Hughton’s Best intentions for Coventry?

Posted on February 15th, 2010 | 62 Comments |

Point to prove?
Point to prove?
Newcastle go looking for their third ‘double’ of the season on Wednesday, to go along with the victories home and away against Crystal Palace and Cardiff, against a Coventry side unbeaten in five games and offering something of a resurgence since we beat them at the Ricoh Arena.

And while our home form looks good, we’ve suffered a few stutters in the last few games, so Chris Hughton will undoubtedly be looking to buck the recent trend and get back to winning ways. In order to do that, we’re going to have to start scoring goals, and preferably not at the death to rescue a point.

Hughton has some difficult decisions to make, with a number of options upfront and the obvious decision to be made whether to go with a 4-4-2 at home. Having come on and created Carroll’s late equaliser, Leon Best has given Hughton food for thought, who said of Best’s performances:

“You always want substitutes to have an impact and Leon has done that”

And when you considered he will be up against his former side and Hughton will feel like there is something to prove having brought him in, we shouldn’t be surprised to see him partner Carroll. Best got a bit of stick from the Coventry fans before he left, and no doubt he’ll have something to prove. Speaking about the impact he had when coming on against Swansea he told the official site:

“When you look at that match it was a point gained. We’re top of the league now.”

“I was pleased to make a contribution. Whether I’m on the bench or starting I want to be part of it and part of a winning team.”

“To come on and set Andy up is a pleasure. I enjoy it just as much as a goal. We need to do that more, we need to get balls in the box and let Andy feed off them. We’ve got strikers who can score goals.”

“I was here a couple of weeks ago with Coventry and they just passed us off the park. We got a draw and were happy with that. In a way it’s kind of the same feeling. We fought back and got the point, so it’s a positive in the end.”

“It’s a tough place to come because they’ve got good players who keep the ball and work you. They make you tired chasing the ball.

“We want to win every game. We want to win the league and we will win the league. But when you come to places like this, you’ve got to look at a point as a good result.”

Nile Ranger seems destined to spend the season primarily on the bench, while Lovenkrands struggled to make any impact in the game against Swansea, having been largely starved of the ball for long periods. Shola may be fit in time but would be likely to start on the bench if involved at all. And athough he had an otherwise poor game on Saturday, the fact that Carroll’s goal will be fresh in the mind and that Hughton appears happy with his overall contribution this season, should ensure that he starts.

I know who I’d like to see upfront but then I’m not picking the side, and frankly as long as someone is putting the ball in the back of the net, I’m not that fussed. But in order to score goals, strikers need chances and I guess as most us are acutely, therein lies the real problem. But is it simply that the forwards aren’t getting the chances, or is it about the midfield and forwards not working together effectively?

NUFCBlog Author: bowburnmag bowburnmag has written 234 articles on this blog.

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62 Responses

  1. so it’s bored shitless 2 x 90 mins this week then……i can put up with it once , but twice is pushing it to far.

    ….the 2nd of may can’t come quick enough for me.

  2. Hang on a minute: who said our home form was poor? Not even a week since we comprehensively schtooped one of the best teams in the league at home, and suddenly we’re an awful side who doesn’t attack?

    Away against good opposition with half our 1st team injured, yes we sucked. And we got a point, which is better than most teams visiting Swansea recently. We always say of other teams that they can get a point playing badly, but when it’s us suddenly it’s a bad thing.

    CH knew what to expect on Saturday and did what he could with a bad bunch, i.e. a squad full of thumping midfielders. He knew they would pass beautifully and dominate posession but have nothing to offer in the final third. Dead right. So he stuck on Carroll, who – and CAN WE RECOGNISE THIS PLEASE – knows exactly where the goal is at the moment and can get on the end of a good ball when it finally comes.

    At home it’ll be attack again, with two wingers fit, Best out to prove a point and Carroll eyeing both the number 9 shirt and the England scout in the crowd.

