Author Topic: Newcastle 2 Fulham 0 - Saturday 22nd March  (Read 2540 times)

Offline trophy4toon

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Newcastle 2 Fulham 0 - Saturday 22nd March
« on: March 22, 2008, 05:46:38 pm »
The good thing about relegation is that it's generally the 3 worst teams that go down. Having had a good look at Birmingham and Fulham this week it does look like they will both finish below us. Both teams work hard and are well organised but lack what Newcastle have when everyone is fit, the firepower in the final third.

Fulham's inability to take the few chances they created made this a comfortable win for Newcastle if not a great performance.

The good thing about the 4-3-3 formation Keegan is currently playing being that it gets all our key assets i.e. Viduka, Owen and Martins on the pitch at the same time. Viduka is not that mobile but holds the centre ground and plays the Shearer type role of winning and holding the ball up front. Owen worked hard playing deeper and maintained his Birmingham ratio, 2 clear chances 1 goal, a good ratio. Martins tends to create his own chances through his frightening pace, unpredictability and the ability to fire in powerfull shots from the least likely situations.

Keegan was happy with the performance, not great but dug deep. Alan Hansen picked out Joey Barton on MotD for special praise in that he covered a lot of ground and almost scored.

At the end of the day this was a win, the Toon Army breathe a sigh of relief and we go to Tottenham next week for a more severe test of the new found spirit and tactical variation in this Newcastle squad.

We still need 3 more wins to guarantee we don't go down.        
« Last Edit: March 23, 2008, 07:02:01 am by trophy4toon »

Offline CraigDoyle

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Re: Newcastle 2 Fulham 0 - Saturday 22nd March
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2008, 12:50:28 pm »
Fulham are a poor side, highlighted by their choice of strikers. I admit to having zero interest in the affairs of Fulham and no real knowledge of their squad but from the names they have available I'd be picking David Healy up front. The lad isn't a top drawer Premiership striker but he is a battler and has shown with Northern Ireland that he can score against big teams like Spain. In their situation he'd be the sort of player that want available. Less about them though.

Sticking with the same formation and the same players that looked vastly improved during the second period at Birmingham was a good way to ensure some earlier stability. I'm still not over-awed by the idea of only 3 midfielders. Especially when all 3 appear to offer the same skill set. On paper everything should be a bit unbalanced and when you keep a close eye on the football you can see that our right side is a much more natural looking approach when attacking. Geremi does well not to over commit, but he drops nicely into a position that allows him to let Beye join the attack down the right touchline. Barton and Enrique on the left don't seem to click in much the same manner. Barton seems to cover the area between the left touchline and the central zones that Butt patrols. When he goes inside, this creates room out on the left that Martins starts to drop into. On close inspection of Enrique he seems to have picked up on this and always has an eye on playing an out ball down the line for Martins. It all seems a bit complicated across the middle but it does offer a lot more variation than we've seen recently.

I've been saying since the start of the season on various message boards and to various people that Enrique will take time to settle. Now he has and he's starting to look more like the part. One of the supporters I travel with is now grinning with satisfaction because he believed all Enrique needed was to play a few games. I still reckon that what he needed was time. He's 21, living in a new country, speaking a different language and he plays in a position where mistakes can be very costly. This isn't Fernando Torres where if you don't score with your first three chances another one will be along in five minutes. At left back you have to get things right almost 100% of the time. There isn't room to make errors and that makes throwing someone in at the deep end a rather silly thing to do. Keegan (and Allardyce) were right not to play him as often as everyone would have liked. The guy needed to come in to training and play against the top players in our squad. Let him take an extra few months to adjust to how the game is played here, both in terms of pace and physicality. The suggestion he should play in the reserves on a regular basis is something I don't believe in. While the physical side of the game remains the quality of the football is much lower. Most 'reserve' players at big clubs don't turn out for the actual reserves teams, leaving players who are likely to never make it or kids coming through the system. Jose Mourinho would be the first to agree with me in that reserve football is only good for fitness reasons.

