Big test of character for Toon on Wednesday

Newcastle need to bounce back from the Wigan defeat.

Response to defeat required at Stamford Bridge

Newcastle United suffered at the hands of a top-quality Wigan on Saturday and it will be a big test of their character to see if they can bounce back from that in Wednesday’s match against Chelsea.

The weekend’s defeat by a resurgent Wigan brought us down to Earth with a thump after a 6-game unbeaten run. It got worse too because Spurs beat Blackburn 2-0 to leap over us into 4th on goal difference and Chelsea hammered QPR 6-1 to pressure us up the rear, just one point adrift in 6th place.

We didn’t play particularly well on Saturday but Wigan were outstanding and they played as well as any team we’ve faced this season. You have to wonder why it took them so long to find their form. Things didn’t go our way in the short spells when we did get the upper hand but, then again, some weeks we’ve had things go precisely our way when perhaps we’ve been lagging behind the opposition on pure footballing merit. We were beaten by the better side on the day – it’s as simple as that.

We’re going to Europe come what may now and that’s a great achievement after so many years without European football. Credit goes to the players, Alan Pardew and the club’s upper echelons for orchestrating that – it’s more than most people expected of us.

I think the big test, though, is how the players respond to this resounding defeat, particularly at this stage of the season with European football already assured for us. We have three very tricky games now and I’d expect us to be battling in all of them, beginning at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday where I hope we play out of our skins to hang onto 5th place from Chelsea. There must be no capitulation or ‘winding down’ and, if truth be told, I don’t think there will be.

I would hope the players are angry and upset about the way Wigan walked all over us, particularly in the first half, and that they’ll pass the test of character it will take to bounce back from a defeat that’s all the harder to take on the back of an unbeaten run.

I’m not sure what was going on with us tactically at the DW Stadium, particularly with Santon who looked as if he’d been given some sort of ‘free role’ on Saturday. The regularity of his appearance in the middle of the pitch – and even sometimes on the right – indicates to me that this was some sort of premeditated tactic rather than Santon just deciding to wander as he pleased. It didn’t work, anyway! I’m sure Pardew will address that. Our manager still comes in for a fair bit of stick but he’s clearly not a complete mug or we wouldn’t be where we are. Whether he can keep getting us top 6 finishes and how far he can eventually take us remains to be seen but, as it stands, he’s done a far better job than I expected.

Still, he’s going to have his work cut out to out-think Roberto Di Matteo at their place and notch up any points. In recent weeks Chelsea have taken the scalps of Barcelona in the Champions League, Spurs in the FA Cup (5-1) and QPR in the League (6-1), so they’re not likely to make things easy.

To be honest I don’t expect us to come away with much in the way of points on Wednesday evening but what I want to see is us fighting all the way.

Howay The Lads!

avatar NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I’m a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called ‘scrumpy’. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he’s not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 631 articles on this blog.

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44 comments on this post.
  1. nufc337:

    think we have already found out this season when Newcastle concede early goals will fly in at will. if we can hold out or even score early it will set the tempo of the match. I just reckon if Chelsea score first it could well turn out like other past routs.

  2. Shortyuk:

    Its gona be tough, overall im really pleased with pardew and the team, however if theres one thing he needs to learn its that he needs to adress problems quicker in games. We got murdered at the back against wigan, but he just stuck to the same game plan til it was too late, even though I would class the first 2 goals as individual errors

  3. Sammy J:

    It’s a big test for Pardiola & the team. It will take tactical & mental strength to wipeout the tidal wave Chelsea are riding now. This will be a great opportunity for the lads to test how good they are. I’m too am intrigued by Santons role & would like to see some explanation for the management. He does strike me as a player who could prosper with a freer role & just because it failed @ the DW & isn’t appropriate @ the bridge doesn’t mean the idea should be abandoned. It takes time for teams to develop & learn systems just ask Martinez but this did feel like too fast too soon. Ashley Cole and Ramires will take some beating @ a resurrected Torres with Mata filling the gerrard shaped hole in his game could be deadly. BUT this is the sort of challenge we should relish & is the perfect midweek remedy for our weekends blues!

