Hughton, we have a problem.

Posted on September 28th, 2010 | 76 Comments |

Chris Hughton - Faces some tough choices.
Chris Hughton - Faces some tough choices.
Is anyone still feeling a little deflated after the weekend? I know that I am still smarting from the home defeat against Stoke, and I am sure others are aswell.

There were a lot of things that just didn’t work at the weekend, and now the manager has to earn his money and adress those issues that were plain to see for everyone against Stoke.

In true Newcastle style, what started off to be a fantastic week with away wins at Everton and Chelsea was followed by the inevitable kick in the bollocks by losing at home to Stoke. As I said in my match report, I can handle us losing, but what I can’t handle is us not giving it a real go and trying to take the game to the opposition, particularly at home.

The fact is that Stoke did a job on us. They stopped us playing and only let us play where they wanted us to play. For all the first-half possesion we had we created pretty much the sum of nothing and we were lucky to benefit from Robert Huth making an erratic and needless challenge to concede a penalty and hand us the lead.

I’m not even overly concerned about how Stoke managed to batter our defence with their brand of football and throw-ins. In fairness, we aren’t the first-team and won’t be the last team to succumb to Stoke City and their aeriel threat. That is their ‘ace in the hole’, and whilst it may not be to everyones taste, it worked.

My main concern is our attack. We are at risk of becoming a one trick pony in my opinion, and that is something that has to change pretty sharpish, especially at home where we need to get the vast majority of our points. We won’t win away from home every week and could quite easily not pick up another win on the road all season. It’s not unheard of for that to happen.

As I see it, Andy Carroll has become isolated up front. I’m sure that the idea is for Kevin Nolan to support the lad, but if the opposition are putting on the pressure then it is quite understandable that Nolan will need to drop back into midfield and help out. The problem is that Nolan then can’t get up to support Carroll quickly enough, which leads to bigger lad winning most of the headers up front, but with nobody around to support him we end up just gifting the ball back to the opposition.

If Hughton really wants Carroll to play up front on his own then he needs to make sure that we have a player who is capable of supporting the lad. We have that player in the shape of Hatem Ben Arfa and I think he was built for that role, yet Ben Arfa is being played out on the left. To be fair, he does drift inside and help out in the middle, but then that leaves Jose Enrique incredibly exposed down that left-side of the pitch.

The emergence of Cheick Tiote and Ben Arfa as probably two of our better players surely means that they have to play? The link that Jonas and Jose have on the left surely means that Jonas has to play? Seeing what Barton can actually do when he has the players already mentioned around him surely means he has to play? Routledge has to play as his pace can stretch teams, so that leaves one player that is playing now that I think is holding us back on the pitch – Kevin Nolan.

I don’t want to be down on the lad as I don’t think he has done anything wrong as such, and there is no question that he has been one of the players that has helped to drag our club off of the floor, but I just don’t think he can fit into the system that we are trying to play, not at home anyway.

You could say that Hughton knows more about football than me and understands what he is trying to do a lot more than the rest of us. I very much doubt he has learned nothing during his 30 or so years in the game so I am confident he will know what needs changing.

That is the test though, will he change it when needed? Will he drop players like Nolan if it benefits the team? As a manager he is paid to make those kind of decisions…..

But will he?

NUFCBlog Author: toonsy toonsy has written 643 articles on this blog.

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76 Responses

  1. i don’t think chris will have a problem dropping nolan. captain or not (look at butt last season) i think CH has the stones to make the tough decisions for the best of the team. i think a 3 man CM of benny up high, barton in the middle, and tiote as DM is our best combo at the moment. give nolan, smith, and guthrie and gosling when they’re healthy some motivation to play at the top of their level. no ones starting spot should be guaranteed when we have the squad that we do.

  2. I agree Toonsy, I think we are being held back by CH’s insistence on playing Nolan, where as I believe (and have stated before), a system that has HBA behind the main striker would be better suited to our home game.
    Was interested to see Nolan trying to defend the tactics in this mornings Journal. Well, he would wouldn’t he?

  3. Excellent analysis Toonsy and I can’t agree with any of it. Hughton probably thinks that Nolan is an essential part of the ‘team’ and spirit and that as we saw last season is worth a lot. Personally I’d drop him and bring Ben Arfa inside.
    Another point – teams are now very sussed to our hoofball to Caroll. Maybe he has to go too. Against huge defences like Stoke it’s a waste of time. How about Shola, Ranger and HBA up top?

  4. Completely agree with everything in that blog toonsy nolan has to be dropped in we are to play with just big andy up top.

  5. i wouldnt mind seeing loven given another run out with either shola or andy up there. he’s shown he scores when given a decent run in the side. would give the opposition something else to think about other than dealing with crap crosses in to big andy.

