NEWCASTLE’S SEARCH FOR CONSISTENCY GOES ON
Ten games into the new season and Newcastle sit in 10th place. The team, performances and form guide scream one word – inconsistency.
November 6th, 2012
The Thursday-to-Sunday games schedule looks to be taking its toll, and the impact of injuries on an already thin senior squad cannot be denied. The one question fans are asking is – why haven’t we played anywhere near as well as last season? What’s going wrong? The search for consistency continues.
The biggest positive for the Toon in the league has been the character and determination on show in certain games. These vital ingredients have meant that despite poor performances, the points tally has been ticking over. 14 points after 10 games (1.4 points per game) is straight down the middle, average. As is 3 wins, 2 losses and 5 draws. We don’t deserve any more or less at this point in time. Thankfully, we’re just three points behind 4th placed Everton.
So, what needs to change? There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic and the upcoming fixtures look good enough for us to pick up a decent number of points. However, long term success with a thin squad in the Europa League requires clever selection and the right tactical choices. It also requires cool heads; something we’ve lacked in our last two away games at Sunderland and Liverpool.
At Sunderland Cheick Tiote was sent off for what many fans thought was a harsh call from referee Martin Atkinson. At Liverpool, Fabricio Coloccini saw red when there was no contact in the challenge on Luis Suarez. Alan Pardew decided to accept both decisions but the fans saw plenty wrong in both challenges. The wider concern is the problem it causes Pardew, losing two senior players for three games each. Seniority comes with responsibility – but somewhere both Tiote and Coloccini went wrong.
Our best players over what have been an average 10 games can be narrowed down to three: Demba Ba, Davide Santon and Hatem Ben Arfa have been nothing short of superb. Yohan Cabaye can be added to that short list as the fourth because of his two goals from midfield. Both Tim Krul and Coloccini can be ruled out because of injury problems, even though both have had their moments. There’s plenty of promise from youngsters Sammy Ameobi and Shane Ferguson, especially in the Europa League.
Thankfully Ba has been among the goals, sitting on seven this season. His strike-partner Papiss Cisse hasn’t turned up for the new campaign, despite a shot deflecting in off his back against West Brom. Santon has been our best defender at left-back and doesn’t disappoint in the final third either. Finally, wonder-kid Hatem Ben Arfa can turn the game with a moment of magic and his pace and skill is second to none.
So despite a fairly inconsistent stop-start opening to the season from the Toon, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Not playing well and picking up points is the biggest one, but below that there are strong performers across the pitch who can build on this mid-table beginning. For Newcastle, the search for consistency goes on. We’re pretty well set to push on now.
Howay The Lads!
Umar Farooq, Editor – NUFCfans.co.uk