  4. Kamar:

    In order for Chelsea to play in next season’s Champions League they need to be beat us as they cannot be solely reliant upon beating Munich on their home turf.

    However, do Chelsea rest players because of the FA Cup Final on Saurday? I think on balance, the FA Cup Final is the game that they can afford to lose as they want to be in the Champions League whereas we would be happy with the Europa Cup.

    If we get a point we will have done very well.

  5. UTD111:

    4-3-3 is lovely when playing at home, but unsustainable on the road. We need to play a different formation at Chelsea to try to negate particularly their midfield. Or they’ll stuff us.

    Sacrificing a “flair” player for the added steel of Perchinio would probably be a good thing?

  6. Mr Twitch:

    I’d expect Chelsea to rest a few players – Drogba from the bench rather than from the start for instance – which may give us something of a chance. Absolutely crucial that we get a foothold in the game early on, either with a goal or a sustained period of control in defence because we’ve been undone a few times with goals-on-the-bounce.
    Anyone else think Ba should come on from the bench rather than as a starter?
    Can’t wait for the game!

  7. workyticket:

    Mr Twitch says:
    April 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    “I’d expect Chelsea to rest a few players – Drogba from the bench rather than from the start for instance – which may give us something of a chance.”

    Didn’t Torres score a hatrick in his last game, Mr Twitch?

  8. Marty:

    Wheather they rest Drogba or not, Torres has come into form lately so their so called “second 11″ will still be hard to beat. It will be a very difficult game and I agree with UTD111 we could use some extra defensive steel, if it goes well then throw on a “flair” player to help get the points. If we come away from London with a point on Wednesday I’ll be quite happy.

  9. chuck:

    What took Wigan so long to show their stuff ?
    A long learning period, where Martinez with full confidence in his ability to mold the side into one that plays a game that is complicated, flexible and where everyone is on the same page.
    Unfortunately to-days owners demand instant success and Martinez would have probably been fired, like McCarthy at Wolves, had not Whelan backed him publicly and allowed him the time to install his system.
    Which the likes of Man.U., Arsenal ourselves and others
    can attest, resulted in making them look bad, besides having no answer to.
    Perhaps we should give some credit to the young side that is Wigan and their manager, who has applied the cutting edge of to-days tactical game and who will not be ignored by bigger clubs too much longer.

  10. chuck:

    Well it’s a late lunch then the Manchester’s game.
    Hopefully it will be entertaining, got no dog in the fight, so dont care who comes out on top.
    But it could turn out to be that transitional period where the club that has dominated the league for so long begins to slip and for whatever reason, is no longer the dominant side.
    Certainly one would have to give Citeh an edge for the future because of their financial resorces.
    However we cant disregard sides like Chelsea, Arsenal and L’Pool, who will be expected to spend big during the summer.
    We live in interesting times.

  11. CLiNT FLiCK:

    Howay man chuck,

    plenty have given credit to martinez on here, in fact some supported the idea of him coming here before we got CH, iirc!
    He started the rise of swansea before souza & rogers.
    It hasn’t gone unnoticed, nor the fact that the chairman of wigan has stuck by him in testing times, as he did last season when they had to fight relegation.

    He’s right in the black!

    :)

  12. CLiNT FLiCK:

    If they spend ‘big’ they’ll still have balance the books for the new rules.
    Oh! & didn’t they spend ‘big’ already, for better or for worse?
    Money isn’t everything, look at Newcastle & the little darlings wigan, they should be top 5 with their players/manager.
    Or doth the table lieth?

    ;)

  13. chuck:

    By describing insert some steel, does that mean we should play loosers like Raylor, as opposed to HBA.
    I just cant believe what i read here sometimes.
    Should we also sit Santon, because of one of AP’s weird decissions to throw him into midfield, like against Wigan, what was that about?
    Plus the sooner we get some help for Colo. the better, Williamson is a joke, it’s there our problems lie, in defense.
    But neither Raylor, Williamson or Perch are the answer.
    We are going to have to spend some dosh on the back four, or forget any ambitions for the comming season.

  14. workyticket:

    chuck says:
    April 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    “What took Wigan so long to show their stuff ?”

