Undeserved Nerves To Be On The NUFC Menu
To drop two precious promotion points around 15 seconds from the final whistle is enough to bring the best side in the world down but amidst the settling dust, some clarity needs brought into it.
You have to judge us on where we are at present and not where we've been. The reality is, is that we've a championship squad with a handful who can cut it in the top league on their day.
The squad was built for one job and according to the table, we're still doing what was written on the tin with our intentions. Aim for promotion.
As for making Rafa Benitez come out of this smelling of roses, if we achieve the aim then he'll smell of nowt but.
Tonight's result was nowt to do with any Mike Ashley policy (although some signings in January may have seen better options from the bench), Rafa tactics or performance. It was because the aim of the game is to score more goals than the opposition and we didn't.
To say the life was drained out of me when their equaliser went in was an understatement as we were so far on top with a game that deserved so much better but it's happened far too often this season with the Blackburn away one another that springs to mind. That alone equates to five extra points that we should have.
Also factor in the fact that we have had the most biased set of officials against us the whole season that have not only affected our games but also helped rival clubs around us with the amount of penalties the other top teams have had more than us not to mention the amount of strange decisions that have helped others gain late goals. Huddersfield again today for about the 6th time.
It's as if the EFL see us as a massive factor in us being in it due to the financial spin offs they get as well as it's profile raised not to mention that we're the side that every other raises their game against and they play their best performance of the season. To our credit, we're still well placed.
As for the game, there's not too much to add to what the TV shows but without seeing it to compare, i'll give my opinion.
Ritchie was man of the match for me. His on ball stuff was top notch but his off ball running and allowing others to make their runs was excellent.
Hayden had a good return and allowed Shelvey to do his stuff virtually unnoticed as if he's not the most important any more. Mitrovic played his role well but should really have had a partner closer to him as he held the ball up well and flicked on when needed. The fact Rafa doesn't play a 2 up top system but a more supporting build up is evident.
On saying that, the more the game went on the likes of Perez shone and the anonymous, in the first half, Gouffran came into it.
On another day, probably in a different league without the dodgy officials we get, we'd have got a stone wall pen although even then, we get them disallowed for eff all.
On reflection we battered them although the Leeds fan that ran on the pitch, probably through the exit gates at the Gallowgate that open near the end, bowed down on his knees to Rob Green in the Leeds goal at the end probably spoiled the momentum we had to a degree. The fat man dragged away to the corner before getting attacked by a few and then kicked all over outside.
Mistakes aside and a Colback foul that was loudly cheered before the aftermath eventually resulting in their goal, we didn't deserve that tonight after everything that was put into it. In some games we've laboured through and been rightly accused of papering over the cracks but blaming anything but the game of football for that is creating a false agenda.
Atmosphere was the best of the season by some distance and the Leeds fans heard once or twice if that although Sky will have had a mic in their end.
From here on in the nerves will start to play a part but if anything is needed to provide a spark then it has to be taken from this game and get the job done as we played well.