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Verdict against Maritimo in the Europa League

Maritimo is a poor team from a weak league but we struggled to get a draw over there, and were rather fortunate to get a draw against them last night.

Newcastle United held in a 1-1 draw against Maritimo

With seven of of what is nominally our strongest team playing – including our entire first choice defence – our performance last night was frankly embarrassing, not to say deeply worrying.

Yet again, the main problem lay in midfield where we were unable to get any measure of control. Bigirimana looked what he is, an inexperienced kid who is not ready to play at this level. Like Bigi, Anita worked his socks off but is weak in the tackle and certainly not an incisive passer.

Despite his goal that was very well taken, Marveaux was as good as a man off, repeatedly pulling out of tackles and generally giving the ball away. Our dead ball kicks were even worse last night than they have been all season.

Sylvain Marveaux scores the opening goal for Newcastle

Frankly, this particular failing says something about what is going on on the training pitch and is a bloody disgrace for a Premier League football club, and also for another mystifying substitution by Pardew in the 2nd half.

With Anita and Bigi struggling desperately to get a toe-hold in midfield, and pretty well being overrun, the gaffer sent on Abeid, a defensive midfielder.

Just what we need I say, but what does AP do? He takes off Sameobi, moves the unbelievably weak Marveaux into central midfield and plays Abeid up front alongside Ba – where he was hopeless. Utterly mystifying.

Sammy Ameobi during the UEFA Europa League

Why on earth didn't he just play Abeid in front of the back four, leave Anita and Bigi where they were, and either leave Marveaux wide left or take him off and leave Sami wide left? Square pegs in square holes, and all that.

I'm sorry, but imho this was a really dumb move and could well have cost us the two points. Pardew and Carver seem to have stopped thinking logically at the moment.

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And yet they were showered with praise

Since the time of our meeting