    Stop the negativity, please! Cardiff 5-1, a week ago. Why not again??

  3. Where is everyone today??

    Come on lads and lasses – I’m proofreading a Programme Plan and my brain is going to shut down in protest if you lot don’t provide some stimulus!!

    By the way – just had an email from a Swans fan in the office, which says it all: “I guess that’s why you’re top of the league. When you get a chance you take it !! Whereas we dominant possession, play great stuff up to the edge of the penalty area but then fail to test the keeper.”

  4. Prefer Ameobi as the big guy up front.
    He’s got better ball control & holds it up better & also wins free kicks by drawing fouls.
    Yea, i know he’s injured, & it also gives Carroll some game time, which he obviously needs.
    Give Ranger a proper run, that would be cool.
    Could do with Barton getting back on the pitch too, he can actually pick out a pass, which our midfield seems allergic to atm.
    Roll on wednesday.

  5. perm any 2 of 5 strikers up front, they all have their attributes. it’s in central midfield where our problems lie. according to the journal safc are looking at graham dorrans. hopefully we’ll also be in for him at the end of the season. he was quality at st james last month. hopefully barton will make a difference if/when he gets back.

  6. It seems to me that teams like wba are having too play out of their skins to keep up with us, which makes them look good.
    We definitely need to raise our game & that is easily possible.
    We stopped a potential rot on sat, away, to a decent fooballing team, we could have easily lost & gone into a spin.
    We MUST get it together mid-week & get back on track.

    It coulda been worse (the result)

    So get behind the lads for the run in.

  7. Carroll’s had 5 in six matches, by the way – and that includes the ones when he came on as a late sub. I’m no fan of his choice of evening activities, but I don’t think he’s getting the recognition he deserves recently. Probably something to do with being the only source of sleazy news within the team this season.

    As for Best – missed his appearance so can’t comment. Can anyone enlighten me?

  8. Whumpie says:
    February 15, 2010 at 10:25 am

    At home it’ll be attack again, with two wingers fit, Best out to prove a point and Carroll eyeing both the number 9 shirt and the England scout in the crowd.

    Stop the negativity, please! Cardiff 5-1, a week ago. Why not again??….

    whumpie… can kid yourself m8 but dont try & kid us supporters that attend the home games – with the exception of a couple of games it’s been crap viewing & enough to send a glass eye to sleep.

    …i have little doubt we will be promoted this season , but it’s been awful to watch.

  9. Whumpie – that’s an excellent question, “who said our home form was poor?”…

    Where is the ‘doom’/’negativity’ lads? Unless I’ve become so cynical, I no longer recognise when I’m doing it?

    And Andy Carroll for England? 8O

    Have you lost your senses or what, Whumps?

  10. “Newcastle go looking for their second ‘double’ of the season on Wednesday,”

    ‘IF’ we win this will be our third double not our second after already beating both Cardiff and Palace home & away

  11. bowburn,
    i was referring to the general spiel over the weekend, not your wonderful blog mate.

  12. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    February 15, 2010 at 10:51 am
    How malchick,
    are you a ’starry vonny bratchney’?

    heh it…

  13. I’m convinced that our midfield only works in terms of attacking when we have two specialist wingers on the pitch. Guthrie is utter pants out wide… because he never stays there… but I still think he can be our man in the middle, especially with Smith just behind him.

    Team for Weds:

    ——— Harps (for England, la la la)
    Simpson – Colo – Hall – Arnie
    Routledge – Guthrie – Smith – Jonas
    ——– Best – Carroll

    Goals in there. Lots. And bring Ranger and Loverboy on as appropriate later in the game for Best/Carroll/Guthrie to stir things up.

  14. Cardiff was a fluke because we caught them cold and they were absolutely horrible. Don’t expect a repeat anytime soon. And that’s just my honest opinion.

    Andy Carroll is awkward and horrible to watch and I think it ages me everytime I watch him. But I didn’t say he didn’t deserve some recognition or that he shouldn’t start, did I? Or did I? I’m not sure anymore…

    I’m fully behind the lads every game by the way, as I keep reiterating.