  6. I agree with most, but drop Routledge as he does not produce anything, go to three in the middle with Jonas and Ben Afra supporting Caroll, pushed up when attacking providing cover when defending. A tight midfield with pace. Nolan brings alot to the team in the work and effort plus team spirit.

    Routledge is out of his depth and pace is nothing without a final ball.

  7. What I don’t know yet is is HBA a good finisher? If he is then 2nd striker off AC makes sense with our best creator JB top of a diamond midfield with CT, WR &JG all as being suggested. But if the lad can’t finish then he has to play in Midfield. Then we have to ask who can play alongside AC as a striker?

  8. we did not get beat by stoke. We were unlucky. They beat us with an own goal and there first goal should not have been allowed. Huth clearly fouled perch at the back post when he rose to head it accross goal. I saw it live and on the replay, it was obvious and it’s not debatible. The fact that the rest of the country hates us is proved by the fact that no one is mentioning it.
    Yes we didn’t come out well in the 2nd half and yes we still have some work to do, but we were not out played but for 20 mins in the game. It’s easy to be gutted and only remember those 20 mins but with their performance so far this seasn, the lads deserve better.

  9. On a happier note lads,ed is reporting that we have signed Yves Moyo on a 4 year deal.terrific news if true guys,he is a very highly rated kid.can you see if there is any truth in it toonsy?

  10. Deepak – There is nothing official anywhere as yet. I’ve had my eye on it for a bit waiting for a report from a half decent and half reliable source before reporting it properly.

  11. I think, that NUFC has a fine back 4 (yes, that includes newby Perch) and an A+ DM in Tiote. The offense needs to be tweaked. CH is pretty conservative, so if he drops Nolan, look for an experienced squad member to come on. So forget Ranger for the moment,and forget replacing two men. I’d think CH is wary of putting the inexperienced (in the PL) H-bomb in the middle, so who does that leave? Is someone from the reserves ready?
    When you think about it, that central mid-fielder spot is the key to a great part of the whole picture. CH may not see anyone better than Nolan to fill it. Evern if it is not being done as well as he and all of us may like.

    If Nolan has to go, that would lead to changing formations, which I’d think CH would be reluctant to do. We have no idea if NUFC practice any other formations. (Can someone look into that, please?)

    CH seems to have a game plan. I think it is one that most of the squad can execute to CH’s expectations. His anger (per Enrique’s report) shows either that players are not buying in to the style, or a unable to comply with the plan, or unwilling to follow the script. All the Stoke attempts were pretty much failures on NUFC squad to stay with their mark. That they got free, could just be a matter of TP out-coaching CH in that aspect of the game. But it may be another example of player inability.

  12. toonsy, i disagree with using hba jus off carroll as the answer. Hba likes to come for the ball and take on defenders. He wouldn’t play the line well looking for knock-ons. The player who fits that role and has experience there from last year is loven. I think it’s a natural fit. He can play off andy and also replace hba on the left when he makes those inside runs. The only problem i can see hoots struggling with is his ability to track back and defend like nolan does. I say with tiote now you don’t need that. I think a form up top like this:
    would solve our offensive problem, especially against negative teams like stoke. But as you say i’m 100% sure that hoots knows better than i do.

  13. just think that nolan knows he wont be dropped no matter how bloody awful he continues to be.maybe dropping him would actually make him sit up and try and get fit,coz if thats him in peak condition then im an olyimpic gold medalist

  14. I think what Hughton has so far failed to address is the mentality in the squad that they up their game to play the big boys, in a sort of, ‘thats why im a NUFC player on XX thousand a week’ way. Then we continue the attitude of last seasons lowering of effort against the so-called lesser teams. Well there are no easy teams in this league and anything other than a 7 or 8 from all the squad usually leads to defeat against the so called ‘lesser teams’. We need to drop the nievety and fast.

  15. It’s quite simple really. Nolan is a hardworker, is great On the training ground and in the dressing room im sure, but is at times, pedestrian on the pitch. He’s up there alongside Carroll in the hope he’ll get on the end of loose balls in the box and finish them. Sadly, he had his chances to do so against Stoke and didn’t do so, the one late on that he put wide sticks out in my mind immediatley. For me, we play jonas down the left with Jose, Routledge on the right, Benny just behind Andy with Tiote and Barton in the center. However, dropping Nolan isn’t easy because Hughton made him captain. Nolan scored goals in the CCC, he won’t score a handful in the prem though, the game is too fast and he is sadly, too slow. Benny with Carroll in a 4-4-2 against Wigan and let’s put them to the bloody sword for god sake!

