Yes Newcastle lost again. Yes we gave away soft avoidable goals again. But the spirit and intensity versus Man City was first class and the question has to be asked as to where that has been all season?! Does it take the reigning champions to come to St James' Park to wake us up as a club? That includes the fans by the way as they were also first class. Our stadium has never been that consistently loud at any stage this season. I think that sums us up as a football club to be honest. Raise our game against the big boys, drop our level against the smaller teams. Since I have been a Newcastle United supporter this has almost always been the case.
If we play with the same intensity as we did on Saturday morning then there is no way we will be relegated. No chance. Most teams in the league would not be able to handle us on our own patch playing at such a spirited fashion. We even had some genuine quality at times as we outplayed Man City in large parts, especially in that second half. For the first 15-20 minutes after the break the reigning champions couldn't deal with our constant threat on their goal. We managed to get one back via another effort to add to Demba Ba's impressive tally and should have had another one moments later, if only Papiss Cisse had the touch in front of goal his Senegalese partner has at the moment. To not even hit the target with Anita their for the possible lay off was criminal. That could if not should have changed the game.
Speaking of Anita, what a performance again. His runs from midfield were outstanding and his touch was effortless. We lack creativity in the side with no Cabaye or Ben Arfa at the moment but Vurnon tried his best to make up for it with clever first touch 'round the corner' passes, then spinning to receive the ball back to play in one of the strikers. He has been our best player during this run of horrific results and has surely put to bed any doubts people were having over his ability. He will always be lacking in the physical side of midfield but his engine is immense. He never gets tired. The type of up and down midfielder we have been crying out for ever since Rob Lee hung up his boots. Once Yohan Cabaye is back and assuming Cheik Tiote has not been sold, our three man midfield with the flying Dutchman alongside them will match up against any team in the league.
Davide Santon doesn't deserve to be slated in the same manner as he is clearly being played in not his strongest position. Just because he has played at full back for most of his life and wears the number 3 shirt, doesn't automatically make him a left back. Your strengths and weaknesses dictate what your position on the pitch should be and how you perform within that position. Defensively he has been left wanting but going forward he has been terrific. So then play him further forward. Why insist on playing him as part of the defence when all he wants to do is run with the ball and attack? He needs to be switched onto the left of a three man midfield where he will naturally get back to defend to cover the full back but will also have license to run with the ball and attack, without leaving a gaping hole in the left back position. This needs to happen immediately.
A player who needs to come out of the team is Papiss Cisse. Not because he isn't good enough but because he is totally out of form. Nothing he tries is coming off for him. We are not in a position to carry a player when we are struggling to get points. Last season we could afford to have Demba Ba in the team as we were winning games without his lack of goals. This season we do not have that luxury. When we have a player like Marveaux chomping at the bit to play, then he deserves a chance as he has impressed in the league lately. Once Ben Arfa is back this should settle the argument all together. The system should not be changed from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 to suit Cisse, he just isn't playing well enough.
Yes Man City wasted countless chances and carved us up at an alarming rate but we wont be playing them every week. Next we have QPR at home and we have to win that game. There is no other option. We have trips to Old Trafford and The Emirates stadium to follow so any dropped points against the worst team in the league would be catastrophic. If we play like we did against arguably the strongest team in the league, then the result will be automatic. We'll hammer them!
Let's not drop our playing levels to the standards of the opposition. Just play to our own potential and the likes of QPR will be dismissed as easy as they should be and we will eventually move away from the relegation zone.
Howay The Lads!
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