, 2007 at 11:03 AM

    Comment #9

    What we lacked on saturday was the ability to play the ball quickly and fluidly from the backs through the midfield and a lack of creative running to make space by forwards. Martins never really looked dangerous, in fact none of our strikers did. I’d like to see only two strikers playing forward. Pull Milner back getting him running the ball up instead of in. Move smith up behind the two up front. Get Zog out of the backs and where he belongs and whislt Butt is a great tackler its more often than not getting a ball back he has just given away. If you look at the first five minutes of both matchs one of the biggest differences was the accuracy and speed of passing.

    Against Bolton it was bullet fast, audacious and accurate whislt against villa it was lazy, behind the runner and uninspired.

    It is very nice to see some solidarity in the backs and this is a big step forward. Very happy with the progress because thats what it is and at this point all it needs to be.

  • Chris M

    Aug 20, 2007 at 11:23 AM

    Comment #10

    Steve K and Aussie Geordie- both of you have very good points. Slow and sloppy passing, lack of creativity, lack of movement, crossing was suspect, frustrating to see all but two players happy not to cross the half way line with 10 mins still to go, tactics also a little questionable especially when we could not break them down.

    End of the day though…….its nee biggie. These are are all things that can be rectified on another day. Not overly worried just a wee bit deflating.

    James Milner was my man of the match. He didi cover every blade of grass and was one of the only ones (possibly bar N’zogbia) who constantly made forward runs. Considering he was at one point on his way out of the door last season, his attitude is second to none!

    Hope BSA sticks with Martins starting over Owen for the time being. Play 4-4-2 with Nzogbia and Milner out wide.

    And although many may not agree cos they have already written off Ameobi….I hope BSA keeps him in mind for a start if Viduka as a target man continues not to work……That lad has played for a couple of years injured, at times shown himself to be a very good player and i still think he can do a very good job in the ‘little and large’ startegy.

  • joe

    Aug 20, 2007 at 2:01 PM

    Comment #11

    Cmon guys give the team time to gel. its been 2 games for heavens sake!! If u remember correctly a few seasons ago when jose mourinho first came in the first thing he did was to shore up the defence and make sure they didnt concede, although it meant playing dull long ball football, and they ended up champions that season. Just ask every experienced manager, and they’ll tell you to build from the back. As for creativity in midfield, i think that once emre and barton are back we’ll have a pinpoint passer and a dynamic runner respectively. Emre’s strenght is his vision and eye for a pass, while barton will drive the team forward with his running. In that sense, both of them can play in front of butt in a 3 man midfield where they will definitely excell, while geremi moves to right back. I dont think buying deco is really necessary, as his game is similiar as emre’s, and if we can get emre playing well, he will be as good as anyone on his day. So stop complaining about the lack of creativity just yet and wait till both these guys come back. 😉

  • todd

    Aug 20, 2007 at 2:36 PM

    Comment #12

    Clean Sheet and not even the best set of defenders out there yet.
    No knocks!
    Midfield was full of crunch.
    Defense coming together.
    We have a game in hand on every team above us in the table.
    Maintained positive goal differential.
    Dealt well with slick pitch conditions.
    Got really close to losing.
    Defense still has blind spots and gave up chances on set plays.
    No golllllllllls, team was kind of flat.
    Lack of creativity from midifield.
    Struggled to deal with speed of opposition.

    In sum:
    Its a point.
    Nobody injured.
    Near the top of table with game in hand.

    What’s not to like?

  • Stami

    Aug 20, 2007 at 4:27 PM

    Comment #13

    last season we would have lost that game 2-0 easy! we took away a point, which is better than nothing, and we got a clean sheet, which is a BIG positive

  • ChrisL

    Aug 20, 2007 at 4:38 PM

    Comment #14

    The 4-3-3 didn’t work this time. I don’t have a problem with that, it worked away to Bolton & I’m sure it will work again Hopefully against the Smoggies).

    But while watching the game it occurred to me that the team on the pitch could so easily have switched to a 4-4-2 (Geremi to the right wing & Milner to the left wing), I just felt it was worth a try… especially when Owen came on. He’s a box player & I’m not sure that the 3 at the front works for him.

    p.s. I thought Shola made himself a pain in the neck to Villa in the short time he was on.


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