    Didn’t they do more or less the same thing last season though, Chuck? ie hang over the relegation precipice for most of the season, only to emerge like a butterfly from a chrysalis to save themselves at the death?

  15. chuck:

    CLINTON
    Dont get carried away with fifth (and slipping) place, we, the fans, got rid of SBR for having us that low.
    Yeah we are actually a top eight side, not a top four and may not win another game his season.
    I just dont get the euphoria of a fifth place spot.
    And yeah i been watching Martinez for some time and the more i see of what he does with what he’s got, the more immpressed i become.
    Unfortunately sorry i cant say the same about AP.

    Oh! the new financial rules, riiiight !
    So you seriously believe a bunch of billionaires are going to pay attention to some uefa clowns, who would attempt to tell them how to spend their money.
    I think not !

  16. chuck:

    Sure they survived last year with a similar end burst of wins.
    And….?
    They also lost N’Zogbia and a couple of others, they are a small side, a young side, one that like Swansea, punch above their weight, all because of their coaching.
    In fact it’s almost a miracle they are still in the PL.

  17. chuck:

    Game time, outta here, a nice lunch, a few Amstels and hopefully an entertaining game.
    Later.

  18. tunyc:

    Personally I’m not in the mood to make excuses for Saturday. Wigan were on great form going into that game. So were we. On paper, our squad is better than theirs-fact. Wigan played well but we gave ourselves no chance to compete through indiscipline, individual defensive errors/poor performance and wholesale changes to a formation and tactical system that had been working (whereas Wigan just did what they’ve done for weeks).

    At this point the match on Wednesday is the key to others not being meaningless. If we lose, we may as well give some kids and fringe players a run out or two. I’m not sure how Wednesday will go. The players may be a bit more up for it but we also looked exhausted on Saturday. Cabaye’s long “final” balls from the edge of the attacking third seemed to say “f00k it, I’m too tired to run any further with this and I don’t want to get kicked again.”

    I very much worry about Torres in this game. He’ll try to get onto balls behind our defense and once he’s in beyond Williamson or Colo, he’s gone.

    Pressured up the rear? That doesn’t sound like fun…

    Wigan’s form is patchy-and will continue to be-because they have trouble keeping quality players and their squad is therefore dependent on one or two guys every term. What shirt do you think Moses will be pulling on next season? What big club will snipe Martinez? Can see both happening…

  19. Hugh de Payen:

    chuck says: “Dont get carried away with fifth (and slipping) place, we, the fans, got rid of SBR for having us that low.

    Not me chuck.

  20. workyticket:

    chuck says:
    April 30, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    “But it could turn out to be that transitional period where the club that has dominated the league for so long begins to slip and for whatever reason, is no longer the dominant side.
    Certainly one would have to give Citeh an edge for the future because of their financial resorces.”

    But they said that about the moneybags Chelsea Pensioners though, Chuck, but they just took over from Arsenal as the main challengers, they haven’t quite usurped them as Man U did with Liverpool. Their biggest problem will be what happens after Grumpy.

  21. CLiNT FLiCK:

    No euphoria ower here mate & no getting shot of SBR ower either.
    Try addressing the ‘other’ real points mate.

    martinez has credit, we are at the top end, deserved or otherwise & they are bottom end regardless of feelings.

    & the new rules will change things.

  22. workyticket:

    tunyc says:
    April 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    “and wholesale changes to a formation and tactical system”

    I don’t think there were any wholesale changes in formation, tunyc, but I don’t think it’s had to face a highly flexible 5-4-1 / 3-4-3 / 3-2-5 before! Their width and flexibility just devastated our lack of width and kept our front three pinned back.

  23. GS:

    It seems that we struggle against width and Pardew needs to have a plan B if the opposition take the game to us and score first.

    However, arn’t we playing the team and formation that most people wanted and has brought us success?

    Pardew deserves time. Citing the example of Martinez or even Ferguson in his early Man U days only supports this. Pardew’s only been here for 18 months and considering this has had reasonable success.

    There’s a chance we could lose the next three against the form teams of the league. I don’t think that would be the end of the world.

