Crucial Minutes

Gaffer assesses cup defeat

Walter Zenga lamented the crucial two first half minutes in which Newcastle scored twice as Wolves were unable to chalk up a Toon double at St James’ Park this evening.

Both sides made eight changes from Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship fixture for tonight’s EFL Cup third round tie, and this time it was Newcastle – and not Wolves – who ran out 2-0 winners.

The goals from Matt Ritchie and Yoan Gouffran came on 29 and 31 minutes respectively and, whilst Wolves had chances both before and afterwards, they were unable to break through.

“We make a big gift in a couple of minutes and the game was over,” said Zenga.

“We made two mistakes in defensive situations and when you do that it is difficult to come back.

“The finish for the second goal is very nice but the situation leading to it is from our big mistake when we lost the ball.

“We cannot do it in that way just after we have gone 1-0 behind.

“Before they scored we had a great chance with a one-v-one against the keeper and in the second half we had more when the game opened up.

“In the last 20 minutes, with the score at 2-0, you need to make sure you never give up because you never know what might happen.

“Football is strange – sometimes one positive thing in the game can change it your way but sometimes you can play for three days and not get anything.

“Unfortunately we didn’t score and we ended up losing the game.

“The two teams both played good football in the spirit of the cup but we lost the game.

“I told the guys in the locker room after the game that I liked the way we played in the second half.

“I am sad because we are out of the cup but the game was lost in that two minutes in the first half.”

The Head Coach gave debuts to defender Silvio sa Pereira, from the start, and midfielder Ola John, as a half time substitute.

He felt it was the right time to blood both players, and also the right time to make extensive changes given the effort expended on Saturday and three big league fixtures just around the corner.

“Silvio was injured up until ten days ago, and his last game had been in May,” Zenga explained.

“And Ola John signed in the last week of August, and his last game was also in May.

“It was the right time to see them play and understand what they can do because you can see it in training but it is not the same as the games.

“Sometimes you have to see them play, and it was not a risk because we have full trust in all our players.

“Last Saturday we played an amazing game against a strong team in front of over 50,000 and we ran 190km so I have to protect the team and think about some rotation.

“I have to think about next week when we have three games in the Championship.

“Now we play against Brentford who played at home against Preston on Saturday and won 5-0.

"They have had all week to prepare for our game.

“I don’t want to lose a game but it is also my job to give everybody a chance to be involved in the project.

“And we didn’t lose the game because we made changes – Newcastle also changed eight players.

“Unfortunately we have lost and gone out of the cup and have to accept the result and now work on our mistakes.”

Wolves will now return home after spending five days in the North East for both the fixtures, a trip which Zenga believes has been very worthwhile for a revamped squad to get to know each other.

“All the time of spending time together is learning and understanding the players better,” he explained.

“If you only work together in the time of training you do not have time to understand the personality and the character of the players.

“We have spent a good few days in Newcastle and if we have the same chance again in the future it will also be good, as the players enjoyed it as well.”