Des­per­ate New­cas­tle picked off

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Luke Ed­wards at St James’ Park

If New­cas­tle United’s dis­grun­tled sup­port­ers did not de­liver the sort of mass protest that would put pres­sure on owner Mike Ash­ley to rec­tify the mis­take he made in the sum­mer, the team did it for them.

This was a timely re­minder of New­cas­tle’s many lim­i­ta­tions af­ter three suc­ces­sive wins had lifted the sense of dread on Ty­ne­side.

Hav­ing tried to ar­range a protest that would see fans refuse to take their seats un­til the 11th minute, sym­bol­is­ing the frus­tra­tion that has built over 11 years un­der Ash­ley, the only thing of note that hap­pened in that minute was West Ham tak­ing the lead through Javier Her­nan­dez – not what any­body had in mind. Those cam­paign­ing for change at New­cas­tle, ei­ther in own­er­ship or di­rec­tion, can­not be faulted for their ef­fort or the in­ten­tions, but the num­bers in­volved were dis­ap­point­ing.

The fact there were also some boos from fel­low sup­port­ers as they be­lat­edly took their seats shows how dif­fi­cult it is to con­vince oth­ers that a more mil­i­tant ap­proach is needed. Al­though New­cas­tle re­sponded well on the pitch to con­ced­ing the first goal, they have never been good at chas­ing a game un­der Rafael Ben­itez.

As their des­per­a­tion grew, they were un­done by West Ham counter-at­tacks, Her­nan­dez scor­ing again just af­ter the hour. Felipe An­der­son added a fine in­di­vid­ual goal in stop­page time.

“It was a re­minder of how hard things can be for us,” said Ben­itez. “You can see the play­ers they have up front, the value of them. They took their chances. We were too open and were pun­ished. We have won three games. The team was do­ing well, and we tried to be more ad­ven­tur­ous.

“But we made mis­takes, we didn’t take our chances and the dif­fer­ence was the play­ers West Ham have up front.”

West Ham fin­ished be­low New­cas­tle last sea­son, but spent more than £100m to rec­tify that, also ap­point­ing Manuel Pel­le­grini as man­ager.

In con­trast, New­cas­tle kept Ben­itez, but lu­di­crously ended the sum­mer win­dow more than £20 mil­lion in profit af­ter telling him he had to sell in or­der to buy.

Had Ay­oze Perez taken one of his three chances be­fore half-time, things might have been dif­fer­ent, but even if New­cas­tle had equalised, West Ham’s pace and pre­ci­sion in tran­si­tion meant they were a con­stant threat.

“We gave a com­plete per­for­mance,” said Pel­le­grini.

“We scored three good goals, we were solid and our play on the coun­ter­at­tack cre­ated so many chances.”

Taste of suc­cess: Javier Her­nan­dez salutes the trav­el­ling fans

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