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Season 2018-19
Leicester City (h) Premier League


Saturday 29th September 2018, 3.00pm

 St. James' Park

Conditions: inept, inert, impotent



Newcastle United

Leicester City

0 - 2




30 mins In the current climate the incident that led to City's opener is now referred to by pundits as a "stonewall penalty" (nonsensically) or a "spot-kick all day long". However, it wasn't that long ago that incidents like this were described as "never a penalty, in a million years"

Having the ball blasted at your hands from close range was seen by most as unavoidable contact but any raised arm in the box now is fair game it seems. Our award at Cardiff this season wasn't dissimilar but two more blatant handballs at Craven Cottage were waved away by this official just two years ago.

Having said that, Yedlin will have been aware of the dangers of raising his hands in the area and was stupid to do so before Maguire blasted the ball at him. Jamie Vardy hit a low, accurate penalty that Dubravka got close to but was sadly out of his reach.

Half time: Magpies 0 Foxes 1

72 mins
Facing away from goal, Kenedy's attempted forward clearance conceded a corner in bizarre fashion. The ball was swung into the area by James Maddison for Harry Maguire to meet it firmly from eight yards and power a header past Dubravka at the Leazes End. 

Maguire's arms were on Clark's shoulders but this referee was never going to give us the benefit of any doubt.

Full time: Magpies 0 Foxes 2

We Said


Rafa Benitez:

"Obviously I am disappointed. We conceded two goals from set-pieces and didn't take our chances.

"We had those two chances (for Joselu and Mo Diame) that could have changed everything. Then we conceded the penalty and, when we were competing in the second half, we conceded from the corner.

"We have done well, then we make mistakes, and when you concede it is always more difficult for you. We knew it could be a difficult game today, but we conceded from a penalty and a corner - this always makes it harder to take. 

"The second goal killed us mentally. Leicester were well-organised and worked hard and they have some good players.

"Iím disappointed because we didnít do what I was expecting, but still we had a couple of chances that would change everything. You could see that we were given them options at set-pieces. 

"They were passing the ball and we were more exposed. We were not very precise on the ball.Ē

"When you concede, it is always difficult for you. When things are not going in your favour you concede penalties like that.

"We have to manage the squad. We tried to be more offensive but we didn't take our chances and we were exposed in the second half. The team is working hard, you cannot complain about that.

"We were talking about how we need to be better on the ball and have more intensity.

"We didnít have many shots on target, but I donít remember them in open play getting in front of the goalkeeper having chances.

"It was just corners and corners, and theyíre quite strong at set-pieces. That was they key.

"I know we didnít control the game, I know we didnít play well, but they scored from a penalty and a corner. Itís hard, but I have to find a way to give the players ideas and confidence and keep going. 

"I have to analyse what is going on. I will see a few highlights of the game, and then we will watch the whole game
(on Sunday). We know where we are ,and we have to find solutions.Ē

Asked if he knew of new takeover rumours:

"Not really. Before the game I try to concentrate on the game and after the game I have to talk with the media. I have no idea."

Asked if he expected to meet Mike Ashley:

"I was just finishing the game and coming here
(for the press conference). I do not know if he will be around. Like I said before, it is positive, it is always good to see the owner around the team. 

"We have to concentrate on our play on the pitch and that is most important to me."

"I think he knows (the shortcomings of the squad), because obviously we have been talking with Lee Charnley for a while. I think everybody knows. 

"For me, itís not fair now, because the team is not winning, but they are working so hard and theyíre so close."

They Said


Claude Puel said: 

"It was tough. It was important to score the second goal because with just one goal it was difficult to resist.

"Anything can happen with long balls, second balls and set pieces. There was desire and fighting spirit from the opposition and it was tough.

"They pushed a lot in the second half before the second goal and we had the quality, the discipline and the structure to prevent them from creating chances. I was happy with our work.

"Of course I am satisfied. It was a strong performance against a good team. We continue to play on the floor with quality.

"We had fantastic discipline. It was a tough game. People will say Newcastle are in difficulty but they have quality."



United made some unwanted history for themselves, having never begun a season with four successive home league defeats before.

