Defender – We Had The Opportunity To Win – We Took It

Ciaran Clark has been one of the successes of the season and he’s become a starter alongside captain Jamaal Lascelles in central defense.

The two lads play really well together and they are both vocal, yet it was a really poor goal to concede last night after 29 minutes when our defense failed to clear a ball into the box and Forest equalized after Matt Ritchie had put us ahead after only four minutes.

But two Dwight Gayle goals in the second half saw us home with a very valuable 3 points after Matt Mills had been sent off after an hour with two yellow cards.

Ciaran Clark – Newcastle center-back

Rafa Benitez was certainly not happy with the goal conceded and again after the game the manager said we can do a lot better although three goals and 3 points last night was a good result.

Ciaran Clark was interviewed immediately after the game on the Newcastle web-site and he had this to say:

“There was a lot of controversy in the game away at Forest, and we felt that we owed them one,”

“With the Brighton game being called off as well, we knew there was a chance for us to go back to the top with a win.”

“With all of those things in the back of our minds, there was an extra boost for us to go out there and do well.”

“It’s obviously a good result in the end, and I thought it was a good performance. We were disappointed to go in 1-1 at half time, because we felt that we controlled the game.”

“They tried to slow the game down and frustrate us, but it didn’t get the better of us, and everyone managed to keep a cool head.”

“In the end, they ended up losing it themselves – the sending-off helped us and we obviously made them pay.”  “We managed to get the two goals and we’re happy in the end.”

“Blackburn came up here and beat us recently, so it’s another game we’ll need to concentrate on and make sure we’re at our best.”

“After losing on Boxing Day, we didn’t want to get on a run where we weren’t winning, and we wanted to put it right quickly.”

“We had the perfect opportunity to do that tonight against a good side, and we did that.”

“The gaps can close quickly. Brighton have won a few, we’ve made a few mistakes and that has cost us.”

“We need to keep working hard, and keep getting the right results.”

It was nice to be top of the Championship at Christmas and also top at the end of the year, after Brighton’s game against Cardiff City was called off because of thick fog.

Here’s the standings at the top of the league with the remaining games being played today.

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74 comments so far

  • Ron Knee

    Dec 31, 2016 at 8:54 AM

    Comment #1

    RIP Allan Williams, the Beatles’ first manager.

  • Bambams

    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:01 AM

    Comment #2

    Clark is another one that when we signed him I was a little unsure…..

    Villa fans on Twitter were all having a laugh……Look who is laughing now !

    I think he has done very well and will only improve. Put a fiver on him to score at Blackburn – he is due a goal and it’s New Year ! Nearly….

  • Bambams

    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:03 AM

    Comment #3

    Mo Farah knighted !

    Well deserved in my opinion


    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:17 AM

    Comment #4

    If not for our defence completely fluffing a standard cross into the box we keep a clean sheet last night while playing poorly and we were on top before the red so that excuse doesn’t fly for me yet complaints are everywhere must be a Christmas hangover haha

    Good news to have the ACoN lads here for another game (the power of a respected manager showing) just hope we are able to get some players in early doors and Shelvey comes back fit with a point to prove (and maybe of learnt to keep his mouth shut a bit)

  • Jail for Ashley

    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    Comment #5

    Three players on one shite Forest player with not a soul marking the guy out wide, it was sloppy schoolboy defending, there is going to be a no nonsense defender brought in next year and some one isn’t going to like it.

  • geordieboy83

    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:35 AM

    Comment #6


    Who do you see being that no nonsense defender mate? I still think mbemba is the best cb we have but I would say more so for the premier league. I just can’t think of any attainable no nonsense cb to play with him that we could realistically get. A chiellini or bonnuci yes please but even I daren’t dream of that haha

  • geordieboy83

    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:36 AM

    Comment #7

    Saying that I would take that kone from the stinky neighbours were they to go down

  • Jib

    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:37 AM

    Comment #8

    Rafa coaches a lot of zonal marking in defensive situations and on occasion if a cross pinballs in the area it is sometimes better for a player who has been dragged out of position to leave it and not put a half hearted header on the ball that wrongfoots everyone.


