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Paddy McLaughlin's Tuscany Tales #7

NUFC Logo Newcastle United FC

In his final diary entry from Italy, Patrick McLaughlin reflects on United's early exit from the Torneo di Viareggio

Saturday, February 26, 2010

We drew 1-1 with Lecce this afternoon, which means sadly we're out of the Torneo di Viareggio in the group stages.

Obviously, we're all upset about that but on the positive side, it was definitely the best performance we've put in out here. We passed the ball a lot better - particularly in the first-half - and played some really good football which I'm sure was nice to watch.

We just didn't have enough cutting edge and didn't really create enough clear-cut chances. As a result, we only ended up scoring one goal when we could have done with a lot more than that.

Before the game Tom Coffield, our video analyst, showed us a presentation based around the fact that Juventus had gone through to the last-16 yesterday with four points, having won 5-1 in their last game.

We went into the match thinking that if we could get a win and score as many goals as possible, that would give us the best possible chance. But as it turned out, results in other games mean we wouldn't have qualified no matter what we did against Lecce.

Nonetheless, it was disappointing not to go out on a high. We'd have much preferred to go home on a positive note.

Going behind again, as we have in all three games, didn't help. It seems to be a habit. I remember last season, we did it a lot in the Reserve games, although it hasn't been so bad this season until we came out here, where we've gone a goal down in every game.

We're giving ourselves an uphill struggle to try and get back in the game when we do that, and making life difficult for ourselves. But it was a good free-kick from Phil Airey to level the game - although I didn't see a lot of it because I was in the wall and just ducked out of the way as it whistled past my head! I turned around and it was in the net, but it was certainly a decent strike.

After that, it seemed sure to be matter of time before we scored again because of the amount of possession we had; and it wasn't just needless possession, we were getting forward and getting at their back four. I honestly thought we would go on to get a second and a third, but it just didn't come.

From a personal perspective, I got the chance to play further forward having started the last two games out of position at left-back, and it was good to get a bit further up the pitch and be more involved in what was going on.

But it's bound to be a weird atmosphere for the next couple of days before we fly home. It won't be the same without the games to look forward to but I suppose you can look at it as a chance to train in a different climate. The first-team went to Portugal recently for a training camp and we'll now have a couple of sessions in warmer weather ourselves, so at least we can take that out of the remaining days in Italy.

Despite going out in the group stages, I think we've gained a lot from the tournament. We have four or five of the younger lads out here, like Jonathan Mitchell, Louis Storey, Michael Riley, Alex Nicholson, Michael Hoganson and Dan Taylor. They're all 16 and 17 so it's a fantastic experience for them.

And it's a great experience for the rest of us as well. You're playing against different teams - we met a South American team and two Italian teams - and doing stuff you don't usually get the chance to do. Some of the lads were getting a bit frustrated about the way some of the Italian players go down and their gamesmanship, but you've got to get used to it. That's the way football is in different parts of Europe and different parts of the world.

So it's been a great experience and I think we'll all be better for it. And there's one good thing about us going out: this will be my last diary entry, so I'm sure everyone back at home will be pleased about that!