Date: Sunday 25th November 2012, 3pm
Venue: St.Marys Stadium
Conditions: heavy rain in Hampshire....
and an absolute shower in stripes
2 - 0
Ricky Lambert received the ball facing towards his own goal and just
inside his own half, wheeling round to find the onrushing Jason Puncheon.
He charged forwards with Davide Santon in vain pursuit and although Tim
Krul beat him to the ball on the edge of the Newcastle box, the
goalkeeper's left-foot clearance fell into the path of Nathaniel Clyne on
the Saints right.
Taking the ball on his cheet and striding forward and away from Shane
Ferguson, Clyne tried his luck from distance as Krul recovered his
position between the posts. And although his right-footed effort looked to
be dropping wide and past the lurking Lallana, Ramires anticipated Mike
Williamson's header out and reached it ahead of Danny Simpson.
Sidestepping the approaching Krul on the corner of his six yard box, he
rolled the ball sideways for Lallana to sidefoot home - the despairing
lunge of Williamson on the goal line seeing him connect with the ball only
after it had crossed the line. Exactly the sort of goal a team concedes
when they are collectively in the proverbial. 0-1
Half time: Saints 1 Magpies 0
60 mins Krul's clearance from Steven Taylor's backpass reached Cheick
Tiote, but his loose header out towards Santon on the left touchline was
half-intercepted by Puncheon. The ball ballooned up and infield with Cork
beating Tiote to the resultant header and releasing Lallana into space.
He then improved upon by tipping the ball over Simpson's head and after a
little shimmy to deter the advancing Williamson, he played a short pass to
Schneiderlin out on the Saints left. He promptly bisected Simpson and
Gutierrez with a low pass to Lallana in the box, who exchanged passes with
Puncheon and took and then backheeled the return, giving Puncheon an
opening towards the byline.
He drove the ball across the Newcastle six yard box and Krul looked to
have averted the danger as he dropped forward to collect it, with Ramirez
in the vicinity but seemingly shepherded by Taylor. However the 'keeper
failed to hang on to the ball, Taylor instinctively took a pace back to
try to cover the goal and Ramires was able to poke home from five yards
out with a rising left-footed volley 0-2
Full time: Saints 2 Magpies 0
was all good up until when it kicked off - it was nice to see some old
friends and nice for the fans to give us a nice ovation but obviously it
stopped when they got amongst us.
"They did a good job today and we were unlucky as they had a
great result at QPR (won 3-1 last week) and their tails were up.
Their confidence was there and that made it even more difficult for us. There’s
no doubt we’re lacking a bit of confidence, and that showed in that first
half. Second half we came out with a renewed vigour and spirit and should
have really equalised.
"We had a great chance to square it up, although perhaps not
deserved, But we’re struggling at the minute. We’re really up against it
in terms of numbers, and it's difficult.
We've got 11 senior players out and it looks like Steven Taylor could be
another one out for a while with a hamstring injury.
"The difference between last season and this is playing in the Europa
League. I feel sorry for the young players like Shane Ferguson who are
trying to find their feet in this league, they are trying to find some
confidence and it us hard for them.
"Everything seems to be going against us and we have to be tough, but
we are not creating the chances that we did last season. The team is not
We are struggling at the minute.
"Southampton deserved to win and we
have got nothing to argue about.
We are going to need the fans, they are the greatest set of fans, the team
needs a lift and we need them to lift us.
"We're worried, of course we're worried, because we are Newcastle
United and we've really got that dressing room to take into Wednesday night.
It's not like we can add four or five players from the squad into that
"That is our group and they have been soundly beaten and are
going to another tough place. We have three days to try and lift the team to
try and get ready for another tough game.
"I am looking forward to the next game and hopefully performing
better for our fans. They came a long, long way and they are the greatest
set of fans in the country, in my opinion.
"Perhaps we need them more than we did last year because the team
really needs a lift."
"It was good. We’ve got a 2-0 victory, a clean sheet, which
is what we’ve been striving for, which was really pleasing for the whole team,
especially the defenders, because they’ve worked ever so hard.
