The Newcastle Soapbox: bad news comes in threes


The morning after. As we bid farewell to the thousands of gloating Mags who headed here yesterday, (and we’d have been smug, too, if we’d won), Pete Sixsmith has plenty to get off his chest and does so with customary eloquence, warning Steve Bruce that the rumblings in the stands are gathering force …


Three times
in Steve Bruce’s time as manager have we played our Tyneside neighbours and three times we have played in a manner that can, at best, be called disappointing.

Of the three, this was the worst. Last October was a one off, January was a game in which both sides were so awful that it can quickly be consigned to the far recesses of memory. But this one was different.

We had invested in new players, the opposition appeared to be in some disarray and we had returned from Liverpool with a point, some glowing reports from various pundits and a sense of optimism.

We started well. Sessegnon was outstanding, linking between midfield and up front. Cattermole bossed the midfield, the defence looked solid as Newcastle were pushed further and further back.

We needed a goal. Chances were snatched at or missed. Krul made a couple of decent saves, their two central defenders held them together. Had a goal come in that opening 20 minutes, I am pretty sure we would have gone on to win.

But it didn’t. We don’t have a penalty box striker. A Bent or a Cisse would have been on the end of those tantalising low crosses from Sessegnon and Larsson and we would have been up and running.

Instead we allowed Newcastle back into the game. They slowed it down. They took an age over goal kicks, throw ins etc. They took their time getting up from challenges. All legitimate and all, ultimately, justified as they seized control of the second half.

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At the risk of sounding Wengerish, I didn’t see the handball (and I had no intention of watching it on MOTD last night, that’s for sure), but the reaction of the Newcastle players suggested it was a penalty and a sending off. On the other hand, Cabaye was fortunate to stay on for a bad foul on Bardsley, so maybe it evened itself out at that stage.

Pardew must have said the right things at half time as Newcastle controlled the game thereafter. Tiote (anonymous in the opening period) sat in front of the back four and laid off simple passes which broke up our pedestrian and unimaginative second half play.

The goal was dreadful. A needless free kick given away by Elmohamady, resulted in Mignolet building a wall that was even worse than that of Mr O’Reilly, Basil Fawlty’s hapless Irish builder. The free kick by Taylor was nothing special, but Mignolet was so far off his line, that it dropped over his head and into the net. Yet another error in a crucial game by the young Belgian.

After that, we huffed and puffed while Newcastle sat back and watched us achieve absolutely nothing. Our substitutions had minimal impact on the game because we have no Plan B – and quite frankly, Plan A looked pretty threadbare as well.

Tactically, Bruce reminds me of Peter Reid. If the players click and it goes well, then the team looks good. But if it goes wrong, there is no back up, no change of idea or plan. Surely Vaughan would have been a better replacement than Gardner? He can actually pass a ball and might have been able to open up an increasingly water tight Newcastle defence.

Up front, we have a real problem with Gyan. He makes good runs and pulls defenders about, but he is not a prolific goalscorer. He is a 10 goal a season man and we need a lot more than that. I fear that the crowd may well turn on him if he continues to misfire; there was a fair bit of grumbling at the end of the game.

To lose the first home game of the season is bad enough, but to lose it to local rivals in such a disappointing manner is catastrophic. The manager is already under pressure from the fans and no matter how many games we win between now and the end of the season, this was the one that counted for Sunderland fans.

I am not advocating a change in the manager’s office, but it should be noted that more and more supporters are beginning to question Bruce and Black’s credentials.

We have two tricky away games at Brighton and Swansea coming up, followed by the visits of Chelsea and Stoke City. Should we be in a difficult position by the end of that run, then the grumbling may turn into roars of derision – and when the crowd turn on a manager, owners get twitchy fingers over the ejector seat button.

On a happier note, I did get back to see the Shildon v Consett FA Cup tie which we won 2-1, so that took away about 0.0000000001 per cent of the hurt.

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22 thoughts on “The Newcastle Soapbox: bad news comes in threes”

  1. Moongod – I share your philosophies – totally. I am usually the only one standing up for the lads on this site, but it would be nice if just for once we played football the way I know we can against the enemy – and come out with the right result. I think they outplayed us in the second half, and we were predictable – never looked like scoring. The pain has subsided (a little) and I think the result prompted some overreaction. It’s a fickle business mate! It’s gonna be an interesting season – that’s for sure. Catts was Captain Marvellous on Saturday – played out of his skin – 2nd half included – anyone that thinks otherwise is deluded – hey that rhymes.