    Perhaps, my next article will be “Nothing to see round here, everything is sweet as a nut…”

  15. Ah!
    i thought so.

    Top stuff mate. :)

    Back later, just off for some ‘lomticks’ & eggy wegs’.

  16. komfort – yep, you’re right. But there’s a big difference between boring/ugly and bad. This season is only about winning; nowt else. I know it’s horrible to watch at times, but I just don’t think it’s a reason to complain right now. It’s certainly no reason to call for heads to roll, as some are doing.

    Mind you, I’m spending about £200 to come to the Preston game this weekend, so perhaps I’m just talking up my investment!

  17. bbm – fair point mate! Not knocking the article, just the responses we’ve seen over the past few days. Some people are just not happy unless we’re playing like a 1970s Brazil side, signing champions league players and winning every game.

    I’m enjoying this season because we’re having to re-learn our trade and because we don’t have to deal with the pramful of stroppy, hair-gelled, money-over-ability, buy-a-cup primadonnas and crooks in the prem. Yet some on here seem to hanker after the days of trophy signings and ‘style over substance’ performances.

    I just want to get promoted, and hopefully find some decent players to take with us. That’s it.

    We’ve not done so well recently, but anyone expecting consistency in this club clearly hasn’t been watching for the past 6 years…

  18. I think Cardiff and Derby were both flukes. The former showed what we can do with a full squad, opposition on a bad day and a home crowd. Derby showed what happens with several 1st-choicers out, us having a bad day, and opposition inspired to play out of their skins.

  19. not to pick faults but it wont be our second double this season as I can remember Crytal Palace and Cardiff

    Saturday was horrible and I still say play offs is where we’ll end up (Ive said that since before the season and its worked so far). A good couple of home wins will put things on the way to being corrected. BUT my biggest problem is the middle of the park we are not to bad when we have Gutierrez and Routledge on the wings but the CM positions are far far to slow. the amount of times players had the ball pinched of them through pissing about and not getting on with it was incredeble. the forwards where isolated due to the midfield being far to deep.

    Its like any sport you need to be slightly offensive to be better defensivly, you cant just sit back and be wholelly defensive as cracks will appear very quickly.

  20. Couple of things – As of late has anyone else noticed how much weight Alan Smith seems to be putting on – this has coincided with the midfield becoming slow and unindustrious? Maybe he is following Nolans fitness plan!

    I hope the payer committee isnt going to their heads and they think they are gaffa’s rather than players? Maybe in their honest meetings no one has told them they are fat!

    And secondly – Chris – please please please bench Carroll – he is as shocking a player as I have ever seen – he hasnt got a clue where and when to run, how to control, pass move, head or what to do. The coincidence in the lack of creativity starts with his introduction. I appreciate its not good to berate a player doing his best – but I find it so frustrating people actually rate him. IMO he is shocking. Young Nile Ranger gets a long ball played up to him – its on his chest, then down at his feet, held and laid off to another. Long ball to Carroll results in that utter sh*te whipped header thing he does to absolutely nowhere – no control – loss of possession, “whipped header thingy to nowhere” – Then to make matters worse he gets man of the matches in local rags after that weekend performance at Swansea – where in my opinion you will never see a worse CF performance than that all year! Rant over lol.

  21. I’m just hoping for the BBM effect (sure it is you Bowburn) on wednesday night. For the game against Cardiff, me and the people aroud were slating Caroll before kick off, within 15 mins, he had scored two and forced one in from an own goal. So I reckon if I call players a bit like Bowburnmag, they might have a cracking game. So who do you want me to have a go at for Wednesday?

    As for Caroll, I don’t think he is the best player at the club, but it would be a bit harsh to drop him as he’s putting the ball in the back of the net right now, but I do know what you mean Stardust.

