NUFC Monthly Review 2017/18: September

With the transfer window firmly closed, football got underway in earnest with players settled at their new or current clubs; knowing where they’ll be playing their football until January. The first international break of the season with teams resuming their world cup qualification campaigns and the Champions League group stages started up again. PSG may not yet know the repercussions of their summer spending in relation to financial fair play but on the pitch, they have been in scorching form.

11 Football Developments: September
  1. 200px-Paris_Saint-Germain_F.C.PSG started their Champions League campaign with a 5-0 thrashing of Celtic at Celtic Park in their first group game before humbling Bayern Munich 3-0 I Paris resulting in the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti. Celtic responded by defeating RSC Anderlecht 3-0 in Belgium.

2. That opening round of fixtures also saw Barcelona defeat Juventus 3-0 in a repeat of last seasons semi-final

Manchester United began their Champions League campaign with a perfect start [Image from Manchester United]

3. Manchester United marked their return to Europe’s top competition with a 3-0 win over FC Basel at Old Trafford and a 4-1 victory over CSKA Moscow in Russia to sit top of Group A. Liverpool meanwhile could only muster a 2-2 draw at home against Sevilla in their group opener and 1-1 away to Spartak Moscow.

The Champions League Group stages started in September
The Champions League Group stages started in September

4. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City started in a style by defeating Feyenoord 4-0 in Holland before defeating Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 at the Etihad in their first two games while Antonio Conte’s Chelsea defeated minnows Qarabag FK 6-0 at Stamford Bridge and edging past Atletico Madrid 2-1 in Spain to top their group.Tottenham Hotspur eventually got their first win of the season at their temporary home of Wembley as they overcame Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League Group stage and then defeated APOEL Nicosia to start their European season with a 100% record and face Real Madrid next.

Tottenham Hotspur5.Tottenham Hotspur eventually got their first win of the season at their temporary home of Wembley as they overcame Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League Group stage and then defeated APOEL Nicosia to start their European season with a 100% record and face Real Madrid next.

Manchester City ended the month top of the Premier League
Manchester City ended the month top of the Premier League

6. Domestically, they have not yet won at Wembley after a goalless draw with Swansea City as it is their away form that has kept them in the top four. They sit third, just above Chelsea in 4th. The two Manchester clubs are separated by goal difference at the top as Manchester United lost their 100% start away to Stoke City and Manchester City scored 17 goals without reply in September (5-0 vs Liverpool, 6-0 vs Watford, 5-0 vs Crystal Palace and 1-0 away to Chelsea) to lead on goal difference.

europa league7. Arsenal acclimatised to life away from the Champions League by beating FC Koln 3-1 in their first Europa League at the Emirates in a game that needed delaying due to crowd issues before defeating BATE Borisov 4-2 in Belarus. In group E, Ronald Koeman’s Everton struggled, losing their group opener 3-0 to Atalanta in Italy before being pegged back to a 2-2 draw at home by Apollon Limassol.

170px-England_crest_20098. In the World Cup Qualifiers, Gareth Southgate’s England (I still can’t believe I’m saying that) struggled to see off minnows Malta 2-0 after a 0-0 draw with Slovakia

Frank De Boer managed only four games at Crystal Palace before being sacked by the London club
Frank De Boer managed only four games at Crystal Palace before being sacked by the London club

9. Frank De Boer became the Premier League’s first managerial casualty of the season after being relieved of duties by Crystal Palace only four games into the season. In terms of matches, his four-game spell is the shortest reign in Premier League history but is the third shortest in terms of days at 77 days. Former England manager Roy Hodgson was appointed as his successor with Palace bottom of the table.

10. In the Football League, there were five managerial casualties. The first was Harry Redknapp who was relieved of duties at Birmingham City following six straight defeats. Gary Caldwell was also sacked the same day by league Two Chesterfield after three wins in 29 games, a slump that had seen them relegated from League One and Michael Brown was also sacked by Port Vale the with the club sitting bottom of League Two. Nine days later Adrian Pennock left Gillingham by mutual consent following a 3-0 defeat to Rochdale as well as John Sheridan who left Oldham Athletic following his fifth spell at the club as either player or manager.

Premier League clubs will not be able to buy players after the start of the season from next August

11. The Premier League voted to close the summer transfer window before the start of the season starting from the 2018/19 season. Top-flight clubs will be unable to buy players after 5 pm on Thursday 9th August 2017 while other European leagues will see their transfer window remain open until the end of August. 14 clubs voted in favour while both Manchester clubs, Watford, Swansea City and Crystal Palace opposed.

