Rafa’s defensive mindset fails again
Last weekend saw the Toon take a trip to Manchester to take on the might of Man City, who lost their first game of the season last week against Liverpool. Depending on your outlook, this was either the best possible time to play them or the worst. Were they on the decline and up for the taking? Unfortunately, not. We tried the same tactic that didn’t work against them three weeks ago, park everyone behind the ball and hold out for as long as possible. It lasted half an hour, almost exactly the same as the reverse fixture, before they scored and our game plan was out of the window again. We set a Premier League record, albeit an unwanted one, as we ended the game with only 19% possession, the lowest recorded in the league.
The transfer front is looking a bit more positive, with talk of a mystery striker that is going to break our transfer record of £16 million spent on Michael Owen (who flopped badly) in 2005 (yes, it was THAT long ago). We have the longest standing transfer record in the Premier League, so it would be nice to see it broken on a decent player to improve our woeful front line. We also got Kenedy on loan (sigh) and are possibly looking for a keeper. Don’t get too hopeful though Toon fans, this could always end up as another ‘we couldn’t get him over the line’ moment come the end of January when we’ve tried to get a player on the cheap and ended up with no-one.
It’s tight at the bottom
Although the battle for the title is a bit boring this season, with Man City running away with it, the relegation scrap looks set to last until the final day of the season. Six points separate Swansea in 20th and Watford in 10th, with all the teams in-between at risk of going down. That makes an exciting, but nervous second half of the season for fans of any of the teams in the bottom half. The January transfer window will be important for many of the teams down there, as any reinforcements could be massive if they help win even a couple of games.
New managers are in at Stoke and Swansea too, which has given both of them a recent boost, but for how long? This season could end up with one of the lowest survival points targets in recent memory, as I can’t see many of the teams reaching the ‘magic’ 40 points which usually guarantees survival. 37 or maybe even 35 could be enough. That leaves us with a minimum of 15 more points to gain to guarantee survival, better start praying I think.