Jason Tindall got this exactly right about Newcastle United's predicament
There are no quick fixes at Newcastle United, we all know that.
But Eddie Howe and his staff, in their first week or two at the winless club, quickly tried to fix things in the opposition half ahead of yesterday’s home game against Brentford.
The result? Arguably the best attacking display from the team all season.
Newcastle took the game to Brentford in what was Howe’s first game in (remote) charge – the club’s new head coach tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday, and is self-isolating in a hotel – and would surely have won had it not been for a slip from Joelinton, who was superb all afternoon.
That said, the team’s defensive problems will take time to fix, and United, yet again, were undone by mistakes at the back.
Karl Darlow was culpable for the first goal, while those in front of him left players unmarked. You attack as a team, and you defend as a team, and Newcastle were better attacking together than defending as a unit.
The game ended 3-3 thanks to an equaliser from Allan Saint-Maximin, and the club ended the day propping up the Premier League.
Jason Tindall, Howe’s long-time assistant, spoke to the media after the game in the absence of Howe, who was in communication with the bench throughout the game.
“When we arrived at the football club, the team were where they were, and since we’ve been here, we’ve just tried to implement our philosophy on the group of players as quickly and the best we can,” said Tindall. “It was never going to be such a quick fix to do that.
“We can’t focus on the league table, we can’t focus on anybody else other than ourselves. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but, today, there were a lot of positives to take into next week.”
There were positives, despite those defensive lapses. United played with a real intensity. They fed off the backing they got from supporters, and, in turn, the fans fed off what they saw on the pitch. The place, once again, was alive.
Howe played with a back three with wing-backs Matt Ritchie and Jacob Murphy pushed high up the pitch. Arguably they were too high given the goals the team conceded, but the intent was there to attack from the first whistle.
Saint-Maximin, quiet during Graeme Jones’s three games in temporary charge, was a threat all afternoon, while Joelinton – who scored Newcastle’s second goal – put in a powerful performance.
“I think there were a lot of positives to take, but we’ve obviously conceded three goals and we were disappointed with them,” added Tindall. “We’ll back at those collectively and individually, and we’ll need to put them right on the training ground.”
United will have to have a slightly different plan for next weekend’s game against Arsenal – Tindall suggested that Howe could be in the away dugout at the Emirates Stadium – but it was a start, and a largely positive one at that.
And Tindall’s right. The focus shouldn’t be on the Premier League table. Howe and the club’s players must simply focus on themselves – and how they can improve at both ends of the pitch.