Pointless Carroll experiment, untidy Schar & a tale of two Longstaffs – Liam Kennedy's SEVEN Newcastle United takeaways from Man City loss
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Newcastle United are effectively treading water in the Premier League having secured their safety, all bar a point or two, with seven fixtures left to play. And now, having surrendered so willingly to Manchester City, they find themselves at the end of the longest FA Cup run in their history - COVID-19 taking much of the credit (I wonder what shirt number he will get next season).
But is this really the end? Was that 20-minute performance - that's all it was - really the sum total of United's competitive football remaining in Project Restart? Well, I'd like to think not. Remember, we have got a Premier League decision to wait on, with our hopes and dreams hanging by a thread, or so it seems.
United's FA Cup run was a welcome distraction from a turgid campaign, which has only been lightened up by the prospect of something better to come.
Either way, what can we take away from United's latest 'no show'?
NUFC writer Liam Kennedy picks out his SEVEN key talking points from a one-sided sixth round on Tyneside.
No more three at the back - or five
Was it a three or a five - it was more of a five, whatever it was it didn't work.
It was more of the old rope a dope stuff - NUFC as Muhammad Ali and MCFC as the lean, mean grilling machine that is George Foreman.
While Ali turned the tables late on against Foreman, who tired in the Congolese heat, United did nothing of the sorts in chilled, blustery Tyneside air.
For 45 minutes they looked like they'd forgotten how to play football. It was embarrassing. For 20 minutes after the break it was better, but that was about it.
As I said before, this was a surrender. Sad really when it was probably the only game we had left.
To be honest, hindsight is a wonderful thing - and before the game I agreed that five was the right horse for this particular course.
Pointless Andy Carroll - and that's nothing on him
That was the first game Andy Carroll had started for United since December - and all in all it was a bit pointless.
The striker is a right handful for any defender - just ask Aymeric Laporte - but he was so isolated in a lone role, with NUFC barely having the ball, it seemed a bit of a wasted experiment to be honest.
Fabian Schar looked as untidy as his COVID hairdo
Probably the worst performance the Switzerland international has put in for United.
And to be fair he was better as a midfielder, on the day, than he was in Newcastle's ill-executed three at the back plan.
Was this end the for wildfire-haired Matty?
We all hope it wasn't of course. Matty Longstaff is one of us, he's a Geordie living the dream. But that dream looks to be coming to an end. It shouldn't have to be that way.
At least, by bringing him off the bench, Longstaff now knows, if he didn't already, how much he is valued. To be honest, it's a shame he was not fit enough to start, his energy could have been invaluable.
Better from brother Sean
While Matty is yet to commit, Sean Longstaff put in arguably his best show in a while against an unforgiving Man City midfield.
This was much more like the Longstaff of old, the one who broke on the scene under Rafa Benitez. Keep it up.
No Dubravka? No worries
His selection raised eyebrows before the game, but in it the former Nottingham Forest keeper was his best self. Gone were the shaky days of rounds-gone-by, replaced by a solid, confident Darlow, who to be fair has been unlucky to have seen so little football over the last three years.
New contracts & signing No1 confirmed - but what does it mean for the takeover?
A lot of fans will be asking what the new contracts and the signing of former Motherwell keeper Mark Gillespie means for Newcastle United and the proposed takeover?
Well, if I am honest, I'd imagine very little bar the fact the current regime, who have little will to continue, must do so, as they still are the owners, albeit wholly unfit, of a Premier League football club who will not only have to navigate the rest of this season, but also a very short turnaround into next.
Let's hope Mike Ashley is long gone before then, but the awful truth of the matter is, the length of time this takeover approval has taken, is meaning key calls needed ahead of the new season are having to be made by people who do not expect to be here.