  2. Martin – good post, but the only objection I have is the continued insistence that we were outplayed. I can’t deny that our players seemed on edge in the second half – I think that was partly down to us getting on their backs BEFORE the goal, never mind after. Until we started over commiting in search of an equaliser, I coudn’t see them scoring from open play – even on the occasions our back four gave their forwards the ball.

    I guess though, overall, what I’m trying to say is this:

    We are as depressingly pessimistic as they have been shown to be comically optimistic.

    I feel that this attitude bleeds onto the pitch unless we’re 2up in ten minutes too often, and playing at home is becoming something of a hindrance.

    The team that dominated the first half (and the second half at Anfield) looked very good – to condemn them so completely as I have seen so many fans have done is unbelievable, especially given that we all accept they will need a little time to gel.

    More specifically, the qualities that made Catts one of our most vital attributes at Anfield are now deemed to make him a villain – when he was the only player that seemed to be trying to get the ball as we lost our way…

  3. Hmm, don’t think it will go that far, Martin, although I did take one on my retirement train and beer trip!!!
    Bruce faces a difficult time now. He has a very tricky game at Brighton tomorrow and then a long trip to Swansea, who seem to be struggling to score.
    But however well we do, nothing will make up for Saturday – and managers get the blame. He knows that. Hard times for us Red and Whites.
    Incidentally, the national media couldn’t give a hoot about this game. Todays Guardian is full of Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea, as was yesterday’s Observer. For once, I am not criticicising them!!!

  4. Moongod – whilst I commend you for your loyalty, this was the third Derby game in a row in which we were outplayed. We might have controlled the first half, but we were impotent up front throughout the game. We were playing in our stadium in front of our fans, and yet again we couldn’t take advantage. Given their recent outgoings and lack of spending, we should have won it, and at the very least, we should have competed way better than we did in the second half. SJP is a freekin cauldron – and unless we figure out how to be mentally tough, they’ll kick our arse again at their place. We have every right to express our disappointment, and to construe it as “knee jerk” or in someone else’s words “critical” is a little on the kind side.

    A shout out to the Toon fans , the majority of whom have once again displayed a bit of class and humility in their posts (at least the ones who made the cut!! – Thanks Colin!). At the end of the day we’re all just a bag of flesh, blood and bones, who happen to support a team wearing different colours. I would hope that if we EVER beat you, WE would reciprocate with the same amount of grace.

    Goalkeeping-: Simon Mignolet is a great shot stopper, but his positional play is suspect, as is his handling. He’s a great prospect, but I would like to see him as a back-up to Craig or Kieran for now. Every time a decent cross comes into our box, there’s a rumbling in my underwear! Pete – I don’t think he was off his line so much. If you watch it back – look where he positions himself. He’s right next to the near post, and if he was in position, he would have stopped Ryan Taylors free kick (or at least have had a better chance of doing so).

    I am thankful to Steven Bruce for improving our squad and the way we play is light years above anything we’ve ever seen. And no matter what happens, I will always be glad he came through the door. However, I think he was extremely naiive to settle with the forward line we are taking into this season. I would be staggered if he didn’t dip back into the market for a decent striker. If Simpletons like us can sense that we are woefully short in this area, then he should be staying awake at night plotting his moves, and taking positive action.

    Finally – It’s only a game of football. I have lost a couple of close friends recently – so I find myself better able to put it all into perspective. Many of the posts above restore my faith in human nature. Refreshingly balanced viewpoints from both sides. Before long we could be swapping scarves and having Sunday lunch together!

  5. Another derby and another let down. The first half had drwan me into some kind of misinformed belief that we may actually win this one. We dominated for most of the half, created the better chances but the fact we never scored whilst on top came back to haunt us. The second half performance was pub league standard.

    Whether the Mags have the spooks over us or whether we just simply bottle it is anyones guess but the fact the fact the Mags didn’t have to play very well to beat us should set alarm bells ringing even as early in the season as this.