"There’s a stability in team selection at the back, which has obviously
been of benefit. But we played against a top forward line in Newcastle today and
we’ve marshalled them very, very well, so I’m delighted for the defenders.
"Paulo’s made a good save in goal.
Jose and Maya at the centre of defence have done very well, and so has Clyney
and Luke Shaw.
"It’s pleasing. We’ve got a
thoroughly deserved 2-0 victory, we could have scored some more. Their
goalkeeper’s made some really good saves. Jay Rodriguez’s goal, having
viewed it, looks as though it was onside, although the linesman’s flagged for
offside, and there’s a shout for a penalty claim as well.
"I thought some of the attacking
football was really, really good, and our defensive resolve and the shape about
the team was really pleasing.
"You’ve got Adam Lallana, Gaston Ramirez, Jason Puncheon and Rickie
Lambert there. They all contribute in a massive way and they’re exciting. They
get supporters off their seat, there’s a flair about them, a fluidity of
movement and there’s goals about them. Some of the attacking football was
really, really good.
"We’re a young side, but we’re a fit side. We talk about Morgan
Schneiderlin and Jack Cork in the middle of the park, again they’ve got that
solid base, but they can go and pass the ball and move the ball around, so all
in all it’s a really pleasing victory."
Newcastle's travel sickness has now extended to ten winless away
games in all competitions since that memorable 2-0 success at Stamford
Bridge back in May - our worst sequence since a nine game run during the 2007/08
scoring on his first reserve appearance in eight months the previous
week, Nile Ranger was recalled to the squad but left on the
subs bench. His last senior outing in Newcastle colours came during a
2-2 draw at Chelsea back in May 2011.
Toon @ Saints - last 20:
2012/13: Lost 0-2
2004/05: Won 2-1 OG, Carr
2003/04: Drew 3-3 Ameobi, Bowyer, Ambrose
2003/04: Won 3-0 Dyer 2, Robert
2002/03: Drew 1-1 Bellamy
2001/02: Lost 1-3 Shearer
2000/01: Lost 0-2 No scorer
1999/00: Lost 2-4 Shearer, Speed
1998/99: Lost 1-2 Hamann
1997/98: Lost 1-2 Lee
1996/97: Drew 2-2 Ferdinand, Clark
1995/96: Lost 0-1 No scorer
1994/95: Lost 1-3 Kitson
1993/94: Lost 1-2 Cole
1988/89: Lost 0-1 No scorer
1987/88: Drew 1-1 O'Neill
1986/87: Lost 1-4 A.Thomas
1985/86: Drew 1-1 Beardsley
1984/85: Lost 0-1 No scorer
1973/74: Lost 1-3 Macdonald
Newcastle suffered their third straight league defeat at a soggy St. Mary's
on Sunday afternoon as Alan Pardew's side's season threatens to disappear down
the plughole and the achievements of last season become more of a curse than a
blessing - in particular our much vaunted European return.
It's now just one win in the last eight Premier League games since eight year
contracts were doled out to him and various staff members, with performances on
the field deteriorating as the squad gets more and more stretched by injuries,
suspensions and an almost total absence of form.
The latest to limp out was Steven Taylor, who tweaked a hamstring late on and
joined a sick list including Shola Ameobi, Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye, Dan
Gosling, Gabriel Obertan, Ryan Taylor, Haris Vuckic and even Xisco. Fabricio
Coloccini meanwhile served the final game of his ban.
Such was the paucity of talent available that even Nile Ranger was recalled
from his exile on the mean streets of Forest Hall to bulk up the travelling
party. His first public return to the club that kicked him out for his
waywardness though consisted of no more than a few warm-up jogs, home
supporters either ignorant of his history or indifferent to his presence.