  24. nzedtoonman:

    Fair comments GS , We do need other routes of attack and more fear factor in midfield , but if we do lose next three geordies are so fickle we will criticise pardoo but really he’s done very well with a new team of imports , need time..

    So if we finish 6th do we get any piece of euro cake ??

  25. maze202:

    So City win and have the title to lose. Only a 1-0 so I’m not sure of their momentum. Hope for a deafening St James’ Park.

  26. CLiNT FLiCK:

    Should be a very interesting game.

    They must go for the win!

  27. nzedtoonman:

    Cant see us getting anything at stamford bridge sorry to be messenger of doom , but see so much confidence in blues that they will probably put 4 or 5 past us and their defence is as tight as a ducks a*** that cannot see us getting much in return sorry lads

    KTF ….

  28. CLiNT FLiCK:

    nzed,
    i’ll be there, so it better be good…for us!

    :)

  29. CLiNT FLiCK:

    Anything can happen at this point in the season, as we saw on saturday!

  30. AndyMac:

    workyticket says:

    “I don’t think there were any wholesale changes in formation, tunyc, but I don’t think it’s had to face a highly flexible 5-4-1 / 3-4-3 / 3-2-5 before! Their width and flexibility just devastated our lack of width and kept our front three pinned back”

    Soz but everywhere in the media this weekend I read stuff about Wigan being “unplayable, devastating and Barcelona like”

    No one but no one seems to have mentioned that we went two nil down and Pardwho changed the formation significantly by going with three at the back swapping Santon onto the right and Jonas left and gave Wigan the game before half time. If he started the game with that then I’d have given him credit for trying to match up to Wigan but he played into Wigans hands by keeping a front three with no real width as neither Ba nor HBA are true wide players. So it wasnt too much of a surprise when their two wing backs found acres of space on either flank.

    The build up to the game in the previous week was all about the Toon being “a breath of fresh air” to the Premier League and Pardwho talking up players and fans in an almost arrogant manner yet that arrogance came back to bite his arse.

    Tactically he got taught a lesson by Martinez and in Europe, next season, we will see many more lessons dished out from Continental coaches. Let’s hope he’ll learn from that ?

  31. CLiNT FLiCK:

    Nothing like a timely wake up call like.

    wigan are fighting for their lives, we seemed to think we just had to turn up, oh! how wrong!
    Why we thought wigan wouldn’t try after beating liverpool, arsenal & manure we may never know.
    It all went right for them, all wrong for us.
    Shit happens!
    We’re still building & therefore erratic. When we get beat, we get beat!

  32. Stephen C:

    Clint mate

    i think if we har turned up things might have been different.

    Krul didnt even seen like he wanted to be there.

    ive never seen krul so slow or not even wanting to dive for a ball come right at him. their second goal was heading straight for him, but he pulled his arm away and let it go in.

    either Mike Ashley wants a bumper season and deliberately got the team to underperform so Aston Villa stand a better chance of going down than Wigan or we just didnt turn up.

    must admit, id love it just love it if they went down now we are in europe.

  33. workyticket:

    Stephen C says:
    April 30, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    “either Mike Ashley wants a bumper season and deliberately got the team to underperform so Aston Villa stand a better chance of going down than Wigan or we just didnt turn up.”

    Daft bugger, Stephen! Ashley would like nothing more than to get into the Champions League. He could put more signs up, rename the club Sports Direct United, his shares would triple in value again and it would be a great shop window for the likes of Benny, Cisse, Cabaye etc.

  34. TROJAN RECORDS 73:

    unless we get a freak result, chelsea will turn us over.
    we’ve had a good season with a team punching well above it’s weight.
    i think we are capable of getting a point against man city, but everton are flying atm, and i cannot see us getting anything there.
    i can only see us accruing 1 more point this season, unfortunatley.
    too many fans have got carried away, we should be happy with 6th, as the champions league could see us struggle.
    even the europa league might upset things, as we will have to up the wage bill.

  35. Iain Barzycki:

    I just hope we stick to 4-3-3 because Chelsea are there to be got at, especially if Bosingwa plays centre half again.

