Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

United Lack Hunger Now Survival's in the Bag; Toon Take Their Eye off Ball in Poor Show

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

United Lack Hunger Now Survival's in the Bag; Toon Take Their Eye off Ball in Poor Show

Article excerpt

Byline: LEE RYDER Chief Newcastle United Writer lee.ryder@ncjmedia.com @lee_ryder

THEY say that sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. Well, Newcastle United had to settle for the latter after they were beaten by the team propping up the Premier League at St James' Park on Saturday.

This one didn't look good from the start against desperate West Bromwich Albion, as Newcastle fluffed their lines in the final third and lacked sharpness where and when it mattered.

Undoubtedly the Baggies wanted it more, and by the end that proved to be the crucial factor in what was an abject display for the United fans in a sold-out St James.'.

The urgency in the United team of recent weeks has now been replaced with end-of-season grogginess, with Toon players knowing that the job is done and that Premier League football will be back on Tyneside next season.

It's the reason that defeat at Everton on Monday was met with a degree of understanding by the club's fans, and while there were some tiny pockets of boos at the final whistle against West Brom, the wider verdict of supporters was to look at the bigger picture.

Not only is survival in the bag, but a top-10 finish could still be achieved by Benitez's side in the last three games, and that's something that very few people predicted at the start of the campaign.

So what did we learn about this group of players as they were narrowly beaten? Firstly, that Benitez is 100 per cent right in his theory that a decent level of investment will be needed this summer if the club are to build positively on their first season back in the big time.

Consistency also proved to be an issue for some of the players, with Jonjo Shelvey unable to dig deep and replicate his performance levels of recent weeks.

A quick recap of the only goal of the game suggested that concentration proved to be an issue too, as the back four switched off to let Matt Phillips in to score the winning strike and the compact structure that dragged them to top-flight safety abandoned them. …

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