Steve Bruce and his squad will have been kicking themselves in the Vicarage Road changing room as they blew a one-goal lead by needlessly conceding two penalties to gift the Hornets victory.
After the match, Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer fumed at the lapses in concentration which cost the side the opportunity to surpass their total of 45 points set with Rafael Benitez at the helm in the Premier League last term.
What did he say?
Speaking on Amazon Prime’s coverage of the match, Shearer said: “[Matt] Ritchie doesn’t really go for the ball, but he does catch him, and I can understand why the referee has given a penalty.”
He added: “I would want that as a forward, I can’t complain that the referee has given that.”
Shearer lamented Javier Manquillo’s challenge which led to the second penalty, saying: “You’ve got to look at the defender here, Manquillo, he’s switched from the right to the left side, and almost straight away it’s just crazy defending.”
“It’s so naïve. Crazy defending,” Newcastle’s record goalscorer concluded.
Throwing points away
Allowing the hosts back into the game via a penalty was bad enough, but gifting Watford the chance to take the lead courtesy of a needless tug was nothing sort of criminal. The Magpies have secured their Premier League status for next season early, but that is no excuse for their performances over the last three matches.
Twice Newcastle went behind against West Ham and relied upon some good fortune to get back into the match. Against Manchester City the Toon were beyond dismal, embarrassingly allowing their opposition to breaking the Premier League record for the highest number of successful passes in a game, 93.7 per cent.
The dreadful run continued as Bruce recorded consecutive defeats for the fourth time this term. Although Dwight Gayle continued his excellent scoring run having now bagged three in his last seven Premier League matches, the striker saw the Magpies’ defence undo his early hard work.
Frustratingly, as Shearer expressed, neither penalties Newcastle conceded were necessary challenges, both opportunities were harder to score than the penalties Troy Deeney Ultimately dispatched. The Newcastle legend correctly identified the mistakes as “naïve” and “crazy defending” and Bruce must whip his squad into shape fast for the final three matches or risk further embarrassment.