Football Insider analyses three talking points from Newcastle’s 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest in the Championship on Friday night.
Newcastle have work to do
They are top of the league. They have won 13 of their 18 league games this season. However, they have now lost their last three games on the bounce – to Blackburn, Hull and Forest – and they must now fight to regain confidence and some form. They have some top quality players within their ranks – Shelvey, Matt Ritchie, Aleksandar Mitrovic – but Rafa Benitez and co need to realise that quality isn’t everything. They have to perform at the top level in every game. They are not going to walk the league – the Championship is way too competitive for that. They now need to take a step back, and think about what has gone wrong in the last three games. Today, they can put it down to the two red cards; they were not going to match Forest with nine-men. But there is still room for improvement from the Magpies and they must work things out before their next game against Birmingham on Saturday 10 December.
Shelvey doesn’t belong in this division
Ok, red card aside, he was very good. There are two types of Jonjo Shelvey. The one that can win you a game with one pinpoint pass, and one that can lose his cool on the pitch and get into trouble. Today, we saw a bit of both. Before his 33rd-minute red card, Shelvey was the best player on the pitch. In that first half-an-hour, the Englishman bossed the midfield with authority, and was the creative lynchpin Newcastle needed to transfer defence to attack. It was surprising that Nottingham Forest granted him so much time on the ball, but in the end it was his own dark side that got the better of him – when he kicked out at Henri Lansbury. He is arguably the best passer in the Championship, and aside from his dismissal, you have to wonder what a player of his talents is still doing playing in England’s second-tier.
Perez needs more time to win fans over
Being withdrawn after just 45 minutes because your team are down to nine-men doesn’t help when you are trying to win back the fans. Ayoze Perez has come under criticism from his own fans this season, with just six goals from 18 games in all competitions – which actually isn’t that bad a return. Rafa Benitez was criticised for bringing Perez back into the side for the Nottingham Forest match, having missed the midweek EFL cup defeat to Hull; and he had a very quiet evening. Sadly the criticism is likely to continue into Newcastle’s next game against Birmingham on Saturday 10 December. Hopefully Perez will have another opportunity to silence his critics.