Newcastle United were beaten 3-1 on penalties last night and went out of The EFL Cup to a 10-man Hull City side they had dominated for large periods having enjoyed the vast majority of possession and 32 shots to the Tigers’ 12 as The Magpies let a big chance at silverware slip away.
Geordie fans love manager Rafa Benitez and the way he has revitalized the club taking the black and whites straight to the top of The Championship and will not be overreacting at losing 2 games in a row after winning 9 on the spin yet it is important Benitez and his lieutenants do react.
Winter has arrived in England, the temperature has dropped suddenly, pitches have gotten worse very quickly and the unforgiving second tier of English football can become a slog that requires a certain physical toughness and mental hardiness to thrive.
Last night’s conceded goal was sloppy from keeper Matt Selz’ point of view yet also showed Hull capitalizing on the lack of height down the Newcastle right side while Isaac Hayden could be blamed in part for both that goal and the one conceded against Blackburn as it was he who was marking Charlie Mulgrew.
In the 2009-10 Magpies promotion season, Newcastle had solid characters, wise heads and experienced leaders like Kevin Nolan, Fabricio Coloccini, Alan Smith, Ryan Taylor, Mike Williamson plus Joey Barton towards the end of the season to ensure Newcastle saw games out and their promotion campaign through.
Geordie Steven Taylor played 20 games in The Championship plus Geordies Shola Ameobi and Andy Carroll added further local grit and desire while Newcastle’s last two games in 2016/7 have been lost without any Geordie presence in the side due to a Jack Colback injury and Paul Dummett being dropped or rested.
Kevin Nolan was pivotal for Chris Hughton’s 2009/10 Championship-winning side grabbing many games by the scruff of their necks and possessing the nous – game management is the popular modern term for it – to keep leads and his head and making sure everyone about him kept theirs.
Newcastle need to draw on the experienced figures in their extensive squad – internationals, Captains and leaders like Grant Hanley, Cheick Tiote and Daryl Murphy to give the team a stronger spine in adversity.
Step Forward Cheick Tiote and The Magpies Leaders
Newcastle’s average age against both Blackburn and Hull – 25 – was a lot lower than it had been during the majority of the 2009-10 campaign and while naturally Rafa Benitez has an eye on the future and the team growing – and growing up – together, results in the here and now are crucial.
Experience is vital in football and 30 year-old Cheick Tiote is a veteran of over 250 club games winning title trophies and Cups for Anderlecht and FC Twente as well as 50 international Caps with Ivory Coast with whom he is a reigning 2015 African Nations Cup Champion.
With this pedigree and over 120 Premier League games for Newcastle, it is a no-brainer that Tiote plays when the team needs to get a grip as it does right now.
Under Alan Pardew, Tiote was named Captain against Chelsea and Liverpool, matches which Newcastle won and drew against a top Chelsea team and title-challenging Brendan Rodgers’ Reds side and the intensity of the side was noticeably increased under Tiote’s command.
Under Benitez last season, Tiote came in and formed a defensive shield alongside Jack Colback which almost kept The Magpies in the top flight ending the season six games unbeaten and he is an important player who should not be overlooked as Newcastle look to rebound at Forest on Friday.
Geordies Give Newcastle Grit and Local Knowledge – Dummett and Colback Must Play
Local lads Jack Colback and Paul Dummett were missed badly in the last two games reflecting former Chairman Freddie Shepherd’s view that local players and coaches – Sir Bobby Robson was his manager at the time – have a Geordie chip that gives them an edge for Newcastle.
This is something in the the local DNA and football consciousness – many fans were quick to denounc last night as ‘typical Newcastle’ – that Rafa Benitez both needs to embrace and change for the better especially that of winning when it matters – from penalty shoot-outs to major trophies – that has become foreign to Newcastle.
Dummett is far and away the best left-back at the club by far and while Jesus Gamez may have adjusted to the pace of The Championship had he not been injured, Moroccan Achraf Lazaar with his attacking instincts looks more suitable for the left-wing or left-wing-back position.
