Club Focus – Newcastle United – Woeful Magpies extend winless run

Newcastle United produced arguably their worst performance of the season as they suffered a 3-1 defeat at the Hawthorns. Chris Hughton’s side were second best for much of the game, with defeat making it five matches in a row without a win. With a tough looking run of fixtures coming up over the festive period next weekend’s game with Liverpool appears important to get back to winning ways. The defeat sees the Magpies slip to 11th in the table and only four points from the relegation zone.

Last season the two sides were very closely matched with Newcastle’s strong finish to the season securing the Championship title. Worryingly for the black and whites the Baggies looked a much better team in every department on Sunday’s evidence. There appeared a greater desire to win the game by the home side allied to more creativity and pace going forward. Consolingly for Newcastle fans they were stripped of four of this season’s key performers thanks to injury and suspension. First choice centre backs Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson’s presence was sorely missed at the back. In midfield injury to skipper Kevin Nolan and playmaker Joey Barton left a midfield looking short on guile and any goalscoring presence.

The quartet’s replacements failed to cover themselves in any glory after performing so well against Chelsea the previous weekend. Sol Campbell and Steven Taylor coped admirably with the threat of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka yet against lesser heralded opponents they conceded some soft goals. The third goal in particular was poor as a simple long ball over the top allowed West Brom’s Peter Odemwingie in for an easy goal. There was no cohesion to the Magpies display with the ball regularly given away.

Chris Hughton was left angered by his team’s lacklustre performance as individual mistakes led to their downfall. An inquest was held after the game with the players kept in the dressing room after the final whistle. “I’m frustrated and angry because I didn’t think we played well enough, said Hughton. “We didn’t start well and it wasn’t until 35 minutes or so before we strung together passes. We made three errors for their goals. If we stay in the game, we’ve enough quality to score. At 1-0 down, we’re in the game, but the second goal hurt.”

Newcastle can at least console themselves with some good news after securing defender Mike Williamson and promising striker Nile Ranger onto long term deals. The pair have both signed five and a half year deals which will keep them at the club until 2016. Williamson in particular has been a revelation since heading north at the start of this year calendar year from cash-strapped Portsmouth. After establishing himself in last season’s promotion winning team he also become an important player for the club in his first taste of top flight football. Ranger is only 19 years of age but has made regular appearances from the bench this season. He has often been the player Hughton has turned to if Newcastle are chasing the game or need someone to stretch teams on the counter attack. It is thought that Joey Barton and Jose Enrique will be the next players that the club will attempt to tie down on long term deals.

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