Newcastle From soft touch to steelyhithousers under Eddie Ho

เวลาปล่อย:2022-11-21 16:51 ที่มา: ต้นฉบับ เรียกดู:

The fourth official has put his board up and signalled seven minutes and suddenly the game becomes a brutal ballet. Eddie Howes team are beatingChelsea1-0 and, in a season of wonder and discovery, of shock and winning, are sitting third in thePremier League or at least they will be once these final, tense moments are navigated. What follows is like a dark, gory, visceral pantomime.

MeetNewcastle United 2.0: flailing limbs, snarling, thrashing and pirouetting. Meet them and their ode to shithousing.

Joelintonis bending to adjust his shinpads. On the near touchline,Sean Longstaffnudges intoMarc Cucurella.Fabian Schargoes down and is then up and limping, lifting his arms in exaggerated confusion.Nick Popestands over him, wracked with concern, earning a yellow card for wasting time. And nowCallum Wilsonis chasing down the goal kick, pawing atKalidou Koulibalys shoulders as the ball bounces out.

And although time doesnt quite stop Chelsea are breaking again, pushing forward and, way off the ball,Dan Burnis shoulder-slamming intoKai Havertz even in the middle of this frenzied rush, you ask yourself the question, how didNewcastleget to be like this? Not just good (which they are), not just better than Chelsea (which they are), but these narrow-eyed, streetwise bastards?

Or, as Alan Shearer says pithily when we ask him about it, how did they get to be so ing brilliant?

To make it absolutely clear, we are not condoning malevolence. Some of Newcastles challenges veered dangerously close to assault or would have done if boot connected with bone. But there was magnificence in the way Howes players threw everything into protecting their victory, in the way they niggled and needled and fought, inJamaal Lascelles, an unused substitute, picking up a booking.

Newcastle like Atletico Madrid in the last 10 mins!NEWCHE

Jamie Carragher (@Carra23)November 12, 2022

Why does it feel so new and surprising? Because, as with everything on Tyneside in these peculiar, heady days, you refer it back to recent history. For a very long time, Newcastle ticked along in the Premier League, not straining very much, not doing very much, aside from just about existing. In the first half of last season,West Ham United,Manchester United,Leicester CityandManchester Cityeach stuck four past them.

In the same fixture in October last year, post-takeover but beforeHowes arrival, Chelsea came to Newcastle and won 3-0 with 80 per cent possession. Meekness was ingrained, institutionalised.

For too many years, Newcastle have been a soft touch, Shearer, the clubs greatest goalscorer, a fan and former captain, tellsThe Athletic. Its been difficult to watch, but thats how we were set up as a club. Going nowhere.

And now? I loved what I was seeing against Chelsea, he says. Not for the first time this season, weve had one of the big boys getting upset about how strong and competitive and angry Newcastle are. Theres a toughness around the squad. Theyre not rollovers. No longer are other teams coming up and controlling them. Its not happening anymore.

Newcastle are looking after themselves. Theyre not being bullied or pushed around. You can tell the other teams dont like it and, as a supporter, its ing brilliant because all of a sudden theyve got a bit about them. To win, you need a tough mentality. You need to look after yourself.

Shearer was the complete centre-forward. Nobody has scored more goals in the Premier League era. He was also a fierce competitor, a master of winning free kicks and buying his team time. As the match winds down, give him the ball, let him take it to the corner and stick his backside out and try just try to get it off him.

All of the top sides have steel, he says. I think thats true now and its certainly true historically; theArsenalside that won the double in 1998, the Manchester United side that won the treble in 1999, theLiverpoolside of the 70s and 80s. Dont tell me that all those teams were about lovely, nice football. Look at their characters. Yes, they had flair, but they also had tough ers who were prepared to give it out.

Its part of winning. AndNewcastle are getting there.

Back at St James, the match has reached the 95th minute but Howes team are just getting started

In Howes mind, the best method for defending a slender lead is to score another. But he has a pragmatic side.

I was really pleased with how we managed the latter stages of the game, Howe said. I know it wasnt pure football. It was two teams desperately trying to have opposite aims: we wanted to try and kill the game and see the match out; they wanted the ball back in play.

The Newcastle head coach was stung byJoao Pedros 87th-minute equaliser forWatfordat St James in January. At the time, Newcastle were still second-bottom and two points behind 17th-placed Watford, having played a game more. Rather than see the game out, they allowed the match to become too open and were sucker-punched on the break.

When Newcastle conceded a controversial 98th-minute at Anfield in August to register their only defeat of the season, Howe was incensed by the amount of stoppage time something, ironically, that was partly caused by his own sides tactics. Yet as Howe reviewed clips from the match, he turned to introspection, recognising that as much as Newcastle had clawed and competed for so long, they had not managed the very dying moments well enough.

Those results provide vital context to the frenetic stoppage-time scenes against Chelsea. Desperate not to be undone by another direct rival less than 10 months on from being in a relegation battle with Watford, Newcastles peers are now competitors for aChampions Leaguequalifying spot Howes men were mining their gamesmanship reserves to the extreme.

As the clock ticks beyond the 95-minute mark,Kieran Trippierhas already been on a yellow card since the 56th minute, having taken one for the team by upendingChristian Pulisicin the centre circle to thwart Chelseas counter. Pope has just joined his on-field captain in the book, taking an age over a goal kick, frittering priceless seconds.

95min 07sec:Burn joins in with the skulduggery and has an old score to settle. In March, during Newcastles 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Havertz caught Burn in the temple with his elbow, opening a cut and leaving a bruise, but remained on the field. The Newcastle defender felt there may have been intent and insisted, I can guarantee that if it was the other way round, I wouldnt be on the pitch!

