SUNDERLAND ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Newcastle player Joey Barton (l) is challenged by Steed Malbranque during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Newcastle United at Stadium of Light on January 16 2011 in Sunderland England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
At first I was just as furious as I could be with Sunday's result. At first I wanted Shola Ameobi''s head for missing that first chance by inches. At first all I could thing was how? How do you dominate an opponent in every department of the game, have the lead into stoppage time, thwart every effort, how do you do all that and let them come even with seconds left to play?
That was just at first though. This is a Reasonable Reaction Wednesday.
Logistically speaking you can't complain too much about the way the Magpies played in the away half of the Tyne-Wear Derby. Ball control, which has been a key to the matches that we win, was good. We were producing quality chances, though you could say that we should have capitalized more. The only real complaint I had for the game was the decision to start Alan Smith, but he made way early for Danny Guthrie who played a surprisingly nice game.
The heart that you expect to see in the Derby was there as well. We weren't being pushed around away from home, and we were keeping cool heads through the touchy spots (to the tune of 16 fouls for M*ckems and only 7 for the good guys). Even the away allocation was holding it's own, singing loudly and unashamed.
No, the only way you could call this a bad game is when you take into account that we had all three points and were poised to leapfrog the M*ckems, but somehow we came away with only one. You know when you're playing pinball and every once in a while the ball gets bouncing around and it feels like forever since you've hit the flipper and you're just watching the ball wondering what's going on then all the sudden it hits that cagillionpoint bumper that is impossible to hit? That's kind of what that final goal felt like to me, and for the most part the Unwashed looked as bewildered by it as the rest of us. Oh sure they were happy (maybe a bit too happy to have just barely forced a tie in the home half of the derby when they lost the away half 5-1), but they didn't know what happened either. Oh well, some proverb about blind squirrels and nuts or the sunshine shining on the hind parts of a canine....
Alan Smith was bad. I was bordering on happiness when he went down to injury. I'm not usually the kind of guy to hope someone gets hurt, but when I saw the possibility that he'd be coming out because of that knock, I secretly hoped it was just bad enough for Pardew to make the switch.
Shola Ameobi had one of his more active games, but even several days later I can't forgive him that miss early on. In almost any other game, I'd say shake it off, get it back later. But in the DERBY?! He must put that in the net. He did make up for it on the goal that we did score.
Danny Guthrie came in and played like a Premiership midfielder, which I knew he was capable of, it's just a question of whether he is able to keep that level of play up week in week out. I say the jury is still in deliberation on that one, but I have high hopes for him.
Though Leon Best didn't score, he did set about giving the Mackem backs fits and wearing them down. He did this well in my estimation.
The Yellow Card for Joey Barton was bogus, but he kept his head the entire match, and while that is somewhat a feat for almost any match, with the heightened emotion of a derby it's even more of an accomplishment. Not at all to mention that he played as well as he has all season. I can't believe he continues to be overlooked for England, but a man carries the weight of his past I guess.
The Defense was great again, but Fabricio Coloccini was out of his mind back there. If you were to look at just that game you wouldn't know there was any category in which he was lacking even the least bit.
Man of the Match: Fabricio Coloccini, I want curly hair too.