  36. tunyc:

    worky-what Andy says @ #30 is what I mean. I can’t square the 4-3-3 we’ve played with Jonas spending long stretches on the left flank, Santon switching between right and left and Simspon, Colo & Williamson being miles apart. That’s not the system we’ve been playing, whether it was a deliberate change, players wandering wherever they want or a combination of both.

  37. workyticket:

    tunyc says:
    May 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    “worky-what Andy says @ #30 is what I mean.”

    tunyc, but if anything, things got better after that. In the opening spell of the game, we were being completely eviscerated.

  38. mcgarrity:

    Fingers crossed they’re resting the best players for fa cup but I think di matteos going to see top 4 as more important as an insurance policy when it comes to the cl next season. We’ve still got it all to play for though. Odds may be stacked against us with the last 3 games but on our day we can beat anyone. If we rediscover the form we had the 6 games before wigan and play how we did against man utd (had to put that in there) then I don’t see any reason for not getting 9 points from the last 3 games. If we do qualify for cl we can’t underestimate teams like wigan again!

  39. chuck:

    Following our reality check at Wigan, i suggested that perhaps we may loose the rest of a tough run in, well away to both Chelsea and Everton, is not exactly easy points, for any side.
    Not to mention Citeh, who could very well be on their way to toppling Man. U. to become the new PL champions.
    We are fortunate that mathematically we cannot go lower than 6th. place, which i believe is a fair estimation of this sides ability, and will i hope guarantee us a place in the uefa, playoffs (about where we belong)

    Have to say i think we were all a bit taken aback by some of the happenings during the Wigan game.
    Apart from the fact we were seriously out generaled in a tactical sense,
    I’m basically questioning, what on earth was our response supposed to be, with the switching of Sansom to what appeared to be a free roaming midfield position, in (again i’m guessing )what appeared to be a 3-5-2.
    Actually i could’nt be sure as there appeared to be very little cohesion or co-ordination involved, mostly reaction and individual effort, amounting to nowt.
    Now i could be wrong and there could have been a reheased plan (plan B) in effect, that simply was either the wrong plan, or one that needs practising.
    Though if one looks at other games this season, we have ended up being outplayed in the second half, for the lack of adjustability, playing the same game for 90mins.
    Yeah it seems i’m making a “damned if i do and damned if i dont” type statement, where if AP does nowt he’s criticised and when he does try something radical he’s also criticised.
    Hell i’m happy he has finally discovered there’s more than one way to play football and continues to experiment.
    Just make sure everyone understands whats going on.
    How do you get to Carnegie Hall ?
    Practise!, practise!, practise!

  40. AndyMac:

    workyticket says:

    tunyc says:
    May 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    “worky-what Andy says @ #30 is what I mean.”

    tunyc, but if anything, things got better after that. In the opening spell of the game, we were being completely eviscerated”

    Things certainly didnt get better after going three at the back cos we shipped another two gaols before half time ! In the second half Pardwho reverted to 4-3-3 almost again so God knows what the players thought !!!!

    I heard Stephen Ried talking about Woy Hodgson tonight and amongst other things, Reid said that “when you went out onto the pitch on Saturday afternoon you knew what your role was and what you had to do”

    I kinda got the feeling that Pardwho had forgotten that bit on Saturday :(

  41. AndyMac:

    that’ll be goals :)

  42. tunyc:

    Andy keeps saying what I’d say (but better).

    What he said.

  43. AndyMac:

    tunyc says:

    “Andy keeps saying what I’d say (but better)”

    Havent got a long lost brother somewhere out there tunyc ? :)

  44. AndyMac:

    On the subject of tactical plans I see Pardwho is quoted as saying,

    “I’m not attributing any kind of blame here, I’m just saying that collectively we all got it wrong. The psychology of the team and the tactical side of things is my responsibility, and I felt that I let the club down a little bit as well. Tactically, we made mistakes as a coaching team and myself.”

    I could be wrong here but I think that should read “I made tactical mistakes on Saturday and I take full responsibility for that”.

    The bloke prides himself on being “honest” with his players so IMO if he was in charge of the tactical aberration that befell the team on Saturday then THE VERY LEAST HE COULD DO WAS HOLD HIS HANDS UP. Otherwise we start sliding towards a West Ham scenario and we dont want that do we Mr Pardwho ?

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