With Yohan Cabaye out due to an infection related to having his wisdom teeth out, Alan Pardew started a midfield combination of Gael Bigirimana and Cheik Tiote. Otherwise, in terms of the outfield players, it was close to a first-choice save for James Perch's inclusion as Danny Simpson is not yet recovered from his injury. As such, the person at large would have thought Newcastle United still had enough quality in their side to take a result from a newly promoted side with one earned on the season. The problem is, someone told the team that.
As I mentioned in the preview, the search for consistency has not turned up much, but some encouraging form at times v. Norwich and v. Manchester United midweek, it seemed like we were on the verge of finding our best form from last year. Two things happened at Reading that were disappointing, however:
- The partnership of Bigirimana and Tiote is not ready for prime time. While they managed to play well defensively for large sections of the match, neither one of them was ready or willing to hold or play the ball within the offense in the middle of the pitch. Granted Tiote managed a great through ball for Ba's first goal, but we were dominated through the middle of the pitch. Bigi is going to be great eventually... Tiote still seems a little off... but this was the beginning of the breakdown for Newcastle United. Well... not the beginning.
- Newcastle United took the pitch at the Madejski and felt that their name would win the match for them. While no club EVER earns that right (not even Manchester United, Barcelona or any other club), Newcastle are the least club that would have earned it if they could. Since our promotion to the Premier League, we have struggled every. year. to newly promoted sides. If there was a match that we didn't think we could walk in and win without any effort, it should have been this one.
This effort was abysmal, and Reading will rightly feel harshly done by to not have earned the 3 points from this match as they were the better team for all 90 minutes and Ba's equalizer was mildly illegal and all... If Newcastle United truly have Top-8 aspirations, they're going to have to get this sorted and sorted soon. We have been unlucky with injury for sure, but there is a general lack of attitude and effort that is troubling thus far this season.