Newcastle United traveled to Bloomfield Road on Saturday to play fellow promotees Blackpool FC, and the result of the match was a 1-1 draw. The result was widely viewed as a positive one for the Seasiders, who by virtue of gaining a point lifted themselves out of the drop zone, and a not-so-positive one for the Magpies, who had achieved a similar score against a much tougher opponent (Manchester United) the week prior. Peter Lovenkrands (17') and DJ Campbell (32') were the goalscorers.
Follow the jump for this week's Reasonable Reaction Review, including individual ratings.
It's very hard for me to watch a game that's not live. It's even harder when I know what the result is going to be, that it's going to be a draw, and that the general consensus is that Newcastle didn't play well.
It took me four hours to get through that game.
What frustrates me about this team isn't so much the injuries, suspensions, quotes in the media about wanting to leave, or even the lack of finishing. It's the inconsistency. Over the last two weeks we've seen this team lay an egg at Villa Park, force a draw against a team trying to lock up a title, and then lay another collective egg at Bloomfield Road, a stadium where, according to the internet, some guy holds up a confederate flag all game long because he's sitting on the south side of the stadium. Brain Power.
It's been that way all season long. A strong effort when the big boys come to town, but when it's time to face the also-rans of the league, there's no respect to be found for the opponent. It's happened under both Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew, so the temptation is to blame the players, and I don't want to absolve them of responsibility. However, it's going to be tough for me to defend a manager when he's clearly playing for a tie with 30+ minutes to go in the game.
Once Stephen Ireland entered the game for Peter Lovenkrands (who was actually in fine form; when was the last time he played >70 minutes?), I fully expected the game to open up, with Ireland playing right behind Shola Ameobi and causing problems for the defense. That lasted for about 30 seconds, and then Pardew could be seen screaming toward the Toon's offensive half. Following that exchange, Stephen played a bit of holding midfield with Cheik Tiote and Shola stayed goalside of the midline.
There's a lot to nitpick about the way the boys played on Saturday, but what irks me the most is the attitude. Should we expect to see the team mail in the last 4 games of the season now that they're sitting at 41 points? I'd rather not waste four hours every week.
Tim Krul - 7. The post was his friend and the Tangerines had their share of misses, but he kept them in the match early and didn't hesitate to charge the ball when necessary, something that couldn't be said about him in the Man Utd game. Here's my main beef with Krul at the moment: When you've got one guy who's willing to go up in the air to win balls and he's not having a good game, stop bombing the ball down the field on goal kicks and when you're not being pressured. The Flying Dutchman actually kept our midfielders from utilizing their creativity because he kept going over their heads.
Danny Simpson - 5. Didn't do much up the field - it looked like he had been ordered to watch for a counterattack. His defensive positioning hasn't really improved that much, and then of course there's the handball...
Mike Williamson - 6. Adequate.
Fabricio Coloccini - 8. This man is on a run of terrific form. It won't be long before a dumb Gunners fan bothers me on Twitter about how he deserves to play for a good club.
Jose Enrique Sanchez and Jonás Gutiérrez - 6. JE wasn't as solid on defense as we're used to, and Jonás was a little more invisible on the offensive end. They were both contained because Ian Holloway pulled an extra midfielder over to cover them whenever they tried to break down the left. It didn't help that both of them have become enamored with their own ballhandling skills, leading them to forget that they're allowed to pass to others, and leading the others to forget that they should make themselves available for a pass.
Joey Barton - 6. I'm now officially driving the "We Need Another Kick Taker" bandwagon.
Kevin Nolan - 6. Had two shots blocked, but otherwise made himself a nuisance.
Cheik Tiote - 6. I have to penalize him for the yellow card, but it was a ticky tack call, especially when you consider the many tackles that didn't even merit a talking-to (several of them on Tiote himself). He's developed a reputation now, which of course means he won't be able to breathe on players without receiving a booking.
Peter Lovenkrands - 8. A nice goal. Also made some quality runs and probably should have had another score to his name.
Shola Ameobi - 5. Mediocre in the air, and that was probably the strongest part of his game this week.
Stephen Ireland (62') - 7. Provided a spark, but not really enough of one for me to clamor for a permanent move.
James Perch (87') - 6. Ugh.
Shefki Kuqi (90') - INC. I don't really understand why he came in.
Ian Holloway, Charlie Adam, Ian Evatt, and Gary Taylor-Fletcher - 1. The score is for their attitude. This quartet whined so much that Joey Barton must have been embarrassed for them.