    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:37 AM

    Comment #9

    Aye it was terrible defending, u reckon a defender will come in Jan? I’d like to see more of Mbemba and Hanley tbh

    Am not entirely sold of Clark of late

  • Toonfan8

    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:42 AM

    Comment #10

    Mbemba is better than Clark, but Clark can be used as LB also, maybee he would be better there than Dummett.

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:46 AM

    Comment #11

    Just got in from match

    My take on proceedings – nowt different from Monday night except the result. Started off ok got lucky with first goal then total shite until there player got sent off.

    Can’t get my head around why RAFA plays one up front at home – Gayle who got hammered all night – needs a partner to take some weight off his shoulders.

    home line-up tactics sorry RAFA – inept – sorry back passes to Darlow hoof up to Gayle our lone striker – five foot nothing to head the ball – NO! whole team could not tackle – frightened I don’t know but most tackles Forest won – There no 22 Kasami was a powerhouse

    Now I know why Clark and Lascelles don’t pass the ball forward – they can’t.

    Started with two many lightweight midgets – Atsu, Perez, Gayle, Ritchie, Yedlin who got knocked off the ball time and time again.

    Merit marks

    Darlow 7 did nowt wrong but his distribution kicking was poor wish our defenders would come short to get roll-out from him.
    Yedlin 7 best of our defenders going forward – BUT cannot tackle
    Clark 5 – Poor at best to slow to many sideways passes and today couldn’t head the ball to save his life
    Lascalles – 5 as above ditto in everything he did.
    Dummett – 5 tackled well but distribution woeful except for one cross but no one gambled to get on the end.
    Ritchie – 7 MOM probably our best player tonight but still way below his best
    Colback – 6 did ok but his tackling was poor mistimed a lot and gave the ball away in dangerous positions.
    Hayden – 4 thought he was awful tonight looked like he could not be bothered wandered around the pitch like Shola looks a lost cause without Shelvey.
    Atsu – 7 showed willing got into good positions carried the ball well but his decision making needs to improve
    Perez – 2 woeful – to easy knocked off the ball – only showed up last ten minutes.
    Gayle 7 ploughs a lone furrow up front – touch of class his first goal but needs to be stronger.

    Diame 7 what we needed when he came on showed bit of fight carried the ball and with that the TOON upped their game
    Mitrovich 5 what does he have to do to get a start – playing shit pumping long high balls upfield and still does not get on until the last 5 minutes. Me if I was Mitrovich I would be banging the boss’s door down to get a start,.
    Lazar 5 showed frustration at the end when no one moved to take a pass – get used to it pal

    RAFA 5 –
    did not like his team selection – far to many lightweight players to play in this league and only one up front

    Ref 4 poor made some strange decisions

    This morning thoughts:
    This week: 190 minutes plu –
    i) showed little creativity without Shelvey
    ii) got bullied off the ball far to easily
    iii) soon as we get ruffled up werun out of ideas.
    iv) Got no plan B – stick to the rigid formation
    v) Got to do some – lot of transfer business

    People on here can have a go at me but that is the way I have seen and watched it over the last two games.
    And I am not the only one – quite a lot of frustrated fans in the Gallowgate End last night.

  • jasper

    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:46 AM

    Comment #12

    On the Perez debate he wasn’t very good except that when he got going near the area he picked a pass whilst moving at speed three or four times and was unlucky that none resulted in anything. This is a skill that a lot of his colleagues lack.
    In the first thirty minutes Forest carved a path through our midfield and defence very easily and really should have scored before they did. We had two DMs on but never seemed tight on their man. Nor did we win many 50:50s.
    Our crossing was poor, many landing between the penalty spot and 18 yard line, behind strikers.
    Overall movement is poor and it is increasingly rare to see a sequence of five or six one or two touch passes in the opponent’s half. Two many players don’t seem able to get their heads up, Colbeck, Hayden, Diame, Dummett and Atsu included. Only Ritchie, Yedlin and Perez seem to know where others are, and Shelvey of course.

  • Toonfan8

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    Comment #13

    Thats what i am talking all day, we are far from epl football never mind european. Our players are missing football brain and movement, they have too many touches on the ball, modern football is anywhere near us.