  22. Stardust – Where ya been? People have been asking for you!

    On Carroll, he aint pretty but he is scoring goals.

  23. Waldo & Daan – well spotted. No issue with people picking fault with my mistakes. I shall get on it… ;)

  24. Simon – aye, that’d be the ‘BBM effect’ as worky puts it. Nearly came off when Nolan scored on Saturday, though I daresay I couldn’t have claimed that one, as most people were griefing him.

    I’d go for Routledge, call him worse than **** because we could do with a good performance from him on Wednesday for a bit of excitement and creativity.

  25. the midifeld’s been fairly slow and unindustrious since smith joined the club. it’s probably more to do with him generally being sh*t than putting on weight although agree it doesn’t help.

    thought carroll was excellent against cardiff. well, 1st half anyway.

  26. Stardust – glad you’re here, need some bipolar stuff on here, and you’re right in there with it.

    First point about player power – yep, I’d thought that too. The ‘committee-based team’ thing only works short-term and I’m hoping it’s not starting to bite us.

    As for Carroll, I think it’s probably worse if you’re paying to travel and watch. But I cannot see how you can justify statements like “as shocking a player as I have ever seen”.


    I DON’T CARE how ugly it is to watch right now, sorry. I agree that he does some stuff to make you cringe, but if he is the one rescuing points off the one chance our awful midfield produces, then that is his job done and his place justified.

    I also think people need to recognise the importance of having a crude bruiser like him up-front. While I wouldn’t compare him to Big Al in other ways, he does seem to have learned that particular trick of wearing down centre-backs over 90 minutes. Shearer did it constantly; backing in, elbows out, studs on shins, owning whichever bit of turf that defender was stood on.

    And he’s already showing signs of being able to pick off a cracking shot too. Just look at some of his recent strikes.

    85 minutes of it looks pretty poor, but it’s the other 5 that matter when it comes to league position.

  27. I thought the draw against swansea was a good result and a result I would of taken before kick-off ,

    I think Carrol has his use’s , he is physical and can be a handful for defenders but he is ayoung and will hopefully develop his overall game and sort his off field antics ( tho rumors he beat the crap of n’zogbia please me for some strange reason )

    And roll on coventry which will be my very first time at St James Park and i must admit Im like a child at christmas! Cannot wait

  28. Brendan TOON says:
    February 15, 2010 at 11:51 am
    Would Ranger of scored 5 in 6 though Stardust?

    Brendon – my point being that the team would score collectively those 5/6 goals as it becomes a team when someone like Ranger plays – so whilst I say I dont know what Ranger would have done in those games goals wise I feel he brings more to the team and in an “inclusive ” player.

    Whumpie – I dont see the point of just being big and strong. Good centre forwards are either technical and creative, good at hold up play back to goal etc Carroll can only rely on being big WITHOUT the hold up play – therefore the play breaks down when it gets to him.

    He frustrates the hell out of me.

  29. Toonsy – I was reading but it was same old same old – no need to repeat what has been said a thousand times re the whole Ashley/wage structure thing.

    Its a new world – most recognise that now – cash is king once again.

  30. We all have different opinions on who should play but what i want to see is whoever is picked doing the basics right, Hughton needs to do more in this respect as its his job to get the team performing.
    The headline quote from him before the Swansea game was, dont let the fans down, well they did and so did he and also he is alienating fans with his after match comments and hiding poor performances behind stats. Strachan lashed his players in the opposite manner telling them their performance wasnt acceptable after they had laboured to three points.
    Its not beyond us to go another good run but the whole set up needs to get its collective finger out and non performers, regardless of their seniority, should be benched.

  31. But Stardust, who is Ranger, after his great take down off his chest, and lay off gonna give it off to to score? I agree he’s been great at that from what i’ve seen and should be given more of a go, but as useless as Carrol’s looked at time’s he’s got the goals.

  32. agree bbb was a shocker against swansea, reminiscent of the team under allardyce. fans are right to be concerned at the manner of the performances away from home.

    still, nice equalizer from carroll. where would we be without him lately? roll on weds.

