If Newcastle fans think the lackluster performances of previous years were over – now that Sam Allardyce has arrived at the club â€“ think again.
Newcastle gave a very poor performance against bottom of the league side Derby County tonight at Pride park and surprising though this may be to Newcastle fans â€“ Derby deserved to beat an insipid Newcastle team.
This was Newcastle’s first loss of the season and they are now in 10th place.
Sam Allardyce – cannot be happy with this very poor performance from Newcastle
First into tackle from the first minute the Derby players gave all they had â€“ and the Newcastle players didn’t. That about sums up the game but this will come as a massive disappointment to Newcastle fans, who were thinking this was a new dawn for the club. Any more performances like this and Newcastle will again fail to qualify for Europe this season.
While Derby just don’t have much skill in their team – like most promoted Championship teams – they make up for it with spirit, guts and courage and that was enough to take all 3 points against a half-awake Newcastle side. While it is a massive disappointment to Newcastle, it was a great win for Derby County and success for Scottish manager Billy Davies – who seemed to get nearly as much exercise on the sidelines as his players did on the pitch 😀
Newcastle had only one change as Ameobia replaced the still injured Viduka and new signings Faye and Beye were both substitutes. Harper was again preferred in goal.
Derby County: Stephen Bywater, Tyrone Mears, Dean Leacock, Claude Davis, Andy Griffin, Gary Teale, Stephen Pearson, Eddie Lewis, Kenny Miller, Steve Howard, Matt Oakley
Subs: Jay McEveley, David Jones, Robert Earnshaw, Andy Todd, Benny Feilhaber
Newcastle: Steve Harper, Steven Taylor, Cacapa, David Rozehnal, Charles N’Zogbia, Alan Smith, Nicky Butt, Geremi, James MIlner, Shola Ameobi, Michael Owen
Subs: Habib Beye, Abdoulaye Faye, Oba Martins, Matty Pattison, Shay Given
Referee: Peter Walton
Newcastle started off rather lazily in the first half and the game was very start stop. It was obvious that Derby were going to give their all in this game – and were starting to win the 50-50 balls, which was an early bad sign for Newcastle.
However, after only 18 minutes Newcastle should have been ahead when a Milner run picked out Owen on the left and he was able to get the ball across the penalty area for Rozehnal only to hit it wide in front of an open goal. It looked harder to miss than score and Newcastle should have been a goal up.
In the early exchanges Eddie Lewis on the left wing was giving Steven Taylor some trouble with his speed. A few times Derby County got through on the Newcastle defense who were backing off too much. After 27 minutes Miller was allowed to progress too far into the penalty area and should have done better as his shot was blocked.
Then after 39 minutes Derby get a sloppy goal. Newcastle had a corner but the ball went out of play for a Derby goal-kick. Goalkeeper Bywater sent a long ball immediately into the Newcastle half and from 30 yards out, with no challenge from either of Newcastle’s center-backs, Kenny Miller, on his debut for derby hit a wonderful shot into the top corner over Harper’s head. It was so quick the Setanta cameras actually missed the goal in real time. A good goal for Derby but a poor one to concede for Newcastle.
Questions will have to be asked of Cacapa, Rozehnal and Harper and it looked a surprising and rather poor goal for Newcastle to give up. That’s not the first time we have been caught asleep at the back from a quick counter-attack as the Bolton goal we conceded was somewhat similar in our first game of the season.
One thing that was surprising is the defense did not look as comfortable or as sharp as it’s looked in previous games with Cacapa and Rozehnal looking hesitant at times. Derby Strikers Howard and Miller were proving to be a handful for them.
In the second half Derby were there to hold onto their lead and questions were being asked of Newcastle but the Magpies couldn’t get going and it just didn’t look their night. Sam Allardyce didn’t wait too long into the half before bringing on Oba Martins for Michael Owen after 55 minutes and then he brought on Abdoulaye Faye for Geremi for Faye’s debut after 59 minutes.
Allardyce had no choice but to try to change the game but Derby still looked the more dangerous side even in the second half catching Newcastle short at the back on a number of occasions. Habib Beye made his debut for Newcastle on 75 minutes as Steven Taylor made way in a straight swap at right back.
A couple of times in the second half Howard, who played really well for Derby, headed just wide, once following a breakaway when his diving header just flashed past the upright after 82 minutes.
To be fair to Derby they gave everything they had and deserved the points. This was guts and glory stuff for Derby. For Newcastle it will lower the expectations of Newcastle’s fans. It was a lethargic performance from the team and we don’t want to see too many more of these performances.
Milner and N’Zogbia were probably the pick of the Newcastle players and Smith as usual managed to pick up a 4th yellow card on the season with another one of his late and reckless tackles. One more and he’ll be suspended for a game.
Newcastle lacked creativity as the commentators pointed out time and again that we had run out of ideas. We need to free N’Zogbia up to play on the left wing. Even at left back he was an attacking thrust for Newcastle in this game. But his attacking flair is wasted when we have him at left-back. Ameobi had a poor game and we lost count of the number of times the ball bounced off him for his first touch â€“ that is a big weakness he must put right if he has a future at this level. On this performance Ameobi may be on borrowed time at the club.
We need to get Emre and Barton back into the team quickly. Emre looks the best chance since Joey still needs 3-4 weeks to get fully fit. But it does look like Sam needs more creativity in this side â€“ Deco in January would be a good move.
We’ll have our reflections on the game tomorrow morning – after a good night’s sleep – comments very welcome.