Newcastle United's FA Cup Woes Continue

Another Third Round FA Cup tie ended in defeat for Newcastle United, this time at the hands of a second string Watford side, prolonging their cup woes for yet another season.

Newcastle United’s FA Cup Woes Continue

Despite fielding a team with only one enforced change, Steve McClaren’s side managed to fall at the first hurdle to a Watford outfit fielding debutant youngster Obbi Oulare and Adlene Guediora, both making their first appearance in a Hornets shirt this season. A fourth consecutive 1-0 defeat saw Newcastle’s 4000 travelling fans boo the side as they trudged off the park. United have not registered a goal in over 400 minutes of football.

Calls for change and for McClaren to take the cup competitions seriously were conflicting before kick-off but fans were met with a 3-5-2 set up boasting Kevin Mbabu and Daryl Janmaat as wing-backs in a side where the personnel were heavily unchanged. Nevertheless, United were unable to capitalise on their first half dominance and went into the break a goal down thanks to sloppy defending gifting captain Troy Deeney a sight at goal.

Deeney’s goal proved to be all that was needed to secure Watford’s progression into the Fourth Round as United huffed and puffed but couldn’t find an equaliser for the fourth game in a row. The exploits of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez were insufficient; likewise the creative efforts of Sissoko, Wijnaldum and second half substitute Thauvin did not prove to be fruitful, adding to the discontent of the away support.

The disappointment is unsurprising as United bowed out at the same stage of the competition last year to Leicester City by the same scoreline. This has become a common trend in recent years as Newcastle have failed to get past the Fourth Round in the last ten seasons. It is also ten years since the team last won an away fixture in the FA Cup; a 2-0 triumph over minnows Cheltenham, on a day where Michael Chopra scored and Alan Shearer played under the tenure of Graeme Souness as Newcastle boss, which seems light-years ago considering the turbulence the club has endured since then.

This shocking run of away games in the FA Cup is a trend that cannot be reversed until 2017, meaning by that time, it will be eleven years since United last played an FA Cup game outside of January: a truly astonishing fact for a Premier League club.

United’s dire record has been blamed mostly on the regime under SportsDirect tycoon Mike Ashley, fielding weakened teams in order to prioritise league survival and retain the lucrative Premier League TV Revenue year after year. But a team averaging a 50,000 strong home attendance in the league, the fourth highest in the country, should realistically be expected to progress further in these competitions.

Managing Director Lee Charnley’s target for new boss McClaren at the start of the season was to finish in the top eight and to win a cup. With a top eight finish totally out of reach and elimination from both cups, it is fair to say that McClaren’s first six months or so on Tyneside has been nothing short of disastrous.

The players should be held just as accountable for the position they find themselves in, which is why the chopping block for McClaren’s head should hold back, for now. As a member of the reshuffled board, the manager is likely to have a strong say in the signings that are made by the club, therefore based on the activity in the January transfer window, McClaren will be heavily judged. Quality additions will have to be made to make-up for yet more disappointing cup woes this campaign and in order to stave off relegation.