Friday, November 01, 2013

The nearly men

Newcastle Utd 0 - 2 Man City (aet)

Newcastle nearly got through to the quarter finals of the League Cup on Wednesday night with a spirited performance against a significantly better resourced Man City side.

The Silver Fox opted to make a handful of changes to the side which lost the derby on Sunday, with Big Lad, Vurnon Anita, MYM and Papiss Cisse all handed starting berths in a 4-4-2 formation. For the visitors, Manuel Pellegrini chose to utilise his squad of expensively assembled regular substitutes to see whether any were worthy of more regular game time.

While the visitors looked quite rusty, it was Newcastle who started the brighter and were on the offensive from the off. With Anita and wannabe Belgian Mr T establishing a stranglehold in midfield, we started to create chances, with Cisse spurning a couple of good opportunities in the first half.

Frustratingly, we weren't able to take the lead and the second half saw very little in terms of chances for either side. Curiously, with the game poised at 0-0, the Silver Fox withdrew Big Lad and brought on Dreamboat, possibly in a bid to give our midfield greater poise. However, the reality was that he withdrew the wrong striker, with Cisse continuing to carry the look of a man who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and for whom the goal looks the size of a microwave.

Goalless at full time, and with our bench emptied thanks to the arrival (and departure) of Paul Dummett, with the defender replaced by HBA which forced a reshuffle that saw Anita moved to left back, we continued to press forward.

However, it was City, perhaps due to their fresher legs, who got the breakthrough when Alvaro Negredo connected with Edin Dzeko's pass to shoot past Krul, before Dzeko added a second a few minutes later, taking with it half of our chances to win a cup this season.

While undoubtedly an improvement on Sunday's performance, the defeat still sees the vultures circling over the Silver Fox's head, with Saturday's visit of Chelski a increasingly pressurised game.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

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