NUFC Related News
Tim Krul deadline day loan move to Brighton was made permanent in September [Image from The Argus]
Tim Krul deadline day loan move to Brighton was made permanent in September [Image from The Argus]

• Tim Krul’s 10-year association with Newcastle United came to an end as his loan deal to Brighton & Hove Albion was made permanent. Having been signed by Glenn Roeder in 2006 from Ado Den Haag, Krul had a mixed spell on Tyneside. After making his debut in the 1-0 win at Parma in the UEFA Cup at the age of 16, it was not until 2010 when he got a consistent shot in the first team and became number 1 for the 2011/12 season. He had some highs and lows setting the record for most saves in a single Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur but injuries were never too far away and having missed the majority of the 2015/16 season never found a way into Rafa Benitez’s plans.

Former Newcastle United Chairman Freddie Shepherd who passed in the week preceding the game [Image from The Guardian]

• Former club Chairman Freddie Sheppard sadly passed away at the age of 72. Sheppard was involved with the club in the early 1990’s helping bring about ‘The Entertainer’s’ era under Kevin Keegan, bringing Alan Shearer home in the then world record £15 million deal in 1996 and the Bobby Robson years. He was also the Chairman to sack Robson and sold the club to Mike Ashley in 2007.

NUFC September: On the Pitch

Newcastle United only had three Premier League games scheduled for September following the decision from Sky to televise the game against Liverpool which had been originally scheduled for Saturday 3oth September to Sunday 1st October. The three fixtures were Swansea City (away), Stoke City (hone) and Brighton & Hove Albion (away).

Jamaal Lascelles jumps up highest to head home the only goal of the game for Newcastle [Image from BBC Sport]
Jamaal Lascelles jumps up highest to head home the only goal of the game for Newcastle [Image from BBC Sport]

Following the first International break of the season, it was back to Premier League action for Newcastle United and Rafa Benitez with a Sunday 4 pm kick-off at the Liberty Stadium to play Swansea City. Paul Clements side had been boosted by the deadline day signings of Renato Sanches and the second coming of Wilfreid Bony while Newcastle had not seen any fresh investment prior to the deadline closing. After a cagey first half in which Swansea controlled possession with a flurry of chances in the final 15 minutes for both sides; Swansea almost opened the scoring on the hour mark. Tammy Abrahams ran in behind the Newcastle backline and rounded Elliott. With the goal gaping, captain Jamaal Lascelles showed sheer determination to get back and block the striker’s effort. Lascelles played a key role at the other end in the 76th minute as his towering thumping header was the only goal of the game. Newcastle picked up their first away win in the Premier League since December 2015.

Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland is beaten for a second time, this time by Lascelles as Newcastle took a 2-1 lead [Image from The Daily Mail]
Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland is beaten for a second time, this time by Lascelles as Newcastle took a 2-1 lead [Image from The Daily Mail]

The following weekend, it was back to a traditional Saturday 3 o’clock kick-off with Mark Hughes bringing his Stoke City side to St James’ Park. After both sides had chances in the opening exchanges, Newcastle took the lead as merino found Ritchie on the right of the penalty area. He delivered a curling ball aimed for the far post and there was Christian Atsu to get to the ball first and score his first ever Premier League goal. Either side of half-time, Joselu missed a hatful of chances against his former employers and Stoke were never too far away with their chances. They eventually got an equaliser in the 52nd minute through Xherdan Shaqiri’s low curling effort. Elliott was on hand to deny Choupo-Moting moments later but at the other end of the pitch, Jamaal Lascelles rose highest to meet Ritchie’s 67th-minute corner to score his second goal in as many games. That proved to be the winner as Stoke could not convert any of the chances they created in the final 20 minutes.

Tomer Hemed strikes home the only goal of the game [Image from Sky Sports]
Tomer Hemed strikes home the only goal of the game [Image from Sky Sports]

Newcastle entered their third and final game of the month in search of a fourth successive league win against Brighton at the AMEX Stadium. Newcastle had the first opportunity of the game as he was found outside the area from a Ritchie corner in the second minute. Brighton could have scored the opener by Pascal Gross’s effort was deflected by Anthony Knockheart. Newcastle had more f the chances as the first half went on with Joselu missing a golden opportunity from 6 yards. They were made to pay for it in the second half as a quick starting Brighton took the lead. In a well-rehearsed free-kick routine, Dale Stephens was picked out at the far post by Gross and the midfielder headed the ball across goal to Tomer Hemed whom despite being in a triangle of Newcastle players hit a volley past Elliott from point-blank range. It could easily have been two moments later if not for a fantastic save from Elliott to deny Solly March. That woke Newcastle up but Merino Shelvey and Gayle all had attempts on goal but neither found the back of the ent as Newcastle’s run of three successive victories came to a close.

