You always want to start your Premier League campaign sitting on maximum points come the end of ninety minutes; when you begin your season at home, that desire is magnified by a considerable amount. For Newcastle, a first league fixture against holders Manchester City, though taking place at St. James’ Park, was never going to end the way so many hoped and prayed.
While the 2-0 in for City surprised no one (goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero), it must be said that the shift put in by the Magpies was quite commendable. When you consider that five new signings made their debuts today, that positive attitude does not seem ridiculous in the least.
Newcastle may have been without Siem de Jong (do not underestimate how important he will be going forward for Newcastle this season), but the rest of the new signings who featured all demonstrated enough that they could well be ready to make contributions this season. In no way was this more evident than from Remy Cabella and Jack Colback.
D’artagnan did well throughout, bringing pace, creativity and a direct style that David Ginola would be proud of. As for the Ginger-haired turncoat, Colback was a welcomed addition of quality into the center of the park along side Moussa Sissoko, who himself put in yet another strong performance. Emmanuel Riviere brought bags of pace and energy, but to be fair he did lack any sort of end product. All in all, Newcastle’s attack is a work in progress, the promise was certainly there.
As for the defense…well…yeah. Daryl Janmaat looked solid, but he’ll certainly have to adapt coming from the Eredivisie, where defending has not been an art form in a long time, maybe ever. But the issue was, as expected, Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini. They may be experienced and they may be physical, but their positioning, lack of pace and blatant disregard for awareness was directly responsible for both of City’s goals.
To just add a little bit of a positive sandwich to the mix after I may have made some blood boil, youngsters Ayoze Perez and Rolando Aarons both came on in the later stages of the match and showed great intent and individual ambition. The pair of them shone in pre-season for the club, and despite other more high profile attacking players on the books, they could well be in Alan Pardew’s plans this season.
All in all, if you had to lose today (which they did), a 2-0 loss in a match where you could have gotten a result is surely disappointing, but it’s better than being played off the park in a 4-0 drubbing. Though there are improvements to be made going forward in regards to chemistry and understanding, and especially at the back, Newcastle look like they could be on their way to another mid-table finish.
It may not be the days of Alan Shear and Nolberto Solano, but for Newcastle, mid-table will have to do this season. Should thinks click under Pardew going forward, the Magpies are in a good position to build next year and potentially make a run for seventh in the table. Now…if only Pardew can solve the issues at the back…