Newcastle Club Focus – Magpies face winter of discontent as winless run stretches to six

Newcastle extended their winless run to six games with a 3-2 home defeat against West Bromwich Albion. After an unexpected flying start to the new season, reality has finally hit home with any hopes of a challenge for a Champions League place looking increasingly remote. A defence that has looked rock solid for much of the campaign is starting to concede goals at an alarming rate, with all of the goals against the Baggies coming from poor defending. With a tough looking run of fixtures coming up, Alan Pardew will be looking to address the shortcomings that have appeared since the beginning of winter.

Wednesday’s game was a thrilling spectacle for the neutral but Newcastle fans will feel their side showed too much festive goodwill against West Brom. Despite twice coming back from a goal down it was not enough to take a share of the points that would have been just about merited. A lot of the discipline that was installed at the beginning of the season was not evident with Newcastle on a number of occasions committing too many men forward in search of a winning goal.

Two of West Brom’s goals came on the counter-attack as they looked to exploit the lack of pace in the Magpies’ backline. By selecting two quick out-and-out strikers, Roy Hodgson ensured the defenders were occupied as often as possible. The normally dependable Fabricio Coloccini had one of his worst showings for a long time as he was at times embarrassed by the pace and trickery of Shane Long. The loss of Steven Taylor cannot be underestimated either, as the local boy’s strength and pace complements the Argentine’s decision making and calmness. It did not help that the home side looked to employ a high defensive line that was exposed on a number of occasions.

Pardew now faces one of his biggest challenges in reigniting the team’s fortunes once again. After such a strong start it would be a major disappointment to spend the rest of the season in mid-table mediocrity. After the game the manager said: “It’s an upsetting game for us to lose because we are at home. The first half I didn’t think we played anywhere near to our ability.” He added: “We would have had 30 points if we won tonight and maybe we wanted it too much, and didn’t play as controlled as we usually do.

One of the plus sides from the game, alongside the once again impressive Demba Ba, was the performance of youngster Harris Vuckic. The 19 year old made his first senior start for the club and showed just why there has been such a lot of hype over him on Tyneside. He twice came close to scoring from long range only to be denied by either the woodwork or Ben Foster’s reflexes. He also showed some neat trickery to get into promising positions. With Yohan Cabaye due to return to the team however, the teenager may find himself back on the bench on Boxing Day against Bolton.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Bolton v Newcastle

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