Some of us are just about getting over the shock of seeing a Newcastle side completely dismantled in the second half at Fulham on Saturday afternoon.
Danny Guthrie – after scoring great opening goal on Saturday
After bossing the first half and Danny Guthrie scoring a wonderful goal with his left foot, everything looked set up to get all 3 points and move into 5th place and just two points behind Chelsea, who had only drawn at Norwich in the early game on Saturday.
But Newcastle conceded four goals in 17 minutes form the 52nd minute on, and looked like schools side trying to play against a Premier League side, at least at the back.
The way Alan Pardew put it after the game, too many Newcastle players switched off after Newcastle conceded a penalty, when Davide Santon pulled down former Newcastle winger Damien Duff.
We may even see some changes in the back four on Saturday, with Davide Santon looking poor in his positional play in the second half, and big Mike Williamson being given a bit of a roasting by Bobby Zamora, who had looked hopeless in the first half.
Davide Santon is a good player, but he should have been sent off just before half time when he pulled back Andrew Johnson when the striker was clean through, and more than once on Saturday, Davide’s positional sense looked poor.
This is not the first time a defensive collapse has happened at Newcastle in the last 15 months with Bolton being a good example when we lost 5-1 in late November of 2010.
And we were hammered 4-0 in the first 26 minutes at home to Arsenal last February, before that unbelievable comeback to square the game at 4-4.
And in the second half at Stoke last season we conceded three goals, two of them almost immediately after half time in that 4-0 defeat, after we had looked even the better side in the first half.
And would you believe that in the previous 6 league games Newcastle had kept four clean sheets?
Danny Guthrie had said this after the game:
“We didn’t get too high after the Manchester United game, and we’re not going to get too low after this,”
“It was a 20-minute period where it all went wrong, and we haven’t really done that all season. “
“We’ll go away, clear our heads and get ready for the FA Cup.”
That’s the right attitude, and the lads are today in their training camp in Tenerife, but Alan Pardew has to get to the bottom of what exactly happened on Saturday in that second half.
We could well see Ryan Taylor return to the left back position for the game at Brighton on Saturday, although young Davide Santon will have learned from his poor second half performance on Saturday.
We have to hope Saturday was just a bad day at the office and other results over the weekend went Newcastle’s way, with Arsenal losing 2-1 against Manchester United yesterday and both Liverpool and Stoke losing on Saturday.
So even though we were absolutely pathetic in that second half, we are still in 6th place and one point above Liverpool, and level on 36 points with Arsenal, and 6 points better off than Stoke in 7th place.
Liverpool and Arsenal are both struggling mightily this season, and if Newcastle can get their act together and go on a good run, we could even get more points that both those teams this season.
It’s unlikely we can do that – but nevertheless it’s possible in what has been a strange season in the Premier League.
If we had played the second half like we had done in the first we would have won the game, and Newcastle would have been in 5th place just 2 points off Chelsea in a Champions League position and 3 points clear of Arsenal.
And yes we know that’s all woulda coulda shoulda.
So while it was just awful to watch on Saturday, and the performance would have spoiled the Saturday nights of many Newcastle supporters, we’re still in with a good chance of finishing high up in the league.
That’s the good news – but we cannot have any more Fulham surrenders, if we are going to continue to do well this season.