Newcastle United 0-2 Wolves
That’s the sound of Newcastle United and their fans coming back down to earth after a surprise 2-0 reverse at home against Wolves.
Going into the game only the most season hardened and depressive Newcastle fan would have seen such a result coming after such contracting midweek results just a few days earlier. Newcastle were hot off the back of the 6-0 drubbing they dished out to QPR in the capital, whilst Wolves were still smarting from a 4-0 loss at home against high flying Barnsley.
In truth Newcastle looked out of sorts from the first whistle, perhaps the recent run of good results making the players forget just how unforgiving this league can be.
STARTING XI: Sels, Anita, Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu, 63), Shelvey, Hayden (Mitrovic, 63), Perez, Diame, Gayle
Just the three changes from the midweek game then with Mbemba, Diame and Gayle all back into the first eleven.
This game would not go to plan.
Making our usual controlled and steady start to the game, controlling the possession and even the chances would not be the issue, indeed Newcastle would finish the game with 68% of possession. The issue would be a lack of cutting edge and an almost inexplicable overuse of the long diagonal.
First blood would go to Wolves, when Mbemba would turn into his own goal when stooping to clear a cross with not a Wolves player in with 5 yards of him. In truth the worrying signs had already been there.
With the ball Newcastle looked all out of ideas. The midweek flair and swagger was nowhere to be seen. Whilst Shelvey at least put a shift in the rest of the team looked totally lost. Most notably perhaps Perez typified all that was wrong with our play. Lightweight, overplayed and bereft of ideas. Not a good combination.
The mood inside SJP was also a little strange. The Wolves fans to their credit were magnificent - always easier when you’re winning mind you - the same could not be said for a subdued NUFC crowd. It was as if they were waiting for the players to provide the spark. A spark that never came.
By the second half Rafa at least had instilled some urgency into his players, but as they pushed on in search for what would undoubtedly have been a game changing goal they left themselves exposed at the other end. In predictably Perez like fashion it was the Spaniard himself who would be caught in possession deep in his own half. The subsequent break away allowed Helder Costa to finish smartly and double Wolves lead.
All the huffing and puffing in the world however would not break down the Wolves rear guard. And to add insult to injury there would also be a late sending off for Anita in the dying moments of the game, although the decision looked harsh.
A wake up call for all then, and with Wolves again this week in the cup it will be interesting to see what changes Rafa makes to freshen things up a little. Certainly there should be a start to Yedlin whilst Murphy may get a run out too you’d suspect.
This one however, we will have to put down to experience.