Date: Saturday 29th September 2018, 3.00pm
Venue: St. James' Park
Conditions: inept, inert, impotent
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
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. 0-1
Half time: Magpies 0 Foxes 1
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
"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
"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
"We were talking about how we need to be better on the ball and have more
"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
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
"For me, itís not fair now, because the team is not winning, but they
are working so hard and theyíre so close."
"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
"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
2007/08: 11 points, 8th (scored 10,
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
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
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
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
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
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.