  • Toonfan8

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:02 AM

    Comment #14

    We look like village team that has one veteran with brain in the middle (shelvey) and everything depend on him and one small quick upfront (gayle)


    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:03 AM

    Comment #15

    Tbf we are a division from PL football

  • yorkymag

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:04 AM

    Comment #16

    I was in the gallowgate and didn’t hear much of your strange views being supported
    Yes it was a difficult game and we were frustrated by a team intent on stopping us playing
    By thee way under Rafa we now need 37 points to be promoted
    What does he know !!!!


    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:05 AM

    Comment #17

    Haha give over man village team are u just on the wind up

  • Toonfan8

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:09 AM

    Comment #18

    I am happy that you enjoy our beutiful football, great times are here, we are great in the championship, but cant beat poor epl side like hull…man you will wake up if we will get there next year…

  • calvinzolamakongo

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:10 AM

    Comment #19

    Was at the game last night and thought I may as well give a perspective too 🙂

    Darlow-good as usual but I think he found it frustrating when kicking long as there was no target to aim for

    Yedlin-I rate this guy massively couple times he took the game in his own hands buy running 50/60 yrds with the ball to start attacks etc but he can be annoying when he messes up a five yard pass but he always recovers and he’s better in the air than anita

    Lascelles-few unconvincing headers which normally he excels at and lots of the same old sideways passing including some dreadful long balls to atsu think with him and clark players rarely get in behind through the middle.

    Clark-same as lascelles but made a few mistakes passing wise which he is normally good at and his forward runs mostly messed up on the final ball.

    Dummet – poor the only player in our defence that gets beaten in behind so much in a game and attacking wise whereas before he would just hug the touchline and be available for the easy pass now as soon as Clark gets the ball he turns his back and sprints right up the line beyond the winger so Clark has to go back to lascelles so I think Paul needs to vary it up a bit

    Hayden-think he’s trying too hard to be like shelvey passing wise he misplaced a fair few long balls but done well at making runs into the box and interplay and a few good tackles to break up play one thing good about him is that he knows when he is shit

  • Bambams

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:11 AM

    Comment #20

    I think what has made us all a little nervous is not just we are not easily beating teams but the chasing pack are more or less all matching us or a little better.

    I was hoping some injuries by now would have affected Brighton, Reading, Leeds etc

    But in Rafa I trust

  • Moonraker15

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:12 AM

    Comment #21

    We might not be playing like Barca every week but just take a look at the table and give it a rest please!

  • sing in the corner

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:13 AM

    Comment #22

    Everyone is just gonna have to hold their nerve. Rafa is very focused on this game management thing. We don’t go for teams, even when they are as poor as forest were. We try to get ahead and then manage the opposition. Very much a continental approach you used to often see,from years gone by.
    I think Rafa is probably going to hold firm and try to get the job done without splashing the cash in Jan. And you have to say, if we do it, come the summer we will be glad we’ve not picked up 2 or more average players on big contracts who aren’t really good enough. Loans are the obvious answer, but we want players who are going to be committed and put max effort in. Sometimes you don’t get that with loanees..


    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:17 AM

    Comment #23

    I am enjoying it as it goes, we are head and shoulders above all but 1 of the other teams in the league with a brilliant manager and a team playing together, a striker on fire and players who are improving rather than looking for a move

    Also we drew with Hull (should of won) which is what Everton just did are they just like a village team? We are also in the championship so why would we have a PL competing team?

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:17 AM

    Comment #24


    Must be easily pleased because I was not impressed last night – at the moment we are a one-trick pony!

    going up – yes – think-so
    but hell we are are going to have to strengthen all over the pitch in more ways than one

  • Moonraker15

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:18 AM

    Comment #25

    Over the years Toon have always had a great home record but away from home totally inept.
    Rafa sets up teams to not concede goals and has one up front supported from midfield.
    That’s why we are better away from home now but we are paying the price at home sometimes!

  • Jib

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:18 AM

    Comment #26


    Rafa has made as plain as he can without upsetting his current squad too much that this is a group of players to get us out of the Championship.

    They have got us top of the league with a massive g/d and the top scorer !

    Whine about us not having EPL players when we are in the EPL.

    RB has proven many times he can be a ruthless man – I expect wholesale change this summer when we achieve promotion.

