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News and Commentary On Newcastle United By Ed Harrison, A Proud Exiled Geordie And Lifelong Fan

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These Two Players Were So Much Better Last Night

9:28 am, Tuesday, March 15th, 2016 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 25 Comments

You could see 23 years of management experience in action last night from Rafa Benitez and in the first 25 minutes of the game at Leicester the commentators on TV in the US (Arlo White and Tim Howard) were noting how well Newcastle were containing Leicester and closing them down at every opportunity.

But then Leicester sacred and it became more difficult, but Newcastle came at the Foxes in the second half and we were a bit unlucky and could (should) have had a penalty late in the game when Wes Moran clearly handled the ball in the penalty box.


Moussa Sissoko in action at Leicester

The question now is whether we have enough games left for Rafa to work his magic.

Or did the powers that be at the club keep Steve McClaren in power far too long to give him every chance to turn things around – after they had appointed him last summer?

What was very noticeable last night was that two of our stars who had been absent without leave in our away games this season – Moussa Sissoko and Gini Wijnaldum – both had good games and were fighting for the ball and prominent throughout the game.

They are both high up in the polling for our Man of the Match.

Rafa’s already got them playing much better – and the game last night was on the road – so we expect them to be even better against Sunderland on Sunday.

Their performances last night will have given them confidence because they did play well.

It was also good to see both Andros Townsend and Siem de Jong get a chance last night in the second half.

You could see how Rafa is so right when he has said many times we have some good players – and captain Jonjo Shelvey had another (very) good game and he also controlled his emotions well throughout this game.

Jonjo is currently leading in our Man of the Match poll – again.

The instant improvement last night under Rafa Benitez gives us considerable hope that we can pick up the wins we need to be safe over the final 9 games of this season.

And it even looks like Moussa and Gini (and Andros and Siem?) can be big players for us in doing just that.


Keep the faith – we can do it.

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Tags: Andros Townsend · Coaching · Georginio Wijnaldum · Moussa Sissoko · Newcastle News · Siem de Jong

25 responses so far ↓

  • 1 richyg01 // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    Okay, so we lost, probably to be expected against the team top of the league, but I will take that.

    Atleast the lads turned up and put a shift in, even the Leicester goal was unfortunate, we could easily have pinched a point in the second half.

    A much improved performance all round, all we need to do now is put the ball in the net!

    Surely with the best part of a weeks training with Rafa the Gafa, we can only get better, plus, he has actually seen us play now and knows where to focus his attentions.

  • 2 richyg01 // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:30 AM

    That game last night with Mclaren in charge would have been 3 or 4 nil, easily.

  • 3 Lilongwe Geordie // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:34 AM

    Lilongwe Geordie // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:32 AM

    I think the next few lineups will be more telling of how we will develop under Rafa. It was clear from the outset we were going to try and be disciplined and well drilled. Given the opposition and the lack of preparation time for Rafa that is certainly fair enough. Against Sunderland and Norwich I expect to see us offer a greater threat and greater creativity going forwards, as well as being disciplined and well drilled.

    I think it is time for Sissoko to take a spot on the bench. Bring Townsend in, and play him on the left. Sissoko could be a good impact sub against tiring legs late on, but the majority of the time he flatters to deceive.

    Carragher was making the lazy assumption many pundits make when commenting on the Keegan years defending. In Keegans 3 years in the Prem with us, NUFC were never lower than 5th for least number of goals conceded.

  • 4 posada // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:36 AM

    I see no reason to be hopeful.
    Our team is a set of unfit misfits.
    Townsend. Would not, could not meet the fitness standards of his previous manager.
    So we sign him and guess what he’s not fit.
    We have that right through the team.

  • 5 Laurent Robert 32 // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:40 AM

    I thought Gini looked for an away game. He won the ball back in a number of needy situations.

  • 6 Laurent Robert 32 // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:41 AM

    Gini looked good/better for an away game that should have been. He was breaking forward as well.

    Fully behind Rafa to keep us developing.

  • 7 Valid point // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:42 AM

    I have a feeling Siem De Jong will play a big part in keeping us up.

