Newcastle: Dumping Cisse For De Jong Feels Wrong But Team Have Been Unlucky In 2014
In three weeks time, it'll be the third year anniversary of what is considered by some to be the greatest comeback ever in the Premier League.
Trailing a rampant Arsenal 0-4 at half time, Newcastle United somehow managed to close the gap to a single goal as the game neared its climax. Joey Barton floated in a cross, it's was cleared by a defender as far as the edge of the box, it drops out of the sky, Cheick Tiote swung his weaker foot at it, and 25 yards later history was made.
As a Newcastle fan, it is honestly no exaggeration whatsoever to tell you that the lad hasn't even come close to repeating that trick since. Nothing that “just flashed wide”, nothing that “stings the palms”, nothing that “rattles the woodwork”, just three years of aimless shots that have frustrated fans and scared the living s***e out of low flying birds.
This is one of many reasons I'm annoyed about his strike yesterday being disallowed. The main reason of course being that it absolutely should have stood.
Manuel Pellegrini, who most of you will remember as being The Head from ITV's Art Attack, was joined only by the referee in thinking dandruff spokesman Joe Hart was somehow impeded by the player standing 7ft to his left. It was chalked off, Manchester City preserved their lead, and eventually left with all three points. Meanwhile the horrific nature of that (and other) decisions got completely overshadowed in the press because swear words were exchanged in the melee. No, honestly, at a football ground. I'm disgusted too.
Once the varying furors eventually run out of steam, Newcastle will have to deal with the fact that, robbed or otherwise, they took nothing from this game and recorded their 3rd consecutive league defeat. All of which they’ve failed to score in. Much like the 0-1s against Arsenal and West Brom, Sunday’s reverse the side play well, create chances and defend effectively, so any talk of a dip in form or a bubble bursting would be wide of the mark. It’s simply that the over dependence on Loic Remy for goals has meant that when he isn’t scoring, we aren’t winning games.
A second attempt to tempt Borussia Munchenspellcheck’s Luuk De Jong to Tyneside, initially on a loan deal, has been strongly rumoured, with the artist formerly known as Papiss Cisse allegedly swanning off to Qatar to make room. Replacing a proven goalscorer who's short on both goals and confidence this season, with a proven goalscorer who's short on both goals and confidence this season is precisely the level of forward planning you'd expect from our Director of Football. Who, incidentally, promised to buy players who “have their futures ahead of them” this week. As opposed to...?
The problems, though obvious, are mercifully few. Normally a run of bad results requires an entire post-mortem, but playing the league’s best two teams and allowing them a combined 10 shots on target proves that the defensive solidity is still there, plus the possession stats (48% against Arsenal and 53% against City) proves that we’re still matching the best teams in the middle. As for West Brom, a needless sending off and an injury to your captain within a few minutes is likely to reduce your chances of winning any game. Hashtag these things happen.
2014’s been disappointing, but not dispiriting. However for the first time this season Newcastle find themselves in a position where they’re under pressure to get a result. The next two games, away to West Ham and Norwich, are more than winnable, but failure to take maximum points would send us into a run of big games (Chelsea away, Spurs home, and… uh… The Derby) with the teams above us most likely having pulled away.
We’re probably not going to finish above Man United and Tottenham by the way, but if we’re heading into February with aspirations no higher than ‘fend off Southampton to finish 8th’, then what’s the point?
Rumours that an official line of club merchandise with “Shut your noise, f***ing old c***” emblazoned over them remain largely unsubstantiated. But I’m putting a tenner aside for the tea towel regardless.
Follow Adam on Twitter, @AdamClery