Newcastle looked very impotent today at Villa Park and once Aston Villa scored their goal after 24 minutes the question was always going to be who was going to score for Newcastle, and nobody did – and nobody really looked like scoring either, against a very ordinary Aston Villa side.
One blow before the game was that Shola Ameobi was again out injured, and he’s been injury prone in all his 11 years at the club, but why manager Pardew brought in Steven Taylor in place of Kevin Nolan we have no idea but the formation just didn’t work and Coloccini looked oh so slow in midfield.
We hope Alan Pardew doesn’t do too much thinking before games because the obvious side today was to play Ryan Taylor on the right wing, and have the skilled Joey Barton in the middle of the park – and Steven Taylor should have been on the bench.
It was as bad a bit of strategy as our last away loss at Stoke when Pardew played three at the back – and it reminds us of what Brian Clough used to say about tactics:
“Players lose you games, not tactics. There’s so much crap talked about tactics by people who barely know how to win at dominoes.”
That about sums up the game for Newcastle today, and we think Alan Pardew thought far too much about the tactics of the game, rather than putting players in their natural positions and inspiring them to play at their very best – after all that’s all Bobby Robson ever did.
Aston Villa made a strong start to this game, obviously in the hopes of getting an early goal to settle the nerves, and it was important that Newcastle defended well.
It seemed like a large enthusiastic crowd was at Villa Park this afternoon, and a large section of Newcastle fans were there and making themselves heard at one end of the stadium.
Newcastle had an early chance with Nile Ranger, who took a shot at goal when he was moving in from the left, but it was straight at American goalkeeper Bred Friedel.
It’s a pity the youngster hadn’t seen Peter Lovenkrands, who was in an unmarked position to his right, and if Ranger could have crossed it into Peter’s path, and it was a much easier chance.
And again the 19 year-old, who had started the game very lively, and won a couple of headers from long balls down-field, had another opportunity and chose to shoot again, although Peter Lovenkrands was again all on his lonesome in the inside right position.
No doubt Pardew will point these things out to the youngster, and it’s only lack of experience, and of course the Londoner would be very keen to score his first Premier League goal.
After the first 15 minutes or so, when Villa had looked on top, Newcastle started to come more into the game and were playing some decent football, as they probed the rather nervous looking Aston Villa defense, for openings.
But then after 24 minutes, following a foul by captain Joey Barton out on the Newcastle right wing, Aston Villa got the all important first goal, when center-back Collins scored his first goal since January, with a nice header from the incoming cross.
It was a good goal for Aston Villa, and it was an excellent cross in from Ashley Young, but you have to wonder about the lack of marking on the set piece from the Newcastle defense, but the header gave goalkeeper Harper no chance at all.
After the goal it was clear how much that had calmed down the Aston Villa side, who had taken only a single point from their last 3 games, and had only one win in their last 7 games before today’s game.
Darren Bent had a wonderful chance to put Aston Villa two up when a cross from former Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing was headed over from just six yards out by the former Sunderland striker.
The play was fairy even as half time arrived, but just before the half time whistle Darren Bent had the ball in the back of the net, but he was judged to be offside – although after looking at more of the TV replays he seemed level and it should have been allowed.
Aston Villa had the vital goal and led 1-0 at the break, with Newcastle seeming to lack drive and creativity in central midfield with Guthrie and Coloccini, with the Argentine looking too slow.
On 49 minutes Joey Barton gave the ball away in central midfield and Villa produced a quick attack down the left wing, and a good shot from Agbonlahor forced a good save to his left from goalkeeper Steve Harper to keep the score at 1-0.
Newcastle were showing no threat at all up front, and after 60 minute Steven Taylor was a little lucky to get away with not giving away a penalty, when he clumsily tackled Darren Bent, but the referee waved play on.
On 63 minutes Alan Pardew made a change and brought on Ryan Taylor for Steven Taylor and put Ryan out on the right wing, and moved Joey Barton to the center of midfield with Danny Guthrie, who would revert to his defensive midfield position.
That’s the side we had expected Pardew to start with this afternoon, and the experiment with Coloccini and Guthrie in midfield just didn’t work, and let’s hope Pardew admits that in his interviews after the game.
Shefki Kuqi was brought on far too late after 83 minutes, as Nile Ranger just got lost in the second half, and why Pardew waited so long to bring on Shefki we have no idea.
Newcastle did try to press a nervous Aston Villa side towards the end of the game, and Ryan Taylor had a chance in injury some with a free-kick, but he put the ball just over the bar.
But it was just not to be and Newcastle handed Villa only their second win in the last 8 games, and a chance to stay up.
But team selection today has to be a big question mark, and we think the lads would have done a lot better starting Ryan Taylor, especially as he is a goal threat and Newcastle looked like the wouldn’t score if they played all night.
That was Newcastle’s fourth successive defeat at Villa Park too, so it’s never been a happy hunting ground for the Magpies.
For this game Newcastle were without Kevin Nolan, Cheick Tiote, James Perch, Ben Arfa, Dan Gosling, Alan Smith, Leon Best, Shola Ameobi and Stephen Ireland – 9 players – for reasons of injury and suspension, and the Newcastle team just wasn’t good enough to get anything out of this game. That’s the sorry truth today.
Newcastle will have Tiote and Stephen Ireland available for the next game a week on Tuesday night, against Manchester United at St. James’ Park, but this display shows why Newcastle need strengthening big time in the summer.
This was the third loss in the last four games, and each team Newcastle lost to – Everton, Stoke and Aston Villa – were below Newcastle in the league – and that’s not good – and this was another disappointing display today.
But we need some fire power up front, and Alan Pardew was right to be nervous about losing Andy Carroll in January, because with Best now out for the seaosn and Ameobi so injury prone all the time, who is going to score the goals for this side?
I’ll look for my boots – now where exactly did I put them 30 years ago?
Aston Villa: (4-4-2): Brad Friedel; Kyle Walker, Richard Dunne, Luke Young; Ashley Young, Jean Makoun, Stiliyan Petrov (c), Stewart Downing; Darren Bent, Gabby Agbonlahor
Subs: Andy Marshall, Ciaran Clark, Carlos Cuellar, Nigel Reo-Coker, Robert Pires, Marc Albrighton, Emile Heskey
Newcastle (4-4-2): Steve Harper; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor, Jose Enrique; Joey Barton, Fabricio Coloccini, Danny Guthrie, Jonas Gutierrez; Nile Ranger, Peter Lovenkrands
Subs: Tim Krul, James Tavernier, Ryan Taylor, Shane Ferguson, Ryan Donaldson, Michael Richardson, Shefki Kuqi