Newcastle United chase defender ahead of Leeds United as Chris Wood disappoints on debut

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
NewcastleWorld’s Newcastle United writer Jordan Cronin reflects on another disappointing afternoon in the Magpies’ 2021/22 Premier League season.

It was the same old sinking feeling for Newcastle United as they blew the opportunity to exit the Premier League relegation zone against Watford.

Allan Saint-Maximin handed Eddie Howe’s side the lead just after half-time - but pressure was invited, and the Magpies were made to pay the price via Joao Pedro’s late equaliser.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Labelled as a “must-win” pre-match, the home side again failed to deliver what a sell-out St James’ Park crowd deserved.

Here, our writer Jordan Cronin breaks down the draw with Hornets ahead of another big week on the transfer front and pitch:

Newcastle just can’t hold on to a lead

Newcastle United were three minutes plus stoppage time away from exiting the Premier League relegation zone - but old habits continue to die hard.

This team simply cannot hold onto a lead. On ten occasions they’ve taken the lead this season, yet only have a win against Burnley to show for it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

West Ham United, Southampton, Watford (twice), Tottenham, Brentford, Norwich City, Liverpool and Manchester United have all fallen behind - and claimed at least a point.

That’s a staggering 21 points dropped -an abysmal trend that if not ended, will single-handedly send United to the Championship among their many other problems.

The Watford equaliser stings most. And it’s perhaps the most frustrating. After Allan Saint-Maximin’s opener, the home side regressed.

Eddie Howe and his players, worryingly, had no answer as any kind of game management went firmly out the window.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Where was the plan? Where was the leadership? It sounds so simple, but Newcastle have simply forgotten how to win.

And you fear how damaging that could be against a direct relegation rival. Still, United remain two points from safety, and 17th placed Watford hold a games in-hand.

Questions asked of Eddie Howe?

Howe has ridden a wave of positivity from the takeover since his arrival in November, a rare luxury any previous Newcastle boss has had.

Magpies fans have agreed on improvements under Howe - indeed, this is far from as bad as Steve Bruce’s tenure, but results aren’t much better. And that’s all that matters.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Of course, there are mitigating factors to reference. Against Brentford, he missed his first match because of Covid.

For Norwich City, United were reduced to 10 men after Ciaran Clark’s ninth-minute dismissal.

There are also plenty of dodgy VAR and referees decisions over the festive period to remember.

But one win in his opening 10 games? Even Howe will admit that’s not the start he envisaged.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Howe still has the entire fanbase behind him. Keeping the club up was never going to be easy, but there’s been anything but a new manager bounce.

The draw to Watford was the first time fans have asked questions of the manager, as well as the failing squad of players.

Underwhelming Chris Wood debut

Howe has also been trusted with £37million in the January transfer window so far. He confirmed Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood were his signings.

Trippier, although has started life at Newcastle with two disappointing results at St James’ Park - already looks a class above. He has experience and a certain know-how.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Wood, however, struggled to make an impact on his Toon debut.

The former Burnley striker was the end of a few crosses from Ryan Fraser and Trippier but overall, was fairly anonymous across afternoon,

It was very apparent that Wood had just two training sessions with his new teammates before being thrown in against Watford.

The understanding between Wood and the players behind him, hopefully, will come sooner rather than later with Callum Wilson sidelined for the next seven weeks.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Underrated Paul Dummet returns

On an afternoon of few positives, Paul Dummett’s return was a great sight for United fans.

It had been a long road back for the Geordie defender having not played a Premier League game since May 2021 due to a recurring calf injury.

But as he lined up at left-back against Watford, it was like he had never been away as he got a precious 90 minutes in the tank.

In truth, he barely put a foot wrong and was a contender for United’s man of the match.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A vastly underrated and underappreciated player at Newcastle. His return is a huge boost.

Focus reverts back to January transfer window

It’s the morning after the night before and supporters are already asking, what’s next?

On the pitch, it’s hard to know as Newcastle show little signs of putting a run of results together to retain their Premier League status.

At boardroom level, it’s transfers, transfers and transfers, in hope new signings will make the difference. But that is no given.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Signing a central defender remains top priority, which was further emphasised as United conceded their 43rd goal of the campaign.

Club captain Jamaal Lascelles was again picked out for criticism, almost gifting former Magpie Moussa Sissoko a goal before being outjumped by Joao Pedro for the equaliser.

Ideally, a defender will arrive before the trip to Leeds United but so far, Newcastle have been frustrated in their efforts to sign Lille’s Sven Botman and Sevilla’s Diego Carlos.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.