As for Jack Colback, it is telling that Newcastle have won every game he has played in this season with the exception being the opening day refereeing farce at Fulham when Newcastle were robbed of three possible penalties, at least two stonewall, for handball.
Scottish power must not be forgotten as although Grant Hanley has had a stuttering start to his Newcastle career, the Scottish international sometime Captain has a hell of a lot to offer both physically and mentally at both ends of the pitch.
It was also good to see Daryl Murphy feature last night as a late-substitute as the 33 year-old will provide both height and a heavyweight presence plus goals and key Championship experience throughout Winter.
When the going gets tough, the tough must play and as Benitez’s team has evolved throughout the season so far, it surely will again now in order to bounce back and regain that Championship-winning momentum.
Juventus Fans Arrested After Clash with Police
Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash between Juventus and Ajax has already been marred by violence and controversy, before the teams even took to the pitch.
According to Ansa, citing a report from De Telegraaf, dozens of fans were reportedly arrested in Amsterdam in the hours leading up to the game.
Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini (h/t Football Italia) took to Facebook live video to state that “around 120” fans had been arrested.
Per the report from De Telegraaf, fans near the Johan Cruyff Arena were “in possession of knives, clubs, pepper spray and flares.” Also, dozens of Ajax supporters were reported to have clashed with riot police in separate incidents outside the stadium and were eventually dispersed with the use of tear gas and water cannons.
The Mirror posted the following images on their Twitter page:
Man City forward Raheem Sterling Looking to Combat Racism on the Pitch
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, who spoke out last month after being subjected to taunts during England’s game in Montenegro, is looking to take his fight against racism to the pitch, saying he would rather stay on the field than let racism force him to walk off of the pitch during a match.
Sterling’s manager Pep Guardiola, stated that he would support players walking off in protest if it happened again, in a strong statement that racism is simply not acceptable.
“I think everyone are entitled to their own opinions. My mum has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and I am,” Sterling said, according to the Manchester Evening News.
“I wouldn’t personally agree with [walking off], to win the game would hurt them even more they’re only trying to get you down. If you walk off they win, to score or win would be better.
“Everyone’s different. Everyone has their own opinion, how they deal with things emotionally and you have to support everyone.”
Sterling opened up about the racism he has faced in his life, discussing when he first expereinced racism when he moved from North London up to the north-west back in 2010.
“I don’t think trying to make a difference or making a difference, it’s about speaking what you experience. Some people might shy away from it, if more players speak up that might be better.
“It’s offensive but growing up my mum always told me I’m a wonderful black child and I know this. When I hear it, it’s nothing new. I’m happy with it. I’m confident, I’m black and I’m proud. Some people can’t take it but my mum has always told me to love who I am.
“The first time I experienced racism is when I went up north to Liverpool – in London in schools and on a day-to-day basis you’re surrounded by a diverse community. Only a few occasions growing up in the academy in Liverpool, and then mainly in the last couple of years of being a professional.”
Birmingham City Fan Jailed for 14 Days for Punching Aston Villa Player
27-year old Paul Mitchel, a Birmingham City fan has been jailed for 14 days after he plead guilt to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Graelish during the derby on Sunday.
Mitchell rushed the pitch and took a swing at Graelish when the player’s back was turned at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match on Sunday.
Mitchell admitted to invading the pitch and has been officially banned from attending any football match in the U.K. for up to 10 years, and was also ordered to pay £350 in total fines.
Graelish made a statement in which he described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.
“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” he said (h/t ESPN). “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”
“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, said on Monday.
“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a 2-year-old together and they’re expecting their second child.”
“This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour,” said a spokesperson for the FA.
“On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.
“Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk.
“This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.
“We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.
“In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations to examine the security measures they had in place.”
Birmingham City apologized to Grealish and Aston Villa and banned Mitchell for life.
“Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in Sunday afternoon’s derby match,” a club statement said.
“We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.
“The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.
“What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this — there are no excuses.
“Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club.”
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