1. Newcastle United fans don’t forget anything, and they can make things very difficult.
It’s usual for fans to boo former players of rival teams. Newcastle fans even boo former players of their own team — Sissoko, Janmaat, etc. Today was no different as the boo-boys were in full force. With Pickford stationed between the sticks, Newcastle fans made his job infinitely more difficult by letting a loud chorus of boos ring every time he touched the ball. With 50,000 fans shouting, Pickford had a terrible afternoon. In addition to the obvious penalty blunder (which should have resulted in a red card), his distribution was incredibly poor, and he consistently made bad decisions. Though he saved a penalty on the evening, Newcastle fans will celebrate that they were able to get in the outspoken keeper’s head and get payback for his petty celebration at Goodison Park one year prior.
2. Attacks down the wings continue to trouble Newcastle’s defense.
With three solid center backs protecting Newcastle’s goal from central attacks, opposition sides have resorted to attacking down the wings in recent months and have been somewhat successful. Overall, Newcastle’s defensive record has been impressive this season, with the past few months being no different. However, when Newcastle do concede, the threat usually comes from the wing— specifically down Newcastle’s right side. Just as teams have done in recent weeks, Everton went straight after Newcastle’s right side from the get-go, and it didn’t take long for them to grab the lead through this strategy.
Their second goal highlighted a key clarification that must be considered: BOTH of Newcastle’s wings serve as points of attack for opposition sides. The switch to three center backs hasn’t entirely been seemless with Newcastle wing-backs and supporting center-backs failing to properly defend overlapping runs time after time.
Failure to deal with these runs forced Rafa to shift Lejeune into the center of the back three with Lascelles being subbed for Dummett. This move had the desired effect as Dummett did much better than Lascelles or Lejeune could have done to deal with attacks down the wings.
It’ll definitely be interesting to see how Rafa deals with this issue going forward. Putting in Manquillo instead for Yedlin didn’t have the desired effect in recent weeks. Somehow managing to incorporate Dummett might just help to alleviate the issue.
3. The outcome of PL matches continue to be influenced by the referees.
It was once a rare occurrence in sports for fans of both sides to be upset with the how referees officiate the game, but that has since become the norm. Newcastle fans have plenty reason to be upset with the referee after he failed to brandish a red card to shot-stopper Pickford for hitting Rondon with a Spine-Buster. In the ensuing penalty, Pickford was able to cast an influence over the match by stopping Matt Ritchie’s penalty.
On the other hand, Everton will be left feeling hard done by after seeing Ayoze score from a play where an offside Rondon was involved. Perhaps, that was the Football Gods righting the wrongs of the referee. Either way, both sets of fans are undoubtedly upset with the officiating in this match. The sad reality is that referees continue to have an unwelcome influence over matches while fans around the world eagerly await the implementation of VAR.
4. You never know what you are going to get with Newcastle.
Supporting a team as unpredictable as Newcastle probably isn’t the way to go if you have hypertension. Even with a manager who places an emphasis on consistency and reliability, Newcastle continue to make things interesting, and that’s partially why many of us are hooked. In Rafa’s three year tenure, Newcastle have picked up wins against Tottenham, Man City, Man United, and Chelsea and have also managed to lose against some truly woeful sides.
There has definitely been signs of inconsistency this season as well. Early on in the season, Newcastle was woeful at home and incredible on the road. Now they have flipped the script. The lads in black and white have won five straight at home, while failing to win in each of their last three away matches.
This match itself functions well as a microcosm of Newcastle’s unpredictable nature. After conceding only one goal at home in the last 4 matches, Newcastle conceded two in a matter of 32 minutes. Newcastle then went on to win all three points from a losing position, a feat that is quite uncommon to this team.
5. Newcastle United is motivated more by a fear of failure than a desire for success.
Perhaps, the squad has more in common with Mike Ashley than they would’ve liked. Each time that Newcastle has gained a sense of security of their status in the PL, performance levels have dropped. This happened last season towards the end. Dire performances against the likes of a defeated West Bromwich Albion followed.
This season has proven to be much of the same. On the back of impressive form, Newcastle gained a false sense of security, and performance levels dropped for 1.5 matches (West Ham + 1st half today). The problem with this mentality is that any sense of security obtained when matches are still being played in the Premier League is fundamentally ephemeral. A dip in performances and subsequent poor results can see a good side plummet down the table. Newcastle may have seemed safe one week prior, but a win against Everton was much-needed. Southampton and Cardiff both picked up 3 points today, so the margin for error remains slim.
This driving factor that is the fear of failure is undoubtedly the most toxic byproduct of the Mike Ashley era. For years, Mike Ashley has only been motivated by wanting to avoid failure far instead of showing ambition. It is no surprise that Mike Ashley refuses to budge on Rafa’s demands — which should be undoubtedly benefit the club and his pocket in the long run. At the end of the day, these guiding principles have seeped into the actual squad.