NEWCASTLE UNITED’S three-game winning run came crashing to an end as they slumped to a 3-0 home defeat to West Ham.

The result was the joint-heaviest home defeat Newcastle have suffered under Rafael Benitez – what were the main debating points to emerge from the game at St James’ Park?


The Magpie Group, an umbrella organisation formed from a number of different Newcastle fans’ groups, have planned a series of protests to highlight their anger at Mike Ashley’s continued ownership of the club.

Prior to Saturday, the group called on fans to arrive in the 11th minute of the game, thus highlighting what they perceive to be 11 years of failure under Ashley’s control.

There were a few empty seats at kick-off, but if the group had hoped for a powerful display of anger, they would have been left disappointed. There might have been 1,000 late arrivals at most, and it hardly helped that the planned entrance time coincided with Javier Hernandez firing West Ham into the lead.

The Magpie Group’s flagship proposal is a complete boycott of Sunday’s televised home game with Wolves. On this evidence, it might have a limited impact.


Newcastle’s defence has been their biggest strength for the last couple of seasons, but this was an afternoon when things were uncharacteristically ragged. As a result, it would be no surprise to see Benitez revert to a five-man backline when he takes his side to Everton on Wednesday.

The Magpies looked comfortable with five at the back at Burnley, and while Benitez is understandably reluctant to field such a formation in home games, he must be seriously considering it for Goodison Park.

He could also recall skipper Jamaal Lascelles, who was an unused substitute at the weekend. Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez have formed an effective partnership in Lascelles’ absence, but the pair struggled to cope with the movement of West Ham’s forward line. As a result, there will surely be changes in two days’ time.


Jonjo Shelvey is another player who could find himself restored to the starting line-up at Everton. Ki Sung-yueng’s form has prevented Shelvey from reclaiming his place in the team, but on Saturday, Newcastle missed the midfielder’s passing range.

At no stage did Newcastle manage to get behind the West Ham backline, and while Salomon Rondon tried to hold the ball up in attack, he often found himself isolated and surrounded by opponents.

Ki was one of Newcastle’s better players, and in Saturday’s formation, it is hard to see how you can fit both the South Korean and Shelvey into the same side. A switch to a 5-3-2 line-up might mean you could play both players though, while also retaining Mo Diame for some defensive-midfield protection.


For all the talk of attacking acquisitions once the transfer window reopens, Newcastle’s key January priority has to be a new left-back. Paul Dummett’s injury has exposed a glaring weakness in the squad that desperately needs plugging.

Javier Manquillo’s limitations have become increasingly obvious during his time on Tyneside, and he struggled again on Saturday, failing to pick up Robert Snodgrass as he crossed for Hernandez’s opener and generally finding himself scrambling around to try to keep track of his opponents.

Playing either Matt Ritchie or Kenedy as a wing-back is not a long-term option, and the fact that Achraf Lazaar still cannot make the squad when Dummett is absent says everything about his standing. Dummett’s return will help in the short term, but Newcastle desperately need a new left-back to compete with the Wales international.


West Ham’s players took a while to get used to Manuel Pellegrini, and the Hammers were being talked of as potential relegation candidates in the first month of the season.

That now seems wholly unrealistic, with Saturday’s win having lifted the East Londoners to 13th position in the table, six points clear of the bottom three.

Their defence remains an issue, and a lack of consistency still needs to be adequately addressed. Their attack is the envy of any club outside the established top six though, and if Marko Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson maintain their current form, it shouldn’t be too long before West Ham are competing in the top half of the table.