    Just saying…

  • 8 DicBDownCambodia // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:43 AM

    From previous.

    DicBDownCambodia // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:31 AM

    LGFUAD21 @ 6, I’m with you.

    A lot of people seem to be with the impression of ‘we can’t score, we’re going down.’

    Which is correct, but what a huge huge improvement last night was. We actually looked a team, played for each other, and looked a threat when attacking. Just lacking that finishing touch, which in my opinion, could be helped by giving Doumbia more than 5 minutes.

    I think Raffa showed his quality last night by making the right substitutions at the right time, barring Doumbia, would have brought him on earlier.

    I think 6 points from the next two games. A full weeks training, a fired up team to end a dreadful derby run at home in front of 52,000 fans and then that confidence will roll on into the next weeks training and then into Norwich and I think we will push them over. Raffa won’t let that confidence disintegrate during the week.

    Sissoko needs to be dropped, he was dreadful last night in my opinion. Had no umph about him, although he did look better on the left.

    My team for the derby, providing they are fit.

    janmat mbemba lascelles mbabu
    perez shelvey townsend
    doumbia mitro

    Just my two cents. I think the Mrs is getting sick of me talking about it to her ?

  • 9 Bambams // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:43 AM

    I must have missed something but I don’t think Sissoko played that well last night.

    It’s all about opinions and a former great did say ‘Football is a funny old game’

    Derby match is the decider….


  • 10 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:47 AM

    Sissoko was as bad as ever. Don’t get what edd is selling here. Gini looked better, but not sissoko.

  • 11 Jib // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:48 AM

    WestOzMag // Watched the replay twice “FREAK”

    Replay of the free kick twice (minute 23.21 ) doh

    I’d rather be an English freak than Aussie Wombat fiddler


  • 12 Jib // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:49 AM

    Quite alliterative that
    WestOzmag W@nks Wombats

  • 13 optimistic prime // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:51 AM

    Sissoko can run but that’s it. He can’t pass shoot tackle or even trap a ball.

    Doesn’t deserve a first team place.

    If last night was him playing well he’s more suited to championship than champions league.

    Deserved a point last night IMO.

  • 14 AncientC // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:54 AM

    Master tactictian ?

  • 15 John Akomfrah // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:56 AM

    is he at it again tut tut

  • 16 Lilongwe Geordie // Mar 15, 2016 at 9:57 AM

    I’d agree that Colback didn’t have a bad game at left back, but he made two errors in the build up to the goal. He over committed giving Mahrez the opportunity to go down and therefore in the free kick. Then he got himself into a poor position and body position when marking Vardy.

    Other than that he did okay up against Mahrez with limited assistance from Sissoko in front.

  • 17 Slank // Mar 15, 2016 at 10:07 AM

    For the Sunderland game I’m not sure we need Anita alongside Shelvey. He didn’t impress yesterday. Nor did Shelvey in the first half.

    Things changed when Gini moved infield alongside Shelvey. It become more fluid. I would play a midfield three of Shelvey, Gini and De Jong. De Jong hasn’t got the pace but that isn’t going to matter too much as Sunderland are more than likely come to defend and sit back.

    Townsend has to start. He is probably the best crosser of a ball at the club.

    Mbabu also needs to start instead of our standing left back.

    Whilst I admire the hold up play of Mitrovic you don’t score mid way in the opposition half. The style of play has to change from humping forward for Mitrovic to chest down. If we are winning the game with a safe goal difference Mitrovic is essential to slow the game down with hold up play but if we are looking for goals he needs to be in the penalty area with our forwards attacking down the wings.