  16. Definately would agree not to split up the l/handside of jose/jonas. I thought we lost a lot of our shape as a result of HBA playing wide left v Stoke.
    I do tend to agree with the sentiments on here about Nolan’s limitations, although not sure if HBA up to prem speed yet…tho’ don’t doubt he’ll get there…(seems to me he didn’t look too comfortable/happy all day on Saturday). A couple of average free kicks, and simple passes, not really running at defence. Nolan can do that.Mebbe’s it is time to give Loverman or Shola a full 90…HBA’s had more game time than Shola and Lover so far, yet the latter pair have earned the right to have a go…to me, HBA drops down the pecking order for a few games.
    I thought what was missing, regardless of misshapen tactics, wrong faces in wrong positions, etc, on Saturday was, no-one really ran at their defence, neither winger took the ball to the byline, we just moved it, at a pedestrian pace, across the middle, not hurting them.
    We didn’t beat them ‘cos, for all the possession we had, we didn’t create enough scoring chances. Simple as that…

  17. Sorry…Last para of last post…” no-one really ran at their defence…”. Should have read except for Routs…and eventually Jonas when he came on…

  18. Ross,
    that would be a v low odds bet, Nolan not getting a ‘handful’ of goals at this level, he’s already got 3 mate.
    It’s very important that CH drops Nolan & Carroll when necessary & it could be time for some of that. The only games worth hoofing to Carroll are when they aren’t massive at the back. If they are, then it’s pointless, as it proved v stoke.
    CH shoulda took off the afore mentioned on sunday & changed it round a bit.
    I’m not having a go at KN & AC, but some games really don’t suit their style, some they are tailor made for.
    Will they be useful tactics v manc? That’s the question.

  19. Unfortunately Hughton won’t drop Nolan or play Ben Arfa through the middle, he has shown time and time again he has no tactical nouse and won’t drop his captain.

    This will cost CH his job in the end.

  20. short term memory dmanx? captain nicky last season? couldnt have made more than 15-20 appearances. CH will definitely drop nolan if he feels he’s not the best person for the job at the moment.
    i also think benny needs to prove his position. CH has shown that he won’t just gift a player a spot – it needs to be earned, which is what i think tiote has done in his few performances compared to smith.

  21. How many goals has Nolan got this season? How many in total have Routledge, Gutierrez and Ben Arfa got? It’s not as simple as dropping him because he has less pace than the others.

  22. Macas says:
    September 28, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    “How many goals has Nolan got this season? How many in total have Routledge, Gutierrez and Ben Arfa got? It’s not as simple as dropping him because he has less pace than the others.”

    Simple people beleive that everything is simple though, Macas. Newcastle have been through a period of great transition, and it is not surprising that we are somewhat erratic in this stage of our development. The same was also true for Alex Ferguson in his early days at Manchester United and there are many other examples before and since. Building a new team from the foundations takes time.

  23. i agree with your analysis toonsy. My worry is that hughton succombs to a bout of concrete thinking, based on our one emphatic home victory. We went through this last season- hughton’s rigid and cautious home system. Yes, the opposition has improved, but the concept remains exactly the same- we need to attack and hussle from the off, as our best way to getting home wins. Last season hughton changed it in the new year, with 2 up front and we had our home games won by half time. My vote goes to shola, but point is, we need to be more fluid in our thinking as well on the pitch at sjp.

  24. workyticket, true it’s a transitional phase so hughton needs to tweak where appropriate. I’m sure he will, he’s a smart cookie, i just think we’ve been too wary, setting up as the cautious away side at home has cost us against workmanlike opposition.

  25. boater says:
    September 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    “i just think we’ve been too wary, setting up as the cautious away side at home has cost us against workmanlike opposition.”

    Point taken boater, but it’s TWO home games and we have also beaten Aston Villa 6-Nowt at home, with one up front too. As I wrote, we are erratic ATM, but teams in a state of flux often are before they develop consistency.

  26. I just think Hoots needs to be a bit more flexible. The line up we saw against Stoke is FINE away from home, save for maybe Jonas in for Wayne. At home, especially against teams we should be beating we need to try something else. This is where I’d drop Nolan and play two up front.

  27. Alright everyone – am trying to sign up for membership in order I can order tickets for scumberland game – anyone know how many tickets a member can buy, I’d like to get one for my son and poss my brother tho guessing members are limited in the number of tickets they can buy?

  28. 4411 – You can get two per home game per membership, but if you ring up the box office I’m sure you’ll be able to get more. I know a few people who have got more than two for the Sunderland game using a membership.

  29. Toonsy > The emergence of Cheick Tiote and Ben Arfa as probably two of our better players surely means that they have to play? The link that Jonas and Jose have on the left surely means that Jonas has to play? Seeing what Barton can actually do when he has the players already mentioned around him surely means he has to play? Routledge has to play as his pace can stretch teams, so that leaves one player that is playing now that I think is holding us back on the pitch – Kevin Nolan

    My Faith in you has been fully restored, and now that you have made that tough decision I think your FF team will do ok now :)

  30. georgio says:

    “Excellent analysis Toonsy”

    Yeah excellent analysis Toonsy dont know where you get it all from :)

  31. Richie I only said will do ok mate, I think he will be safe from relegation and maybe with a few more tough decisions he will make top half :)

  32. Nah its all good especially the title :)

    “Hughton we have a problem”

    with a sub text of

    “but we cant drop Nolan just in case he takes his ball home”

  33. what time ya heading off to work Toonsy?…….high heels and mini skirt for ya shift tonight ;-)

  34. CC says:
    September 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    “Oh well, Just something he was on about the other day about fairs cup dvds nee worries it can wait”

    He sent me one of those, excellent viewing. I was gannin’ to put edited highlights of it up.

