Newcastle United 1-2 Watford: 20 Thoughts & Tidbits

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

The worst start in 16 years saw Newcastle United drop their 3rd game in a row. Six matches into the season and their 0-2-4 start means NUFC are 19th in the standings and in relegation battle with fellow North East rivals Sunderland. Playing at home versus a lesser Watford club should’ve been a no-doubt 3 points in the bag. With that being said, no game is played on paper; Watford was the much better team today, plain and simple. Odion Ighalo scored twice for Watford and Daryl Janmaat put away a nice goal for NUFC.

Here are my 20 thoughts and tidbits:

  1. When Steve McClaren was first appointed as manager, there was talk of a new culture, identity, attitude etc. 6 games into the season and other than a draw vs Southampton and draw at Old Trafford, this looks like the exact same team as last season. 50 million spent and it seems like the root of the problem is still prevailing; yet everyone is having a hard time identifying what the exact problem is.
  2. In my opinion, bringing back Fabricio Coloccini is one of those major problems. He is way past his prime and it was time to move on yesterday. Giving him a new contract and handing him the captaincy back after a summer of transfer rumours was a major mistake; he’s been one of the worst, if not the worst, player for NUFC through 6 matches.
  3. The first goal was on Massadio Haidara. He needs to learn to just punt it up the field when no one is available, enough of this fancy stuff and trying to keep possession, or losing the ball in his own end. Mike Williamson can teach him a trick or two.
  4. Today we saw the importance of a full back in McClaren’s tactics through the display and vital role of Janmaat. This is why I am mind boggled that there wasn’t more of a push to upgrade the LB position in the transfer window. Haidara is not good. Names like Faouzi Ghoulam, Jetro Willems and Raphael Guerreiro were the most mentioned. I would not be surprised to see one of those, or any other LB, come to Newcastle in January.
  5. We also saw a very forward formation today. Defensive midfielder Vurnon Anita was on the bench today and Colback was the holding midfielder. Sissoko started the game as the #10. In the 2nd half, Siem De Jong was subbed on for Papiss Cissé, LM Ayozé Perez became the lone striker and Sissoko pushed out wide.
  6. Speaking of Cissé, I sincerely hope this is the last we’ve seen of him. Cissé, along with Coloccini, should’ve both been sold this summer. It almost seemed like NUFC played with 10 in the first half because of Cissé’s play.
  7. There was a much better display and push by NUFC in the second half; perhaps this is the formation McClaren will go with from now on. Unfortunately, after Janmaat’s goal, it seemed like it was too little, too late.
  8. Watford is a well coached team, very disciplined and were winning every single 50/50 ball. When that happens, it comes down to which team has the most heart and puts in the most effort, as opposed to being the more skilled club. They were outnumbering every NUFC player 2-1 on every ball, always getting help defensively. Kudos to them. That’s how you win games.
  9. Wijnaldum did not have a good game either. He has been invisible. I’m starting to think McClaren has not found a proper role for him.
  10. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Rolando Aarons start at LB. I know it sounds crazy, but I don’t see how it would hurt. He may not have the physical ability or strength to play the position, but how much worse can he be defensively than Haidara? At least he can deliver a proper cross.
  11. Speaking of crosses, or lack thereof, what a poor showing. I can’t count how many times NUFC were delivering crosses, or attempting to, and it was blocked by a Watford player. I thought bringing Thauvin in would change that; apparently not. Strikers are not getting good service from the midfield.
  12. Watching Florian Thauvin today brought back memories of Hatem Ben Arfa and the numerous times he would try to create something when there was nothing happening. Sometimes the simple play is the right play. Get your teammates involved.
  13. Daryl Janmaat was spectacular. He always is. So is Chancel Mbemba. Both players are game in, game out the best players for NUFC on a nightly basis. If only the rest of the team would follow suit.
  14. Sissoko and Janmaat were linking up well in the 2nd They have a nice connection.
  15. However, Sissoko did not play well as the #10. He’s much better on the wing. Ayoze was invisible today too.
  16. Back to Coloccini. The second goal was a despicable display of defending by him. There are far too many times where a striker will shield the ball with Coloccini on his back, and Colo will back off, instead of sticking on the striker, which leaves his center back partner vulnerable.
  17. Everyone keeps bringing up Charlie Austin and how £15 million looks like a bargain now. I hate to say it, but bringing Charlie Austin may not change anything if the service is still poor from the midfield. With that being said, anyone is an upgrade over Papiss Cissé nowadays.
  18. With Chelsea and Man City coming up, Newcastle needed to get a minimum of 4 points versus West Ham & Watford, but came out of the two fixtures with 0. Troubling times ahead.
  19. It is far too early in the season to start talking about relegation, but there are some definite reasons to be worried. All the talk by McClaren about changing the identity of the club, yet the same problems are re-surfacing.
  20. Has there ever been a captaincy swap this early into the season? Wouldn’t mind seeing the band going to someone like Janmaat, Colback or even Wijnaldum. I would like to see Lascelles get a shot.

