Away wins at Everton and Chelsea. Home losses against Blackpool and Stoke. That's classic Newcastle United.
The home loss against Stoke City on Sunday is a game Geordies will want to forget. Newcastle dominated possession in the first half, but reverted to their failed attacking style in the Blackpool game. They moved the ball forward on the wings, led by midfielders Jose Enrique on the left and James Perch on the right. But Perch was not able to lob or pass the ball into the box, limiting Newcastle's effectiveness. Jose Enrique was more successful, but he passed the ball to hesitant strikers. I never shouted "shoot!" more times at the big screen projection at Nevada Smiths (and about 10 others were shouting it with me). For Newcastle, the first half was all possession, without any shots on target.
Then the second half was simply a disaster. Stoke began to attack effectively, and won several set plays and offensive throw-ins. It was only a matter of time before they scored a goal on a free kick. Then, complete collapse as James Perch seemed to make an unnecessary defensive header attempt on a Stoke corner, only to head the ball into his own net. The replay was painful to watch. It looked as if Perch was trying to score an own goal. Incredible.
Oh no he di'int!
The correct bench players were put into the game during the second half, but the incorrect players were replaced. Ameobi replaced an effective Tiote, and Spiderman replaced Ben Arfa when it should have been Perch!
Meanwhile, Newcastle's strikers didn't take ownership of anything. They would get all excited if the ball was passed to them, but were invisible men up and down the field during most minutes of play. If Ameobi proved that he really wants to play, and has the ability to dribble the ball down the field and score (as he did just four days prior), why not have him replace a striker?
I don't understand. The Lads didn't take ownership. There was no killer instinct. They didn't get the crowd behind them. And they woke up too late to score a tying goal and salvage a point.
This is a classic example that when you are the home side, it is imperative that you get the ball into the penalty area early and often. Yes, Newcastle scored the first goal, but it was a weak penalty. In my opinion, it wasn't earned. Newcastle need to master putting the ball in the back of the net early, just like they did against Aston Villa, and in their stunning comeback at Stamford Bridge.
So in their first seven matches this season, there have been two offensive onslaughts, one lazy second squad victory, one lazy draw, an expected thumping at Old Trafford, and two inexcusable defeats at home. This is how it is going to be this season, then. A lot of pain, and little gain.