The previous match preview for the site stressed the overwhelming need for Newcastle to win this game if Big Sam`s doubters were to be silenced for the Christmas period. Going up to the ground there wasn`t an air of expectation - more a certainty that we were going to turn Derby over and really make some inroads into the UEFA Cup places immediately above us.
I suppose in a way this was heightened by the team that Sam put out. Rather than make the tricky decision of what two strikers to play, Sam decided to chuck them all in. Unfortunately this throwback to his Bolton days backfired spectacularly. Newcastle don`t have the experience, players or inclination to work a 4-3-3, especially with Alan Smith as one of those players. How the f*ck the lad was given the captaincy I don`t know - Nicky Butt must be banging the boss`s wife to keep be overlooking for his rightful position.
Included in the squad were Taylor and Duff following injuries but they had to settle for a place on the bench. Cacapa and Rozenhal continued to occupy the back positions.
6 minutes came and went before Giles Barnes, our tip for the 'One to Watch` slot on the preview, slotted home from 20 yards. As Barton flung himself aimless at the ball and Rozenhal minced his back out of the way you had to wonder how the lad had that much time to be able to size up the shot and hit it past Given. Just like Birmingham, Pompey, Liverpool etc, another great start to the match.
With the shovels out and the team trying to dig itself out of the shit yet again chances came and went. Milner spooned a great chance a second after Smith should have been awarded a penalty before Viduka produced a class finish on the edge of the box, after a ruckus between Smith and about three Derby defenders. Game on, as they say in the Arraz, and most of us foresaw an easier ride than the Birmingham game a fortnight ago.
However after a true Mr Motivator style speech, the team game out and conceded at about the same time they did in the first, Kenny Miller this time ambling past the hapless Rozenhal. Sam had obviously seen enough of the Czech defender, with the lad substituted later in the half. No doubt injury excuses a la Cacapa will start being wheeled out.
That left the rest of the half to dig ourselves out the mire, which we tried to do via the most inane and crablike crap imaginable. It was only when Given lumped one up field with five to go that the flick on was won and Viduka buried.
There was still time for Cacapa to nearly make us the only team Derby will do the double over in their short PL stay as he clattered into one of their players in the box. Andre Marriner evened the score though by shaking his head and we could all trudge off home.
So the problems remain. Expect some garbage about the players doing better away from home as they aren`t pressured by the crowd in the next few days. Barton and Smith looked particularly dire, with the Man City man not showing anything near the game he so insightfully talks up on a weekly basis. As for N`Zogbia - get him pushed into midfield. However now Duff is back expect that to fall by the wayside.