    The keeper was badly positioned for the free kick which led to the goal and has to take much of the blame. In fact Mingolnet was unconvincing with anything coming through the air although the defence didn’t help him as they consistanly let Ameobi have as much space as he wished at set pieces.

    Our midfield after a very encouraging first half completely lost their way after the break and may as well have been sitting up beside me.

    I had raised concerns after last week about our lack of a penalty box striker and I am now convinced that Bruce has to make that signing his number one priority. Whether Gyan and Sessegon will get 20 goals this season is highly unlikely although it may help if the crosses could clear the first defender. Should we fail to get a box striker I genuinelly feel we could be in a relegation slog .

    Once again a disppointing day for those in a red and white p but that is becoming the norm on Derby day.

  6. Sadly, (luckily?), am in Florida so didn’t see the match. Instead, had to rely on my IFooty app on my IPad. The interview question for the post of writing these minute by minute accounts must be: ‘can you watch a game and be devoid of any emotion whatsoever?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Congratulations, the jobs yours’.
    As ever, I turn to the best writers that I trust to report the game with intelligence and insight – Sixer on this site and Sobs on ALS. My Mag supporting cousin was also in Florida on holiday (sods law) so I couldn’t escape the gloating. However, our Pre match discussion (none since, natch) involved me saying that these games have even less logic than other games and is unpredictable.
    Also, games are often won and lost on split seconds of luck – slight mis-kick (Catts tackles apart), a cm of woodwork or a wrong glance from the ref missing a key incident. All of these take place in the blink of an eye and change games. Had we scored in the first 45, different game. I therefore have some empathy with Moongod’s sentiments.
    Let’s see how Bruce and his team respond to this disappointment – hopefully like they did last year before judging too harshly.

  7. Why am I ashamed to be a Sunderland fan? Because of the knee-jerk reaction we get to a game which we controlled for long periods. We SHOULD have scored but didn’t – that doesn’t mean that we were second best!?!?!? The side that was sent out took control of the game and dominated – yet it’s all Bruce’s fault!?!?!?

    No – I’m not happy. I’m absolutely gutted, before you throw that accusation – but I seem to have seen a different game from any of our fans who comment. In my opinion, if either side’s play deserved a goal it was ours – I never actually felt threatened by them, with the exception of Gutierrez.

    As for the FK leading to the goal – we needed SOMEONE to challenge Gutierrez, because Bardo developed a huge phobia – and Mig is unfortunately mostly to blame. So what – should we get on his back!?!? That’s just what a young keeper needs…

    In no way can I agree that Newcastle deserved anything more than a point – and even then, all they had to offer was good set-piece delivery.

    I know there are people out there that would happily go down as long as we got the double over the mags – I’d personally happily lose both and finish there or thereabouts for Europe.

    I can see us in european places and them fighting relegation when they beat us next time – and you lot will STILL make us out as the worst team in history. You did it last year, when we WERE second best – I’m amazed that anyone could say that yesterday was the worst performance of the last three games! Especialy someone I have some respect for.

    We all know what comes now – a tough home game against Chelsea which will see our fans call for Bruce’s head and get on the back of all the players if we don’t win. Let’s suck the confidence out of them, and guarantee they fail to fulfil any potential so that we can rag them some more.

    90% of Sunderland fans only seem to speak up when we lose – and I am ashamed at how negative they are.

    If Gyan’s first half effort had dipped 3-4 inches we’d have had a HT lead we deserved and probably gone on to win.
    if we’d defended the FK a little better (or Bardo had put in a challenge instead of Catts) we’d have had a draw we should have won.

    What would your reaction have been then? No fight? Out played?

    My arse.

    If we support them (and not unconditionally – just stop presuming you see things they don’t!) they might improve into the team we think they can be. If we abuse them, why should they give a damn when their confidence drops.

  8. First of all let me congratulate you on a very good article…what I feel at the moment is that it doesn’t matter how bad they are, or how much better we are then them; the fact is that the craaas have a Jinx over us which prevents us from winning. I believe that we have only beaten them once in our last fourteen meetings, and quite franky I’m becoming so used to their predictable gloating that I’m becoming immune to it…
    Having said that, we have a lot of new players that will need time to settle in and gel, and as far as Gyan is concerned, I think a goal or two will bring back his confidence which he seems to have lost at the moment…
    Keep the faith!

