Blackpool 2-1 Newcastle United

NUFC Team: Harper, Simpson, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Jose Enrique, Guthrie (Lovenkrands 66), Barton (Ranger 83), Butt, Ryan Taylor (Geremi 66), Nolan, Carroll.

It was always going to happen eventually. Newcastle United finally came unstuck last night in a richly deserved defeat at Ian Holloway’s Blackpool.

In seven Championship games now, we have only scored more than one goal on two occasions (against Reading and Palace). That’s fine when you’re keeping clean sheets every week, but even a good defence has to concede at some point. Both goals last night were scrappy and poor goals to give away, but they were coming. In previous games, we have had to rely on a combination of excellent defending, good goalkeeping and good luck – three things that weren’t enough to save us last night.

There’s no need to get carried away with the result yesterday. We’re still third in the league and Blackpool are a decent side. However, that does not mean that we should not look seriously at the reasons for the loss.


Carl Cort makes it 2-1

Carl Cort makes it 2-1

Firstly, Butt started his first league game of the season which turned out to be our first loss of the season. The other game he started was the League Cup tie against Huddersfield and he was withdrawn at half time – when we were 2-1 down. We went on to win 4-3 without him. Coincidence? I think not. When will people see that this guy is finished, and has been for years? As a holding midfielder he is absolutely woeful. His passing is pathetic and his tackling is terrible. The amount of free kicks that he gives away is criminal. He realises that he is there to win the ball yes? Anyone – and I include myself in this – can just run around fouling and hacking players that have gotten away from them. And its not because he’s dirty – he isn’t – its because he’s too damn old and too damn slow to do anything about it. Regarding his passing, he seems to have spent a few too many years at Old Trafford ogling Mr Beckham, if Butt’s attempts to emulate him are anything to go by. One thing though – Nicky Butt does not possess one hundredth of the talent that David Beckham does. Why he insists on attempting the same range of passing is beyond me – it makes me cringe. Butt is a midfield clogger. He always has been and he certainly isn’t going to change now. If he accepted this fate and adapted his game accordingly – like say, Phil Neville and Lee Carsley have done – then maybe he’d have a use. But until then, he’s about as useless as Joey Barton at a quiz night.

Worryingly, Chris Hughton is showing signs of something that many feared – Being unable to drop the ‘big names’. Obviously, we have far too many central midfielders (Guthrie, Butt, Barton, Smith, Nolan, Geremi) – but Hughton seems intent on playing all of them regardless. Barton is not worth his place in the team at the moment – its simple. It is clear that our three best central options are Smith, Nolan and Guthrie. Smith was obviously suspended last night, which meant that a partnership of Guthrie and Nolan would have been fine. Chuck Ryan Taylor on the right and Lovenkrands on the left and we’ve got a pretty good midfield there. Carroll was back so he could have partnered Ranger upfront – taking some pressure off the youngster who worked his arse off so much on Sunday. But instead we get some higgledy-piggledy formation with players playing in their unnatural positions. No width, as usual, and Carroll left on his own upfront – what’s the point in that?! Carroll is never going to be as good a lone front man as Ranger was on Sunday – that’s not his game. And if Geremi is our solution when a goal behind and looking for an equaliser – then we really are f***ed.

Like I said earlier though, we needn’t get too carried away just yet (although I probably just did). If we beat Plymouth on Saturday we’ll be right back on track. It’s just so frustrating that, despite the fact our squad is horrendously lightweight; there are still better solutions within that squad than the ones we are being presented with at the moment.

Dear God, we really do need a few more players though. Diomansy Kamara would be a good shout – much rather him than Cousin or Folan of Hull (both dreadful). If Ameobi is going to be out then we definitely need a striker, as well as a wide player and some cover for the defence. To be fair, Hughton knows that we need a few more bodies in – he’s not stupid. And I’m sure that he has identified the same positions as I just have (hopefully we’re not after another central midfielder…), but as we all know the questions is whether Ashley is going to give him the green light or not. In that respect, last night could turn out to be a blessing in disguise – there’s no hiding behind the unbeaten start and defensive record anymore (as Ashley would have no doubt been doing).


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