James Maddison endures chastening day on trip to club he could have joined… as Newcastle brutally sweep aside Tottenham to raise questions about Ange Postecoglou

James Maddison could have signed for Newcastle. There were multiple offers rejected in the summer of 2022 and, last year, their interest cooled when they were told the Leicester playmaker was hot on Tottenham.

‘There’s only one greedy b*****d.’ chorused the home fans here. That is not entirely fair. He was motivated by reasons beyond money. On Saturday, however, there was every reason to doubt his rationale.

After all, those supporters only targeted Maddison because they wanted to see him in their colours. They aren’t short of crowd favourites at St James’ Park – Alexander Isak, Bruno Guimaraes and Anthony Gordon were outstanding in the 4-0 win – but Maddison has the skill and swagger they like.

It did not appear so during this game, but Newcastle have missed a playmaker of his ilk this season, and Maddison must have wondered if he’d made the right choice as his body language betrayed frustration with team-mates and a game-plan picked apart by Eddie Howe.

At one point, Maddison appeared to plead with Timo Werner to do more – blood and stones spring to mind – and the harder he tried himself, the worse it got. He was substituted in the 81st minute, much to the delight of the Toon Army.

James Maddison endured a chastening day as Tottenham were hammered 4-0 by Newcastle

Eddie Howe’s side did a job on Spurs and took them to pieces after a dominant performance

They had plenty else to cheer, though. It felt remarkable after a win just as brutal and convincing as last season’s 6-1 triumph that Spurs are 10 points ahead of Newcastle in the table. 

Howe did a job on Ange Postecoglou and his players did the same on every one of those in opposition, especially speed merchant Micky van de Ven. Quick of foot but slow of thought, the Dutch defender was turned inside and out and – literally, as one incredible picture testifies – upside down by two-goal Isak. 

Spurs were hopeless and Maddison was helpless. On a dark day, his post-game thoughts were as illuminating as ever.

‘A horrible day,’ said the England star, who was outshone by rival Gordon, scorer of one and creator of two. 

‘It’s hard to speak about it. Anyone who has played here before knows what type of game you’re in for. But it still took us by surprise. Sloppy, sloppy errors.

‘We just weren’t brave enough with the ball – too many safe passes, too many safe options, not enough courage to try and play a riskier pass. 

‘We weren’t good enough and we have to accept that, look in the mirror and know we weren’t good enough. I can only apologise to the fans for the fact that they had to witness that scoreline.’

Maddison apologised to Spurs supporters and bemoaned his team-mates' 'sloppy errors'

Maddison apologised to Spurs supporters and bemoaned his team-mates’ ‘sloppy errors’

The result raised questions about Ange Postecoglou’s style ahead of a daunting run of games

The nature of the win has Newcastle fans wondering if they can close the gap to Spurs, especially as the Londoners have Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City still to play. Even if not – and it’s a tall ask – this felt like two teams heading in opposite directions.

Is Ange Ball about to burst? A bad run in those forthcoming fixtures – and the failure to qualify for the Champions League – would make for an uncomfortable season’s end. Maddison’s reflections would certainly be worth a listen then.

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