  • Toonfan8

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:20 AM

    Comment #27

    I dont want us to be Barca, for me it would be enough to play like keegan, sbr teams…that is my dream, but in this era it wont happen, maybee with rich chinese or dubai owner…but with ashley I think we droped too much, we lost our selves…sad but true, i dont say rafa is doing bad job here, he brought stability to ashleys mess, but apart from that I dont enjoy our games for too long

  • toontaff2

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:31 AM

    Comment #28

    The first 20 mins or so, the Gallowgate was pumping, then it all seemed to go pear-shaped!
    They ushered that long haired Johnson across the 18 yard line, no one challenged, then whenhe passed it to the winger who hit a hopeful cross. Poor defending and the crowd got more and more frustrated!

  • yorkymag

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    Comment #29

    It’s not always easy to be on the front foot ,particularly at home
    I have not seen a team all season really come to the gallowgate with the intention of playing football perhaps reading and Brighton and those were ou best performances ..
    Away the emphasis is more on the home side and we have done better
    With regard to premier league players ,we are not a premier league team for peats sake
    We have a job to do to get out of this minefield that is the championship
    This team would be fighting relegation in the premier but 2017 will hopefully bring a new opportunity
    Rafa will deliver a premier league team that will be a force maybe even top 5

  • sing in the corner

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    Comment #30

    Its all about getting up without saddling ourselves with any more players we can’t jettison in the Prem. Sure, we’d all love to see us playing free flowing, cavalier football for a while.
    But it’s gonna be about the long term. Rafa is nothing if he’s not a pragmatist. He’s a great thinker. Takes emotion out of it. We will see the benefits over the next couple of seasons..
    In the meantime, knee jerk all you want when we don’t rip teams open. I don’t see us changing too much between now and the end of this season. Having said that, we will obviously look a better attacking proposition with JS back and hopefully still in form. 2 down, 3 to go…

  • toontaff2

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:33 AM

    Comment #31

    It was crying out for Mitro, but when their captain got sent off, a bad foul and then, apparently?, dissent – we upped our game, the crow got going again and we could easily have won by more.

  • toontaff2

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:34 AM

    Comment #32

    The crowd – crow – caw!

  • yorkymag

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    Comment #33

    2 really as one is fa egg cup

  • Jib

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:39 AM

    Comment #34

    According to the chaps at the Beeb his second card incident wasn’t seen by the ref but the 4th official saw him ram the ball into Gayles solar plexus while pleading he’s just handed it to him.

  • toontaff2

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:40 AM

    Comment #35

    Besides the slow in possession pass side and back problem
    thought Ritchie MoM
    Atsu did ok, does try to beat men
    Yedlin was good goingforward
    Hayden was a right mix, some very good, some very poor, trying to do too much and not natural for him
    Diame was immense when he cameon in midfield!
    Jack did what Jac k does but with Hayden we are not great in midfield
    Gayle is becoming a legend 19 and counting!
    Perez- was he playing??????????
    Mitro – 3 minutes-ishe off in January?
    Lazaar looked ok

    Greatto see Forest player get a red and hear their manager whinge! Karma!!

  • Jib

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    Comment #36

    I don’t think Zola is going to put out a full strength Birmingham City side against us in the FA cup next week.

  • Rotonda heights

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:46 AM

    Comment #37


    if we go up do you honestly think is the 11 that will be playing. everyone knows we are short of epl uality players. we had to sell wijni, sissoko, townsend, janmatt etc.

    the likes of gayle and ritchie came in to do a job and are you serously questioning that decision!

    le’s get promoted before you keep knocking everything. do you really think rafa won’t have a least half a dozen targets in mind.

    only at nufc could we be top of the league and top scorers, missing our playmaker and still have so-called fans like you. it makes me genuinely sick and ashamed. Fickle or what.

  • toontaff2

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:48 AM

    Comment #38

    Thanks Jib! It was funny to see 1 of their’s get the red card, anyway!

  • AncientC

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:51 AM

    Comment #39

    It turns out that the Guardian is the most accurate source for transfer rumours.

    It was the Guardian that were linking Mitrovic with Palace. Considering the amount of game time Mitro is getting, and Mitrovic suiting Allardyce football, you have to wonder.

  • yorkymag

    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:53 AM

    Comment #40

    Spot on rotonda
    Let’s celebrate and look forward with obvious room to develop and improve

    37 points needed


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