There's not enough topics about the match today so I'll start one...
Just got home after watching what was possibly one of the worst, most abysmal and low quality matches I've seen in a while.
We missed Cattermole so badly. Henderson and Richardson were appalling in the centre of midfield, getting bullied by Nolan and Barton all match, losing the physical battle so much that after 30 mins they weren't even competing for the ball, surrendering the middle of the field and allowing Newcastle the time and space to build attacks and run at our constantly exposed defence. Henderson looked either far too worked up, to the point of losing his head, or terrified of the occasion, but either way he was not the same energetic and composed player today as he has proved he can be many times this season. A poor performance. Richardson did very little, makes far too many mistakes, lacks the passing range to play in the middle and hopefully will only be used in the centre of midfield again in a real emergency.
Steed came out with a little credit, showing a real enthusiasm and battling spirit that I didn't know he had in him! The other player who looked like he was up for the match, like he was ready to face the challenge and had the mentality to meet it, was Bardsley.
Our tactics seemed to be 'Plan A, hoof it. If that fails, Plan B is... hoof it more.' Why, when we've been playing some lovely football down the wings, patiently creating chances and happy to keep possession (even against the more physical teams like Blackburn and Bolton), did that all go out the window almost immediately today? I think that again the occasion got too much for many of the players, that Newcastle hastled and harried them into making rushed decisions and panicking so much that our normal game went out the windown. Worrying to see.
Once again we made Ameobi look like Messi, giving him time and space and failing totally at dealing with both the balls to his head and his knock downs. Bramble looked unsure when dealing with him, but that is as much because he and Ferdinand were so exposed and had to deal with far too many balls coming at them due to the lack of any structure in front of them.
Bent and Gyan could have done better with a few chances (how many times have we said that recently!), but again were left feeding off either balls played to their heads at 100mph or scrappy chances that they had to fashion themselves. Again a problem that was mainly due to the lack of a functioning midfield behind them.
Thank god it is over, thank god we didn't lose, I hope that we never play that badly again.
P.S. Do those who were defending pitch invasions as harmless fun in an earlier thread from yesterday still see it that way?