  9. Surely time must be running out for Bruce after that debacle ? For all the huff and puff Sunderland just didn’t have the class to make it tell at the end of the day. If I was the Sunderland owner I would somewhat worried to see how the manager was “investing” my hard earned money.

    Well well NUFC may have gotten lucky yesterday in the first half, but second half we came into the game better and deservedly won in my opinion. Sessayong (spelling…) looked tricky, but the clogger Cattermole was shown up to be what he is.. a thug who has to resort to kicking his way through the game…

    Yesterday Sunderland played flat out to there full potential, we were rusty, but will undoubtedly get better. Worrying times for Sunderland fans after that abject second half showing against a weakened and ring rusty Mags 11….not to mention the missed penalty by homer Howard Webb…

    Still we won’t gloat on a great weekend all round…

  10. I think we deserved the win as our tactics were superior on the day.

    Sunderland fans will point to their domination of possession in the first half, but that’s merely par for the course. We try to soak up pressure and grind out results when away from home and we’re bloody good at it; hence our rather impressive record away from SJP.

    At SJP the onus will be on us and it will be up to you to soak up the pressure as we are a quite canny pass and move team when we want to be. Add to that; Ben Arfa, Marveaux, Ba and a new striker would all have arrived and integrated properly by then; making us a considerably more threatening side.

    I really do feel that this was a great opportunity to exact revenge for last season. Problem is, Brucey boy just seems to be lacking the tactical nous to seize on such opportune moments…

    However, one thing I can’t deny is the improvements you have clearly made. You seem a much better side on the ball than last year; where we completely dominated you in both games.

    If you still had Bent I would have you as favourites for a Europa League finish.

  11. ‘Ello lads.

    First of all, you lads played well. As mentioned in the article you just didn’t have the finishing touch. There were some beautiful crosses into the box that went over even our defensive line – there wasn’t anybody to put it in. It was almost ludicrous at times. Gyan is a great player but he needs to be played in, similar to our own Lovenkrands (only Gyan has strength if I recall).

    Secondly, get rid of Cattermole – he’s downright vicious. Don’t get me wrong, we have Barton and at times it’s near impossible to defend him (see: Arsenal, although you can probably appreciate why he felt the way he did, nobody should condone the way he acted) but one thing he doesn’t do is scythe a player down and then actually walk off grinning and smirking. He’s the new Robbie Savage as far as I can see – a sheer liability to your boys.

    Some notes about the game:

    1. The Larsson incident was definitely a penalty. No two ways about it. Whether Webb thought he headed it out or not is a different matter but he was moving right to defend Ameobi’s header and then Barton got a touch on it and with the momentum Larrson had built up, he shifted his weight left and moved his left arm up to block the shot.
    2. Why did Larsson come off? Surely Gyan (who didn’t do a whole lot of anything) would have been a better sub for Whickham?
    3. Bardsley’s tackle on Coloccini was outrageous and should have been a straight red, not like it makes a difference now, of course.
    4. Cabaye probably should have been sent off and he was very lucky that he wasn’t. I don’t think he had any intentions of hurting Bardsley as much as it was a very committed challenge and as we all know – intention means nothing in a game where the referee has the final word.
    5. Sessegnon (SP?) looked great. If only he had a decent target man to play in.
    6. Mignolet is a great keeper – how he doesn’t have the #1 shirt is beyond me. When you have an entire bar of Mag’s clapping at a Sunderland save, you know you’ve got a keeper! (No pun intended.)

    It seems that in the last few seasons the two north east teams have been very similar in trials and tribulations on the pitch. Injuries, lack of players in key areas and so on. Proven by both clubs left back and striker problem – though I will say Ryan Taylor has earned his money for us playing out of position how he has.

    I watched you lot at Liverpool and while you had a mediocre first half, you bossed the second. Passing was very easy on the eye and Larsson’s goal was a stunner.

    There were a lot of positives in your performance, you just need a good striker to cap off the team – you all relied way too much on Bent and flogging him was when SAFC hit turbulence.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a hangover to nurse.