Beardsley’s Charges
Peter Beardsley [Image from NUFC]
Peter Beardsley [Image from NUFC]

The second instalment of Newcastle United’s U23 squad is one of frustration. Peter Beardsley’s side started their Premier League 2 campaign pretty well but lost their 100% start to Middlesbrough in the final game of August. September was definitely more frustrating for Beardsley and co as his charges failed to win a single game.

premier league 2

The second string began September with Norwich City visiting St James’ Park. Luke Charman started the month as he had started the season with a goal 10 minutes in after converting Callum Robert’s cross in a move started by first-teamer Jonjo Shelvey. Macauley Gillesphey who spent last season on loan at Carlisle made it two heading home a Daniel Barlaser corner three minutes later. With Newcastle comfortable going into halftime, Devante Aransibia scored four minutes into the second half and was fouled for the penalty which Adam Phillips converted as the Norwich City side came from two goals down to draw 2-2. The following Monday saw Beardsley take his side to the Checkatrade stadium in Crawley to face the Brighton & Hove Albion U23 team. Both sides cancelled each other out as the game ended without a goal. Returning to Newcastle the following Monday, Wolverhampton Wanderers were the visitors as the U23 side played at St James’ Park for the second successive home game. Beardsley had first-teamers Dwight Gayle, Jack Colback and Rolando Aarons available, Donovan Wilson scored just 10 minutes in for the visitors as he converted Sherwin Danvey Seedorf’s cross. Gayle had an effort ruled out for offside while Yasin Ben El-Mhanni and Kyle Cameron could not take their chances as Wolves won 1-0.

Later that week, Newcastle started their Premier League Cup campaign against Burnley U23 at Whitley Park. McNall opened the scoring for Newcastle 8 minutes in as he converted Jamie Sterry’s cross from the right-wing and his header with 25 minutes remaining out Newcastle 2-0 up and surely cruising to victory. However, Burnley fought back and after three goals in 6 minutes (Harry Limb 77, Christian N’Guessen 80 and Metz 83) they were 3-2 ahead with only seven minutes to play. Sangare made it three-all with five minutes remaining but Nabi nicked it for Burnley three minutes from the end. The other two teams in Group D; Colchester United and Swansea City are yet to meet.

After a frustrating September, Newcastle’s U23 side ended the month 7th place in Premier League 2 Division 2. In October, Beardsley’s side are back in EFL Cup action as they travel to League One side Port Vale in the second round of fixtures. In the league, they face Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium just a day after the two senior sides do battle. They then face Balckburn Rovers U23 at home and end the month with a trip to face Aston Villa U23 at the end of the month with a tie against Sparta Praha held in between these two games as they enter the Premier League International Cup.

September in stats

First Team Stats

General Stats

August Septmeber Overall
Games 4 3 7
Minutes played 390 270 660
Home 3 1 4
Away 1 2 3
Won 1 2 3
Draw 0 0 0
Lost 3 1 4
Win % 25 66.66 42.86
Games televised 2 2 4
Miles travelled 236 1,398 1,634
Number of Supporters 154,007 103,135 257,142
Possession 40.175 43.83 42.01

Attacking Stats

 August September Overall
Goals Scored 5 3 8
Chances 64 47 111
Chances on target 25 16 41
% on target 39.0625 34.04 36.94%
Minutes per goal 78 90 82.5
Number of different scorers 4 2 6
Chances per goal 12.8 15.6 13.88
Goals per game 1.25 1 0.88
Corners 26 20 46
Penalties won/converted 0 0 0
Offsides 11 2 13
Passes completed 931 1,078 2,009

Defending Stats

 August September Overall
Clean Sheets 1 1 2
Shots faced 48 30 78
Shots blocked 11 5 16
Saves 13 8 21
Minutes per shot faced 8.125 9 8.46
Goals conceeded 6 2 8
Minutes per goal 65 135 82.5
Saves per game 3.25 2.66 3
Goals conceded per game 1.5 0.66 1.14

Discipline Stats

 August Septmeber  Overall
Yellow Cards 7 7 14
Red Cards 1 0 1
Fouls conceded 47 36 83
Fouls per card 5.875 5.14 5.53
Fouls per game 11.75 12 11.86
Minutes per foul 8.29787234 7.5 7.95
Minutes per card 48.75 38.57 44
Penalties conceded 0 0 0
Times Newcastle played fouled? 44 28 72
Cards produced from those fouls 10 5 15
Fouls per card 4.4 5.6 4.8

First Team Appearances (Minutes)

Matt Ritchie 7 (581), Isaac Hayden 7 (504),

Rob Elliott 6 (540), Ciaran Clark 6 (540), Jamaal lascelles 6 (533), Chancel Mbemba 6 (529), Ayoze Perez 6 (526), Christian Atsu 6 (481), Mikel Merino 6 (464), Joselu 6 (352),

Mohamed Diame 5 (167), Dwight Gayle 5 (171)

Javier Manquillo 4 (360), Jacob Murphy 4 (191),

Jesus Gamez 3 (217), Jonjo Shelvey 3 (91)

DeAndre Yedlin 2 (180), Aleksandar Mitrovic 2 (123)