Newcastle United: Krul, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba, Haidara (Aarons 80′), Sissoko, Colback, Wijnaldum, Perez, Cisse (De Jong 45′), Thauvin (Obertan 86′).

Watford: Gomes, Nyom, Prool, Manuel Jurado (Ake 80′), Deeney, Cathcart, Anya, Abdi (Berghuis 76′), Watson (Guedioura 88′), Ighalo, Capoue.

Ref: Roger East

Crowd: 47,806

MOTM: Daryl Janmaat


NUFC Opponent Report – Newcastle’s Monday night visit to the Boleyn Ground

Words by Rob Saunders – you can follow him on Twitter @RobSaunders9.

As the international break goes away and league football returns it always feels like the rain stops and the rainbow appears in the sky. It’s even better when your favourite team comes out of the monotonous 10 days without an injury to one of their key men. For both of these sides, there are a number of talking points in which to add a bit of flavour to Monday nights fixture: West Ham United v Newcastle United.

The main storyline going into this game sees Steve McClaren head to London in search of revenge as he goes up against Slaven Bilic once more. Bilic, the manager of the Croatia side to stop England – at the time managed by McClaren – from qualifying for Euro 2008, gaining McClaren the ‘wally with a brollie’ nickname for years to come. Seven years later, people still feel the need to mention this above the football. So, let’s mention the football.

West Ham began this season earlier than any Premier League club, entering the Europa League Qualifying stages via the Fair Play award. Europa League Qualifying – the more boring way of saying ‘Intertoto Cup’ – took West Ham to Andorra and Romania 6 weeks before they could think about Premier League football. This allowed the Hammers to prepare for the season, but didn’t allow a lot of time to regroup and get some rest before the last season at the iconic Upton Park. Losing in Europe may have been an annoyance for the fans; who had seen the club come so close and risk injuries and fatigue by starting so early in the season, only to see their team crash out. However, this season without Europe will certainly be seen as a blessing for Bilic in his first season in the English Continue reading NUFC Opponent Report – Newcastle’s Monday night visit to the Boleyn Ground

Newcastle’s almost perfect transfer window is a sign of things to come

Words by Matt Lazenby – follow him on Twitter @MatLazenby.

Fifty million spent, all star players retained and some of the deadwood cleared out. That sounds like a dream transfer window for Newcastle, however it was just shy of a few things that would have made it perfect. This seems to be a sign of things to come however as both Steve McClaren and Lee Charnley are hinting that the summer window was just the beginning for United.

It is correct to say that our window wasn’t perfect, although it is understandable that we couldn’t stretch the money to buy anymore players, as for our league position at the moment £50 million is a lot to spend and compared to the teams around us it is a landslide amount. However, McClaren’s previous press conferences have hinted that this wasn’t just a one off for Newcastle: ‘I wish I could have just spent it all now’ ‘The squad will look totally different this time next year. Did I want to spend £150 million in this window? Absolutely!’ This, coupled with Charnley’s very promising statement yesterday makes it seem as though there is a lot more money available to McClaren and that over the next few transfer windows we are looking to spend another £100 million.

If this does happen to be true and we can make some slight improvements on this transfer window then Newcastle will have a completely different squad that is worthy of challenging for the top 7 of the premier league. Mike Ashley finally investing a lot of money into the side is very refreshing for Newcastle fans to see and also seeing many of the players hit the ground running with brilliant performances can only excite Newastle fans more. If Mitrovic can keep his cool and start scoring as much as he is is getting booked then its hard to see how Newcastle fans can complain. However the window did see some bad points for us. Continue reading Newcastle’s almost perfect transfer window is a sign of things to come

Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal (& Andre Marriner): 20 Thoughts & Tidbits

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

A frustrating match for Newcastle United supporters and the Geordie faithful. Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent off 16 minutes into the match with a debatable red card. The Gunners were dominating early on and the red card saw NUFC draw completely back; at one point the possession was 75-25 in the favor of Arsenal. Newcastle held their shape and defensive line until the 52nd minute, where an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shot deflected off of Coloccini’s leg and behind Tim Krul. A great defensive display by Newcastle; who could have easily come out of this fixture with at least a draw, despite a harsh red card from Andre Marriner, lost 1-0.

