At the start of today, there was everything on the line, and not just for Newcastle United. Champions League football, the Premier League title, and relegation to the Championship. For Newcastle, Champions League football would cap what has been an excellent season.
Unfortunately, the Toon ended the season on a disappointing note, going down at Goodison Park to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Everton. Starting unchanged from the team that lost to Manchester City at St. James’s Park, Newcastle started very sluggish, and it only took 16 minutes for Everton to take the lead with a fine finish from Steven Pienaar. It was hardly great defending from the Magpies, as Pienaar was given all the time in the world to get his shot away (although it did take a deflection).
Barely 10 minutes later and Everton went 2-0 up thanks to Nikica Jelavic. A long ball played over Newcastle’s back four from Heitinga and Jelavic’s first shot was well saved by Tim Krul, but the Everton striker was on hand to deftly put away the rebound.
So it was 2-0 to Everton at half-time, and for the Toon to get anything on the last day of the season they would need to start the second half much brighter than the first. Pardew decided enough was enough and brought on Ryan Taylor and Sylvain Marveaux for Davide Santon and James Perch. These changes seemed to do the trick as Newcastle pushed forward, but spurned several half-chances.
Things went from bad to worse as Heitinga headed home from a corner. The Everton defender was virtually unmarked, and much to Tiote’s displeasure, he let his teammates know just how unhappy he was with the marking. There were better fortunes however for the Toon in the 73rd minute as Tony Hibbert got in a mix-up with Tim Howard and headed home an own goal.
Both Arsenal and Tottenham got the result they needed, so even if Newcastle had’ve won, it would have been meaningless. As one fan said on Twitter – the only thing damaged today was the Toon’s goal difference. Other notes of interest from today’s game was that after an altercation with a ballboy, Yohan Cabaye give the lad a hug at half-time. Also, Sylvain Marveaux looked decent when he came on, and it’s great to see the lad pull on a Newcastle shirt again.
So, we end up with a total of 65 points, finish 5th in the best league in the world, and qualify for the Europa league where we’ll play against some of the best teams in Europe. Not too shabbby eh? The defeat today is only a minor blip in a season of many positives, and in which we’ve done extremely well and surpassed almost everyone’s expectations.
Onwards and upwards. Howay the Toon.