  33. I cant argue with that Brendan – just I fear we will continue in this way of playing unless he is out of the team. Our play (in my opinion) is generally far better collectively with him out of the team.

    But CH seems to like big men playing and fair play to him we are top of the league.

  34. I’ll give it a go Bowburn, lets hope we see plenty of running from the right wing and maybe a goal,

  35. Stardust, you do have a point, but that’s the quandry a CCC manager has – you just don’t get strikers who do everything. They cost 8 figures and play in the champions’ league.

    Agree that Ranger provides more ‘glue’, but his youth has showed consistently in his finishing. I’d say that away from home you go for the Carroll-type player every time, partly to give more bruises than he gets and partly to make the very best of very few opportunities.

    But yes, he’s not a playmaker in the way Ranger can be.

  36. Another pearler from CH in the chron, the pitch was bobbly and not conducive to knocking the ball about.
    Does this man think we are all idiots, Swansea managed ok on the same pitch, he should either keep his trap shut or tell it like it is.

  37. Johno Toon @ 33: “And roll on coventry which will be my very first time at St James Park and i must admit Im like a child at christmas! Cannot wait”

    What took you??

    You’re going to have an amazing time there, fella. I still remember the fizz that went up my back the first time I walked out of that tunnel and felt the atmosphere. Amazing stuff.

    I’m flying up from Devon for the Preston game, with two ‘SJP Virgin’ mates flying up from the South East to sample football NUFC style. Oh, and lots of beer, natch.

    Enjoy Wednesday, Johno!

  38. Er, it’s swansea’s pitch mate, they’re used to it.
    No excuses like, but it’s a fact.

  39. Bob – it’s Swansea’s pitch; they play on it all the time. I went to the Plymouth match; same story. The SJP groundsmen would shoot themselves if their output was so poor. Does make you wonder if it’s worth having a deliberately carved-up pitch at Benton so we can train for away games properly, though!

    Unfortunately, I think CH will have to stick to the same formula when playing away – at least until we get the likes of Jonas, Jose, Taylor and Barton back. Unfortunately unless you play on a ploughed field every day, your main option is to play it up in the air a lot and bully your way to a point or two.

    I honestly think CH knew EXACTLY what he was doing on Saturday and it worked. I’m not saying some of the players don’t need a good slap at an individual level (some gawd-awful performances), but I do think CH’s tactics were that way simply because he has far more information at his fingertips than us.

    Not much consolation for the fan who’s invested a lot of time and money to to and watch, mind.

  40. Whumpie – as terrible on the eye as it was I agree with you. CH knew where to make Swansea play – in front of us – and outside the box. I honestly thought after the first half we would win – I thought the tactics were perfect (as you say even though some performances were poor) We looked likely to get a break away goal a la Chelsea.

    But the second half was shocking lol.

  41. I can’t believe the stick CH is getting on here. You don’t get to where we are by being a bad manager. You certainly don’t pick up three manager-of-the-month awards in four months that way.

    Can nobody grasp the fact that CH simply has access to far more information than any of us and that his decisions may just be informed by things we are not aware of?

    What did people expect on Saturday? For our players to have discovered a magical formula for playing carpet football on a field of lumps? For our reserve teamers to turn up in place of our injured seniors and somehow overcome one of the best teams in the league?

    Dodgy pitch; lots of injured key players; inspired opposition who keep the ball but don’t score much. A strong need for a point but less so for three.

    I’m not saying he couldn’t have inspired a bit more skill, but I haven’t heard anyone who’s slagging CH off suggest anything he could have done differently.

    Oh, except Stardust who’s suggesting playing a teenager who’s stored twice all season and thrives on keeping the ball on the ground, rather than the experienced long-ball lumper who’s banging in one a game at the moment.

