“Unacceptable” – that’s how Newcastle United manager Steve McLaren described his side’s performance in the 3-0 defeat away to Everton on Wednesday night.
However, little blame could lie at the door of Newcastle’s goalkeeper Rob Elliot, who conceded two consecutive penalties to Ross Barkley. The second, that most undermining of concessions for a goalkeeper, the Panenka.
As Andrea Pirlo showed in the Euro 2012 quarter-final against England and as Antonin Panenka himself showed in the winning penalty for Czechoslovakia in the 1976 European Championship final win over West Germany, it can be done at times of intense pressure.
Barkley’s second from the spot at Goodison Park was not done with that type of burden resting on his shoulders. But still it takes a certain type of self-belief to attempt it. Nerve and precision. Perfect timing. And always a risk. There’s always the chance that the goalkeeper will read you body language, stay rooted to the spot and collect your effort with embarrassing ease.
With Kevin Mirallas injured, Leighton Baines an unused substitute and Romelu Lukaku already substituted, responsibility fell to Barkley to take on the responsibility of the two late penalties that were to build on the first half opener from Aaron Lennon.
Speaking on Everton’s official website, the England international said:
“It was the right chance to do it [the Panenka]. We’d basically won the game because we were 2-0 up in the last few minutes. I just thought ‘why not?’.
“The lads were asking me what was going through my mind at the time but they were over the moon. The main thing today was getting the three points and the penalties were the bonus.
“As you get older, you realise more what positions to be in on the pitch, you realise not to play too deep. You can get a lot of the ball there but for the type of player that I am and to show what I can do, I need to be higher up the pitch.
“I feel more mature on the pitch. I feel a bit more vocal, asking for the ball all the time. My performances are showing that now. I know that if I affect the game, it can boost the team. That’s what I think about when I’m on the pitch.
“I’m believing that every game I go into I’m going to get chances to score. After games where I don’t score, I am really disappointed.”
If the audacious penalty had not come off, it’s doubtful Barkley’s confidence levels would have been eroded in a serious manner. Although, he may well have questioned adopting such an approach at a future date.
Creativity and technique as well as belief and an inherent calmness are all needed to pull off a manoeuvre such as the Panenka. Barkley provided evidence in front of his side’s home supporters that he possesses all these traits.
Brian Strahan, Pundit Arena