Home Football / Soccer It’s now a balancing act at St James’ Park

It’s now a balancing act at St James’ Park

by foot.biz

Football relies very heavily on balance.

Balanced players, balanced squads, balanced teams and balanced officiating.

The supporters have to balance enthusiasm with reality. We need to balance negativity with positivity too.

Let me give some examples.

Almiron is a player with pace, passion, stamina, and a decent left foot. But his right foot is terrible. Worse, if that’s possible, than the legendary dread pirate Robert. He had a wonderful goal scoring streak when defences wrote him off… Now they see his threat and his lack of balance and they play him onto his weaker foot. Now he is getting nothing… A move to the left flank or the centre in a 4231 might reinvigorate him again, but that might remove another carefully balanced aspect of our team.

Almiron, Trippier and Longstaff have been playing as a triangle this term and it’s worked. Not today though, at least not for the majority of the first half. And we lost the balance on the right.

Burn, Joelinton and Willock form the same kind of triangle on the left and it works. Except that they didn’t today and we lost the balance on the left.

And with the balance on the left and the right missing, the balance in the middle was also completely missing. The CMs were dragged to the left too many times to cover for what we lacked on that side and it showed. We were almost as bad as we had been in the FA Cup tie (and for exactly the same reasons).


Because Saint-Maximin is a flair player that has skill and technique but lacks in “football intelligence” and “working for the team”. No balance. Howe knows this… he said as much pre match, but he had little choice but to put him in the team. Gordon can’t have trained much this week with his new teammates and our squad has… no real balance, we’re a first 11 heavy squad.

ASM is a player that can give hope but he’s a player that cannot (or is it won’t? I dunno) give cover to his defensive partner. He doesn’t balance his runs with his passes and crosses. I’m not saying ASM isn’t a good player, I’m not blaming him for our woeful performance, but he played a big part in us losing our balance. He was the right player in the wrong team, that isn’t his fault. Sadly, I don’t see us playing a team he fits into. His style of play just doesn’t suit ours anymore. If we do persist with him then we need to look at Burn at left back. Again… not knocking Burn… he does fit our system but he has weaknesses that are exposed if the player in front of him doesn’t fit that system.

We’ve achieved a lofty position in the league, we’ve progressed massively as a team, but we haven’t yet balanced that out with our transfers. We have 12 -14 players who are capable at our top four position, the rest are too young, too old, or just not there. No balance.

So far, this article? No balance. Let’s change that.

Gordon’s signing has given us a bit more balance. He’s added a player to our team heavy squad and when he came on today he restored some of that balance to our game. We looked a lot better with him on the pitch. Our left side was more balanced and more secure. Our central midfield looked better because of that. We were fighting to get back into the game and West Ham had to put 10 men behind the ball to stop us.

Howe and his team’s coaching has seen us balance improving players (greatly) with buying great players.

Bruno is one of those buys, he has has found a great balance between defence and creativity and he will be back soon… more balance, more positivity, more hope.

Isak, I hope, will be back next match and that gives us more balance on the bench, if not the starting 11.

We’re still top four.

We’re going to play in a cup final, something a lot of our squad aren’t even old enough to remember us doing before. These are amazing things and balance a lot of the meh and negativity from a match day report or comment section.

We have hiccups, sure. We have moments of grr and moments of grrrreeeeeaaaaattt.

Overall I think in our first full season of a new regime we’re as balanced as we could have honestly have expected and I truly wouldn’t want it any other way.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 West Ham 1 – Saturday 4 February 5.30pm


Newcastle United:

Wilson 3

West Ham:

Paqueta 32

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was West Ham 37% (39%) Newcastle 63% (61%)

Total shots were West Ham 10 (8) Newcastle 8 (2)

Shots on target were West Ham 1 (1) Newcastle 2 (1)

Corners were West Ham 2 (1) Newcastle 4 (0)

Referee: Peter Bankes

Attendance: 52,256 (West Ham 3,000)

Newcastle United:

Pope, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn, Longstaff, Willock (Anderson 81), Almiron (Murphy 81), Joelinton, Saint-Maximin (Gordon 69), Wilson,

Unused Subs:

Dubravka, Dummett, Lascelles, Ritchie, Lewis, Fraser

(A perfect storm hits Newcastle United – read HERE)

(Newcastle 1 West Ham 1 – The instant NUFC fan / writer reaction – Read HERE)

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