Friday, 29 August 2014

Back of the Net?

Newcastle United are yet to score a true goal of their own in the opening weeks of the season but Sam Winter believes that it won't be long before the Toon Army are celebrating hitting the back of the net once again.

Newcastle United have done enough in the opening competitive fixtures of the 2014/15 season to suggest that regular goals will not be far away.

A goalless start for The Magpies, but Riviere will get chance to get up and running

As we all know, goals win games and the fact that the inadvertent John Egan has scored the only goal registered to Newcastle United does hint at minor concern. Yet what we all need to remember is that the club was in a very similar situation this time last term: goalless in the league and into the next round of the Capital One Cup. However the level of performance on the pitch between now and then couldn't be more different.

Far cry

Rather than getting run ragged at Eastlands and looking like conceding every time Manchester City touched the ball, this season's opener saw a spirited and skillful Newcastle side more than match the Champions in key areas of the pitch in a game that frankly looked like it could go either way. But when it came down to it quality won through, with City taking both their only chances in the game. If you want to compete against the big boys in this league, you must take your chances because, as Newcastle and even Liverpool have discovered, City WILL take theirs.

Much praise was reserved for Newcastle after that defeat, and much needed optimism took us to Villa Park. More clear-cut chances would surely be created, and Newcastle surely would score. Alas, such openings were well and truly created, but Newcastle did not take a single one. A hugely frustrating result for the travelling Toon Army, the net somehow not bulged. But again, large portions of the performance were impressive, and the goals are on the horizon.

Frustration: Newcastle were unable to take their chances at Villa Park

No room for negativity

Negativity has soon set in with sections of the fans, worried by the lack of goals to celebrate in the opening games. Many have jumped straight back on Alan Pardew's back, yet nobody can really say that there hasn't been a vast improvement in performance levels; the Manager citing the most impressive possession statistics in his tenure. Even from set pieces we look far more dangerous, Daryl Janmaat almost a beneficiary against Aston Villa.

Then there are those who point towards a lack of a "big name" striker arriving at St James' this summer to fill the Loic Remy shaped hole up front. I am convinced that Pardew would like one more striker but I agree with him when he says that, unless they are better than Riviere and Cisse, there is little point in spending big money. The Club's transfer policy has been more than frustrating at times but they have got it right this summer, and grabbing a Remy or a Lacazette would be a huge slab of icing on the cake. But if it's not to be then I believe that there is enough fire-power to lead Newcastle to a good season.

Newcastle have been frustrated in their permanent pursuit of Loic Remy

Emmanuel Riviere has doubters already but I can't understand why. He has barely had a sniff. A half chance at Villa and a couple of look-ins against City; where he showed great strength and power, if perhaps a little too eagerness to score - rushing his attempts on goal. In pre-season he showed he can score goals and looks like he will take to English football well sooner rather than later. Bundling Kompany and Toure off the ball was a decent start.

Riviere's lack of goalmouth action suggests a lack of service but the chances squandered by his team-mates at Villa will hopefully mean a big chance falls his way this weekend - and hopefully he will put it away and get up and running in a Newcastle shirt. 

Time to sharpen up

I believe that the lack of goals so far comes down simply to sharpness. There was a number of occasions against Villa where the wrong pass was made in the final third, the wrong option taken - a harder route to goal. All players across the league are still finding their feet in the new season, regardless of how well some are playing already. More games brings added sharpness, and Newcastle look to have the players to really hurt teams once it clicks into place. Remember there is still Siem De Jong to really bed into the side.

Alan Pardew has mentioned that Remy Cabella is perhaps trying too hard, similarly to Riviere. You can see that in his game, a lack of composure at times, a desperation to impress adoring fans. There is no doubting Cabella's potential, he has shown enough in flickers to suggest he will have some magical moments in a black and white shirt. Once he relaxes and gets the games under his belt, he will show what he is all about.

Trying too hard? Remy Cabella has been eager to impress

Crystal Palace visit Tyneside this weekend, a new Manager to impress. I can only see them doing what they did last season and "parking the bus". Hopefully Newcastle have enough creativity and that all important fire-power to take the 3 points. 

International recognition

Finally I would like to congratulate Jack Colback on his England call up. It almost feels like a brand new experience; a Newcastle United player in Roy Hodgson's fold. Colback has been a breath of fresh air - a local lad leading the charge in the engine room, flying the Geordie flag. There's not enough English players involved at the club, let alone local lads, so let's hope Jack can continue his excellent start to life back at home. 

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