Cheick Tiote was included and James Perch returned to the bench. Jonas
Gutierrez meanwhile was declared fit and took the armband, although only
capable of a low key and ineffective performance. He at least played though,
meaning that one less rookie was called upon, namely Gael Bigirimana -
undoubtedly possessing of promise, but being done no favours by growing up in
Having the three clubs promoted from the Championship on his managerial CV has
been something of a millstone round Pardew's neck thus far this season, with
his side stumbling to a fortunate draw at Reading and deservedly defeated by
West Ham at home - both to a backdrop of catcalls and abuse from his former
fanbase. We'll probably get Charlton in the FA Cup Third Round draw next
This time round, the welcome was rather more favourable (reflecting a departure
from St.Marys that was personality based, rather than purely on results) but he
was never in danger of seeing the visitors depart with all three points, as he
had in his last game in charge of the Saints here in 2010.
Current incumbent Nigel Adkins is no stranger to subjecting us to discomfort,
his Scunthorpe side having caused a rare blemish on our promotion season in
2009. And we were similarly undone against equally unfashionable opponents
here, second best to a team who recently formulated a blend of pace, movement
and confidence (perhaps they found our missing attributes) and used it to good
Pardew called his side leggy, many in the away section favoured gutless after
another performance which summoned up the bad old days of our annual
capitulation at the Dell.
Even the most optimistic fan would concede that our season has been
disappointing, with only occasional moments to cherish and no domestic display
when we truly dominated throughout and enjoyed a secure lead.
What points we have gathered have come as the result of some individual
brilliance, a healthy dose of good fortune and some game-changing work from
both Tim Krul and Demba Ba. Now even that has gone though, with every error by
the goalkeeper punished savagely and the goalscorer unable to make any headway,
when routinely crowded out by numerically superior opponents. That all
contributes to a sense of helplessness only seldom glimpsed since our top
Even if we're not actually in the worst league form since our relegation, by
crikey it feels like it.
Krul and his defence had the goalframe to thank on three occasions for keeping
the score down while he made two more notable stops and enjoyed favour from a
linesman late on, as the Saints looked to have broken through for a third time
only to be denied by an offside flag.
A failure to muster a worthwhile effort on target in the first half was due in
part to Cisse's unique tactic of staying a yard beyond the home defence at all
times and permanently offside. Vurnon Anita and Davide Santon then brought
saves out of Gazzaniga after the break, either side of going further behind.
However, the Saints managed to keep a first clean sheet of the season without
Swapping Sammy Ameobi for Shane Ferguson and replacing Anita with Sylvain
Marveaux were purely statistical substitutions, as the new arrivals made not a
jot of difference to our listless display and contributed further to the
confusion about what formation our shapeless throng were playing in.
A midweek visit to Stoke is probably the last place to visit as we try and
halt the slide, although Ba's hat-trick there last season was one of the
highlights of the season. That win came against a Potters side who were
attempting to juggle the extra demands of a Europa League campaign with
domestic commitments. The boot is firmly on the other foot this time round
City currently boast the best defensive record on home soil in the country and
the possibility of United losing four consecutive league games for the first
time since the 2008/09 relegation season looms large, with only the return of
Fabricio Coloccini from suspension providing any comfort ahead of what looks
like an equally miserable trek across the country.
Returning home after this one was an elongated and miserable affair; periodic
downpours only adding to the gloom now that the dark nights are back, both
metaphorically and meteorologically speaking.
Going slightly deeper than immediate post-match "useless so-and-so's"
rage/inquest though, trying to make sense of our current plight is a task
bordering on an lifetime obsession. And as in most cases when there's a drains
up, the root cause is revealed to be a combination of failures.
The level of injuries we've suffered from have to be mentioned, as it seems
hard to credit that it's all down to misfortune. The only difference from
previous years seems to be that more of the problems look to be happening
during games rather than in training - the latter haunting us to such an extent
during the Graeme Souness era that he swapped training grounds with the
Academy. Maybe it's just down to the stupid bloody coloured clown shoes that
masquerade as football boots these days.
