In the FA Cup fourth round today, League One side Oxford United topped Newcastle United 3-0.
In soccer, and sports in general, you don’t want to lose. Even if it gets you a higher draft pick in other sports, it sends a bad message that losing is acceptable. No member of Toon Army will tell you the club should focus more on the FA Cup than promotion from the Championship. Especially with the replay against Birmingham City, the Cup was more of a nuisance than anything. It did give the club a chance to play some out of form players, and young players eager for a chance. It’s not a bad thing they are now eliminated, it’s a shame how poorly they performed.
Today’s match was awful. The club was featuring a lot of fringe players and youngsters, but it’s not an excuse to lose 3-0 to a League One club. Aleksandar Mitrovic had an especially rough match, unable to find a finishing touch on some less than difficult chances, including a penalty. He earned that penalty with NUFC trailing 1-0, by being yanked down in the box as he broke open. Despite his earlier shortcomings in the finishing department, and possibly not ideal fitness coming off an injury, he stepped up to take it. It was saved, and that was a perfect picture of the match for the Magpies. Supporters on Twitter were not pleased with Mitro’s performance, and rightfully so.
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Toon Army deserved better. While it’s understood your first choice lineup will not fill the team sheet in an out of league match, the club needs to at least be respectable. Newcastle United want to be in the Premier League next season. Premier League teams don’t typically have stinkers this bad, against a team in the third level of English soccer. But, at least now the club can completely focus on promotion. They really were already giving that 90% of their attention, but now that they’ve been eliminated from the FA Cup, they can make it 100%. Still, the supporters deserve much better than they traveled to see today.