Preview: Swansea City vs Newcastle Utd – 15/08/15

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Ramone

Greetings fellow travellers,

Newcastle come into this game off the back of an encouraging performance and what could prove to be a very good result as the season progresses. Southampton have been consistently impressive since their promotion, and have been a bit of a bogey team for Newcastle as of late, handing out some severe drubbings in the past couple of seasons.

Under Steve McClaren’s guidance the players look like different men, there’s a confidence and fluidity that was sorely lacking under Pardew and his gang of chuckleheads and that was made obvious last weekend. The fact that new boys Wijnaldum and Mbemba look to have slotted in almost seamlessly has helped as well. Of course this is early doors so there’s no point in making firm statements about the season ahead but the signs seem positive.

The Liberty Stadium hasn’t exactly been a happy hunting ground for the Magpies since Swansea gained promotion, with only a single win in the last four attempts. That solitary victory was courtesy of two goals from a shit-hot Papiss Cissé, one of which was nothing less than a truly inspired finish over the head of Michel Vorm.

Since then things have changed significantly for the Swans. Brendan Rodgers, whose perceived sense of tactical nous, intelligence and insight fit perfectly with Liverpool’s perceived sense of superiority, lustre and overall quality, moved on to the Scouse club and Garry Monk was handed the reins after Michael Laudrup failed to inspire. To the shock and horror of pundits across the land, a man with no Premier League experience managed to mould Swansea into an extremely competent team and the siren’s call of Europa League football now beckons them.

This will be a stern test for Newcastle away from home and also a chance for McClaren to exhibit exactly how he wants his Newcastle team to play when they’re not favourites.

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TFI – Player Ratings vs Southampton – 09 Aug 15

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Cal

Welcome to our first ToonForumIndex match report of the season, our third full campaign of asking our forum members to rate each player’s performance in the concerned game out of 10, which we then average out to get a rating representative of the fans’ views, we also collect a few user comments to summarise how the player did and show a few different viewpoints from the board. The top scoring player is man of the match; the lowest is mug of the match. If you’d like to take a look back, our blog posts can be found here and our stats here. This time 20 members cast their votes and shared their opinions.

The McClaren era commenced in an encouraging manner as a new look, if slightly unfit, Newcastle side on the whole shone brightly for the first hour or so before burning out, likely due to a sub-standard pre-season organised by the deposed Carver and company.

Two our of three big money summer signings started this one; Georginio Wijnaldum was deployed as a number 10 in a 4-2-3-1, while Chancel Mbemba was thrown in alongside Fabricio Coloccini in the centre of defence, reportedly a last minute decision that displeased Steven Taylor. The third man, Aleksandar Mitrović, was benched as Papiss Cissé was selected up front. Moussa Sissoko appears to have been freed from his deeper role, being utilised on the right as an attacking midfielder, leaving room for Vurnon Anita and Jack Colback as the central midfield pairing.

The team averaged a respectable rating of 6.25, brought down slightly by some ineffective substitute appearances, while Steve McClaren pleased the fans with the changes he has implemented so far, earning a 7.21. New signings picking up both the man and mug of the match awards; Wijnaldum was a frequent threat, scored a goal, and displayed his quality on numerous occasions, for which he was rewarded with a 7.53, meanwhile Mitrović, a 75th minute sub, immediate made an impact on the game as he flung himself recklessly into a challenge and was perhaps lucky to escape with just a yellow, but then did little else as Southampton dominated the last 20 minutes (5.00).

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Preview: Newcastle Utd vs Southampton – 09/08/15

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Cal

Following our summer of surprising outlay on signings, Sunday sees us start our first season under Steve McClaren as the Saints visit St James’.

While last season had a similar sense of restrained optimism, heading in on the back of a number of first team signings, ultimately it turned out worse than we could have feared as, after previously flirting with the idea of a return to European competition, we would quickly be grounded by getting dragged into the upper boundaries of the relegation battle.

Following the purge of Pardew, Carver, and the remnants of the backroom that has blighted us for the last half decade, the appointment of a manager with some actual power and autonomy (not to mention a more palatable take on how to play the beautiful game), the opening of lines of communication, and the successful capture of several big money signings, things are starting to look up on Tyneside, even if we’re yet to see the actual results of this on the field. It appears that Ashley’s words at the end of last season may not have been hollow.

“I think every season is like [a fresh start]. You feel it around the city and you feel it around the players and the training ground. We want it to be different and it needs to be. The messages from the club over the past few weeks have been very clear, a statement of intent, following up from the owner’s words, with three very good signings and maybe more on the way.

“We’ve got to make that statement on the field now. It’s going to be different, a different style, different football and everybody has got to be able to adapt. Every season is a fresh start but for Newcastle United it’s a welcome one. The pressure is on me from the outset, without a shadow of a doubt.”
– Steve McClaren

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Top Five Newcastle United Players of 14/15

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Cal

Having looked at the top five individual player performances earlier this week, today we’re going to examine the players that garnered the highest average ratings. Most of these ratings might seem a little on the low side, but remember that we operate with a baseline rating of 5.50, so high ratings are quite rare, for example only 11 out of 41 rated games had any scores over 8.00 (down from 16 last season). Of course things also got a little bit dire from December through to the final day, which will naturally dampen ratings of players involved in those games.

