Deja vu anyone?!
For the fourth game in a row Newcastle United went home with their tails between their legs and a 1-0 loss, only this time in the FA Cup at the hands of Watford.
Having not won away in the FA Cup under the Ashley regime the fist point of interest was
always going to be the team selection. With Newcastle sitting in the relegation zone would McClaren stay true to the clubs pre season promise and ‘go for it’ in the cup? The answer came when the team was announced:
STARTING XI (3-5-2): Elliot, Dummett, Colo (Lascelles 46), Mbemba, Mbabu (Thauvin 52), Wijnaldum, Tiote (de Jong 82), Sissoko, Janmaat, Perez, Mitrovic
Whist there was a change in formation and the introduction on Mbabu, there can be little doubt from the lineup that McClaren was going for it. The lineup also suggested an attacking intent to address NUFC’s recent dry spell in front of goal.
Newcastle had started the game pretty well and created the first real chance of note in the 8th minute with Janmaat testing Gomes in the Watford goal. That would set the tone for most of the game as Newcastle would look more dangerous on the right in particular, as they have done for most of the season.
NUFC would in fact dominate for large spells of the game against a much changed Watford side (including dropping top scorer Ighalo to the bench) and winning a succession of corners though rarely troubling the scoreline.
As a frustrating half wore on is was perhaps inevitable that it was going to take a moment of genius to a mistake to make the difference. Unfortunately for Newcastle it was the latter. A mistake by Wijnaldum, with a rare loose back pass, allowed Deeney to steel in, round Elliot and slot into the empty net. It was perhaps cruel on the away side but not entirely unexpected given recent events.
It was also perhaps the straw that was to break the loyal away Newcastle fans patience.
Changes in the second half, including Colo off probably for protection for Tuesday’s game against Manchester United, and introduction of Thauvin (who many thought should have been given a start) would not be enough to change the destiny of this third round tie.
Stats provided by BBC
Both Perez and Mitrovic would come agonisingly close before the end of the game. In the end though the only thing that the NUFC players would go home with is the ringing of boos in their ears from the travelling Toon Army, perhaps aimed at McClaren more than them.
So that’s us out in the third round for the fourth seasons in a row and our FA Cup record under Ashley continues to be, well, shocking.
Don’t forget to contribute to our latest poll on McClaren’s future by filling in survey at www.nufcyou.com
VERDICT: Pretty damn depressing. Four 1-0 losses in a row only tells part of the story as we’ve played better than those results would suggest. The biggest issue for everyone connected with the club will be we lose when we’re playing badly, we lose when we play ok, we lose when we play well. Something, surely, has to give?!