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Paddy McLaughlin's Tuscany Tales #5

NUFC Logo Newcastle United FC

Patrick McLaughlin reflects on the Torneo di Viareggio draw with Club Nacional which has hit United's qualification hopes

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The feeling tonight is one of massive disappointment after the 2-2 draw with Club Nacional.

Not getting the win we wanted means it's now going to be a real uphill struggle to reach the last 16. Mathematically, four points could still take us through but it would need a lot of things to go in our favour.

We're as good as out, and even then we'd only be getting through by the skin of our teeth, but we'll still go into the last group game and give it our all.

There's nothing to lose now. If we get a win, luck could be on our side and we could still somehow sneak through.

In a tournament like this, you always want do do well - individually and collectively - so there's always something to play for. And if we do win on Saturday, we'd give ourselves the slightest of chances.

But we just need to go out and enjoy it, because it might be the last game we play in this competition.

If we can win, and Fiorentina maintain their 100 per cent record by beating Club Nacional, we'd be guaranteed to at least finish second in the group and you've got to always aim the highest you can. We can still finish second and we'll try to get as many points as we can and then keep our fingers crossed for some good fortune.

We played very well in the first half today. After they got the opening goal, we settled down, played a lot of good football and turned the game around.

Then in the second half, we just stopped. I don't know what happened. We just stopped winning a lot of second balls, they came at us and we ended up defending for a lot of the second half - although we did have a few half-chances which could have made a difference.

Overall, we more than matched them and I think we were better than them. If we'd have continued to play the way we did in the first half, I don't see any reason why we wouldn't have gone on to win the game, but unfortunately in the second half we just seemed to stop doing what we'd been doing so well.

The pitch was horrendous. There was so much sand and barely any grass down the middle. I haven't played on a pitch like that since I was a kid playing back in Ireland - it was Saturday morning boys' club stuff.

The ball was doing all sorts on it. You had to really focus on your touch and just hope that you didn't get any uneven bobbles when you were about to strike the ball. But I can't use that as an excuse because it was the same for both sides.

Tomorrow, we have a free day so we're going to see the leaning tower of Pisa and I can't wait. It's one of those massive tourism attractions - something we might not get the chance to visit again - so it'll be great to have a walk about and do a bit of tourism.

Finally, my Uncle Gerry's been giving me a bit of grief about my diary. He sent me a text comparing it to the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, which I'd never heard of - although I've asked around and apparently it's a good shout!

But he's a lot older than me, and he's showing his age with that one!