Newcastle United 0 - West Bromwich Albion 1

Date: Saturday 28th April 2018 
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Foster 8.1, Nyom 6.6, Dawson 8.0, Hegazi 7.6, Gibbs 7.1, Phillips 8.0, Livermore 7.3, Brunt 6.9, McClean 7.4 (Evans, 90 5.0), Rodriguez 6.6 (Krychowiak, 77 5.8), Rondón 6.5 (Robson-Kanu, 94)
Unused subs: Myhill, Yacob, Sturridge, Burke
Manager: Darren Moore (c) 8.5
Scorers: Phillips (29)
Referee: David Coote 6.6
Attendance: 52,283   Home Fans 6.0   Away Fans 9.0

Brendan Clegg:

Another incredible victory from Big Dave and his coaches that turns up the anger dial on Pulis & Pardew even further.

What makes this victory stand out even further is that it was 100% down to the system, tactics, game plan and sheer hard work because, frankly, about 4 or 5 players had absolutely terrible games quality-wise.

Big Dave rightly went with the same starting 11 as last time - with Field omitted from the squad a bit disappointingly and Chadli nowhere to be seen. Is there a payment instalment based on appearances?

We started very slowly but the positive was that our shape was spot-on; JRod dropped deep in Shelvey’s toes, making us 4-5-1.

Nothing really happened in the first 20 as we played quite deeply and applied a style that was low-risk. We did get the ball into promising situations on the break but the decision making and quality from all of our attackers was bad.

Despite this, because our wingers stayed wide and both busted a gut to get up the pitch when we did get the ball, we did begin to make chances through basic play. Through one of them, Phillips was found well by Livermore and after a great first touch drilled home.

This forced Newcastle to open up a bit and although this meant they put us under sustaining pressure we began to pick gaps in them on the break from which we really should’ve scored. We got lucky before half time with Newcastle breaching us only to hit the woodwork twice and force incredible saves from Foster.

2nd half was more of the same in that Newcastle dominated but we sat deep and countered really well until we got into the box before falling to pieces. Both JRod and Rondon should’ve scored but snatched at decent chances badly. With about 20 to go it was genuinely dilemma time - whether to sacrifice the hard running and discipline of the players on the pitch for the quality of Sturridge or the chaos of Burke to get a second goal, or to let them dig in and see it out.

Big Dave went for the latter and as the clock wound down we employed every tactic from the Tony Pulis book of ‘game management’ with cunning fouls, taking our time over everything and a series of death-march substitutions to remove pace and creativity for big lads to smother the game out, first in midfield with Greg for JRod, followed by Evans for McClean in defence and then the obligatory HRK ‘stick your arse out and win a free kick’ for Rondon in injury time.

Not a lot else to report. We’re doomed but we know that. These players have always had results in them if played in the right system but most of us have been arguing that.

Some cynics are saying that the players have been holding back and should take the blame - I don’t agree and think many times they were hung out to dry by idiot egotistical managers who eventually ruined their confidence, removed their belief and left them tactically ill-prepared. You only have to compare our set-plays under Pardew and Moore to see that. Under Pardew they were abysmal and seemed to be taken by whomever was nearest.

So another bittersweet victory. Looking forward to next Saturday already all thanks to Big Dave. What a man!

  • Foster - 8 A couple of brilliant saves kept the clean sheet.
  • Nyom - 7 Awkward, good defensively, limited on the ball.
  • Dawson - 8 Absolutely relished it. Big, nasty, strong.
  • Hegazi - 8 Best performance in a while. Headed everything and took no risks.
  • Gibbs - 7 Ritchie is a tough player who can go both ways. Another consistently good performance.
  • Brunt - 6 Didn’t dominate the ball as much but really fought for it and took up great defensive positions. Used the ball okay.
  • Livermore- 7 Combative, charged all over the pitch and bust a gut. Looked lost in the final 3rd but cannot fault him.
  • Phillips - 7 Great goal, played on the front foot. Ran himself out. Kept giving us an option.
  • JRod - 6 Fantastic effort and filled the right gaps but had a shocker on the ball. Treated the ball like a dirty nappy.
  • McClean - 7 Same as Phillips. Kept charging up and down and swinging the ball in. Has contributed to our upturn in form. Gave away some terrible free-kicks in dangerous positions.
  • Rondon - 6 Never stopped running or fighting to hold the ball up right to the death but was frequently casual or sloppy on the ball and had to do better with a late chance.
  • Greg - 6 Closed it out okay but didn’t break a sweat.
  • Evans - Did he touch it?
  • HRK - I’m pretty sure he has an ‘arse out free-kick’ bonus in his contract instead of a goal one. And why the hell wouldn’t he.

I’m not a man of faith BUT is Darren Moore a prophet? Could be.


So the football gods are teasing us for one more week, at least. Could a miracle happen? Well, it's fun to dream......

Let's say we win both remaining games 1-0. That would put us on 34 points with a goal difference of minus 22. Swansea would have to lose away at Bournemouth and Southampton lose away to Everton. Stoke would have to get no better than a draw at home against Palace. The only result between Swansea and Southampton that can help us is a draw. Anything else and we are done.

On the final day Stoke must then beat Swansea away and Man City must pay us back one last time by beating Southampton away.

If we assume that all wins/defeats are by the odd goal, that would leave the table looking like this...Southampton bottom 33 points (gd-21), Stoke 34 (gd-32), Swansea 34 (gd-27), WBA 34 (gd-22). Absurd? Of course. Impossible? No. Dream on you Baggies!!