Club Focus – Newcastle – Toon self-destruct at Bolton

Newcastle United manger Chris Hughton described his side’s defeat to Bolton as his worst day in the job since taking charge of the club. Up to now Hughton’s time with the Magpies has been very successful but a 5-1 away defeat to the Trotters is one of the low points of his regime. Saturday saw a return of the type of defending that was a regular commodity in Newcastle’s previous spell in the Premier League. All five goals came from individual errors that could easily have been prevented. The previously solid back four played like strangers who had never met each other before kick-off. It was not that Bolton had to play outstandingly well to win; they just made fewer mistakes than their opponents.

The 5-1 scoreline does have a slightly flattering reflection on the game as a whole but it was still a deserved defeat for Newcastle. Joey Barton and Cheik Tiote have emerged as crucial performers in the middle of the park this season and the suspended pair were sorely missed. Tiote’s ability to break-up play in front of the defenders is an important part of Newcastle’s game, while Barton is one of the few players who offers creativity from open-play and set pieces. Their replacements Alan Smith and Danny Guthrie could not make up for their absence although both are lacking match-sharpness at the moment. With a tough looking fixture list between now and the New Year and injuries and suspensions starting to build up it could be a tough winter for the Magpies.

It was a bad day at the office in particular for Fabricio Coloccini who had easily his worst game of the season. Before the Bolton game he had been a model of consistency with his concentration and coolness under pressure, looking every inch a top class international defender. But against Bolton’s twin threat of Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander he returned to the same Coloccini from the team who were relegated in 2009. He looked ponderous on the ball when under pressure in his own defensive third and was at times out-paced and out-muscled by Elmander. As if to cap of his nightmare he was dismissed on 76 minutes for an unnecessary elbow on the Swedish striker. He will now be suspended for three games meaning his place in the team will come under threat from either Steven Taylor or Sol Campbell.

One of the few Newcastle players to emerge with any real credit was Andy Carroll who again offered the biggest attacking threat. He took his goal confidently on his weaker right foot and could have added two more despite being starved of good service. His manger Hughton was left to rue his players’ self destruction. He said: “It was a very difficult day for us. We added to our own problems, certainly in that first-half period. We started the game, I thought, very well, coped with the game that they play very much working off the two front players (Davies and Elmander) but I thought we coped with it very well. But we added to our downfall by giving away two very poor goals in that first-half period.”

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