Here are my 20 thoughts and tidbits:

  1. I’m going to start off by saying that this was one of the poorest showing of officiating that I have seen in quite some time. Andre Marriner was handing out yellow cards to Newcastle players like candy on Halloween.
  2. Marriner did not have a handle on this match from the get go. This is the same referee that sent off Kieran Gibbs by mistake when it should have been Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last season. How can someone like that still be employed as a Premier League official? Baffling.
  3. As for the Mitrovic red, we can sit and debate for days but one thing is clear, he is a building a reputation that is Balotelli-esque. The red was definitely questionable, there was no intent to injure and the ball was in the air. It was a clumsy, but costly, challenge. A borderline red but had this been Santi Cazorla or Sanchez making that challenge, it’s probably a yellow with a severe warning. Someone like Mitrovic or Tiote? Straight red. Unfortunately, in this case, you reap what you sow.
  4. Having Andre Marriner as a referee did have one advantage. Florian Thauvin tripped Hector Bellerin in the box and should have been a PK but there was no call.
  5. 6 yellow cards for Newcastle United (Sissoko 3’, Mbemba 19’, Thauvin 26’, Anita 48’, Wijnaldum 49’ & Coloccini 92’) and of course a red for Mitrovic in the 16th Only Cazorla was booked for Arsenal, and that wasn’t until the 49th minute.
  6. Speaking of discipline, this is now 2 red cards in 4 league matches and 6 in their last 14 games for the Magpies. It is surely becoming a growing concern for McClaren and the coaching staff. Need to get that sorted out.
  7. Continue reading Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal (& Andre Marriner): 20 Thoughts & Tidbits

NUFC Opponent Report: Analysing Arsenal’s trip to Tyneside

Words by Rob Saunders – you can follow him on Twitter @RobSaunders9.

Newcastle United vs Arsenal – 29th August 2015; St. James’ Park – BT Sport 1 – 12:45.

Before the season began, Arsenal were being touted as title favourites and with the squad and staff at their disposal, there was no reason to dispute that. Having signed Petr Cech from rivals Chelsea, a position that has weakened Arsenal season after season had been sorted. However, with the experienced goalkeeper being the only acquisition to date, and with Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to delve too deep in to the transfer market, cracks have again started to show for the Gunners.

Their performances this season have done nothing to suggest this will be the year Arsenal reclaim the title from Mourinho’s Chelsea, and fans are seen once again clambering for new faces before the transfer window shuts. Against West Ham, their defence was as fragile as ever, and their new £11 million man between the sticks had a case of first-night nerves – being at fault for one if not both of the goals in a 2-0 defeat. There were positives a week later, as Arsenal did what they often struggle to do; beat a lower side away from home; Arsenal wining 2-1, with Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil shining to stop the tactically astute (!) Alan Pardew and his Crystal Palace side.

Things were looking up for Arsenal, too. They hosted Liverpool next and with Brendan Rodgers’ side looking shaky up front, fans were confident of getting all three points. However, the first half was a nightmare for Arsenal, defensively poor and lacking promise up-front, had Petr Cech to thank for keeping them at 0-0 with the keeper getting over his nightmare debut with a string of fantastic saves. The second half was better, but still not good enough and Arsene Wenger has admitted his side has been ‘very average’ thus far.

However, Arsenal have arguably the best midfield in the league and one of the best in Europe. Attacking midfielders Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all have the ability to turn a game on its head, with Sanchez doing so many times last year to help Arsenal to finish 3rd in the league. With Ozil and Sanchez likely to be deployed on either wing, Newcastle’s defence will have to put in a similar performance to the one at Old Trafford a week previous.

Another plus for Arsenal is the way they play. Patient build-up play, silky passing and quick attacking movement makes it hard to stop them when in full flow. If Newcastle were to defend like they did against Continue reading NUFC Opponent Report: Analysing Arsenal’s trip to Tyneside

‘Hard hair, soft heart’ – introducing NUFC new-boy Florian Thauvin

Words by Chris Campbell for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

As Florian Thauvin emerged from the tunnel at St James’ Park, he took a moment to soak in the silence of an empty St James’ Park.

“Beautiful,” he said as he scanned his new surroundings. Neither the first nor last player to admire the unique construction and billowing stands that seem to touch the clouds, he was clearly content with his new home. For Graham Carr Thauvin’s presentation represented the completion of a chase dating back some three years when he witnessed a precocious winger delight the fans of Sporting Club de Bastia with his mazy dribbles and care-free spirit.

“It’s a really big pleasure to know the club has wanted me for such a long time,” Thauvin told NUFCTV. The former home of Michael Essien, Bastia had afforded Thauvin his first professional contract, something he was eternally grateful for. Nestled on the island of Corsica – south east of the French mainland – the club earned promotion to Ligue 1 in 2012 with the help of Thauvin.

Finishing a respectable 12th place, the campaign proved equally as successful for Thauvin individually as he recorded 10 goals in 24 starts. Collecting the Young Player of the season award, he was also named ‘best hope’ by tv channel Canal+, where he accepted his award live on TV. Quick to thank coach Frédéric Hantz and the technical staff for their help during the season, it had proven a breakout season for Thauvin in the French top flight.

Stood in front of his peers – including Remy Cabella- as he delivered his speech at the tender age of 20 there was an evident nervousness. The on-field swagger that had seen him take on the defenders of Paris Saint-Germain as if they were friends in the park had not yet translated to public speaking.

From there the seemingly endless discussion about him began. Much has been said about Thauvin the person – not all of it good.

One interview described him as Continue reading ‘Hard hair, soft heart’ – introducing NUFC new-boy Florian Thauvin