Yasir Al-Rumayyan sees Newcastle United's big transfer need during shock FA Cup loss
Yasir Al-Rumayyan saw for himself the need for a new striker at St James’s Park as Newcastle United were embarrassingly knocked out of the FA Cup by a League One club.
The club’s chairman saw Eddie Howe’s team do everything but score against Cambridge United, who won this afternoon’s third-round tie 1-0 thanks to a second-half strike from Joe Ironside.
Without a recognised striker, the team lacked conviction in front of goal, and when they did get a shot on target, visiting goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov was there to thwart them in front of an extraordinary 51,395 crowd.
Howe, at one point, resorted to fielding Jacob Murphy up front, and the performance underlined Newcastle’s reliance on Callum Wilson, who is facing a lengthy lay-off with a torn calf muscle.
Howe also handed Kieran Trippier, signed from Atletico Madrid for £12million this week, his debut – and this loss underlined the need for more investment in this month’s transfer window.
A striker is a priority amid uncertainty about Wilson’s return date, and Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, will have to sanction more deals if the relegation-threatened club is to have a chance of staying in the Premier League.
Howe, without a number of players due to Covid-19 and injuries, handed Trippier a start, and the right-back, playing high up the pitch, was heavily involved in the first few minutes as Newcastle pushed for a goal.
The best early chance fell to Allan Saint-Maximin, who had been forced off with an injury the last time Newcastle had played. Murphy clipped a ball from the right to the back post, and Saint-Maximin headed over.
Murphy tested Mitov after a quick break forward from Saint-Maximin, playing as the striker at the tip of a 4-5-1 formation.
Cambridge had their moments – Harvey Knibbs had a penalty claim checked by VAR after going down under a challenge from Matt Ritchie – but Newcastle, unsurprisingly, were dominant. The problem was that they couldn’t turn that dominance into goals.
Saint-Maximin and Murphy, moved up front, both tested Mitov late in the half, which ended goalless.
Howe, able to make five substitutions under this season’s FA Cup rules, sent out an unchanged team for the second half.
Joelinton fired an effort from a corner straight at Mitov after the restart, and that save set up a dramatic opener for Middlesbrough-born Ironside, who fired home from a close range after Martin Dubravka failed to gather the ball and Fabian Schar cleared a shot off the line.
The goal stood after a lengthy VAR check, and Howe replaced Murphy and Sean Longstaff with Miguel Almiron and Joe Willock. Dubravka played on after treatment, having been hurt in the build-up to the goal.
Newcastle pressed for an equalised, but Cambridge had something to cling on to, and their tightly-gripped their lead. Mark Bonner’s side defended deep, and in numbers, as Howe’s players probed away for openings.
Javier Manquillo replaced Matt Ritchie for the final 12 minutes, but there was no way back for the team.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka, Trippier, Krafth, Schar, Ritchie (Manquillo, 78), Shelvey, S Longstaff (Almiron, 60), Murphy (Willock, 60), Joelinton, Fraser, Saint-Maximin. Subs not used: Gillespie, Dummett, Hendrick, Anderson, White.