Karl Darlow 1 (120), Grant Hanley 1 (120), Henri Saivet 1 (120), Rolando Aarons 1 (77), Daniel Barlaser 1 (70), Achraf Lazaar 1 (62), Jamie Sterry 1 (58), Florian Lejeune 1 (34), Paul Dummett 1 (7)

Goalscorers: Aleksandar Mitrovic 2, Jamaal Lascelles 2,

Rolando Aarons 1, Joselu 1, Ciaran Clark 1, Christian Atsu 1

Assists: Matt Ritchie 4,

Rolando Aarons 1, Christian Atsu 1, Ayoze Perez 1

Yellow Cards: Matt Ritchie 3, Isaac Hayden 3,

Jamaal Lascelles 2, Mikel Merino 2,

Joselu 1, Grant Hanley 1, Dwight Gayle 1, Ciaran Clark 1, Christian Atsu 1

Red Cards: Jonjo Shelvey 1

Newcastle United U23 Stats
August September Overall
Games Played 4 4 8
Home 0 3 3
Away 4 1 5
PL stadium 1 2 3
Won 3 0 3
Draw 0 2 2
Lost 1 2 3
Win % 75% 0% 37.50%
Goals Scored 10 5 15
Goals Against 5 7 12
Clean Sheets 1 1 2
Yellow Cards 1 0 1
Red Cards 0 0 0

Goalscorers: Luke Charman 4,

Liam Smith 2, Mohamed Sangare 2, Lewis McNall 2,

Owen Gallagher 1, Kyle Cameron 1, Craig Spooner 1, Owen Bailey 1, Maccauley Gillesphey 1.

Assists: Liam Smith 2,

Daniel Barlaser 1, Kyle Cameron 1, Viktor Fernandez 1, Mohamed Sangare 1, Jamie Sterry 1

Toons on the International Stage

September saw the first International break of the season and Newcastle United had a total of seven players called up to represent their nations at senior level in their 2018 World Cup qualification campaigns. Newcastle also had four players involved at the various youth levels.

Of last seasons regular call-ups, a few were omitted. Mohamed Diame retired from International football following the African Cup of Nations earlier this year. Coach Alou Cisse did not call up a mainstay from last season either in Henri Saivet but give his uncertain situation at club level that is perhaps no surprise. Meanwhile, Matz Sels was Roberto Martinez’s third-choice goalkeeper for Belgium last season. Despite now playing regular football, Selz was not included in the Belgium squad that defeated Gibralter 9-0 and Greece 2-1 to secure their place in Russia next summer. Instead, Martinez called up Wolfsburg goalkeeper Keen Casteels. Paul Dummett is no longer involved in the Wales set-up after the defender called time on International football earlier this year which is laughable really as Chris Coleman never played him competitively. DeAndre Yeldin was not involved with the US national side due to his injury. There was also no place for Adam Armstrong, Kyle Cameron and Stuart Findlay in the England and Scotland youth levels respectively.

Matt Ritchie earned his 15th cap for Scotland against Lithuania [Image from BBC Sport]

In Europe, the nine World Cup qualification groups played their 7th and 8th round of fixtures. I will start with Group F which contained both England and Scotland. Unsurprisingly, Newcastle had no representation in Gareth Southgate’s England squad but was represented in Gordan Strachan’s Scotland side with winger Matt Ritchie called up. The Newcastle man only played 24 minutes over the two games however as Strachan preferred the services of Celtic’s James Forrest and West Brom’s Matt Phillips on the wing in both games. Yes, I thought he was English too. Ritchie replaced the Celtic man for the final 24 minutes of their 3-0 win over Lithuania in Vilnius before being an unused substitute in the away meeting with Malta which Scotland won 2-0.

Aleksander Kolorov scored the only goal of the game between Ireland and Serbia [Image from Sky Sports]

In Group B, Ciaran Clark and Rob Elliott were in Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland squad as they faced Georgia and Serbia. First up for the Irish was an away trip to Georgia where Brighton’s Shane Duffy put them ahead only to slip to a 1-1 draw. Then, a few days later Serbia were the visitors to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The visitors left with all three points following a second-half goal from Aleksandar Kolarov. Clark played the full 90 minutes in both games in Ireland’s defence was Rob Elliott was an unused substitute with O’Neill opting for Middlesbrough’s Darren Randolph. On the opposite side, that night was Aleksandar Mitrovic. The Serbian striker played 79 minutes in Dublin for Slavaljab Mislin’s side. Mitrovic also started in their previous game a few days earlier as Serbia hosted minnows Moldova scoring the third goal in Serbia’s 3-0 victory. He was substituted for Aleksandar Prijovic in both games.

