Newcastle United lost 3-2 to Everton at Goodison Park earlier this week. Some of you may be thinking that this was a respectable result given that Everton hadn’t conceded a goal at home since March and are currently the only unbeaten side in the Premier League.

However, those of you who were brave enough to sit through the first 45 minutes will know that there was nothing respectable about the way Newcastle United played last night in what was one of the most embarrassing first halves I’ve ever witnessed.

Alan Pardew’s starting XI included ten internationals yet Newcastle didn’t turn up to the blue half of Merseyside until the second half, when the game was effectively out of reach.
Newcastle set out to play counter attacking football with Yoan Gouffran, Hatem Ben Arfa and Loic Remy up front, but did little with the ball. The creativity of Yohan Cabaye was sorely missed during the first period as Pardew went for a ball-winning midfield of Moussa Sissoko, Vurnon Anita and Cheick Tiote.

At the back, Newcastle were alarmingly bad. Questions were raised over Davide Santon’s ability to defend after Kevin Mirallas went past him with ease and centred the ball for Romelu Lukaku to open the scoring.

With five minutes played Newcastle were one behind and in absolute disarray. An aimless ball from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa gave possession away cheaply and Everton capitalised as Ross Barkley raced through to get on the score-sheet.

The third goal summed up the first half performance and the defending was that of a Sunday league team, so bad that Tim Howard actually picked up an assist. The American stopper punted the ball forward and Yanga-Mbiwa actually ran away from danger man Lukaku and the ball, Fabricio Coloccini was static and Tim Krul rushed out only to be beaten by Lukaku who tapped in to put the game beyond doubt before half-time.

Half-time saw Yanga-Mbiwa rightfully hooked with Mike Williamson taking his place, but the other substitution was a strange one as Pardew decided to withdraw his main threat in Hatem Ben Arfa who in truth had a night to forget, but possesses the class to produce moments of magic. The French maverick was bettered by Seamus Coleman all night, but on the other flank Leighton Baines was on a yellow card and an obvious switch of wings for Ben Arfa was ignored by Pardew who did absolutely nothing during the first half with Chairman Mike Ashley and Director of Football Joe Kineear watching on.

Ben Arfa was replaced by Cabaye who came on to give the travelling Geordies something to cheer with a stunning long range effort which sailed into the top corner. Loic Remy’s impressive start in black and white continued as he clawed another one back late in the game, but it was too little too late for Newcastle and although the second half performance was an improvement, it shouldn’t paper over the cracks of what was an atrocious display.

Rarely have I watched a team play with less passion and fight and unless something changes at the club, Newcastle will find themselves fighting to stay in the Premier League.

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