And you have to go back to the 1898/99 season to find the last occasion that we were winless going into October - taking 11 games before their first victory, that came in early November.

A seven game winless run to start a Premier League season isn't unheard of; United taking nine games to collect maximum points in 2015/16 and eight games in both 1999/00 and 2014/15.

The black and whites remain winless in all eight league and cup games this season and are yet to take the lead in any of them. Pitiful.

Four goals from seven games doesn't augur well for the remainder of the season; United's smallest PL total remains the 35 in 1997/98. At our current rate of scoring, we're on track for 22.

It's 124 years to the day since the very first league meeting of the two clubs, with United winning 2-0 at Gallowgate against City's forerunners, Leicester Fosse.

NUFC last ten PL seasons after seven games:

2007/08: 11 points, 8th (scored 10, conceded 8)
2008/09: 5 points, 18th (scored 7, conceded 13)
2010/11: 7 points, 15th (scored 10, conceded 10)
2011/12: 15 points, 3rd (scored 9, conceded 4)
2012/13: 9 points, 10th (scored 8, conceded 11)
2013/14: 10 points, 11th (scored 9, conceded 12)
2014/15: 4 points, 18th (scored 7, conceded 14)
2015/16: 3 points, 19th (scored 5, conceded 11)
2017/18: 10 points, 9th (scored 7, conceded 6)
2018/19:  2 points, 18th (scored 4, conceded 10)

NUFC relegation seasons after seven games:

1933/34: 7 points, 18th (scored 9, conceded 11)*
1960/61: 9 points, 15th (scored 16, conceded 18)*
1977/78: 3 points, 22nd (scored 6, conceded 17)*
1988/89: 5 points, 19th (scored 6, conceded 16)
2008/09: 5 points, 18th (scored 7, conceded 13)
2015/16: 3 points, 19th (scored 5, conceded 11)

* adjusted to reflect three points for a win

Foxes in Toon - last 20:

2018/19 lost 0-2
2017/18 lost 2-3 Joselu, Gayle
2015/16 lost 0-3
2014/15 Won 1-0 Obertan
2009/10 Won 1-0 Guthrie
2003/04 Won 3-1 Ameobi, OG, Jenas
2001/02 Won 1-0 Solano
2000/01 Won 1-0 Cort
1999/00 Lost 0-2
1998/99 Won 1-0 Glass
1997/98 Drew 3-3 Barnes, Tomasson, Beresford
1996/97 Won 4-3 Shearer 3, Elliott
1994/95 Won 3-1 Albert 2, Howey
1992/93 Won 7-1 Kelly 3, Cole 3, Lee
1991/92 Won 2-0 Hunt, Clark
1990/91 Won 2-1 McGhee, Sloan
1989/90 Won 5-4 McGhee 2, Quinn 2, Gallacher
1986/87 Won 2-0 Goddard, Wharton
1985/86 Won 2-1 Clarke, Beardsley



Newcastle claimed an unwanted record on Saturday, losing all four of their opening four home league games for the first time in the entire history of the club.

Mike Ashley attended for the second successive game but while the brows of those who paid to watch this miserable display became increasingly furrowed, he was seen to be smiling and joking, seemingly indifferent to our fate. 

Leicester became the latest side to leave Gallowgate with maximum points thanks to a harsh penalty award and a gift of a header from a corner, but in truth the Foxes barely had to break sweat to gain the reward of a third successive victory on Tyneside.

Attempting to end a winless run that now stretches to seven league and cup games, Rafa Benitez was forced into altering a back four that had finally looked like a cohesive unit when keeping a clean sheet at Palace. 

Injuries sidelined both Paul Dummett and Federico Fernandez, while DeAndre Yedlin was passed fit to continue after suffering a fitness scare in training.

It was up front though where the biggest pre-match blow befell United; confirmation that Salomon Rondon's 45 minute outing at Selhurst Park may be his last for a couple of weeks, or potentially even longer.

With Yoshinori Muto left on the bench, that left Joselu and Ayoze Perez to shoulder the attacking burden once again - and a pretty pitiful job they made of it.    

