Why are Newcastle and Sunderland struggling so badly?

first_img Here, Press Association Sport examines whether the clubs can turn the situation around or if they face a full term of struggle. What has gone wrong? In both instances there is an argument to say not enough has yet been put right, rather than anything new going wrong. Both clubs narrowly escaped relegation last season and, in Sunderland’s case, battling against the drop is becoming an all-too regular occurrence. The Wear-Tyne neighbours have changed managers in recent months in an attempt to find stability, but Dick Advocaat and Steve McClaren need time. Sunderland have been unsettled by a series of unsuccessful managerial appointments while Newcastle’s controversial owner Mike Ashley has been accused by the likes of Alan Shearer of alienating fans in the past. Such matters can distract players and it could be a while before anything steadies itself. But what are the immediate concerns on the pitch? Newcastle are not scoring enough goals and Sunderland are leaking them. The Magpies have hit the net just twice in their five games – the lowest total in the Premier League – and they have also created the fewest chances, 25. They have only had 10 shots on target. But it would be wrong to simply blame the strikers, as the central midfield players are not getting the ball forward enough. Big names such as Papiss Cisse and Moussa Sissoko are not firing and new signing Florian Thauvin has not impressed. Sunderland have shipped 11 goals in their five outings and Advocaat has tried three different combinations in central defence. Players were also accused of lacking effort and commitment in the opening games. What are the strengths of the sides? Sunderland’s back four actually looked much improved in their loss to Tottenham on Sunday. They kept good shape for most of the game and frustrated their opponents. There could be no questioning of their endeavour and the partnership of Younes Kaboul and John O’Shea probably looked their best bet. They also boast a vastly experienced and proven goalscorer in Jermain Defoe. Newcastle do seem to be showing greater resilience and organisation than they were towards the end of last season, under John Carver’s unhappy brief spell in charge. Georginio Wijnaldum also looks a good addition and Tim Krul offers assurance in goal. What will last year’s experience have taught them? Last season was poor from both clubs. Newcastle’s form nosedived after the departure of Alan Pardew as manager in December and McClaren has needed to restore order. They should have learned there can be no room for complacency, as a poor run of results can be difficult to arrest. Sunderland saved themselves from relegation with a good late run after Advocaat’s arrival. They need to replicate the spirit they showed then. What can be expected from the managers? McClaren and Advocaat are both vastly experienced, but yet they still have things to get to grips with having inherited struggling and disorganised sides. Based on past records, both should be capable of taking their sides to safety and better. Press Associationcenter_img North-east rivals Newcastle and Sunderland occupy the bottom two places in the Barclays Premier League after poor starts to the season.last_img read more

UW looks to rebound at LaBahn

first_imgJunior goaltender Alex Rigsby surrendered three goals in the two losses to Minnesota-Duluth.[/media-credit]The Badgers’ offense was nowhere to be found last weekend, as the Wisconsin women’s hockey team not only suffered their first two defeats of the season, but were shutout twice on the road against Minnesota-Duluth at AMSOIL Arena.The 2-0 and 1-0 defeats marked the first time since 2001 that the Badgers (3-2-1, 1-2-1 WCHA) have not managed a single score in back-to-back games. The series also marked the end of a six-game road trip for Wisconsin, one which included games against Minnesota State and Lindenwood.“The toughest thing in our business is to score goals,” head coach Mark Johnson said at his weekly press conference. “We were unfortunate this weekend to come away empty-handed both nights. … Their goalie was good, and we didn’t capitalize on a lot of opportunities, especially on the powerplay.”What the Badgers did get in Duluth were several difficult breaks. In Friday’s game, the Bulldogs’ (2-2, 2-2) first goal came off a botched clear that left an open net for UMD forward Brienna Gillanders. The second goal came after a solid poke check from Wisconsin’s goaltender, Alex Rigsby, which sent the puck behind her into the Badgers’ net. Saturday’s 1-0 defeat was equally disappointing, as UW failed to find a breakthrough despite multiple chances and 25 shots on goal.As Johnson pointed out, the other problem for the Badgers was the lack of scoring on powerplays. While the defense looked impressive, thwarting all eight UMD powerplays, the Wisconsin offense was another story. On Friday, the powerplay unit went 0-for-5, as Bulldogs’ goaltender Kayla Black turned aside all 31 shots. Saturday’s effort was similar as the Badgers yet again failed to capitalize, finishing 0-for-3 on powerplays. Despite their first two losses of the season, UW’s head coach said his team is not panicking.“Everything’s pretty upbeat; everything’s pretty positive,” Johnson said. “The team has played pretty well. Unfortunately, we just came away this past weekend with not scoring the goals we needed to win hockey games.”Instead, they are looking forward to their home opener and the first game ever played at LaBahn Arena. The puck will drop in the brand new 2,400-seat arena Friday at 7 p.m. against Bemidji State, and game two of the series will take place Sunday at 2 p.m.Located directly behind the Kohl Center, LaBahn Arena is a sign of the growth of the Wisconsin women’s hockey program over the last decade. The program has won four national titles since 2006 and also has six Frozen Four appearances over that period.In regard to the new arena and the home opener, Johnson had only high praise.“The future is bright for the young athletes to get a chance to work out of the facility,” he said. “There’s so many wonderful things about it. Now we get to open it up Friday night. It will be a special week. It will be a special night for the hockey program.”Some wonder how long it will take to make LaBahn feel like home for the team, as the Badgers posted a 19-2 record at the Kohl Center last year. Johnson noted that the team is beginning to adjust to its new home.The more we play, obviously, the more comfortable we’ll be,” Johnson said. “But our players, after spending a couple of weeks in the locker room, spending a couple of weeks practicing, those things are starting to come.”The Badgers will look to start turning their new house into a home against a Bemidji State team they beat in all four games last year, and currently sits at the bottom of the conference with a 1-3 overall record. However, there is no guarantee Friday’s game will end with a comfortable victory, as the Badgers only escaped the last meeting with a one-goal victory.But it may take until the first puck drop Friday night for Johnson to fully absorb the changing face of his program. “I had to pinch myself this morning as I drove down to work,” he said. “It’s a reality. It hasn’t really hit me yet.”That’s understandable since the women’s hockey team has called the Kohl Center home since 1998, sharing the venue with the men’s hockey team and both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.Once the game begins, Johnson believes that the “pinch myself” mindset will be gone and “reality will be with us Friday night.”And if they want to open their new arena on a positive note, the Badgers will be needing some goals as well.last_img read more