Away from Europe and I move to the African Nations qualification campaigns for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Christian Atsu in action for Ghana [Image from]

In Group D, Senegal drew 0-0 at home against Burkino Faso and then 2-2 in the away fixture without Henri Saivet. Now that’s finished with, on to the Newcastle players who were called up. In group E, Christian Atsu was called up to Kewis Appiah’s Ghana squad to face Congo. The Newcastle winger played the full 90 minutes in both the home and away meetings. Ghana could only manage a 1-1 draw at home with Atsu playing in Atletico Madrid’s Thomas for the 86th-minute equaliser and set up his sides third goal as Ghana won 5-1 in Congo. For DR Congo, Chancel Mbemba played the full game in both of their games against Tunisia. They fell to a 2-1 defeat in Tunisia with Mbemba picking up an 83rd-minute yellow card for his troubles. The Newcastle man was named as captain for the return game and got himself on the scoresheet heading home Gael Kakuta’s 9th-minute free-kick. Ultimately, the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

At youth level, Newcastle had two players called up at U21 level, one at U20 and 1 at U18 level respectively.

Freddie Woodman was included in the England U21 squad [Image from NUFC]

At U21 level, teams began qualification for the next European Championships which is set to be held in Italy in 2019. Aidy Boothroyd’s England U21 side were drawn into Group 4 and started their campaign away to the Netherlands. Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman was an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw in Holland with Norwich City’s Angus Gunn preferred. Woodman did, however, return for the home game against Latvia which they won 3-0.

Tyrique Bartlett was called up to South Africa’s U20 squad as they played an England U18 side in a friendly at St Geroge’s Park. He was an unused substitute as the South African’s won 2-1. At U18 level, 17-year-old goalkeeper Otto Huuhtman was selected by Finland as they faced Austria in a double bill of friendlies. The goalkeeper played the full 90 minutes of the first game which Finland won 3-2 while was an unused substitute as the second game ended in a goalless draw.

Loany Toons

Screen Shot 2017-10-28 at 03.03.21This months edition of loany toons is, for the most part, a story of lows. Newcastle United have seven players out on loan at seven different clubs spread across four nations and five domestic leagues. That number would have been eight players had Tim Krul’s loan switch to Brighton had not been made permanent. For the most part, though, they struggled in September with only one player managing to find a goal for his on-loan side.

Matt Sels had a rather difficult night at the Allianz Arena [Image from Getty Images]

To be fair, one player it would have been remarkable to score is goalkeeper Matz Sels. The Belgian goalkeeper struggled for game time at Anderlecht in September with him only playing in two of their six games. Sels was on bench warming duties as the reigning Belgian Champions started the month off with a 3-2 defeat of KSC Lokeren but was brought in for the midweek game. Bayern Munich away at the Allianz Arena was always going to be a busy night for the shot-stopper. That said, he did pull off a number of impressive saves to deny the likes of Arjen Robben to leave with only a 3-0 defeat. The scoreline looked all the more respectful considering Anderlecht played 80 minutes down to 10 men after Sven Kums was sent off. Coach Rene Weiler kept Sels in the side for the trip to KV Kortrijk a few days later as Anderlecht were frustrated to a 2-2 draw. That was Sels last bit of involvement in September as it was back to bench warming duties for their three remaining games of the month: a 1-0 win over KCV Westerlo in the Beiker Van Belgie, 2-1 win over Waas Beveren I the league and 3-0 defeat at home to Celtic in the second round of Champions League group games. Anderlecht finished September bottom of Group B in the Champions League and 9th in Belgian Pro League. Weiler was sacked in the build-up to the clash with Celtic and at the end of the month was yet to be replaced. Hein Vanhaezebrouck was appointed Weiler’s successor on 3rd October.


Achraf Lazaar had a difficult start to life at Benevento [Image from AS Roma]

Achraf Lazaar joined newly promoted Serie A side Benevento on loan in the final days of the transfer window and did not make his debut until his sides first league game of September. The Moroccan International made his debut in the home game against Torino, replacing Mario D’Alessandro with 21 minutes remaining as his new side ultimately fell to a 1-0 defeat. In the next game, Lazaar was handed his first start by coach Marco Baroni. He played the full game at left-midfield in what was a nightmare game for Benevento as they were trashed 6-0 by Napoli and it did not get much easier as their next game was As Roma at home the following weekend. Roma won that game 4-0 thanks to a brace from Edin Dzeko and couple of own goals from the Benevento defenders. Lazaar was replaced by Vittorio Parigini just after the hour mark and was replaced by the same man again in the final game of the month though this time just before the hour. Benevento fell to another defeat, this time 2-0 to Crotone. Benevento finished a goalless September rock bottom of Serie A with no points and a goal difference of -15.