Note: Minutes played don’t include injury time, and we use our own definition of what constitutes an assist. Rather than just the last team-mate to touch the ball other than the goalscorer, we also give credit where a player clearly created the opportunity, even if the opposition touched the ball, which is more in line with FIFA’s 1986 criteria.

#5 Daryl Janmaat – 5.53

Average Rating: 5.53 (σ 1.33)
Best Rating: 8.52
Worst Rating: 2.34
Man of the Match: 2 – West Brom (a), Liverpool (a)
Mug of the Match: 1 – Crystal Palace (a) (League Cup)
Playing Time: 40 starts, ~3452 mins
Goals: 1 –
Assists: 8 –
Cards:

Opening up our top five with a depressingly low average rating of 5.53 – just 0.03 over what is meant to be our measuring stick for an all-round average performance – is the almost ever reliable right-back Daryl Janmaat. Having missed just three games all season, two cup ties and one (West Brom at home) through suspension, The Dutchman is the man with the most starts and the most minutes in a Newcastle shirt all season, which makes his placing in this list at all an impressive feat.

After an impressive first two of games, Janmaat followed the rest of the team into a slump for a month or so, before finding his feet in October and early November, putting together a string of high ratings against Manchester City in the cup (7.50), Liverpool (7.41), and West Brom (8.52). The Baggies match would prove to be his highest rating of the season, placing in the top five for the team, and was perhaps the most blatant sign that we had a player on our hands.

Good form would continue, although not quite hitting those highs, through to the new year as he racked up five assists over a two month period, cementing himself as perhaps our most potent creative force, while still generally excelling in his defensive duties.

Through the rest of the season Janmaat would continue to put in at least respectable performances amidst myriad misery, succumbing to sub-4.0 ratings only four times despite playing in a leaky defence and a side sliding towards relegation. The lowest low would, of course, come in this period, as an otherwise okay performance away at Leicester was ruined by a needless second yellow card in injury time, ruling him out of a key game the next week with our survival hanging in the balance.

Highest rated performance: 8.52 in 2-0 vs West Brom (a)
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Top Five Player Performances of 14/15

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Cal

“After a spree of signings, anticipation for the new season is the highest it has been for a few years on Tyneside. Some have even taken to adopting the ways of optimism. So what better time to start having a look back at the season that was as we prepare to start the new campaign?”

The above is how Beatski opened the equivalent post for the 13/14 season, and although things didn’t quite pan out as we’d hoped, these words are again applicable now as we’re set to enter our first season of the post-Pardew era, complete with an overhauled coaching staff, three ambitious, big money signings, and what appear to be some actual attempts at communication and the rectifying of several wrongs that have wrought Ashley’s reign.

But before we move forward into the new, let’s first take a look back at the season that was. In case you are unaware or have missed our posts over the last couple of seasons, we’ve been cataloguing the fans’ player ratings and reactions after each match and collating them into the ToonForumIndex (TFI), which it turns out is pretty handy when you want to look back.

Although there were some good times (basically six weeks from mid-October to the end of November), 14/15 will be remembered for our catastrophic implosion and loss of form from December onwards, and our inability to appoint a capable coach following Pardew’s departure, instead playing with fire and risking relegation as the self-proclaimed “best coach in the league” piloted the Magpies perilously through Premiership purgatory, only just scraping survival in the end.

There were some positives, however, so let’s take a look at the five best individual performances of the season.

8.52 – Jack Colback vs Chelsea (h) 06 Dec 14

The so-called “Ginger Pirlo” opens our top five with a midfield masterpiece against Mourinho’s Chelsea, playing an integral role in taking down the then undefeated defending champions. Playing a deep role alongside Tioté, Colback was a force both in defence akin to his partner at his best, topping the tackles and interceptions stats with seven and three respectively.

Although a game played mostly on the defensive, Colback was also the driving force of our attacks, carrying the ball forward and distributing it with almost perfect accuracy, misplacing a single pass, and creating two key opportunities, including starting the play for the winner.

“8.5 – Well I’m eating some humble pie. He was 2x the player I thought he was today.”

“9 – MOTM. Was pretty much everywhere. Made several excellent tackles, his pass for Sissoko’s assist was brilliant, hassled and chased for the whole game. Literally the only smear all game was that miss but even so it wasn’t the easiest finish to pull off.”

“8 – Man of the match! He was quality today, when he came in, there was obviously a comparison with Anita, but he offers far more. He has a tenacity and work rate that Anita doesn’t and his tackle on Costa was top class. His passing was good and he is getting in more attacking positions. He is desperate to score his first Toon goal, every time he misses a chance, he looks devastated, hopefully he gets his goal in the derby!”

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