  35. workyticket says:
    September 28, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    He was on about footage from the earlier rounds the other day and i think ive found a site that has the footage of the Setubal and Rangers home legs.

    The dvds of the final are a great watch, Especially the home leg which was still in very good condition

  36. CC says:
    September 28, 2010 at 8:47 pm (Edit)
    workyticket says:
    September 28, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    “He was on about footage from the earlier rounds the other day and i think ive found a site that has the footage of the Setubal and Rangers home legs.”

    Is it that “Classic Football DVDs” site that’s in the link section here, CC? If so, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a report if you or Icedog buy anything from there.

  37. Toonsy…ya have mail……….I saw Suzi quatro at a festival in Germany in the 90’s,she still looked good in hot pants :-)

  38. I think routledge should be dropped he has been pants all season. replace with raylor/lov/ranger. i think jonas should be on left and i would play arfa behind carroll and drop nolan. but again i do not know if hoots will drop nolan he likes the player

  39. you gotta win your home games away points will be a premium this year for ya. Playin one unproven striker upfront by himself wont achieve that. Thought you lot had a lot of team spirit yet most of you slaggin off Nolan n others you gotta get behind your team and not get too down when you lose few games cos face it stayin up with your squad will be an achievement. Stoke arent the new boys anymore so losing to us is no great shock but Blackpool.. well they will come bottom that was a poor result

  40. akostoke…..thats why people are commenting on Nolan mate,we need pace alongside Carroll ie Lovenkrands or Be Arfa.Nolans more suited away from home.The Blackpool result was poor but it was just one of those days,we battered them 2nd half but a combination of great goal keeping and poor finishing lost the game.Stoke game was poor especially following the Everton and Chelsea games.As poor as we were I’m not sure we deserved to lose but hey, that’s football.If we don’t beat Wigan at home I think we need to start worrying.
    I hope you’re right about Blackpool coming bottom but I think they’ll spring a few shocks along the way.433 home and away, you have to admire it.

    stokebloke……..Mr Murray was in reference to one of the lads on here who lived down Stoke for a few years….thought you may have been him mate.

  41. I think, as far as the Stokeblokes comments about getting behind the team and supporting them, that this is not an anti Nolan campaign as such. Its more a “Dont put players in positions where they cannot influence the game” campaign.

    I’d have no problem with Nolan playing in CM or even DM but up in the rareified atmosphere of the forward line, it’s vitally important that we get the right mix of personnel.

    I copied this from the web earlier and pasted it on the Chronicle live site in reaction to the article “Kevin Nolan is still the ace in the hole for Hughton. See what you think ?

    “In association football, the hole is generally referred to as the gap between a team’s midfield players and its front strikers, particularly in a 4-4-2 formation resulting in a 4-4-1-1 formation. The gap might be filled through the employment of an attacking midfielder, or a deep lying striker. The player in the hole aims to utilise and exploit the gap left between the opponent’s midfield and defence.

    This specialist midfielder’s main role is to create goal-scoring opportunities using superior vision and skill. The attacking midfielder is an important position that requires the player to possess superior technical abilities in terms of passing and, perhaps more importantly, the ability to read the opposing defence in order to deliver defence-splitting passes to the strikers.

    Notable players who occupy (or occupied) the hole include Pelé, Eusébio, Johan Cruijff, Zico, Michel Platini, Diego Maradona, Roberto Baggio, Dennis Bergkamp, Francesco Totti, Alessandro Del Piero, Peter Beardsley, Wayne Rooney, Kaka and Ronaldinho – most of whom wore the number 10, although Beardsley often wore 8. Hence a player who inherits the role of a playmaker, or who inhabits the hole can often be referred to as a “number 10”.

  42. According to Sky Sports Hughton “has no intention of dropping Nolan or changing his tactics”. Shame that, because we have neither the players nor a manager with the tactical know-how to make it work!

    Re. the blackpool comment “4-3-3 home and away, you’ve got to admire it.” EXACTLY! there is nothing that terrifies players (home or away) more than a team that’s set up to attack them, no matter what. A 4-5-1 formation at home will never scare anyone if you don’t have midfielders who are quick/skillfull/bright enough to support. One isolated striker, no matter how good, is never going to be a match for four defenders.