What's next for Newcastle United? Key takeaways from Chelsea defeat

Relegation fears are building at Newcastle United. A new manager has one huge job on his hands.

Sunday, 31st October 2021, 10:00 am

Our writer Jordan Cronin provides his key takeaways from the 3-0 defeat to Chelsea at St James’s Park:

Team selection

Jones stuck with the same starting XI he named against Crystal Palace, lining up in a 5-3-2 formation.

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Amanda Staveley with her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi watched on as Newcastle United lost 3-0 to Chelsea (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

That didn’t go down too well with supporters with the likes of Emil Krafth and Ryan Fraser retaining their places.

Once again, Miguel Almiron and Joe Willock were introduced as late substitutions. Was that part of Jones’ game plan? In hope Newcastle would hold out and ‘go for it’ late on?

Interestingly, both were due to come on minutes before Reece James opened the scoring.

However Jones delayed the double sub as he wanted to see where Thomas Tuchel deployed Ross Barkley and Reuben Loftus-Cook.

"I seen him (Tuchel) put two midfield players on,” Jones said. "I'd prepared my head for him playing 5-3-2.

"And I wanted to see what he did before making the substitutions. Because once you've made the subs you haven't got that flexibility.

"So it was as simple as that really. And once I saw what shape he played, I thought OK let's keep it the same and get the boys on the pitch.

"But at that point, you have to hold out, the momentum is coming but it's too late you are 1-0 down."

For 65 minutes…

Newcastle were organised and disciplined – comfortably their best defensive display (or period) of the campaign.

Yes, Chelsea applied constant pressure but the defence was content. Karl Darlow made saves but no standouts, as the visitors were forced to shoot from distance.

It was a structure that had been seriously lacking under Bruce this season. For whatever work Jones did on the training pitch defensively during the week, where no days off were given, it worked for a sustained period.

Of course, that counts for nothing. And does little to inspire given the end result. But it shows there is an improvement to be had.

Now, onto the final 25 minutes…

The game plan

The game plan was clear whether fans agreed with it or not. Indeed, it was much like how Rafa Benitez used to set up against the ‘big’ teams, except the Spaniard did it a whole lot better.

Sit back, remain compact and counter-attack when presented with the opportunity. The issue was, however, Chelsea had United found out from the start.

Callum Wilson battled with Antonio Rudiger and Thiago Silva up top and to a small degree got some joy.

However, there was rarely a player close enough to United’s number nine. That task is usually left to Allan Saint-Maximin, and Tuchel’s side essentially marked him out of the game.

There were periods when the Frenchman had three men around him. Newcastle, as a result, suffered. It took until 84 minutes for the home side to register their first shot on target.

Jones would have no doubt worked on the transition from defence to attack. Saint-Maximin is key to that, and he was stopped.

New owners watched on as United make unwanted history

Part owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi watched on as Newcastle, for only the third time in their history, failed to win any of their first 10 league games.

At the start of the 2018/19 campaign, United had three points from 10 and sat 19th in the Premier League table, two points from safety.

While Newcastle are one point better off, they’re currently three points adrift.

Under Benitez, the club stayed up that year. To shine some positive light, it shows survival can be achieved and that the current start isn’t completely disastrous.

However, Benitez is an elite manager and immense trust was there. Supporters never really panicked.

Right now however, it paints a completely different story.

What’s next?

Well, the new owners have a new head coach to appoint. Such appointment is always massive, but this comes with added pressure.

Roberto Martinez? Lucien Favre? Paulo Fonseca? Or someone else? Whoever it is, the pressure is on the chosen candidate to deliver right from the off because the poor start allows no settling in period.

A trip to Brighton and Hove Albion is next for Newcastle, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the week ahead.

Many supporters would like to see the new man in the dugout by next Saturday but the upcoming international break means the new owners could wait.

“I really don’t know,” when asked about talks with the new owners. “I’ve done the game, spoke to the players after the game, and came straight here to do the press conference.

"I haven’t spoke to the owners. I’m not trying to be evasive. I haven’t. We’ll see what they’ve got to say tonight or tomorrow.”

Time is precious, and Newcastle need some direction from above with the threat of relegation not one to chance.

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