    (Sorry, Stardust, but it really ain’t dealing with reality, mate)

  42. Stardust. Confession: I didn’t see the 2nd half. I gather it was as ugly as John Prescott’s undercarriage.

  43. Perhaps that’s why I’m disagreeing with so many today. Not only did I not invest an entire day and a shedload of money in getting to the match, I missed the worst of it altogether!

    Gawd, I hope Saturday’s going to be better. 800 miles is a long way, and it’s likely to be my only SJP visit this season!

    Looks like I’ll get to see at least 3 away games, though :)

  44. bob @ 42 – you couldn’t make it up could you ! , if the pitch was that bad swansea wouldn’t be able to play their slick , fast one touch football on it.

    but then again their players probably know where every little bump & dimple are and just play round them.

    what a pathetic excuse !

  45. Roy, making excuses and being in denial instead of dealing with the problem is a recipe for disaster, everyone and their granny can see what is wrong and Farrington in the Sunday Sun wrote a full page article on it.
    Hughton is probably being diplomatic and protecting the players but he is alienating fans and treating them with contempt when putting a positive spin on a pathetic performance.

  46. Farrington is a makem, isn’t he? I haven’t read that rag in years, but I’m sure he is one of the great unwashed.

  47. Er, entertainment comes way behind promotion in this league.
    Howay, what would you say if we were say 7th & playing great football but potentially not going to go up, the screams would be even worse.
    Yea, the team are ‘playing within themselves’, if you get wha’a mean?
    Sometimes it’s better to make sure, than risk everything.
    I would like to see us let rip towards the end of the season, if we look nailed on like.

  48. BigBadBob – no, I don’t think everyone can see what’s wrong – especially the mackem Farrington. That’s just the usual press sniping at their favourite target.

    Yep, we’ve played a couple of stinkers, and previous to that our away form has been uninspiring. I say ‘uninspiring’ because losing twice in four months makes it hard to use words like ‘poor’.

    This is huge overreaction by a load of armchair ‘experts’ who just don’t seem to get the reality of our situation. For a start, which club’s situation would you rather have right now? Who is it in this league that has it so right where we have it so wrong? Who, by comparison, is making us look bad?

    Nobody. We had a fantasic, unprecedented run. It ended. Now we’re having a very mixed run with the odd triumph, the odd stinker and an awful lot of ugly but sufficient mediocrity.

    That is how you win the CCC. Sorry if that’s not enough.

  49. Whumpie, its more than a couple of stinkers, our engine room is non existent, has no flair, pace or invention, the odd stiff tackle and thats it.
    They are embarrassing to watch, week after week, midfield units with players i have never heard of are reducing them to a stumbling bumbling shambles, Nolan and Butt in particular are shot with Smith not far behind, yes were top but what if we had an energized midfield, we could be out of touch by now.

  50. That huge chunk of sarcasm meant this: we are a CCC team trying to do just enough to get into the prem. If you can do that with a good team that has to fall back on too many uninventive spud-kickers when you get a few injuries and a dodgy pitch, so be it.

    Being ‘out of touch’, by now or any other point in the season just ain’t on the menu. Being 2nd on goal difference from 3rd is the minimum standard required, and we’re exceeding that.

    Well, at the moment we are, anyway. If this goes on for another 10 matches, it’ll be different…

  51. As I’ve said, lets wait and see where we are when we get our first teamers back, jose and jonas in particular. I think you’ll find that having Jonas on the left and Routledge on the right will open things up in the middle of the park creating more space as the oppo becomes stretched.

    We havn’t had the luxury of a fit Jonas one side and Routledge on the other as yet.

  52. Toonsy – agreed (really looking forward to seeing it), but I think we’ll still suck on poor pitches against inspired sides. Players like Jonas will always be awful in those circumstances and you do have to fall back on the thumpers a bit.

    But that’s ok as long as we keep nicking points in those circumstances. Nobody in this division is winning away from home all the time – it just doesn’t happen. Fortunately for us, nobody except us wins at home so much either.