Adam Armstrong (far left) competes for a corner with Sheffield United’s Mark Beevers in another frustrating month for the Trotters [Image from The Bolton News]

The narrative was no different for Bolton Wanderers in the EFL Championship who have Adam Armstrong on loan: zero goals scored and zero points scored in September as Phil Parkinson’s side lost all seven of their games in all competitions. Bolton began September by hosting relegated Middlesbrough at the Macron Stadium but Gary Monk’s side left with all three points after a 3-0 win. Armstrong was an unused substitute. He started the midweek contest against Sheffield United at the Macron but was replaced with just over 20 minutes remaining as Cameron Carter-Vicker’s 20th-minute strike was enough for the Blades to win 1-0. Parkinson fielded Armstrong for the final 20 minutes at the weekend in place of Mark Little at Portman Road with his side trailing 1-0. The striker was pretty ineffective tough as Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town eventually won 2-0. The EFL Cup has been the competition the Newcastle born striker has found his goals so far this season. So, it was perhaps surprising he was only given the final 10 minutes of their tie with West Ham. Bolton were already 2-0 down at the London Stadium when he came on but the game finished 3-0 as they crashed out of the tournament at the Fourth Round. Adam La Fondre relieved him of duties in the league game against Brentford Town after just an hour and Parkinson did not include Armstrong for the 2-0 defeat against Bristol City at Ashton Gate. Armstrong returned for the final league game of the month; an away trip to Villa Park to play Aston Villa. Again, he was largely ineffective as a Jonothan Kodija penalty was enough to seal the points for Villa in a 1-0 win. Bolton finished their dismal September rock bottom of the Championship with only two points and already seven points adrift of safety.

Stuart Findlay in action for Kilmarnock against Dundee FC [Image from Getty Images]

Across the border in Scotland and Stuart Findlay continued his second loan spell with Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock. Having made his debut at the end of August in the 2-2 draw with Hamilton Academical, Findlay was a mainstay in Lee McCulloch’s defence. The Scottish U21 International centre-back played the full 90 minutes in Kilmarnock;s 2-0 defeat away to Motherwell and impressive 1-1 draw away to title-chasing Aberdeen. Kilmarnock was frustrated at home by Dundee FC as they could only muster a 1-1 draw before they ended September with a disappointing 2-0 defeat at home against Ross County. Having seen a number of goals Kilmarnock conceded in September, for the most part, I feel Findlay could have done better especially in picking up his man (Craig Curran) for Ross County’s opener. McCulloch was felt let down by his players following the home defeat and consequently resigned the following day with Kilmarnock bottom of the Scottish Premiership table with 3 points.

All the Newcastle players out on loan who had better fortunes in terms of results and contribution were in League One.

Sean Longstaff celebrates scoring against AFC Wimbledon [Image from Blackpool FC]

Of the three, Sean Longstaff was the only one to score for his loan club. The goal came at the start of the month at Bloomfield Road with a wonderful solo effort against AFC Wimbledon in the 52nd minute enough for Blackpool to win 1-0. Longstaff sat out the midweek goalless draw at Scunthorpe United in midweek and came on for Sesse D’Almeida with just over half an hour remaining at Plymouth Argyle the following weekend. The midfielder laid off Jimmy Ryan for his sides second goal of the game in torrential conditions as Blackpool left with a 3-1 win. He did the same for Callum Cooke against Oxford United at home before being replaced by D’Almeida in injury time. D’Almeida replaced Longstaff again in the final 20 minutes of Blackpool’s 3-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers. The defeat seemed to be the trigger of a less than impressive end to the month for Blackpool as they could only earn a goalless draw at home against Rochdale and lost 2-1 at Southend United at the end of the month. Longstaff played the full 90 minutes in both games as Gary Bowyer’s side ended September 9th in League One with 18 points.

Ivan Toney in action for Wigan Athletic against Plymouth Argyle [Image from the Plymouth Herald]

Staying in the North-West with Wigan Athletic this time and Ivan Toney did not have quite so prolific a September as he did an August. The 21-year-old started the month with Wigan’s trip to the club he was on loan with this time twelve months ago. Toney scored 7 times for Shrewsbury but when he left they were still relegation candidates. However, they have flourished in 2017 and find themselves top of League One. Toney played just over an hour of Wigan’s 1-0 defeat at New Meadow before featuring in the final 16 minutes at The Valley in midweek as Wigan beat Charlton Athletic 3-0. His performance was slightly marred by picking up a second yellow card in as many games. His next appearance came from the bench but perhaps unexpectedly as he replaced Nick Powell with just 37 minutes played at the DW against Bristol Rovers. Wigan won the game 3-0 and Toney again came off the bench the following midweek coming on for Will Grigg in Wigan’s 1-0 win over his former club Northampton Town. After that victory, Toney was started in the weekend meeting at London Road to face Peterborough United. Wigan took an early lead which Toney should have doubled but goalkeeper Jonathan Bond pulled off a great save as the hosts came from behind to win 3-2. He was again a second-half substitute in midweek as Plymouth visited the DW and was fouled to earn the penalty which Powell converted as Wigan won 1-0. Toney ended the month as an unused substitute as Wigan defeated Walsall 2-0 at home. Paul Cook’s side ended September 2nd in the League One table with 25 points and 4 adrift of early leaders Shrewsbury Town.