The former had one decent sight of goal but inexplicably dithered and saw the chance vanish, an off-target header by Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey's attempt from almost on the halfway line all the hosts could muster. 

At the other end, the Foxes were no more but received a helping hand on the half hour from referee Simon Hooper, who pointed to the spot when Yedlin blocked a ball that was smashed at him from point-blank range.

That's the same Simon Hooper who chose not to award United a penalty for an identical incident in our first Championship game of 2016/17. That non-decision ultimately didn't affect our final league placing, but two years on this could prove to be rather more costly.

Martin Dubravka came close to reaching Jamie Vardy's spot-kick but there was just enough power and accuracy in the shot to give City a lead they barely deserved in a half that was played almost at walking pace.

There should have been the chance for United to level early in the second half when Perez cut inside and was pulled back by Harry Maguire but Hooper again failed to rule in the home side's favour.

Creating anything from open play seemed less and less likely until the introduction of Yoshinori Muto who almost played in Joselu seconds after replacing Perez.

By then though the below-par Matt Ritchie had been hauled off once again in favour of the unimpressive Jacob Murphy, while the similarly inept Christian Atsu continued to pose absolutely no threat whatsoever.

The home defence looked vulnerable from set pieces and Wilfred Ndidi and Maguire had both missed chances before the latter out-jumped Ciaran Clark to head in at the Leazes End on 73 minutes.

That saw increasing numbers of disconsolate home fans depart and the ground was barely half-full to witness the final whistle, Ashley and his cohorts hot-footing it out of sight with boos and jeers ringing in his ears.

The anti-owner chants had become increasingly vociferous in the first half at 0-0, with "stand-up..." protests and other assorted abuse the only audible soundtrack from home followers. 

Fan discontent inevitably increases according to failures on the pitch - those "get out of our club" chants were inaudible when Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea lost here earlier in 2018.

Any notion of support and encouragement has been set aside at present: with precisely nothing on the field to re-ignite them, people increasingly resigned to our fate, attending from a joyless sense of duty. If you shut the bars in the ground and round the city then ever less folks would bother. 

Regardless of the rights or wrongs of protesting or boycotting, today was the first time under Rafa that people appeared to be losing faith and having doubts - the dark mood in the stands and the helplessness on the field brought to mind dark times under Steve McClaren and beyond. 

Whether blaming the manager for team selection, tactics, substitutions or transfer activity or sympathising with him for the impossible restrictions he's working with, performances remain unacceptably weak - something that a negative atmosphere will only exacerbate. 

As it stands, this side is heading for relegation at an alarming rate: brave losses to sides in the top six are one thing but being beaten in this manner by ordinary opponents playing at reduced pace is the biggest pointer towards a season of struggle. 

A basic inability to get the ball into the opposition penalty area usually proves fatal, while an apparent indifference of some players to their plight is also a sure-fire recipe for disaster. We're ticking both those boxes currently.

Previous seasons of struggle here have resulted in claims of players being afraid to turn out at home due to the malevolent atmosphere - and we're in danger of heading that way once again, giving well paid professionals an excuse to hide away.

It's worth recalling that we endured a nine game winless run just over a year ago, but divisions on and off the field seem more pronounced now and that sense of fatalism seems to be spreading. 

The gamble of sacrificing Gayle and Mitrovic for Rondon has failed, the latest bout of austerity recruitment hasn't strengthened the squad and nobody is playing well in a positive, attacking sense. 

In many ways we deserve to go down; Barrack Road rarely an unhappier place than at present during our supporting lives. And that's saying something....

Off the field, claims emerged before kickoff via Sky that ex-Manchester United and Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon was attempting to negotiate a deal to buy Newcastle United on behalf of a US-based financial firm.

Given that the last decade has been littered with similar abortive attempts and dubious claims of takeovers, it's difficult to be anything other than dismissive of the tale - especially considering Sky's track record in doing Ashley's bidding and parading his puppets in front of their cameras.  

Relegation may well result in Ashley accepting more favourable terms to sling his hook, but whether a third Championship campaign in a decade is a price worth paying for a rebirth is becoming a more pertinent question by the week.

Page last updated 02 October, 2018