How do you solve a problem like NUFC?
What's gone wrong? What has happened to one of the most effective units in the league? This makes for depressing reading, so if you've already got the Monday Blues - look away now or cheer yourself up with a bit of Radiohead.
I'm not going to focus on one game in particular - I think it would be foolish to do so as there are around 14 games in which we've been utterly dire. I can only really think of Bordeaux and 20 minutes of the Sunderland game where we've actually looked like the Newcastle of last season. The rest though - dreadful. You know what, I'm sick of the excuses coming out of the club. Blaming Europe is wearing a bit thin with me, probably most of you as well. We fought for 38 games to get to where we are now and now we are bitching and moaning about it. What's the point? Why aim for the higher reaches of the league if we're just going to bemoan our own achievements? What are we supposed to aim for? Shall we just aim for 8th place and a semi final in a cup so that we don't have to put these precious soles through two games a week every fortnight? In any case, for the most part 90% of the team that play on a Thursday aren't in the starting XI for the league game. Kind of makes that argument null and void.
Too many players are under performing. It'll be easy to stick the knife into the likes of Williamson and Simpson - that's the done thing. Chuck Shola in there as well. If things go wrong - we blame these players but give them no praise when things went so well like last season. That's the thing that annoys me about so many sections of our support. They are blind. Williamson misplaces a pass; there is anarchy in the stands. Krul miskicks it (again) and gives a goal away (again) and is completely absolved of all blame. It's ridiculous. It's the "purple" players who have not been performing. I'm talking about Cabaye, Tiote (liability), Cisse, Krul, Coloccini (stupid red card, at fault for two almost identical goals) and to an extent Ben Arfa. The latter may be a bit harsh because he is often doubled up. The fact is though, everybody has been underperforming.
People point to us not strengthening in the summer as to a key reason as to why we are struggling. To an extent, I can see why there weren't wholesale changes during the transfer window. We didn't need to. We'd just finished fifth; all we needed was a couple of bodies through the door. I'd have been happy with another full back and centre back to be honest. Wholesale changes weren't needed. How were we to know that Cisse would come back wearing slippers? That Taylor and Colo would show a complete lack of discipline/be injury prone? That Krul would take kicks wearing stilettos?
Some serious work needs to get under way at the training ground, and this means telling Williamson there are other options than just hoofing the ball and hoping that Ba will win the ball in the air. It means teaching Cisse what offside is and what it means. Showing Krul how to kick the ball somewhere other than to the opposition. Perhaps we can also try a bit of movement in the middle of the park.
And no more stupid excuses about Europe catching up with us. It's wearing thin now.