Newcastle vs Manchester City comment: New arrivals and new spirit offer cause for optimism at Newcastle, despite defeat
Newcastle lost 2-0 at St James' Park but there were many positives to take from defeat to the champions
In the 85th minute on Sunday, the Gallowgate End at St James’ Park burst into song. Seconds earlier, in the technical area of the home dugout, Alan Pardew had spun on his heels with his hands clasped together in disappointment. Unlike the final home game of last season, when he was cemented to his seat, it was not personal anguish. The emotion was a shared one with the support this time.
The Spanish substitute Ayoze Perez had charged through with his first touch of the ball in English football. Adrenaline and the growing momentum of Newcastle pushed him forward and his shot appeared to be heading into the far corner of Joe Hart’s goal until Fernando struck out a leg as he slid in with a desperate challenge that deflected the ball agonisingly wide.
In that moment, Newcastle felt like a football club again. It has not been a quick fix to get there.
The memory of the ferocious anger that faced Pardew (and indirectly those in charge of the club) during a game that was actually won against Cardiff City will live long.
Nine players have arrived (two have gone back to Nottingham Forest on loan) since that watershed moment. Newcastle, who had lain dormant for the previous two transfer windows, have thus far been the busiest. The enthusiasm that has followed those signings has washed away some of the angst that built up over the sale of Yohan Cabaye and the five wins in 21 games that brought the curtain down on the last campaign.
There were spells when Newcastle were nervous (at the game’s start) and where the job of pressurising the champions of England left them breathless (mid-way through the second).
There is also the context of their recent record against Manchester City. They have now scored just once (through Demba Ba) in the last seven games between the teams.
To this walked in the new men. Four of them started. The pick was difficult. Remy Cabella was eye-catching before a ball had been kicked. There is nothing in England quite like his haircut, but he possesses real talent. Cabella showed flashes of genuine quality. The first-half pass to thread through Emmanuel Rivière was delightful and the speed of his footwork, on day one, suggests something special. City’s physical reaction to the problems he posed spoke problems.
Cabella in action
Inside his midfield engine room was Jack Colback, who was outstanding. Pardew praised the energy and power of the English midfielder. They are two significant attributes for a young player, still just 24, in his position. He played two different roles – dropping deeper when Vurnon Anita was taken off – and the acceptance of responsibility was noteworthy. Colback is a Newcastle fan, as is the left-back Paul Dummett. There felt a heartbeat in the side against City, and that, as much as anything, was a cause for optimism for Pardew afterwards.
Cabella and Colback were the two players to whom the Newcastle manager gave special mention.
Colback made his debut
Daryl Janmaat, the Dutch World Cup right-back bought to replace Mathieu Debuchy, was steady though there was a realisation this was a hard shift. Rivière, the former Monaco forward, showed flashes of pace and quickly learned of the division’s physicality in his confrontation with Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis. He rose to that, but there will be a need for more composure in front of goal. Twice in the first half, when Newcastle could so have done with getting a foothold in the game, he shot recklessly and quickly. He does, however, retain attributes centre-forwards desire.
Perez, the fifth debutant of the afternoon, carries the exuberance of youth. He was not supposed to play much this season, but has added, as Pardew revealed, a centimetre to his body mass. He used that additional strength and pace to charge through during the home side’s best spell of the game, when only Fernando denied him a dream start.
Aguero sealed the win for City
This was not that for Newcastle either. The punishing, clinical finishing of Sergio Aguero, who had been on the field for just 10 minutes when he scored City’s second, made sure of that. David Silva’s opening goal in the first half had also featutred a defensive switch-off (two central defenders chasing Edin Dzeko) that will be punished repeatedly, regardless of inferior opposition, if it is not eradicated.
That said, Newcastle’s supporters left their own stadium happier with life than for a significant period of time. Pardew said he was buoyed by a lot of things. That felt about right.
Latest in Sport
Brendan Rodgers future: Odds shorten on sack as Liverpool manager prepares to meet bosses in next 36 hours
Fifa corruption: Sepp Blatter's right-hand man Jerome Valcke 'sent' $10m payment to Jack Warner in letter from the South African FA
Sepp Blatter resigns: Under-pressure Fifa president quits amid corruption scandal
Next Liverpool manager: Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp among favourites to succeed Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool transfer news: James Milner nearing Anfield switch, but club baulk at £32.5m Christian Benteke release clause
- 3 Alton Towers crash: Four seriously injured and 16 guests trapped as Smiler ride carriages collide
- 4 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers