Happy Hippo Head
St James' Park
You might expect that Sam Allardyce walked away from his former employers with a wry smile on his face. Following a fairly dreadful midweek affair, it was his side Blackburn that won by the odd goal in three, to take all the points.
Tonight's performance from Newcastle, was as bad as the two previous were good. With the exception of Andy Carroll and Joey Barton, nobody came out of this game with any credit. And some had nights they'd want to forget all about.
In fact, fortunately for those players, the first half was instantly forgettable but for the gifted goal that gave Blackburn the lead. A soft free-kick should never really have troubled the hosts when Carroll cleared. But when Tiote picked up the loose ball and tried to dribble his way out of the box, Emerton intercepted and the loose ball fell to Pedersen who scored clinically to make it 1-0.
The rest of the half is barely worth a mention. In fact, other than the goals, the second half wasn't much to write home about either. But when Carroll equalised in the early stages of the second half, with a towering header from a Barton free kick, for a 20 minute spell a win didn't look beyond the home side.
Instead, the game almost petered out to a draw, until a mix up in defence allowed Jason Roberts to finish for 2-1 and ensure Blackburn took all three points late on.
Despite having a half decent game, Joey Barton will no doubt only be remembered for this game for an altercation with Pedsersen in the 2nd half. Video replays clearly show him punch Pedersen in the chest and if the FA investigate, we shouldn't be surprised if he spends some time on the sidelines in the coming weeks.
So other than all of that good news, tonight proved when teams come to do what we did to Arsenal, we're still prone to capitulating in the manner we did.
Too many players had an off day and were simply not good enough on the day. Without space to manouevre, there was a lot tension for those on the ball. And in fairness to Blackburn they came and did a job. Playing high and chasing and harrying, making it diffcult for Newcastle to settle.
The defence never looked comfortable all night and found it difficult to cope with the pace and trickery of their wide man on the left. In midfield, other than Barton, there was a lack of urgeny but also a lack of guile. They didn't boss the game as they have done recerntly. And upfront, Ameobi looked disinterested and unfit. Carroll once again had a decent game and scored. But he and Ranger struggled to make an impact otherwise, because without any genuine creativity, opportunities were few and far between.
But these are winnable games against teams we can't afford to be losing to, especially at home. It could be written off as just a bad day at the office but there is a trend setting in and this type of game on home turf is must-win. Otherwise it makes a mockery of the hard work on our travels.