Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0 – Saturday 6 August 3pm
“We are lacking players who are willing to take a pop from outside the box”, I said last week.
“You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket”, I added.
It astonishes me how reviewers can resolutely stick a number to a player’s performance without taking the rest of the team into consideration. The favourite midfielder gets a 9 because, though he did little else over the 77 minutes he was on the pitch, he did score a goal, while the defender who worked his socks off all through the game, but gave away a needless corner that led to a header that had to be cleared off the line, gets a 6.
Then, as if trying to appear more critical we start allocating half a point here and another half there.
The other thing we sometimes see is the euphoria of a win resulting in every player getting 8s and 9s.
That would put the entire team in the “Good” category here.
In the time I’ve been doing this we haven’t yet played the game that got every player into “Good”.
Let’s keep it simple
It’s Good, it’s Bad, or it’s Ugly.
And just for clarification – these are my opinions on the match.
Not pre-season. Not last season. Not the entire history of our club.
Just the match.
Doesn’t really need any explanation.
I listen to journos telling us that a manager has a hard decision to make and I think “well it’s either a good player or a good player – it’s hardly going to keep him awake at night!” But I tell you what, Eddie Howe’s going to have a couple of sleepless nights trying to decide if it’s going to be Schar or Botman. It would be criminal to remove the Swiss defender after the Forest performance, and while I appreciate Howe likes to introduce the new boys to the Prem slowly, how long can you let your 3 million pound defender keep that 30 million pound defender that you spent months persuading the purse-string-holders that you desperately needed, on the bench?
Superb performance from Schar. Burn carried on from where he left off last season, while we got another good performance out of Bruno, who has already claimed the midfield as his own.
You can think of this bit as “could have done better”, or even “lacking that finishing touch”, but for the purpose of this article, it’s “Bad”.
It was a cracking start to the season but if we’re brutally honest, 2-0 just doesn’t properly capture our superiority on the ball. It should have been a handful and that’s why St Maximin and Almiron kick off their season here.
There was a lot of talk of Almiron’s goals pre-season giving him confidence, and “it’s all about confidence”. Well it doesn’t appear that “confidence” improves decision making skills. Miggy gets into some great positions but what he does next is the stuff of horror movies. If you’ve ever watched the highlights put out by NUFC TV with commentary by John “why didn’t he just” Anderson – you’ll know that some day Miggy is going to put Ando in hospital with his decision making.
And the same goes for St Maximin. We know he could be better, and his passing may even be getting better, but he really does need another string to his bow. The trademark cut inside, run past two players then dribble another shot wide of the left post really is starting to look tired.
While I’m on, I’ll chuck Willock in here as well. The goodwill accumulated following his impressive run a couple of seasons ago is starting to wear thin. He needs to produce or he’ll find himself on the bench.
The good news is he’s still young. I think if Howe is going to work his magic on any player this season, it should be Willock
Before you start flinging your keyboards at the screen, Ugly can be a decent performance, just not good enough to get into the “Good” bracket. Think “rough around the edges”. As Sergio Leone didn’t make a film called “The Good, The Bad, and the Rough Around the Edges”, we’ll go with “Ugly”.
Targett had a decent game but at times he struggled, needing to get physical a bit more than cerebral.
Wilson scored a goal, so many of you will be screaming already, but he just didn’t look his best. On a better day he could have had two or three.
And he’s also joined this week, only just, by Joelinton. It’s old news that the big Brazilian has transformed his game with a move to midfield, and he’s productive, providing the assist for Wilson’s goal, but there is no doubt that he can be a bit scrappy. What I did enjoy was the inch-perfect 50 yard diagonal ball to St Maximin on the left wing. What I didn’t enjoy quite so much was the impressive run through the Forest defence, followed by him pushing the ball wide of the left post. It was almost as if he had a “what the hell am I doing here?” moment when he realised he was in the box.
You might be wondering what happened to Trippier? Well here he is. He went all Ugly on us.
A decent performance but not quite as clinical as we’ve come to expect, with a few wayward passes. And he’s accompanied here by his goalkeeper. Pope did nothing wrong, but “nothing wrong” doesn’t get you into “Good”.
I’m sure a couple of you out there might put different players in different places but can we at least all agree that we need a bit more punch up front? It would be nice to have someone in before Brighton, if not, definitely before City.
Now for the youngsters out there, – five things we learned from the match.
1. I’d say we dodged a bullet with Lingard
2. We dodged a bullet with Lingard
3. We dodged a bullet with Lingard
4. We dodged a bullet with Lingard
5. We dodged a bullet with Lingard
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0 – Saturday 6 August 3pm
Schar 58, Wilson 78
(Half-time stats in brackets)
Possession was Forest 38% (35%) Newcastle 62% (65%)
Total shots were Forest 5 (3) Newcastle 23 (14)
Shots on target were Forest 0 (0) Newcastle 10 (6)
Corners were Forest 1 (0) Newcastle 11 (7)
Referee: Simon Hooper
Attendance: 52,245 (Forest 3,000)
Pope, Trippier, Schar, Burn, Targett, Willock (Sean Longstaff 80), Bruno (Botman 90+3), Joelinton, Almiron (Fraser 81), Wilson (Wood 90), Saint-Maximin (Murphy 90)
Dubravka, Dummett, Ritchie, Anderson
(Steve Cooper refreshingly honest as he reflects on losing to a dominant Newcastle United – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)
(Eddie Howe reflects on Newcastle United beating Forest, Lascelles injury and central defender dilemma – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0 – Instant NUFC fan / writer reaction to Saturday’s excellent victory – Read HERE)
(Alan Shearer loving Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0 – Salutes goalscorers and ‘Fantastic’ man of the match – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 0 – Dominant classy opening day for United, just look at these stats – Read HERE)