Alex Gilliead in action for Bradford City [Image from The Telegraph and Argus]

Just behind them in the table is Stuart McCall’s Bradford City and Alex Gilliead. The winger played all but 15 minutes if Bradford’s action in September. The only time he was not on the pitch was the final quarter of an hour against Peterborough at London Road when he was replaced by Omari Patrick. Gilliead played the full 90 minutes as Bradford started the month with a 3-1 victory at valley parade over Bristol Rovers and after the meeting with Peterborough played the entirety of Bradford’s 2-2 away draw with Oxford United; 1-0 victory at home over local rivals Rotherham United; 1-0 away win against Northampton Town; 3-0 defeat at home to Fleetwood Town and 2-0 win at home against Doncaster Rovers. Gilliead contributed no goals or assists in September but picked up three yellow cards for his efforts against Peterborough, Rotherham and Northampton. Stuart McCall’s Bradford City ended September in 3rd place on 23 points; two adrift of Wigan in the second automatic promotion spot.

Rowan’s Monthly Awards

Matt Ritchie has now assisted two thirds of Newcastle's league goals this season [Image from The Evening Chronicle]
Matt Ritchie contributed the assist for all three of Newcastle’s league goals in September [Image from The Evening Chronicle]

Player of the Month: Matt Ritchie
There were two candidates for this award. Jamaal Lascelles for his man of the match performance against Swansea City and header against Stoke City ensured Newcastle collected the six points they did in September. The second candidate is Matt Ritchie whose creativity provided the assist for all three of the goals Newcastle scored. Both players were integral to Newcastle United’s performances in September and the obvious one would be to give it to Lascelles. However, I have another one marked for him and want to give this one to the man who had a part to play in each of the goals Newcastle scored; their real creative force of the month. Ritchie.

The image says it all really, Joselu missed a number of big chances that he really should have put away [Image from The Evening Chronicle]
Joselu missed a number of chances against his former side Stoke City and Brighton as the month progressed [Image from The Evening Chronicle]

Worst player of the Month: Joselu
This one may seem harsh given he was unlucky not to score against Swansea City due to the outstanding save by Lukasz Fabianski and last seasons top scorer Dwight Gayle has not yet found his shooting boots either. However, Joselu’s chance taking and finishing, in general, was poor. He had a hatful of chances against his former club and should have scored when Yedlin’s shot was deflected into his path 6 yards out. The same can be said when the ball came to him in the area against Brighton.

For me, the image that perfectly captures that team ethic created at newcastle United by Rafa Benitez even when he cannot be in the dugout [Image from NUFC Blog]
The victory at Swansea City was just what the doctor ordered after a disapointing end to the window [Image from NUFC Blog]

Best Moment of the Month: Victory at the Liberty
This one has to be the victory at the Liberty Stadium. The rhetoric coming into the game was that of a Swansea side full of optimism following the deadline day signing of Renato Sanches while Newcastle was painted as a club on a negative note following the lack of additional incoming players and without their manager who was recovering at home after a Hernia operation. Swansea could easily have taken the lead through Tammy Abrahams around the hour mark if not for Jamaal Lascelles getting back to clear off the line and for Lascelles then to go up the other end and get the only goal of the game as Newcastle won their first Premier League away game in 13 attempts was the icing on the cake.

Joselu fires wide from six yards out in the first half [Image from The Evening Chronicle]
Missed opportunities like this one from Joselu proved costly against Brighton [Image from The Evening Chronicle]

Worst Moment of the Month: Defeat to Brighton
Keeping this to on the field action, in a month where Newcastle played only three times and lost just once then this one becomes an easy one. It is obviously the defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion on the south coast. Newcastle had the opportunities to score in this game but chances for Joselu and Mikel Merino yielded no goal as Newcastle’s poor chance taking and a lapse of concentration at the back cost them as Chris Hughton defeated Newcastle for the first time in seven attempts since leaving in 2010.

Rob Elliott's fantastic save to keep out Solly march [Image from Sky Sports]
Rob Elliott’s fantastic save to keep out Solly march [Image from Sky Sports]

Save of the Month: Rob Elliott vs Solly March
Rob Elliott made a number of good saves in September but the two I am split on is the save to dey Eric Maxim-Moting’s header against Stoke and the save off the line to deny Solly March against Brighton. Both saves came after just being beaten by Shaqiri and Hemed in those matches respectively. The stop to deny March was impressive with Elliott having been caught out by Bruno’s cross while Motings header bounced right in front of him just like the strike from Shaqiri had done. However, I’m going to go for the one I thought was most destined to end in the back of the net before Elliott got there. Therefore, the save against March takes it.


