Don't turn on Joselu and boo substitutions '“ the real blame lies elsewhere at Newcastle
Don't blame Joselu. Don't boo a substitution.
The blame for Newcastle United’s plight lies elsewhere.
Joselu is a £5million player in a league full of strikers costing tens of millions of pounds.
The man who’s to blame for this mess – the club is in the Premier League’s relegation zone with seven games played – was watching from the stands at St James’s Park, where Newcastle were beaten 2-0 by Leicester City on Saturday.
Yes, players make mistakes. And yes, Rafa Benitez also makes mistakes. But, ultimately, Mike Ashley is to blame for under-funding this team transfer window after transfer window.
You can over-achieve on a limited budget, but not every year.
Newcastle, a few short months ago, ended the season in a very good position.
Since then, things have gone from bad to worse – on and off the field – because of Ashley’s unwillingness to spend any money.
And with one game to go before the next international break, the club is in a very bad position.
Things have unravelled quickly since the club finished 10th in the Premier League, and supporters fear that things could get worse before they get better.
Just where are the goals going to come from this season? United, again, didn’t look like scoring.
Leicester only finished one place above Newcastle last season, but the gap on the field was huge.
Admittedly, it could have been different had Joselu scored his first-half chance, or had Mohamed Diame not put his header wide a few minutes later, but so far this season, Newcastle haven’t done nearly enough with the ball.
They’ve frustrated some very good teams for long spells, but they’re been frustrating in possession.
When Jonjo Shelvey plays well, United invariably play well. However, Shelvey, watched by England manager Gareth Southgate at St James’s Park, was outshone by Leicester midfielder James Maddison on a bright Tyneside afternoon.
Mohamed Diame, again alongside Shelvey, was combative but a long way from his best.
Leicester played with pace and purpose, and they got their breakthrough when DeAndre Yedlin handled the ball in the box with 30 minutes gone. Jamie Vardy put the ball away, though goalkeeper Martin Dubravka got close to it.
United had a strong penalty call of their own in the second half when Harry Maguire blocked and brought down Ayoze Perez in the box.
Referee Simon Hooper waved away their penalty appeals, and Maguire got the better of Ciaran Clark at the other end of the pitch to powerful head a Maddison corner home.
Benitez’s decision to withdraw Ritchie was booed by some fans – Newcastle were trailing by one goal at the time – and Perez was also taken off.
The game, which kicked off after it was revealed that Peter Kenyon was interested in taking over the club – was punctuated by chants against Ashley, who seemed to laugh them off.
Supporters also got behind their team.
There had also been a loud protest against Ashley outside the stadium’s club shop before kick-off time, but the life had been sucked out of the stadium by the full-time whistle.
Many supporters had already left by the time Hooper blew his whistle.
There’s a lot to admire about Benitez’s Newcastle. The players are committed and honest. They care. And they’re trying.
The club has come a long way over the past couple of years, but it can’t go much further without significant investment.
And only these players – with guidance from Benitez – can get the club out of the mess that Ashley has created this season.