Even after a disappointing 3-1 loss to Fulham, Newcastle still find themselves top of the table. However, there are still places where the Toon can improve. In this article, I will be discussing where the side can improve.
In the first 10-20 minutes of every match, Newcastle have always been vulnerable. They’ve always started sluggishly and need a kick up the backside to get into full gear, unfortunately this normally comes in the form of an opposition goal. Newcastle have gotten lucky playing like this a few times, like Aston Villa at home. The home side played poorly but were fortunate not to concede. If Newcastle started games better they would pick up a lot more points and avoid so many more defeats.
Stop giving the opposition respect
Daryl Murphy felt Newcastle “Gave Fulham too much respect” (source The Chronicle) which is one of the side’s shortcomings. Instead of letting smaller teams play their game and get into their rhythm Newcastle need to be defending compactly and getting in their faces like they did against Huddersfield. If Newcastle do this they can shut out smaller teams and pick up more points along the road.
Getting team selection right
It might seem obvious but the team selection is crucial. If we’re setting up to play long balls from Shelvey it’ll be a lot more beneficial to play Mitrovic or Murphy, strong target men who flick balls on to Gayle. If we have Gayle and Perez playing long balls up the pitch would be useless. They need to have the ball played to their feet. On the flip side, if Mitrovic is up front the wingers need to be putting a lot of crosses into the box because it’s obvious Mitrovic isn’t the best finisher. Picking the right players for the right occasion is crucial.
Obviously, I’m not a manager and I’m no one to tell Benitez he’s wrong. But one or two tweaks here and there could be key in making sure Newcastle end the season as champions.