And we thought is couldn’t get any worse!
Newcastle went into today’s game knowing that nothing less than 3 points would do after a poor display and another loss against Stoke had condemned Steve McClaren’s side to yet another defeat in midweek.
Fears pre-game that Mbemba, Colo and Townsend would all miss out through injury were confirmed an hour before kick off. To add insult to injury, quite literally, seeing the name Riviere leading the line in a 4-5-1 formation left many in the ground scratching their heads.
And with the official team sheet again showing us lining up with just the one up front (at home, against a newly promoted side) the signs were perhaps already there on what was to come.
Newcastle started the games reasonably brightly and an early cross from Sissoko which flew just over the head of Riviere gave the locals some hope that perhaps there was some cunning masterplan behind McClaren’s team selection. It also seemed that NUFC were playing 4-4-2 with the recalled Perez up front next to Riviere with Sissoko on one flank and Wijnaldum playing out of his preferred position on the left wing.
STARTING XI: Elliot, Dummett (Anita 31), Taylor, Lascelles, Janmaat, Colback, Shelvey (c), Wijnaldum, Sissoko (Aarons 69), Perez, Riviere (Mitrovic 45)
What ensued however was, quite frankly a horror show from about the 5 minute to the 95th.
Newcastle were totally out played, outfought and outthought. Bournemouth came with their usual plan. Anyone who has watched much football this season knows they play quickly and incisively, making the most of overlapping full back and with a high defensive line.
Is it any wonder then that with no pace up front (to take advantage of the space in behind) and Wijnaldum (however good he is he’s not a winger) and Sissoko (the worlds laziest player we would struggle to have any effect on the game.
Whilst the early exchanges had been even to an extent, the signs had been there. And in the 28th minute Bournemouth’s first goal would arrive, all be it somewhat fortuitously. Fortuitous in so much as Taylor would deflect King’s cross into his own net whilst trying to intercept a low cross. Not so much in that Janmaat had inexplicably left King in the first place to unnecessarily press a ball before the pass. Any manager worth his salt would have taken strips off him for deserting his post yet Janmaat was one of three players McClaren said had played well after the game.
The goal had two main consequences. Firstly any shape the team seemed to have before had disappeared like a fart in the wind. Secondly the atmosphere inside the ground changed and the first signs of discontent against McClaren became audible. Also a sign of things to come.
The only hope was that somehow McClaren would achieve something he’d not managed for his entire tenure at Newcastle and inspire a team at half time.
The introduction of Mitrovic at the break seemed to at least give the crown a lift, the team however seemed to go backward. Goals from King (70) and a totally unmarked Daniels (92) were scant reward for a Bournemouth team who could, in truth, have had six or seven.
And although Perez raced clear to slot home and make it 2-1, providing some momentary hope that the black and whites could make some kind of miraculous great escape after being horrendous for 80 minutes, justice prevailed.
From front to back Newcastle were an utter shambles. Only Jonjo Shelvey, who can go home very proud of the effort he put in, can hold his head up high after this result.
As for McClaren, both the home and away fans spent much of the second half with a chorus of ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’. And with many papers running stories that morning saying a defeat would see him lose his job, only time will tell if that proves to be his last outing a Newcastle United manager.
The defeat leaves us second bottom, and only an injury time equaliser from Southampton at home vas the Mackems saved us from being 3 point behind 4th bottom spot. Any more games like this and we need not look at who has what in terms of points above us as we won’t be picking up anywhere near enough to stay up.
Now with Leicester away and Sunderland at home in our next two, the pressure won’t ease up any if he does somehow hang onto his job!