Eddie Howe's revealing Newcastle United admission after boos at final whistle
For the first time in a long time, there were a few boos after the final whistle at St James’s Park.
Admittedly, they were quickly drowned out by applause, but the frustration inside the stadium after Saturday’s 1-1 draw was palpable after an unconvincing 90 minutes from Eddie Howe’s team.
Howe himself was disappointed. Newcastle had dominated the game, but, at the same time, they hadn’t been able to pick their way through an organised and disciplined team which defended deep, and in numbers.
“We’re disappointed,” said United’s head coach. “I thought that was a performance below the levels we’ve set ourselves. Probably, for the first time this season, we dipped.
“It’s difficult to know why in this moment. I felt we played in front of them too much. They obviously defended very deep, and were very compact.
“It was the responsibility of us to break through that, and I just felt we were off a bit in every aspect of our game.
“When we score, you think the game is set up for us to win. But our decision-making, and patience, let us down, and it was a difficult watch in that end part of the game.
“We needed to set ourselves and re-energise ourselves, and could have won the game, but it just slipped away from us.”
Kieran Trippier and Joelinton hit the woodwork for Newcastle, who were again missing Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson.
Bruno Guimaraes returned from injury, but the midfielder was fielded in a deeper, more defensive role, in the absence of Jonjo Shelvey, who’s sidelined until next month.
Guimaraes, a player capable of unpicking any defence, is needed higher up the pitch, and Howe – who also left Sven Botman on the bench – has a lot to consider over the international break.
Summer signing Alexander Isak, in Howe’s own words, was “isolated”. There wasn't enough service to him, and the deliveries Isak did get didn’t suit a player who isn’t yet an aerial threat. Howe needed better final balls from Ryan Fraser and Miguel Almiron.
What looked a promising start to the season a few weeks ago doesn’t look as promising now. Newcastle have won just one of their seven games, though they would have two more points had it not been for an incorrect VAR decision earlier this month.
Had they beaten Crystal Palace thanks to a Tyrick Mitchell own goal, they would be seventh in the Premier League table – and ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool.
Newcastle, only beaten once, have drawn five games, and the team, especially at St James's Park, must get better at breaking down stubborn teams.
They’ve gone from playing on the counter-attack to taking the game to teams happy to sit deep.
It’s a period of transition, as Howe acknowledged after the Bournemouth game.
“It’s a different challenge,” said Howe. “I think there’ll be a lot of games where the challenge that awaits us at home will be very similar to this one. It’s not going to be a new problem for us – this is one that’s going to be there and we’re going to have to be better with the ball.
"We’ll have to be more creative, and show a bit more patience with the ball too.”
Some fans will need more patience too.