  12. Well happy with the result however it is very early days so I will remain grounded. Seems to me that SB has no grand plan and just grabs as many players as he can and then hopes to make them gel as a team. Newcastle at least have a strategy of buying young players with a potentialy high resale value making the club financialy stable. Also we have a good youth policy and scouting system. I know Newcastles plan has a lot of doubters however have you heard the saying that a bad plan well executed is better than no plan at all. Finally it is nice to beat Sunderland but more inportantly this could be a crucial 3 points. NUFC supporters should enjoy the moment of success but do so with respect to SAFC fans as Football fortunes can turn quickly as we well no. Well done NUFC you have made my weekend but comiserations to SAFC I no how you fell.

  13. The result yesterday did not surprise me in the slightest. I’m not that impressed with the majority of Bruces new signings.
    The defence and midfield are ridiculously one paced, Gyan wants away and Clatteremall is nothing but a liability who should be sold at the first opportunity.
    It wont be long before Sess wants to join his compatriots up the road if we are not careful.

  14. Oh dear Oh dear, could have been a lot worse. You could and should have had three guy’s on three match bans now,and I’ll admit we may have lost Cabaye. However, your superiority in the first half was worrying to say the least, but since nothing came of it , it seemed only a matter of time before the pendulum swung the other way.
    We could and should have been 1 up at half time (against the run of play admittedly) and with a numerical advantage, but never mind. it all worked out nicely in the end .
    A word of caution for mr Quinn, pay off old strawberry face before he has a major seizure and you loose him anyway. Mind you, had he come to us when he was offered the chance, he would be deed by now anyway with the Twonks we have upstairs. Anyway lads and lasses, hope yous have many more sleepless nights until we meet again . Roll on the 3rd of March, when, I have a shrewd suspicion it might, just might be another good kick up the jacksie for our estranged bretheren from beyond the back of beyond. Bye for now .!!!

  15. The one good thing you guys should be gloating about is you have quinn as chairman great determination and love the club, all we have is that fat prick who has more money than sense no drive in him what so ever.

    my sister is a safc fan and i am nufc so you could imagine the rows we have had in the past but i have always told her if we dont play each other then i want u guys to do well, and i want us to do well also. Still dont think this win is really irrelavant because when we beat you 5-1 you went ont to beat chelski 3-0 and finished the season of strong. Its all about picking yourselfs up and i think you will no problem.

  16. It’s all very well bossing the game first half, but we have to score and if we don’t we have problems. Our side still has no balance and no push. I’m sure it was Elmohamady who gave the free kick away, mind. Once again, he was frightened of challenges and is not to be relied on in games like this.
    cattermole’s “tackle” on Gutierrex was shameful and I don’t disagree with you about him. I called him a guttersnipe after he was sent off against us, while he was at Wigan. There are a number of SAFC supporters who have had enough of him. e has his strengths but he has an evil temper and is a liability.
    I thought Howard Webb was excellent and handled the game really well. Two good refs already this season; what’s the world coming to/

  17. I think it was a great result for us nufc fans but i would have wanted that result no matter who we was playing, I think you have got a good side and like ours just needs a little time to adapt. If larsson would have been sent of and a penalty scored on just 14 mins it might have been more than 1 nill. But it doesnt matter i wouldnt rub salt into the wounds like most nufc fans would, all i do is praise you guys up think we both have got good enough sqauds for europe and i would love to see us both there, think it would be good for our fans. So keep your chins up because come end of season hopefully we both could finish around 6-7 would be great.

  18. Think your being a bit critical as you bossed the game first half, Im a mag and was happy to see Larsson taken off for a centre forward. Removing the supply line always amazes me!! Gyan is pants and was glad it was him not Jones, Bent! There is nice bit now for formalities. Lee Cattermole is a disgrace a mindless thug, We have Barton Granted but Cattermole is cynical and should not have seen the final whistle! And it was rather fitting that is was his ( not Elmohamady’s) lunge that resulted in our goal. North East top dogs once again and ive taped MOTD if any mackems want to view a footballing lesson!

  19. Good report… To be fair Babaye should have been sent off, but then again, to be fair, so should Larsson and Cattermole so it hardly evens thing up when you also take the pentalty into the equation… I wouldnt be to depressed if i was you guys, you looked good in the first half and you will do ok this season, the worst you can do is getting on the manager and the players neck, trust me, for we have been there and done that.

  20. The editor-cum-cleaner is out for most of today so I am afraid delays for moderation, if you haven’t posted before, will be measured in hours instead of the usual minutes. Unless Joan is around and dips in!

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