Newcastle United must turn their attention away from disappointment
Newcastle United and manager Rafa Benitez endured a frustrating weekend, in the midst of a 0-0 draw at Cardiff City this past Saturday. An uninspired first half eventually brought several blunders in the second 45 minutes, and there will be an emphasis on a short memory this week as the Magpies prepare for their next fixture.
While Newcastle were able to create chances early on in their opening game versus Tottenham, the proactive and motivated side seen at St. James’ Park that day was not at the same level against Cardiff. Jonjo Shelvey enjoyed several strong passing sequences, but little other positives were present. But with all still to play for, the Magpies were in a good position to find what could have been a crucial away victory in the campaign.
Then it all came crumbling down.
Due to injury, defender Javier Manquillo came off for Isaac Hayden to begin the second half. A little over 20 minutes later, Hayden was sent off following a harsh challenge on Josh Murphy. Down a man after the red card, Benitez understood that the final minutes would be nervy as the Toon looked to secure at least a point in their travels. However, fortune smiled upon the visitors as they were awarded a penalty in stoppage-time.
Matt Ritchie is often called for these situations, but the winger had been subbed off earlier in the match. Up stepped Kenedy, who had been enduring an uncharacteristically poor showing throughout the afternoon. That trend was to continue, as Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge stopped the Brazilian’s effort with a routine save. It was a disappointing ending, but Newcastle must focus on the importance of the near future.
A difficult stretch approaches
The fixture list does not get easier for the Magpies, and Benitez has to ensure that his players forget and move forward. For Kenedy, he will not be able to get back to action so quickly.
This coming Sunday’s match versus Chelsea will see him on the bench, unable to play against his parent club. Criticism from fans was heavy throughout the weekend for him, and the 22-year-old will likely be targeting the team’s League Cup match at Nottingham Forest on August 29 to shake off his recent bad outing.
After they face the Blues, games against Manchester City and Arsenal are on the horizon, and points from these fixtures will be vital. Victories late in the season against Chelsea and Arsenal last term helped to push the Toon higher up the table, and Benitez knows those types of results would be massive at this stage. With that thought in mind, anything from their fixtures against City would be an added bonus, as Pep Guardiola’s side once again look to be the class of the Premier League.
There has been quite a bit of angst and uncertainty surrounding Newcastle United in 2018-19 already, from Rafa Benitez’s future to questions regarding owner Mike Ashley’s running of the club. The Magpies displayed last season that they can accomplish more than what is expected of them, and they will have to showcase that determination yet again now.