And the universal clamour of "told you so" currently being heard
focuses on the failure to strengthen ahead of this season of increased
commitments, with full back rightly seen as the chief failing, but not the only
one. That particular situation has been exacerbated by the current media
nonsense surrounding Danny Simpson - a man soon to be contractless and who was
surplus to requirements last season but now a first-choice selection. He hasn't
got better, we've just got worse.
If the most regrettable pronouncement of Pardew's time in charge was the
Carroll stays, then his fanciful talk about getting his hands on a cup this
season runs it a close second. Teaming up with a gang metal thieves would seem
his best hope of securing silverware at present, with good fortune already
coming our way in the form of the Europa League draws throwing up pliant
Presumably that loose talk was based on the expectation of getting new recruits
- further proof that the manager says one thing and is then told another;
something that's harder to get past when it's his own players left feeling
misled, rather than journalists and supporters.
Inevitably there's disquiet in the camp - agents wouldn't be doing their job if
there wasn't. And with the ongoing farce of the transfer window just about to
gear up once more, thoughts of the next payday, or what continental players
euphemistically call, "project", are never far away.
When opportunity knocks, young pretenders invariably get the chance to fill in,
either making their mark or getting found out. From Keith Dyson to Lee Clark,
careers have been shaped here by catching a break and doing more than filling a
shirt. Chris Waddle did it, Bruce Halliday didn't.
At the risk of sounding like some Pravda press release from Barrack Road, it's
unrealistic to expect that any "normal" football club will possess
enough experienced players in cold storage to cope with the level of
absenteeism we're currently experiencing.
That's not to say we haven't made a grave and potentially disastrous error of
judgment in not arming themselves with defensive cover, but that only the truly
wealthy or fiscally incompetent can afford to splash that much cash.
The recent increase in players graduating to the Newcastle first team doesn't
imply that we're in the presence of a golden generation and temperatures have
suddenly risen in the hotbed, merely that we're relying on the footballing
equivalent of seasonal labour to see us through a shortage - a bit like the
post office at Christmas.
And if you're looking for a measure of our continued failure to develop our own
talent to the required level - aside from the presence of Yven Moyo, Mehdi
Abeid and Romain Amalfitano - then a check of the teams currently hosting our
reserve players out on loan at may provide a clue: Bradford City, Crewe
Alexandra, Blyth Spartans, Darlington and St,Mirren - one struggling SPL team
and no Championship sides.
We remain advocates of the loan system and certainly James Tavernier benefited
more from spending last season playing for various League One clubs than
playing reserve games on a windswept training pitch. Compared to other
top-flight sides though, our fringe players are invariably deemed capable only
of playing at a lower level, consequently missing out on learning from a higher
standard of opponent and sampling life at a better club.
And looking at ex-Mags, once you get past the category of "seasoned
pro" operating in reduced circumstances like messrs Lovenkrands and Ramage,
then there's a big gap. Once upon a time, players who didn't make it at
Gallowgate found employment at Brunton Park or Victoria Park. Now they melt
away into genuine obscurity, be it in the Conference, Northern League, Ireland
or Iceland. Never mind top stars, we no longer produce second-raters who will
make a living in the game.
If anything, the lack of suitable cover in the reserves should have had Pardew
banging on the door for budget-priced cover from the lower leagues lower this
season, knowing that many of those currently in possession of first team squad
numbers realistically had no more chance of playing than himself, Woodman,
Stone or Carver.
Instead though he's left to muddle through with whatever side he can put out,
hoping that the crowd don't turn on him and no more of the random and
unforeseen misfortune we're only too familiar with befalls him. At least if his
prize assets are knacked, there's less chance of them leaving in January....
We had our own master plan for how this season would go, plodding along in the
league to achieve a safe mid-table position - and win the Europa League,
emulating the boys of 1969. That's why we're not in charge - and the man who is
remains more qualified, experienced and recognised by most of his
contemporaries, if the trinkets on his sideboard from last season are any
Pardew has asked for support from the stands, it's time that he got some from
the dressing room and people who talk a good fight actually graft for their
reward, starting on Wednesday.