Newcastle suffered their first defeat of 2012 in a high scoring match in West London. At half time they looked set to continue their excellent start to the new year but a second half collapse saw them concede five goals in less than forty minutes. After the game manager Alan Pardew was at a loss to explain how his side had collapsed so dramatically. No doubt an inquest will be held into the manner of the Magpies conceding more than four goals for the first time this season.
It could be argued that the game’s changing point came when referee Lee Mason awarded a contentious penalty against full back Davide Santon. There appeared to be limited contact from the Italian on former Magpie Damien Duff who fell on the margins of the penalty area. However Fulham fans may feel that the game changed thanks to some tactical tinkering by Martin Jol. Either way the Magpies never recovered from the equaliser in the manner that a potential top six side should.
For much of this season Newcastle have been sound defensively but on Saturday it was a return to the bad old days. Earlier in the campaign they had conceded four goals at Norwich but that may was down to a very much makeshift backline. There could be no excuse against Fulham with the back four currently the first choice available. Even the highly reliable Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini were not at their best for the second 45 minutes as Fulham looked to exploit the gaps behind the defence. Whether this forces Pardew into signing defensive reinforcements remains to be seen although it would be harsh to jump to conclusions after just one bad game.
For now one of Pardew’s top priorities is to tie down two of his key players on long term deals. Defender Fabricio Coloccini has less than 18 months left on his contract while midfielder Guthrie’s deal ends this season. Both players have impressed this season and their situation has been highlighted as being more important than any further transfer additions. Pardew said: “The priority for me is Coloccini’s new contract, and one or two others. We are focused on that because we want to keep our best players. He is our captain and I want to keep him. Negotiations are due to restart shortly.” There is a chance another defender will be signed this month although it appears unlikely to be James Tomkins after he signed a new contract with West Ham this week.
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