Newcastle United suffered defeat at Vicarage Road against Watford, a game the Magpies looked relatively comfortable in during the first half. In fact, Steve Bruce’s side were playing some impressive football at times.
Newcastle took a deserved lead when Dwight Gayle poked home Federico Fernandez’s header in the 23rd minute. The men in orange could and should have been 2-0 up when Gayle flicked the ball through for the the onrushing Allan Saint-Maximin, who, when through on goal could only find the outstretched leg of ‘keeper Ben Foster.
Newcastle have a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot, this game was no different as the Magpies completely crumbled in the second half. Matt Ritchie gave away a contentious penalty seven minutes after the restart, there looked to be little contact made, however the referee pointed to the spot. After Troy Deeney blasted the ball past a helpless Martin Dubravka, Newcastle produced their white flags and started waving them vigorously. Watford started to take control of the game as Newcastle players no longer looked interested.
You could certainly tell which side had the fight, hunger and desire to get all three points, it wasn’t Bruce’s men. Thankfully Newcastle are already safe from relegation, if they had not been you would have to question whether the side have the mental toughness to go through a relegation scrap.
Newcastle’s second half performance was nothing short of pathetic, with Tottenham, Brighton and Liverpool to follow - Lord knows whether Bruce’s team will have the hunger to pick up another three points this season. The overriding feeling is that the players now think the job is done and there’s no need to play to their maximum. Those flip flops are well and truly on, I’m sure most have been dreaming about white sandy beaches since safety was assured.
Watford took a deserved lead in the 82nd minute, another penalty awarded. This time though, there was nothing contentious about it, Javier Manquillo who had just switched over to left back produced some suicidal defending, giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Deeney, again made no mistake with the finish as he fired his side to three points and surely safety?
Newcastle players need to take a long look at themselves, the performances against Manchester City in midweek and the second half showing against Watford are inexcusable. The club may be in limbo off the pitch but it should not be seen as an excuse to produce some turgid performances of late.
Tottenham visit St James’ Park on Wednesday evening, will Jose Mourinho finally break his duck? If the Magpies continue to play like this, Mourinho will be leaving St James’ Park with all three points. How’s the takeover did you say?.....