Rafa Benitez will not have liked what he saw in the first half tonight, when after 19 minutes and then 45 minutes Newcastle gifted Doncaster Rovers two goals and we just have to cut out these defensive mistakes.
In fact in the first half we looked like we have for the last several seasons, when our defense has been really suspect.
After 19 minutes new signing Matz Sels made an embarrassing error when he failed to control the ball and ended up giving away a penalty that was easily converted.
Rafa Benitez on the sidelines tonight
And then after 45 minutes Doncaster scored from a corner when our players stood like statues as the corner was headed back across goal and Williams scored his second goal by heading in unmarked at the far post.
At half time we wondered how we could still look so fragile – it was that poor – but it was a huge improvement in the second half.
And the manager has talked about the two massive mistakes we made which could have lost a game we were thinking we could win easily – at least before the game started.
This is what Rafa said after the game:
“Normally you say you have two halves, and in this game it was very clear,” “In the first half we didn’t play at the level I was expecting, and we made two mistakes and conceded two goals.”
“That gave them some hope that they could get a result. In the second half, we started playing like we wanted to play, passing the ball a little bit better and running behind defenders.”
“It was a big difference. We had a lot of chances and their keeper was making some great saves.”
“It was a massive mistake for both goals, but the good thing is that we can analyse these things now and try to find the reason why, and then find the solutions.”
The bottom line is that in the first half tonight we looked no better in defense than we have looked for the last few seasons.
That was alarming.
We need more physicality in defense so it’s good that Grant Hanley should be signing on for us tomorrow – but we could still could do with another good strong defender coming in.