So, Burn takes the chance to run towards Havertz, off the ball, and leave a shoulder in his back. Although he concedes a free kick deep inside his own half, another precious minute ticks by.

96min 29sec:Newcastle half-clear the free kick and set off in relentless pursuit of the ball. Cucurella is near the touchline and Longstaff slides in from a few yards away. He is late, with the pass already made, and he only avoids scything through Cucurella because the Spaniard jumps over the tackle. Once the phase of play ends, Longstaff is rightly booked.

96min 34sec:Cucurellas recycling of possession eventually leads toMateo Kovacicpicking up the ball on the edge of Newcastles defensiveD. Burn, determined to defend his goal, steps forward, lunges his 6ft 7in (200cm) frame in and makes a crunching but fair tackle, clearing the ball down the left wing.

96min 54sec:Newcastle counter, albeit in small numbers, withMiguel Almironplaying Wilson into space. The Newcastle striker tries to flick the ball beyondJorginho, but mishits it, and, with two defenders covering, Wilson throws himself over the Italian in an attempt to win a free kick. Robert Jones, the referee, ignores his pleas.

97min 0sec:As soon as the clock reads 97:00, Graeme Jones, Newcastles assistant head coach, walks over to Tim Robinson, the fourth official, to tell him time is up.

97min 04sec:Pulisic bursts into Newcastles half butBruno Guimaraessprints back, determined to stop the American. Guimaraes wildly throws himself, with two feet off the ground, towards Pulisic. The Brazilian is dangerously out of control. Thankfully, he doesnt connect.

97min 32sec:With Chelsea preparing to take a throw-in on the left touchline, deep inside Newcastle territory, Howe is on the pitch, organising and passing on instructions. He is ordered back into his technical area by the fourth official, who also demands Jones still pointing at the clock returns to the dugout.

97min 51sec:The players and the coaching staff have done their bit now it is the turn of the substitutes. Lascelles, the club captain, is warming up by the pitch. He walks over to Cucurella, who tries to push Lascelles away, and the game is delayed while the referee books the skipper.

98min 11sec:Cucurella had taken the throw before Lascelles was booked, meaning play was not live. As Chelsea try to get the ball back to Cucurella, Longstaff nudges it away. Play only restarts at 98:24, more than 30 seconds after the throw-in was initially awarded.

Full-time:The whistle soon sounds to bring an end to the match, leaving Havertz and Burn to resume their earlier exchange. Schar joins in.

After Joelinton separates Havertz and Burn,Jacob Murphysprints across to push the Chelsea forward. A series of mini fracas ensues, with Cucurella and Burn shoving one another. The officials have lost control and struggle to separate the two teams.

We did stand up for each other in a really respectful and strong way, Howe said, when asked for his verdict on the stoppage-time events. Thats what we need to do on the pitch. Ive got no issue with that. I thought our players handled themselves really well. Thats Premier League football. Its everything to these players and that showed.

Tempers FLARE at the end of the game between Newcastle and Chelsea /V9uQVEFngM

Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL)November 12, 2022

Burn takes it in good part. Just as well, really. He is a big man,a Blyth manand, well, you wouldnt want to get on the wrong side of him, would you? Just ask Havertz. Just ask Kovacic

Newcastle United FC (@NUFC)November 13, 2022

The stadium is empty now and the defender has walked down the concrete steps from his familys box. The lovely thing about Burn is that, like Shearer before him, he is living his dream and plays like it, like it means something. Like it means everything.

He stops to talk near the dugouts, deserted now aside from a few discarded energy-drink bottles. A couple of stewards mill about.

The Athletic:Can we ask you a question or two about shithousing, please?

TA:The last five minutes felt like violent, beautiful poetry and the team has done that on a few occasions this season. Its that thing about knowing how to win a game and doing everything it takes to win, isnt it?

DB:I think that started from when I came, really. We were tough to beat last season. We werent a soft touch. Teams were having to work really hard to get through us and its the same now. Once we gain the lead, were confident. We dont panic, even when were under pressure and yeah, those little bits we do it was great seeing people flying into tackles and hearing the crowd roar, that sort of stuff.

TA:The one defeat this season was at Liverpool, but it felt like an important statement in some ways, the way you irritated Anfield and got people wound up. It feels like the first time in a long time that Newcastle are going to places like that and having that attitude.

DB:It was something the gaffer talked about at the start of the season. Our mentality is its us against the world. We feed off that. If weve got to win ugly, well win ugly and be tough to beat. That sole defeat was an absolute sickener but to go there and play the way we did showed great character.

TA:That mentality has always been part of the citys, the north easts identity, hasnt it? That were left to fend for ourselves, so we stick up for ourselves. Thats our history.

DB:Definitely. Football is different up here. Its a working-class city and people want players to work hard. When I was sat up in the stand, thats what I wanted. If the players worked hard and got beat, you would accept it. Thats our attitude in every single game well go out and leave it all on the pitch.

These are early, blissful days for Newcastle and, in terms of league position, they are way ahead of schedule. Shearer counsels caution. Theyre third and flying and thats great, but we have to be careful, he says. Were allowed to enjoy this, but we cant shout too loud yet. Theres going to be a bump in the road somewhere.

Still, though. You cant help but drink in the change, the comparison, this feeling.

What Eddie is doing is rinsing every single ounce of ability out of every single player, Shearer says. Thats the sign of a great coach he and his staff deserve immense credit. Its so impressive. He is getting everything out of them.

(Top photo: Alex Dodd CameraSport via Getty Images)

Subscribe to The Athletic for in-depth coverage of your favorite players, teams, leagues and clubs. Try a week on us.