Stevenage 3-1 Newcastle: Even Stevens

Posted: January 8, 2011 in Blogs
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For Newcastle United supporters, 2011 was going well. Too well. Two wins on the trot and six points closer to Premier League survival, surely it wouldn’t take long until the self-destructive side of the Magpies reared its ugly head once more. Today at Stevenage, live on TV, rear its head it did. Some would argue that the 3-1 loss to the League 2 side was a poor performance. For me, it was a non-performance. Every player apart from Joey Barton delivered truly woeful performances yet the most appalling thing was that no one looked interested. A basic rule of thumb on Tyneside is that if even if you lack talent, pure grit and determination can see you become accepted and in even in some cases a fans favourite. This theory is becoming severely tested – like the Toon Army’s patience – by the likes of James Perch, Alan Smith and Wayne Routledge. As much as fans may admire Smith’s obvious hard work in the centre of the park, there comes a point when that simply isn’t enough. In the case of the Stevenage game, this involves being able to pass the ball to a teammate or at the very least NOT to an opponent when they are standing 3 feet in front of you. How Smith continues to disguise himself as a professional (let alone Premier League) footballer is beyond me. If there is a chance we can move him on in the current transfer window, we must take the opportunity. If not because he is a burden on the other 10 players in the team when he plays, then because he picks up a disgraceful weekly pay packet of more pounds than St James’ Park has seats.

Alan Smith in his disguise as a professional footballer

Anyway, enough of my grudge against Smith. There were 9 other shit performances on the pitch today, starting at the back:

Krul  6 Couldn’t do anything about the goals and made a few decent stops but the lad needs to sort out his kicking.

Simpson  5 Again shown up to be what he is. A Championship defender. Should host his own version of Can’t close down/Won’t close down.

Williamson  4 Unfortunate for his own goal but for the rest of the game he looked shaky and was at fault for their third goal. One of his worst performances in a Newcastle shirt.

Coloccini  6 Didn’t do much wrong but had a lot to do thanks to the lack of cover in front of him.

Perch  5 Not a left back. Not a Premier League footballer. A liability.

Routledge 4 Tried in vain. Simply not good enough. Too small, too weak and can’t cross.

Smith  2 The only way he could have scored worse is if he’d conceded his usual free-kicks near the box and seen a red card. Similar to Simpson, can’t pass/won’t pass.

Nolan  4 Tried hard but when not doing damage in the opposition’s box, he flounders in midfield. Contributed massively to our defeat with a succession of hoofed clearances, surrendering possession too easily.

Barton  7 The only man to come out of the game with any credit was United’s in form midfielder. Constantly trying to make the Toon tick, his goal was just reward for a good display. Must be frustrated that his teammates couldn’t match either his desire or quality.

Lovenkrands  5 Poor performance from the forward. Would have scored lower if he’d had any semblance of decent service.

Best  5 Same as for Lovenkrands. Proved he cannot replace Carroll for aerial prowess and hold up play.


Ranger  5 Made to chase shadows in the second half, such was the lack of service and support from midfield.

Tiote  6 Very harshly done by for the red card. If it isn’t appealed and rescinded to allow him to face the mackems, we might as well all give up and go home.

Airey  6 Didn’t have long enough to do anything meaningful.


Pardew 6 Only so much you can do from the dugout. Should have played Barton in the centre and started Tiote alongside him. Long-ball tactics played into their hands.

Simply put, not only did the players not look interested, but our supposed superior quality was non-existent. By resorting to long ball tactics we played into their hands and ensured that the side with greatest desire would emerge as the victors. Evidently, that wasn’t us.Whilst injuries and tiredness should not be discounted, we must take this opportunity to realise that beyond the first XI, we are severely lacking in quality; particularly in the creativity department. Whilst our strikers struggled today, it is hard to see how Carroll or even Drogba would have made an impact such was the shocking quality of service offered up by the midfield.

If one good thing comes out of today’s debacle it should be the old cliche that we can now concentrate on the league, as more games in our fixture list would undoubtedly stretch our already thin (on quality) squad even further. The upcoming week and the negative attention from the media that it will bring should also help us to refocus and come out fighting in the Stadium of Light in a weeks time. A win on Wearside will see the events of today largely forgotten, if not by those outside the north-east.

  1. Deekay says:

    Good write up, and I agree with pretty much everything you said.

    Hopefully the rumours of Smith returning to Leeds on loan will happen.

  2. Jezza says:

    Good review but I have to say you’ve been a bit generous in your ratings for Smith, Perch, Routledge and Williamson. These players were simply out of their depth against Stevenage Borough.

    We must get rid of Smith at all costs even if it means letting him go on a free and still paying 100% of his wages.

  3. Andy Briggs says:

    Too harsh on Colo. I was disappointed by Barton’s inability to cross. They ran straight through Nolan and Smith, time and time again. Something we saw on numerous occasions last season. I know he scores, but if we buy a winger and Barton moves inside, it has to be Nolan dropped to the bench, whether he puffs his chest up about it or not.

  4. AndyMac says:

    “We must get rid of Smith at all costs even if it means letting him go on a free and still paying 100% of his wages”

    or 200%, I’d be happy to chip in a few quid every week 🙂

    Seriously though Smithy is not the only problem but playing two of the slowest central midfield players in the BPL together did not help the cause yesterday. Neither did playing right sided players on the left nor bringing on Tiote when we needed width and service to the front two.

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