Newcastle United 2 Wigan Athletic 2
Oct 18 2010 by Stuart Rayner, The Journal
IT was the kind of result which normally feels like a victory, Fabricio Coloccini heading an equaliser in the fourth of a minimum of four added minutes.
St James’ Park briefly went mental, but no one will have been kidding themselves.
As Jonás Gutiérrez gestured a touch too graphically, Newcastle United demonstrated they had big cojones. But they showed little else in another disappointing home performance.
Since Aston Villa were blown away, Newcastle have won one of six Premier League matches. They have picked up one point from their last three at home – all against teams they should expect to beat there.
Problems are emerging which need addressing before a good start to the season is squandered. Upton Park is not an ideal place to start.
The most painfully obvious is James Perch. Like many new to the Premier League, he is taking time to adjust. Perch helped Charles N’Zogbia score both Wigan’s goals, less than 100 seconds apart, by not getting close enough to the returning villain.
He was substituted after 89 jittery minutes, but a more ruthless manager might have told Perch not to come out for the second half.
Those who rush to judgement on players bedding into England’s top division often look foolish, but it seems only fair to take Perch out of the firing line. Hughton defended his summer signing by arguing he should be assessed over his whole eight-game Newcastle career but that is the point: this was by no means the first time he has looked ill at ease.
One hopes Hughton opts for the stop-gap option of Ryan Taylor – a player he appears lukewarm towards – rather than throw Danny Simpson into the fray early. Newcastle’s first-choice right-back has played only one reserve team game since last season and deserves time to rediscover his match fitness. It was not a luxury afforded to Danny Guthrie.
When Hatem Ben Arfa spectacularly found the Goodison Park net last month, Chris Hughton seemed to have hit on an ideal balance away from home. Without him, the team looks lop-sided. Wayne Routledge’s apparent crisis of confidence means Hughton has only one winger he can really trust. Gutiérrez rose to the occasion. His willingness to carry the ball is not always matched by an ability to release it effectively, but he created the goals to snatch an undeserved point.