Daily Mail

Toon are selling themselves short with time-wasting obsession

- JACK GAUGHAN at the Etihad Stadium

BERNARDO SILVA wheeled away and the game was gone. Rather forlornly, one member of Newcastle United’s backroom staff leaned back to another. ‘That’s the difference,’ he said. At 1-0 they had just missed another big chance, failing to take advantage of superiorit­y. Manchester City had been ruffled, Ederson booting a goal kick out of play to consternat­ion in the stands. Ruben dias and Pep Guardiola both rallied the crowd. And then City immediatel­y went down the other end and scored. ‘I think it is about both boxes,’ said dan Burn when asked how Newcastle bridge the gap between themselves and the best. Goals have dried up and they have not kept a clean sheet in six games. Their game plan against the top sides is clear — frustrate to the edge of anarchy. Newcastle get under skins like few others. At one point, dias had to shove Anthony Gordon away from a City huddle as the youngster attempted to listen in during a break in play. Those stoppages were frequent: the ball was only between the white lines for 54 minutes and 49 seconds, the lowest number at the Etihad Stadium all season. Nick Pope regularly waited longer than 25 seconds to take goal kicks. Even when a goal down he took an age. On the hour, before Silva’s clincher, he took 35 seconds. There were three lengthy injury breaks for players who did not immediatel­y come off as well. And it makes you wonder, are Newcastle better than this? They created chances and might feel the result did not represent a fair reflection of the game, so to be so focused on clock-watching is at odds with their ability. No fan is paying to watch Pope bang his studs on a post or painstakin­gly check where the valve is. That this was City’s lowest ball-in-play time at home felt indicative of how Newcastle approached the game. That it was the third highest in-play time of Eddie Howe’s away trips this season points to a pattern. Newcastle have overachiev­ed this season, even with the rocky patch they are in. Lying sixth, four points off a Champions League spot with two games in hand, amounts to a superb campaign. But, as new signings arrive and Newcastle want to impress themselves on the big games for more than 20 minutes, the plan will inevitably evolve. As for now, they will rue not making the most of presentabl­e openings. Burn said: ‘I’d much rather we are creating all these chances and not

PHIL FODEN thinks a growing maturity has helped him revive his Manchester City form. The forward, 22, has scored four goals in his last three games and said: ‘I feel I’m a bit more mature. I’ve taken my game to the next step. I feel back to my best.’

scoring them than not creating them at all. I’m not particular­ly worried, to be honest. Not many teams will come here and do what we did to City.’

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