Analysis: Awful Newcastle won’t be so fortunate next time

Ayoze Perez scores the winner against Bournemouth
Ayoze Perez scores the winner against Bournemouth

Newcastle United were given a footballing lesson on the south coast.

But Bournemouth learnt a lesson of their own.

Sylvain Distin and Papiss Cisse

Sylvain Distin and Papiss Cisse

You have to score when you’re on top.

Newcastle didn’t in last month’s Wear-Tyne derby, and lost.

And thanks in large part to Rob Elliot, they couldn’t turn their overwhelming superiority into goals.

Steve McClaren’s side had one chance, and goalkeeper Adam Federici – who had little else to do at the Vitality Stadium in contrast to his opposite number – couldn’t stop Ayoze Perez taking it.

Crucially, the 1-0 win – the club’s first away from homein 13 games – lifted the club out of the Premier League’s relegation zone after a two-month spell in the bottom three.

The game was watched by former coach John Carver, who had presided over United’s last away win in January.

It’s been almost 10 months since the club beat Hull City 3-0 at the KC Stadium, yet Newcastle quickly sold out its ticket allocation for the division’s longest journey.

And the early signs weren’t good on the south coast.

United, let’s face it, were awful with the ball.

Midfielder Vurnon Anita set the tone early on with a uncharacteristic series of misplaced passes on a soggy pitch.

And one terrible early backpass played Chancel Mbemba into trouble.

Fortunately, Elliot was quick off his line to deny Joshua King for a second time, having stopped a near-post shot from the striker minutes into the game.

The back four got little protection from the midfield, and captain Fabricio Coloccini was fortunate to get away with a 14th-minute block on King, who went on to force another save from Elliot.

Bournemouth were energetic and enthusiastic with the ball, and without it the pressed well.

They were everything that Newcastle weren’t in possession.

They played a series of hopeful, and largely hopeless, long balls upfield in the general direction of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who was becoming increasingly frustrated.

But Mitrovic’s one good touch was to prove decisive.

Paul Dummett came infield and played a short pass to Mitrovic, who had his back to goal.

The striker, hemmed in, found Georginio Wijnaldum with a clever backheel, and two touches later the ball was at the feet of Ayoze Perez, who flicked it under Federici.

From that moment on, the break couldn’t come soon enough for McClaren, who saw Elliot deny King and Dan Gosling late in the half.

McClaren, surprisingly, sent out an unchanged team.

Certainly, little changed after the interval as Bournemouth picked up where they left off.

Elliot tipped over a shot from winger Matt Ritchie, who gave Dummett an uncomfortable afternoon.

United, by now, had found something of a rhythm, though they didn’t stray far up the pitch.

Sitting deep, they had more of a shape, and Bournemouth found it harder to get in behind McClaren’s side, who doggedly and determinedly saw out the rest of the game.

Newcastle’s players went to applaud the 1,365 travelling fans, tucked into one corner of the compact 11,700-capacity stadium, at the final whistle.

Those supporters had endured an uncomfortable 96 minutes after an equally uncomfortable 350-mile journey from Tyneside.

Yet every one of them was on their feet at the end.

This was about points, not plaudits.

United have played much better this season and got nothing, most recently at the Stadium of Light, where they were beaten 3-0 by a Sunderland side they had convincingly outplayed for 45 minutes.

The relief was evident on McClaren’s face as he left the dressing room and headed to the media suite.

McClaren even managed a smile.

He said: “I think we’ve found a little bit of progress and rhythm.

“I don’t think we’ve got as many points as we deserved in those last four games, but the performances were there, then (against Bournemouth), the result.

“We played terrific football before now, but not got the results. We didn’t (play well), but we got the result. That’s how strange football is.”

Eddie Howe, his Bournemouth counterpart, felt his team had lost the right way.

“There’s ways to lose,” said Howe, who was linked with the United job before McClaren’s appointment.

“As long as your team gives you everything on the pitch, plays the way you want them to play, I don’t think you can ask for any more. I certainly don’t think I can ask any more of the starting XI.”

McClaren will have expected more from most of his players, with the notable exception of Elliot.

After the game, he praised their “character, endeavour, organisation and perseverance”.

Organisation, however, was not something that came to mind when watching the first half.

And McClaren’s relief will be shortlived if Newcastle play anything like this again over the coming weeks and months.

They won’t be so fortunate next time, however well Elliot plays in goal.