I said it was a must win game in the build up. I said that today's result would set the tone for the entire season. I said that anything less than a victory would spell trouble. Well for the first 12 minutes we looked superb; then after scoring, we surrendered the initiative and, from that point forward, never really got back into the game.
What went wrong? Well I'm not sure it is a coincidence that huff and puff Behrami's return coincided with our most disjointed performance in a long time. What does the guy offer exactly? Yes he harries opponents, but more often than not he gives away a free kick anyway. Offensively, he is a complete waste of space. Dyer was missing in inaction again - God knows what is wrong with him this time - and Barerra looked no great shakes after coming on, so perhaps Grant had little choice. I don't know.
What I do know is that, apart from some delicious passes from Noble in the first half, we looked like Zola was back in charge. Is it 4-3-3 or is it Behrami that makes us look disjointed and crap? Either way, Grant must see what Zola failed to see, that we aren't good enough to mess around with fancy formations. We need shape; without it, we are nothing!
The second half was appalling. I don't think we strung three consecutive passes together and Newcastle simply controlled the game. A better team would have stuck four or five past us! The decision to bring on Ilunga for Upson was perverse. We were already struggling against high balls into the box so the situation cried out for Ben Haim. It was no surprise to see a cross coming in from our left flank, with Ilunga absolutely in no man's land, and an absolutely unmarked Caroll rising to head home the winner. But what was Da Costa doing? As Caroll ran towards our goal to head home, Da Costa was running in the opposite direction! Had he seen a pretty girl amongst the Geordie fans at the other end perhaps?
Our goal was brilliant. It was a sublime pass from Noble, a brilliant run and cross from Piquionne and a clumsy but effective finish from Cole. But that apart, what did we offer. Obinna had a good 15 minutes but was awful apart from that. Noble had a fantastic first 45 but looked shattered in the second half. Parker was a spectator second half. Gabbidon was lucky to be given a free kick when he slipped, allowing Ameobi in. Ilunga was dire second half after coming on. Upson gave in to injury very easily again. Piquionne was missed hugely after he departed injured. And Cole looked ordinary.
We are bottom for a reason now. Sullivan did not look happy. Grant will be sweating. I would hold my nerve but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a brown Volvo is chugging its way down the A12 as we speak. We were shit today, so maybe it is time for Turds!
Player ratings: Green 6; Jacobsen 6, Da Costa 4, Upson 6, Gabbidon 5: Behrami 4, Noble 6, Parker 5: Obinna 5, Cole 5, Piquionne 6 Subs: McCarthy 4, Barerra 4, Ilunga 3