On the other side I really do think that for less than 3M, Habib Beye has been one of the best buys of the season. He's one of those players who is always solid, if he's not outstanding. An example of his contribution yesterday, which I feel was wrongly criticised by the Sky commentary team, was when he made a covering header that ended up zipping across our own six yard box and out of player for a Fulham corner. With that description you can see why the commentators would be calling it a dangerous clearance. What they missed was the fact that Steven Taylor, who had no man to pick up and plenty of time, went up to head the ball clear and completely missed it, forcing Beye to leave his man and put the ball out of play. I'm also impressed how often he gets forward to join the attack. This is a guy that could barely finish 90 minutes at the start of the season. He was run into the ground and looked like he'd be in need of an oxygen mask at the final whistle. Now he is able to zip up and down the right hand side of the park all game. More impressively it never seems to matter who plays in front of him. Geremi, Smith, Milner, he can link up with anyone.

The forward trio is something I'm quite open to. Keegan has found that our midfield lacks the players capable of supporting the attack so he looks to have set out three more defensive guys in order to include all three of our big attacking threats. For me, this is the only way to play Mark Viduka. I'm a huge fan of what he can do with the ball at his feet. Whether it be a little feint or movement to shuffle the ball into a shooting position or the way he can stand with his back to the goal and just casually drop the ball off to a winger or strike partner. He is immensely talented and his reappearance has come at the right time. Unfortunately he just can't contribute to the game as much as I and everyone else would like him to. I think the idea of sticking him up top and having two options around him really compensates for his lack of movement. Almost trying to get the best of Mark Viduka, without trying to make him do what he is incapable of. Owen and Martins are doing a good job of playing in and around the areas where Viduka can't be. They almost seem to be taking it in turns to make runs beyond the big man. Martins operating in more of a wildcard role where he can drift out left or come inside as he fancies. Owen seems to favour arriving from a deeper position and I think it gives him a greater involvement in the game. When Viduka has his back to the goal, they can set off from positions where Viduka can see the runs they are going to make. With the defense having to pick up both Martins and Owen as they go beyond Viduka it opens up further options to the big man when Geremi and Barton begin to join in the attacks. The number of times that Viduka was able to look up and find Geremi unmarked on the right showed that the current attacking structure is already yielding more positive results. All credit to the big man for taking his goal well and to Owen for putting away a well worked free kick. (something that is starting to become a trademark for NUFC and Michael Owen). Martins should also get some praise as he worked himself a couple of difficult shooting opportunities and was rather unlucky not to find himself on the scoresheet once again.

I said I'd talk less about Fulham, but I feel there is one more point to come back to. If they get relegated then I'd seriously consider putting in an offer for Jimmy Bullard. I know he'll be 30 next season and a younger option like Michael Carrick would be more suitable, but in the event of such a player not being available I think Bullard still has plenty to offer. He's similar to Nicky Butt in that he is able to do the defensive job, but he's not shy of having a crack from 30 yards when the situation presents itself. He struggled to find his range yesterday, but he did stand out as the only player on the pitch for Fulham that looked as if he could get them back into the game. He is also able to beat the first man with a set piece which would be a real bonus seeing as our only set piece player sits in the treatment room for half the season. Perhaps a good option to boost our choices in midfield?

Looking at the table, today was must win. While Boro, Reading and the mackems all managed wins it was more important to start separating ourselves from the bottom cluster of teams. Birmingham and Bolton are now 'adrift' and I'm sure all the teams mentioned above will now be looking at bettering their results in comparison to those two sides. Given a few weeks the relegation 'scrap' could quickly be reduced to just those two sides.

Offline old bloke

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Re: Newcastle 2 Fulham 0 - Saturday 22nd March
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2008, 11:23:36 am »
Good analysis of the match Craig  8)  8)

I was interested in whether if we can keep Barton out of prison and off the drink there might be potential for him in the long run.

There were a number of reports naming him man of the match. I guess it was just against Fulham but maybe we have not wasted our 6 million after all

 ???   ???

Offline CraigDoyle

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Re: Newcastle 2 Fulham 0 - Saturday 22nd March
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2008, 01:02:05 pm »
I'm really not sure on Barton at all mate. He still looked a few yard short of the pace to me, despite having a good game.

I have this feeling that we won't be playing 4-3-3 in the long term as it is a bit too adventurous to use against sides like Spurs, Villa, Everton, West Ham, Blackburn etc. where we will be looking to contest open games. If we return to 4-4-2 then I'd need to see something from Barton that suggests he's going to provide more in the final third of the pitch. He had one good shot which he drilled low and just wide of the post, but the top guys in the country, like Lampard, are looking to test the keeper time and again from distance.

On the other hand, if Barton wants to adopt his current role then we'd need to look at shifting out Nicky Butt for someone more attack minded instead. For me, we could probably sell off all our midfielders and start over next season and be sure of an improvement.