In Rafa Benitez’ first game in charge of Newcastle at league leaders Leicester City tonight, we lost 1-0 for our 8th away defeat on the trot in all competitions and six of those have come without us being able to score a goal.
While the result wasn’t much different from the past, Rafa had only a couple of days to prepare the lads and it was an improved performance from Newcastle, with the players at least showing more urgency in the game and some fight and determination.
But if Rafa thought this was going to be easy, he will realize it will not be – and we don’t seem to have anybody who can put the ball in the back of the net.
Newcastle lost to a good goal from Leicester’s viewpoint, but it was more poor defending from Newcastle.
It was an overhead kick from Shinji Okazaki after 25 minutes following a free kick into the box – and although the lads put in the effort and moved forward with purpose after we had gone behind, we couldn’t score to get the much needed point.
Shinji Okazaki scores after 25 minutes
Newcastle started the game with purpose and pressured Leicester from the off – but we gave the ball away too many times and our biggest weakness was that when we got some chances – we just couldn’t score.
So what’s new?
Not getting Charlie Austin or another proven Premier League in last summer or in the January transfer windows could really cost us, unless some of our players can start scoring some goals.
No doubt Rafa will have them doing shooting practice and shooting drills this week, but it shows clearly the transfer windows are not being used for fixing Newcastle’s weaknesses.
Only one of the four players signed in January started this game.
But it was a fairly close game and Newcastle were more compact and certainly looked a better side than in our last few games – but Rafa will need time to get things sorted – but we haven’t got many games left now – 9 to be precise.
We are now one point behind both Sunderland and Norwich with a game in hand over Norwich – but we have a worse goal difference than both those clubs above us.
Next up is Sunderland on Sunday, but there will be plenty of time to prepare for that game and then we visit Norwich two weeks later – so really the next two games will go a long way to deciding where we end up at the end of the season.
But we shouldn’t over-react to this defeat against the league leaders at their place – we have easier games coming up. although Sunday’s game is going to be something.
We though it was an encouraging display – and Rafa cannot perform miracles – well not immediately anyhow.
Here’s the latest positions at the bottom of the league.
Leicester: Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Mahrez, Kante, Drinkwater, Albrighton (Ulloa, 75); Okazaki (Schlupp, 65), Vardy.
Subs not used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Amartey, Inler, Gray.
Newcastle: Elliot; Janmaat, Taylor, Lascelles, Colback; Sissoko, Anita (Townsend, 56), Shelvey (Doumbia, 87), Perez (de Jong, 71); Wijnaldum; Mitrovic.
Subs not used: Darlow, Sterry, Saivet, Riviere.
Goal: Okazaki 25
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire)
Attendance: 31,824 (1,334 Newcastle)