Yesterday’s game v Man City ended up as many had suspected; with the visitors proving just a touch too good for Alan Pardew’s new-look side. Newcastle competed well and had their fair share of good passages of play but the champions had a cutting edge when it mattered and Newcastle did not. That’s why they’re the champions and we’re nowhere near it. It was encouraging that Newcastle created at least as many chances as City did but their forwards were of a higher calibre than ours. That should be tempered also with a little realism. While Newcastle looked to have a fairly well-balanced look to their side and performed probably as well as could have been hoped, City looked to be playing well within themselves. They seemed very comfortable, especially after taking the lead, and gave the impression they could have stepped up a gear if Newcastle had managed to get a goal.
Newcastle seemed to spring to life with the introduction of Ayoze Perez for the last ten minutes, and Rolando Aarons a little prior to that. Both showed a lot of promise but it also coincided with Newcastle finally slipping off their leash of caution and getting more men forward generally. No doubt the comfortable nature of City’s afternoon was also heavily influenced by Newcastle always being worried about conceding a second and never really chasing the game until quite late on. When Newcastle did push on of course City did eventually wrap up the result with a late goal by Aguero, so you might say that caution was warranted. However an equaliser was never coming until that late flurry, which would have meant defeat anyway, so it could equally be said that Newcastle didn’t really have much to lose and may as well have risked a more attacking outlook a little earlier. Emmanuel Riviere in particular had a thankless task trying to hold the ball up while being hopelessly isolated and outnumbered for most of the afternoon. I’d like to see him again with a bit more support from his team-mates, or even (whisper it) a second striker alongside him.
On the subject of the new signings, I think it’s worth saying that Lee Charnley has proved a few people wrong over the summer, myself included. I still think he got the job on the basis of there being no-one else left standing at the club but if his job was to sign some players from a list provided by the football staff within the given budget then no-one can justifiably say he’s been a failure. This is especially true in comparison to those who’ve gone before him in his role, with United having failed to sign a first-teamer for some time before his appointment.
Of course, it still hasn’t been the perfect summer for all that. Not bad by the measure of most close seasons, but as already mentioned Newcastle will need more of a goal threat than they displayed at the weekend. It’ll be a while before Newcastle come up against such a solid, well-organised defence again though, so it’s hard to tell how desperate they should be at this stage. Facundo Ferreyra has yet to come in and I’ve read encouraging reports on him so maybe he’ll make a difference if that’s needed. Potential and promise are all very well however, but at some stage soon that has to translate into goals. Without an experienced reliable goalscorer Newcastle simply cannot afford to wait two years or however long it takes for flashes of potential to turn into end product. If after a few more games against what will be lesser opposition compared to Man City Newcastle are still failing to score, failing even to have shots on target, then fans will have real cause for concern. I’ve seen it written that a lack of desire on the club’s part to secure a headline striker will be the difference between pushing on for the top 6 or rattling around in mid-table, but I don’t agree with that assessment. An ongoing lack of goals will begin to heap pressure on not just inexperienced but very young strikers which is liable to make a tough situation worse as it affects their confidence and form. A team that doesn’t score doesn’t win and that is a recipe for a bottom-half struggle. It’s imperative that Newcastle get some goals quickly, whether from their young strikers or through the midfield chipping in their share, and some points on the board too, before any lingering doubts turn into a crisis.