Jose Mourinho has reacted badly to the news that Arsenal’s Gabriel has had the red card rescinded which had been awarded for his part in a set-to with Chelsea’s Diego Costa at the weekend. Costa had somehow gone unpunished from an incident in which he could have been sent off several times over, and Gabriel responded to continued goading by lashing out with his foot.
On reviewing the evidence, the FA decided that Costa should be banned himself, and few except Mourinho himself would argue with that. However they also decided that Gabriel’s punishment should no longer apply, and on this at least I agree with Mourinho. No matter how badly Gabriel had been treated beforehand, his response was to kick Costa. It seems retaliation is now allowed, and is not to be punished, as Jose has pointed out. It hardly seems worth explaining exactly why this cannot be, so self-explanatory is it. But in a nutshell if this continues everyone will be kicking people, claiming someone else started it, and getting off scot free.
It’s a shame that SJP won’t now witness the coming together of Costa and our own radgie Mitrovic today, which perhaps might have distracted the black and white hordes from the misery possibly unfolding before them.
There are now just 4 sides who are without a league win in the top 4 divisions. Newport County of League 2 are joined by the Premier League’s Stoke, Sunderland, and us, Newcastle United. In our case that’s likely to continue for at least another two games against Chelsea today then Man City away. Following that we have Norwich at home then Sunderland away and that’s the 10 games McClaren asked for before we begin to judge him. It’s entirely possible we don’t have a win by then unless he can pull a big change out of his hat. Judging by the last couple of games things are only getting worse. I’d really rather not be negative but there’s not a lot to be positive about right now. Let’s hope today can be the start of an upswing in our fortunes. If we don’t get one soon it’s a long way down.
Taking a Loan
Adam Armstrong, on loan at Coventry, is currently top scorer in League 1. Tony Mowbray, his manager at Coventry, says Armstrong is not yet the answer to Newcastle’s goalscoring problems. He says an 18yo kid on loan to score a few goals, gain some experience and confidence won’t solve our issues and he’s right of course. On the other hand he would say that, Coventry sitting 4th and reliant on Armstrong’s goals. I expect Armstrong to stay there at least until Christmas but if we are still struggling and he’s still doing well then there is certainly a case for a recall.
People seem to have lost patience with Cisse, although as Papiss is a classic case of a striker who adds little to the team when he’s not scoring, the assessment of him could change if he manages to start scoring again. Failing that, Armstrong has never had a go for us in a strike partnership and were we to switch to 2 up front I think he and Mitrovic might complement each other’s game, although so too might Mitrovic and Perez. Suffice to say, the cautious tactics we’ve played over the last few seasons and have largely stuck with so far this term don’t suit our players and a change is long overdue. Should that happen the role and importance of players like Armstrong and Perez could be dramatically altered.
Magic You Know
Moussa Sissoko is a player who hasn’t fulfilled expectations fuelled by a sensational home debut against Chelsea in 2013. Poor touch and a perceived lack of heart are how I’d sum him up at the moment rather than talking about barnstorming runs and tearing apart the opposition as we did two and a half years ago. Again though, I don’t think Newcastle have ever worked out where to play him. He’s played mainly out on the wing or as an attacking central midfielder without looking entirely at home.
At his last club Toulouse he was overwhelmingly used as a defensive midfielder. In the absence of Tiote, neither Colback nor Anita have made that position their own either separately or together. Maybe Sissoko could be the answer there, where his power could still be an asset but the problems with his technique wouldn’t matter so much. Playing a single holding midfielder instead of two would also give us the option of either playing both Wijnaldum and de Jong in their preferred central attacking midfield slot, or just one of them and a second striker to help up front.
Something needs to change anyway, and if we’re looking for positives maybe one of them is that our options haven’t all been tried yet.