On Saturday, Newcastle United slipped to yet another defeat at St.James’. The defeat to Fulham was their fifth at St.James’ this season. United’s home form puts them seventh in the Championship home form table. So what is the problem with Newcastle at home?
Is the atmosphere to blame?
St.James’ Park has a reputation of being one of the finest stadiums in the country. For a long time, it has held a reputation of being one of the loudest as well. However, throughout recent years, this famous atmosphere simply isn’t there. Despite attempts from various supporter groups. The atmosphere at St. James’ is flat. Especially yesterday for long periods there was complete silence due to the lacking Fulham away following.
However, this isn’t really an excuse, home support has been poor for years now. If you think otherwise you are lying to yourself. Regularly when United aren’t doing well, the atmosphere turns toxic. Although I understand the frustrations of fans, I don’t understand why this can’t be channelled in different ways. Booing the side top of the league regardless of the result is ridiculous. Getting on the back of Christian Atsu for not chasing a ball when he knew he was offside was such a moment where I was sitting. This won’t help the players or produce a positive response. But this is similar around the country and this isn’t the main problem but something that does need to be addressed. The addition of the Gallowgate flags is a step in the right direction. However, there is still much to work on.
Is it the tactics or players?
Genuinely, I can’t remember a time when Newcastle have played well for 90 minutes since December. We’ve had good results and beat sides by large margins. However, even in those games, have Newcastle truly played amazing? I don’t think so. United don’t dominant games as they should or had earlier in the season. The tactics especially yesterday became stale and ineffective. Jonjo Shelvey sits in front of the defence pinging balls forward to the front men. It isn’t difficult to stop. Ritchie, Gouffran and Atsu are effective, however, those in the middle don’t finish enough. This is not to say I’m unhappy with the way Newcastle have played. Tactically, United were superb at Wolves and Huddersfield. However, I wouldn’t say that United particularly played well but were carried through by Benitez’s tactical genius. Overall getting the most out of the players needs to be a priority to improve the home form.
Overall, United aren’t far away. A few tweaks and they’ll be there and that includes all of us. If we unite as we have at points this season.
Feature image credit: Martin Le Roy