Overworked and overcome, Newcastle prove modern football takes more than 11 players
There were 90 minutes on the board – if still 10 of stoppage-time to follow – when Matt Ritchie and Emil Krafth finally made their entrances. There was a time when Sean Dyche felt the manager least likely to turn to substitutes. Now it is Eddie Howe, and for a different reason: minus 11 players, he in effect does not have alternatives.
There was a time when Dyche marked winning promotion with four games to go by naming an unchanged team for the remaining matches. Now Howe has picked the same 10 outfield players against Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Everton in 12 days. Out of a possible 360 minutes – injury-time actually makes their workload bigger – Alexander Isak has played 351, Jamaal Lascelles 356, Miguel Almiron 357, Anthony Gordon and Lewis Miley 359. Kierian Trippier, Fabian Schar, Tino Livramento, Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton have gone the distance.
As Newcastle lost 3-0 to Everton, their heaviest defeat of the season completed by a goal assisted by one of Dyche’s substitutes, in Nathan Patterson, and scored by another, in Beto, fatigue became a determining factor. Trippier, man of the match against Manchester United, assumed a prominence for a very different reason, sadly culpable for the first two goals. The overworked were overcome, a decisive Newcastle signing turning the game Everton’s way.
It may have been the worst night of Trippier’s Newcastle career. No blame was directed at him. “Kieran has been absolutely magnificent since he signed, the catalyst for a lot that happened,” Howe said. “Collectively we were off our best.”
Newcastle’s best necessitates sharpness. And that, in a season packed with major matches, that requires more players. Last year, without the demands of Europe – let