Watford were on a woeful ruin of form leading up to this match, so in classic Newcastle style we helped them out by being rubbish and playing in an unfamiliar style, with McClaren opting to play some sort of 3-4-3; three at the back being a strategy that has never paid dividends for us. The team looked disjointed and unsure of their roles for a lot of the match.
The first half was a scrappy affair, with neither team really taking a hold of the game and playing decent football, and there were few clear cut chances as a result, the best of which fell to Mitrović, who probably should have scored but instead drew a good save from Gomes. Almost instantly after the break, Ighalo was put through one on one with the keeper and calmly rounded Elliot to put the hosts in front, replays showed that he was offside but that’s the kind of call we just haven’t been getting this season. 12 minutes later, after giving away a needless foul on the edge of the box, failure to clear our lines resulted in the ball falling kindly at the feet of Cathcart, who couldn’t miss from six yards out.
Lascelles halved the deficit on 21 minutes with a powerful header from Shelvey’s corner to put us back in the game. As we chased a point, Ayoze, followed by Gouffran and then Rivière, all had clear headed chances to salvage something for us, but every attempt was put massively wide of the goal.
For the TFI, we ask 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.
Jamaal Lascelles picks up his first Man of the Match award for us with a score of 5.80, not a particularly high score and no-one thought he had a particularly good game either, but when the rest of the team doesn’t actually do anything much it seems a goal is going to put you above the rest. Despite getting MotM in his first PL start, I doubt many fans will be clamoring to see more of him in the starting lineup in the near future. Rolando Aarons (3.70) picked up our Mug of the Match award, but its hard to blame him when he was played out of position in a formation our entire team was unfamiliar with, the side as a whole averaged 4.81.
Our perhaps you could consider our manager the real mug of the match, as fans rated him a lowly 2.70. Fans hanging a lot of the blame on him as he changed to playing three at the back, due to our squad not having a fit left back. Of course not having a player accustomed to playing left wing back either never crossed his mind, so instead of playing a one player out of position in a back four we had half the team in unfamiliar roles. That its the second time we’ve played a back three against Watford and lost makes it all the more inexplicable.