  • 18 jimiley // Mar 15, 2016 at 10:11 AM

    You cannot make a silk purse out of a pigs ear. Our strikers are crap. Rafa will organize our defence and make us harder to beat but we cannot score goals. We did not force a very average Leicester keeper to make a save. That is the bottom line from this performance. We need to win most of our home games otherwise we will go down. The next two games are massive and if we fail to win them our confidence and managerial lift will disappear.
    Regarding Leicester, I think the rest of the league has not taken them seriously as league leaders and are willing them to win the league. They are playing to Leicesters strenghts by attacking them. Teams should sit deep and invite them on and counter attack them. Just as Rafa did. They are clueless when they have to break teams down. Leicester are an average team with a decent defence and two good attackers. Danny Simpson ffs?????? Our 1996 team was much better. Out attack and midfield was much better but they have a better defence and keeper (RIP Pav. I would not swap you for either Scmeichel). Kev should have bought a top centre half instead of Asprilla. Our problem was not scoring goals but not holding onto leads away from home. Leicester have had it easy. I hope they win the league and I expect their defence to do just that. Up the foxes!!!

  • 19 jimiley // Mar 15, 2016 at 10:15 AM

    I meant to say a very average Leicester team to make a save. The keeper is very good. Not as good as his dad mind you. We player Leicester spot on. Our problem is our strikers are crap so we cannot counter attack very well. No shots means no goals and we all know where that ends.

  • 20 jimiley // Mar 15, 2016 at 10:21 AM

    How many of our players do other clubs want? Possibly Gini, Mbemba and at a push Perez but thats it. Thats why we are second bottom. Carr and Charmless have been a disaster.

  • 21 Pigott93 // Mar 15, 2016 at 10:26 AM

    How gini is anywhere near the top of the poll is beyond me I thought he had one of his poorest games for Newcastle..he did put in the effort to be fair but just wasn’t good enough and was losing the ball and fouling..I also felt sissoko put in more effort but did not have a good game, he made good runs but his final ball was poor as was janmaats. Saying that I think the team as a whole played well and could have gotten a draw only for a spectacular goal and that’s saying something seeing as it’s our 3rd and 4th choice centre backs against the league leaders..have a good feeling about the Sunderland game for once I feel the crowd will be electric!!

  • 22 Pigott93 // Mar 15, 2016 at 10:28 AM

    @valid point, I feel the same de jong seems like the perfect player for rafa to get the best out of

  • 23 jimmygscot // Mar 15, 2016 at 10:48 AM

    Same failings.
    Suspect Defence
    Non scoring Attack
    No Pace and little creativity.
    SDJ missed another chance. Remember the header he missed against Villa, those 2 chances could have given us 3 points.
    Not sure if Rafa knows the best formation is.Not sure some of the players know their best position namely Sissoko & Gini. Dont think there is enough time to sort out this mess!

  • 24 Lindisfarne // Mar 15, 2016 at 12:09 PM

    Not sure how Shelvey gets MOTM but then again it is fairly well spread between a team with no one playing outstandingly. IMO Gini looked more of a player when he was in the deep midfield position, more able to play more positively than Anita or Colback have ever done. I also did not like how Colback took throw ins back into our own half from the attacking third.

    It would great to see more of Doumbia and de Jong if they can provide quick and intelligent thrusts in play. The complete contrast to trying to make Mitro a hold up player.

    I would prefer to see Townsend on the left and more crosses whipped in across the mouth of the goal from either wing. Did not see one last night and more than often crosses were wasted.

  • 25 Sivarese // Mar 15, 2016 at 1:03 PM

    21% thought Shelvey was man of the match?

    In the game I watched, he was awful. He didn’t want the ball – he’d be ten yards from the centre halves with nobody around him pointing to the full backs to receive the ball. He passed mostly backwards, and only a handful of meaningful balls forward. He seemed out of position for most of the game, with the ball being ten yards in front or behind him. His pointing was superb, however. I thought Wijnaldum was listless for 70 minutes, and his passing was so sloppy for a lot of that. I thought generally the team’s first touches and passing were frustratingly poor. I thought Sissoko was the worst culprit. Colback was my MOTM. Full of running and coped pretty well with either Mahrez or Vardy when they kept swapping wings. Supported the attacks well for the most part.

    I saw a lot of running in the team, and keeping Leicester so quiet was good, but unless someone starts scoring we’ll be more solid but scraping 0-0 draws and losing by the odd goal instead of being outplayed every week. Mitro needs a goal (or seven) and we may just stay up. His hold-up play was really good last night.

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