Sunday, May 06, 2007

Piss take

Newcastle Utd 0 – 2 Blackburn Rovers

Apathetic is the only word to describe yesterday’s "match". Clearly, the players didn’t want to be there. Equally clearly, large swathes of the supporters didn’t want to be there, attending because season tickets were long since paid for, and when all else is gone, a sense of duty remains.

What was most galling is that we came up against a mediocre Blackburn side, and they didn’t even have to get out of second gear to beat us, coming up against our defence in a particularly generous mood. Mystifyingly starting with Bramble and Onyewu in centre defence, and leaving Ramage (the only one of the three still likely to be at St James’ Park next season) on the bench it was Onyewu who didn’t step out quickly enough, and in so doing played McCarthy onside, and the South African duly added to his impressive goal tally.

At the other end, we once again sought to prove that Parker and Butt don’t make a particularly effective creative force in midfield, and that Dyer isn’t a right winger – with Kieron effectively abandoning his touchline at every opportunity to clog up the centre of the park, leaving Solano to have to provide all of the width down the right. Milner, as ever, was our one bright spark in midfield, and looked by far our most creative outlet.

Frustratingly, we spent much of the afternoon humping high balls forward. Given that Owen and Martins are both rather diminutive, and were up against man mountain Christopher Samba this was a completely futile task. It wasn’t until Ameobi replaced the ineffective Dyer that we even looked like we might win a header. Unfortunately, shortly after his arrival, the game was killed off as Bentley crossed from the right and Jason Roberts nipped between Ramage (who had replaced Bramble) and Onyewu to slot home.

It could have been worse, with Bentley wrongly flagged off-side in the first half when through on goal. Going forward, our best two chances of a goal came from Owen, the first a strong penalty shout when Samba hauled him down in the box, the second when Owen latched on to a long ball, chested the ball past Friedel only for Samba to head his shot off the line. He may yet break his duck for the season next week, but his performance, and that of Milner (who was again our most creative and hard working player), were the only bright sparks in an otherwise turgid performance.

Whoever thought that having the stadium announcer request that people remain in their seats so the players could thank them for their support this season wants a good slap. Whilst a number of fans remained, I decided that I’d reciprocate the performances I’ve witnessed this season, and went off to find a urinal.

Other reports: BBC, Observer


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