Newcastle United have sent Manchester United away with a lovely parting gift of three points in today's Premier League encounter. It should come as little surprise on the preponderance of the evidence this season that perhaps our best performance of the match v. Bordeaux midweek would be followed up with a display that defines what we have been this year.
Newcastle put themselves in an early hole with a steadfast refusal to cover Manchester United corners... in fact, it appeared at one point in the first half that Newcastle were on a mission to concede from ALL the corners. There will be questions about Alan Pardew's tactics, perhaps, as they again looked to force personnel that is best suited to a 4-3-3 formation into the 4-4-2 box, and as a result (as just about everyone predicted), Newcastle got overrun through the middle of the park until a mid-half shift towards the 4-3-3 gave the Toon a little purchase in the match. In addition to being overrun in the middle, a byproduct of trying to force the 4-4-2 was that Papiss Cisse ended up several times pinned down in a very withdrawn, very wide RM position.
After an early match flirtation with Stoke CIty tactics (hoof scuffle scuffle hoof scuffle scuffle scuffle concede hoof hoof ad nauseum), the shift away from the pure 4-4-2 gave the Toon Army some hope that something might eventually come from the match as their club did start pressuring David de Gea's goal on a more regular basis. As close as the Toon would come, however, was Papiss Cisse's header which in all honesty de Gea just about looked like he did enough to keep from completely crossing the line. Otherwise, that word malaise seems to be apt yet again for a club that has struggled to string together 2 consistent halves thus far this season in the league (either way, mind... consistently bad or consistently good).
With the international break starting at this minute, I'm going to leave it at this for now and try to figure out what is going wrong on the pitch for Newcastle as we get closer to our trip to the Stadium of Shite.