It could be that Chris Hughton has had some discussions with the players this week, on why they have been so inconsistent, and it seems that what they have come up with, is that they are respecting the weaker teams enough.
Jose Enrique challenging Salomon Kalou on Sunday
That’s essentially what Shola Ameobi said today, and our top Spanish left back Jose Enrique has said much the same thing.
In other words if we go into the game at West Brom respecting them, but not fearing them, like we obviously did with Chelsea on Sunday – we could and should do well.
After Newcastle’s worst display of the season at Bolton, the lads came back wonderfully well on Sunday against the PL Champions, even though we were short of three starters because of suspensions.
And that says an awful lot about the character of the players manager Chris Hughton has put together at the club, as once they do badly they seem so keen to put things right with their loyal fans.
And that’s exactly what they did on Sunday, and they got lots of plaudits in the press for some very good defending and gutsy play against Chelsea.
This is what Jose Enrique said today to the press:
“Maybe it’s time we started to respect everybody the same – starting at West Brom,” “If we treat West Brom like Chelsea, we will do OK.””We train hard every week.”
“Sometimes we play better, and sometimes worse, but we always train hard.” “I think you could see that type of training mentality against Chelsea, that’s how we train, with intensity.”
“But what I noticed was that we respected Chelsea and knew we couldn’t sit back.” “We need to have that approach more often.”
It shouldn’t be hard to respect West Brom, because both WBA and Blackpool have done as well as Newcastle so far this season in the Premier League, with all three promoted teams currently on 19 points, and just how Blackpool have been able to do that still seems a miracle, and reflects well on the inspirational qualities of their manager, Ian Holloway.
Enrique talked about why Newcastle had to come back strongly on Sunday after the terrible capitulation at Bolton Wanderers, where Blackpool on Saturday were 2-0 up after 70 minutes, but went onto get a 2-2- draw.
“People were unhappy, but we knew we had to forget it and focus on Chelsea.” “We knew there had to be a reaction, and it was important for us to show we had recovered.”
“We also needed to take something from Chelsea because we have a tough game away to West Brom.” “We played a really good game and deserved a point.”
“I think we could have got three points because we conceded a goal in the final moments of the first half.” “Had that not gone in, we would have had even more to hold on to defensively.”
“I think we would have done enough to win the game. It was hard to take conceding a goal in the last minute of the half, but I think a draw is good enough.” “The fans had some nervous moments, but I think against a team like Chelsea, it is normal.
“We defended with 11 players in the game.”
Newcastle could have got the win, with a little bit of luck, but when you look at the golden opportunity Kalou had near the end, when he seemed to have an open net staring him in the face, and he put the ball into the side netting when it was much easier to score, we were happy with the point. 😀
And Jose is so right that all 11 players defended, because one of the keys to Newcastle doing so well, is that both Chelsea full-backs Ashley Cole and José Bosingwa couldn’t get forward too often, as our two wingers Gutierrez and Routledge continually tracked back and worked their socks off for the team.
But West Brom away is a game we can get all 3 points in, if we are at or near our best on Sunday afternoon, and that game is again being televised live around the world.
And remember that this fixture celebrates Chris Hughton’s first competitive game in charge of Newcastle a year last August, when the lads were 1-0 down at the break, lost goalkeeper Steve Harper to injury, but came storming back to draw the game 1-1.
And we got a glimpse of the team that would actually fight back when they went behind, which was very unlike our relegation season, when the lads went behind – some of the players – who are now gone we may add – simply gave up.
We also went on after the 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns last August, to win every other game that month – and got off to a great start to our first season in the Championship.
So the lads have every reason to put on another good show away from home this weekend, and with a little bit of luck, and some respect for West Brom, who are a vastly improved side this season, we could even come away with all 3 points.
Wouldn’t that be something.