Christian Atsu opens the scoring for Newcastle United against Stoke with his first goal in the Premier League [Image from BBC Sport]

Goal of the Month: Christian Atsu vs Stoke City
Newcastle United only scored three goals in September. Two of those came from set-pieces but for this one, I am going to go with the one from open play. It was a move that typified how Newcastle have been set up to play under Benitez as pressure from Perez meant Joe Allan missed the ball and Merino could take it forward before giving it to Ritchie. The curling ball from Ritchie was exquisite and caught the defence out with Atsu first to get there at the far post.

Should Tomer Hemed have been on the pitch to score the Brighton goal after stamping on Newcastle's DeAndre Yedlin [Image from Sky Sports]
Should Tomer Hemed have been on the pitch to score the Brighton goal after stamping on Newcastle’s DeAndre Yedlin but then how was he given so much space in the box [Image from Sky Sports]

Disappointing moment of the month: Hemed goal
If the defeat to Brighton was the worst moment of the month then the disappointing one has to be the goal from Tomer Hemed. First, Hemed should have been sent off moments before the goal for a stamp on DeAndre Yedlin; an action he has since been handed a three-game retrospective ban. Second, the defending was poor. TELEMMGLPICT000141665826_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bq8U3dV0k8-47x-Y38_MK1acTgofGm3LlPv8xqORDvd8QDale Stephens well-rehearsed run was
not followed by a defender allowing him a free header and the marking on hemed equally shameful as he managed to get his shot off easily despite being in a triangle of Newcastle bodies.

Jamaal Lascelles has really impressed the past two weeks with two game winning headers and big performances at the back [Image from BBC Sport]
Jamaal Lascelles has really impressed in September with two game-winning headers and big performances at the back [Image from BBC Sport]

Young Player of the Month: Jamaal Lascelles
This award was aimed at players of the age of 23 and under in the first team squad who performed well. just coming in under that banner is Jamaal Lascelles (He turns 24 in November). The central defender played an integral part in Newcastle’s September scoring twice in as many league wins plus doing exceptionally well to keep out Tammy Abrahams after he had got the runoff of him and rounded Elliott. Most defenders would have stood by not Lascelles and his goalscoring contribution takes him well above the ever-improving Mikel Merino in the stakes for this particular award.

Rob Elliott made a number of important saves in Newcastle's win [Image from The Evening Chronicle]
Rob Elliott made a number of important saves in September for Newcastle and showed just why Benitez gave him the number 1 jersey; he takes this award along with Lascelles [Image from The Evening Chronicle]

Surprise Player of the Month: Jamaal Lascelles and Rob Elliott
For all of the reasons above, Lascelles was a contender with his two goals in as many games given his lack of goalscoring prowess in the Championship last season. The second candidate for me is Rob Elliott. He has certainly shown just why Rafa Benitez gave him the number one jersey with big game changing saves against Stoke and helped keep an under par Newcastle in the game at Brighton. I’m going to make this one a joint award between the two.

Lewis McNall scored two on his return to the U23 action, enough to take the U23 player of the month award from an overall disappointing month [Image from NUFC]
Two goals  on his return to the U23 action was enough to take this award  [Image from NUFC]

U23 player of the month: Lewis McNall
Peter Beardsley’s U23 side did not have the best of September’s as they failed to win a single game. I find it hard to find a standout player but I will give it to Lewis McNall whom after making his comeback from injury scored a brace against Burnley. It was not enough for the victory in the Premier League cup but that on his return was the best I can pick out.

Loser of the Month: Jack Colback and Aleksandar Mitrovic
This one is another joint award and this one is shared between Aleksandar Mitrovic and Jack Colback. The Serbian International missed all of Newcastle’s action in September due to a three-game ban he picked up following an elbow on Manuel Lanzini against West Ham. Colback meanwhile, struggled to even get game time in Peter Beardsley’s U23 side after failing to negotiate a move away from Tyneside.

Premier League Table

Premier League table at the end of September [Image from BBC Sport]

Two victories and a defeat means Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United picked up six points from a possible nine in September. They had nine points in the Premier League and sat 9th in the table at the end of September with a game in hand and nine points on the board. They find themselves four points above the relegation places occupied by Swansea City, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace and only three adrift of the Europan places with Watford occupying 5th. They were 10 points adrift of the two Manchester clubs.

That is courtesy of September turning to October of the course of the fourth match-week of the month. The game in hand would be played on 1st October against Liverpool which will have been played by the time of publication.

Next Month

It is four games for Newcastle United in October. First up is the visit of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to St James’ Park in a game which will already have been played by the time of publication. Following the second international break when the majority of nations will discover their world cup qualification fate, Newcastle travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton. The second home game of the month sees Roy Hodgson’s struggling Crystal Palace side to Tyneside and October ends for Newcastle United in the Monday Night Football against Burnley at Turf Moor the day before Halloween.

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