October rolled in for Newcastle on the back of an inconsistent September. A theme that has developed for Newcastle is the ability to be brilliant first half and then fall away or start slowly and pick up pace when the game has already gone, frustrating, as you could imagine.
Cardiff City 1-2 Newcastle United
Cardiff were the first challenge as we looked to build on a brilliant second half against Everton where we only narrowly failed to overturn a three goal deficit. Thankfully the lads picked up where they left off and two goals in eight first half minutes, courtesy of in-form Loic Remy, put us comfortably ahead at half time.
True to form however, the second half was weak and when Peter Odemwingie scored on the hour, the toon army were worried. Some question marks were placed over the decision to leave Cisse on the pitch and bring on Jonas for Remy, especially by the Pardew boo boys, but the change did work in shoring up the midfield and providing much needed protection.
I personally think we should be pushing on at that stage to get a third, on current form, Cisse just isn’t the man to get that third. Anyway, the lads dug in, and got a vital three points. One man who performed above expectations again was Mike Williamson, the forgotten man, who once again staked a claim for the first team with a gritty performance.
Performance Rating: Grade B+; Took the lead and for a change defended it well. Impressive performances throughout the team were the basis for a solid away victory.
Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool
The game that guarantees goals. Newcastle against Liverpool at St James’. After last year’s six goal drubbing I had my concerns, but from the first minute, anything looked possible. When Yohan Cabaye smashed one in from 30 yards, you couldn’t say we didn’t deserve to lead. Everything was going well and the players look confident, but then the tide turned, settling centre half Yanga-Mbiwa was beaten by Suarez and when the striker was hauled down you knew what was to follow.
Liverpool equalised and we went down to ten, any fan would have been forgiven for thinking that would be it. Fortunately this was an occasion that ‘le toon’ decided to dig deep but it was one of the British imports that did the damage. Paul Dummett on his premier league home debut stealing in at the far post to convert a Cabaye free kick and provoke wild celebrations.
Soon came the inevitable when Sturridge scored his fourth consecutive goal at SJP to defend Liverpool’s unbeaten away record. They would have to settle for a point though, against a resolute and determined Newcastle side.
Performance Rating: Grade A; Fantastic amount of effort put in and a good result to show for it. Backs were against the wall when MYM went off but the lads rose to the challenge.
Sunderland 2-1 Newcastle
With only one real signing over the summer and therefore a lack of real ambition to push for much more than a top half finish came the biggest game of the season, bottom placed and winless Sunderland at The Stadium of Light. Not since 1967 had a Newcastle United manager lost back to back Tyne Wear derbies.
Sunderland were definitely up for this one and took the lead after five minutes. What followed in terms of quality was as poor as you will see all season. Nothing improved and the equaliser only came when Debuchy drilled home from a couple of centimetres after some shambolic defending left him free at the back post. In fact the only quality moment in the game came when a stonking Fabio Borini strike made it a day to forgot for all Geordies. It was typical inconsistent Newcastle performing nothing like they did against Liverpool.
Sunderland should go down, they weren’t good, just better than us.
Performance Rating: Grade E-; Disappointing end to a good month that left a very bitter taste. This one won’t go away for a while.
Overall Rating: Grade C-; Four points from nine in these three games wouldn’t usually be terrible. But losing to Sunderland back to back isn’t acceptable, Pardew will have a lot of fans to win back in November.