Negative Newcastle United, confidence grows but team selections baffle – Liam Kennedy's SEVEN Magpies takeaways

A result which suited everyone. When assessing the who, what, where, when and why of Newcastle United’s home draw with West Ham United, it’s fair to say there were no losers on the day.

The Magpies, now mathematically safe after Aston Villa’s Liverpool loss, would have taken a draw pre-game, and so too would David Moyes & Co, who continue to look over their shoulders frantically as the season comes to a close.

What did we learn from the encounter? Here are our NUFC writer Liam Kennedy’s SEVEN Magpies takeaways from the 2-2 at St James’s Park.

Why so negative?

West Ham United's Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek (L) fights for the ball with Newcastle United's English defender Jamaal Lascelles during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and West Ham United at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on July 5, 2020. (Photo by LAURENCE GRIFFITHS / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE.

Social media and fan chatter was awash with negativity post-match – I’ve got to be honest I just don’t see why?!?

Yes you’d have hoped Newcastle would win, and yes they gave away two poor goals, but come on? They’re safe with FIVE games to go and playing a side whose Premier League lives are literally on the line.

It’s a celebration that United are in such a strong position they can switch off this far out. We’ve not said that all too often over the last 13 years.

Not a fan of Manquillo at left back – but Krafth grew into it

I get Steve Bruce likes the Spaniard, but is he that good he gets the nod over a fully-fledged England international full-back? Not for me.

Emil Krafth grew into the game, improving as the 90 minutes rolled on. And while his performance seemed a step up on his earlier season shows, they are hardly shows that would make you persist in losing all balance in your backline.

While Jamaal Lascelles had a shocker for the first goal, let’s remember it was because Javier Manquillo was caught cold by Jarrod Bowen the chance materialised. This happened time and time again throughout the game.

United did not stop balls coming into the box from either side. And while both players have their merits, I am not sure this is the best left, right combination for Newcastle.

Give ASM & Almiron a rest!

Not to be too negative myself but Man City on Wednesday is probably a par score 3-0 loss. So, for me, there is absolutely no point in playing a very tired looking Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin when you’re on a hiding to nowt. I’d probably throw Joelinton into this mix too – he put in a proper shift on Sunday.

No doubt both will want to play but with injury risk heightened, caution should be urged with the duo/trio.

Confidence is starting to flow but not quite cloud No9

I’m really starting to warm to Joelinton.

Of course he is not a £40million striker (can we forget about the price tag for a second?) but he is a young player, who has found it tough to adapt to a new language, culture, working environment and more. With that he’s carried the pressure of leading the line in a struggling side, while having to learn his new role on the job.

And you know what, he’s getting better and better as the games pass by. He seems to have a bit of confidence, power, resilience and determination.

It doesn’t look like the goals will ever flow, but that won’t matter if he finds a value in this side. He definitely has that at the moment.

Bentaleb a more than able deputy

The Algerian was excellent at Bournemouth and again showed off the bench he has bags of midfield talent.

At £8m, his agreed buyout clause is cheap by today’s standards and it would be no shock if he proves his worth in the Premier League run-in, earning a permanent deal in the process. Steve Bruce is a big fan.

Rose & Lazaro need GAMES!

What needs to be worked out between now and the end of the season is whether Newcastle United want to sign loan trio Bentaleb, Danny Rose and Valentino Lazaro.

While, as mentioned above, Bentaleb is likely to get a run in the side between now and the end of the season, the other two need exactly the same.

I feel both have something to offer, but we are yet to really see it.

Rose has warmed from a 4/5 out of 10 to a 6/7 post-lockdown while Lazaro has only been allowed brief flashes.

It would cost between £25-30m to turn those two deals into permanent ones – and it’s not something you’d contemplate on the evidence so far.

Five games could change that, though.

Faint Euro dreams dashed?

A point gained? More like one dropped. I’ll explain.

You normally drop two points for failing to win and claiming a draw, yes. But United’s hopes of an eighth place finish in the Premier League – likely to hold a Europa League spot due to Man City’s ban and both cup winners – actually took a hit with the gap to the spot moving from four to five in the space of a weekend.

With so many teams in the hunt and some with games in hand it looks a bridge too far for Bruce & Co this season. Top 10 is a different story.