'Big problems' - BBC pundit left bemused after Newcastle v Southampton, raves over speed machine

BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks has admitted that he is bemused whether Newcastle United were really good or Southampton were really bad during the Magpies’ 3-0 victory on Saturday.

The Saints were dominated from the opening minute at St James’ Park as Kenedy, who Crooks was left raving over for his incisiveness in front of goal, netted after just 68 seconds, setting the tone for the remaining 88 minutes.

The Brazilian struck again after a blistering counter attack and Matt Ritchie’s second half strike put the icing on the cake in what was a crunch clash at the bottom of the Premier League table.

However, Crooks revealed he was perplexed over how the result came about, although praised Kenedy for putting Mauricio Pellegrino’s men to sword for their poor showing.

Writing in his team of the week feature on BBC Sport’s website, he said: “I can’t make up my mind if Newcastle were that good or Southampton were that bad.

“One thing is for sure is that Kenedy made the Saints pay for their lack of team cohesion.

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“It’s been a long time since I have seen players so concerned with themselves and couldn’t care about the team. Southampton have big problems.”

Newcastle now have a three week break between league fixtures, and have confirmed a unique mid-season friendly clash next weekend.

Football Insider verdict

Saturday’s clash at St James’ Park saw a side well drilled and prepared come up against a team who were lacking in confidence, motivation or inspiration. Whatever Pellegrino had planned in the week’s build up to the match was torn up after Kenedy’s second minute strike, and from then on, it was the Magpies in the driving seat. Had the match gone on at 0-0 for 15 to 20 minutes, the Toon Army may have got on the players’ backs considering the magnitude of the tie, and that could have changed everything. Still, the three points remained on Tyneside and put Benitez and his men one step closer to safety.

In other Newcastle United news, the club are readying a record smashing bid for a top flight mainstay.

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