It doesn’t give me any pleasure to say this – but there is a real feeble streak that runs throughout this Newcastle team.
Moussa Sissoko perhaps best sums this up.
He has been at St James Park for over three years and is yet to turn up for a derby, let alone win one.
A big strapping 6ft 2 perfect specimen for the modern era Premier League style of football but his heart is the size of a pea, a very small pea at that.
Yesterday, despite his physique and pace, he yet again failed to influence the game in any noticeable way. No taking responsibility and time after time he would hit some hopeful long range ball as he was put under pressure, rather than trying to do the brave thing and keep hold, then build something.
Whilst Sissoko is the player everybody loves to blame, I believe that two others are equally culpable.
Gini Wijnaldum and Ayoze Perez may be popular amongst supporters but it is sadly based on very little evidence, certainly recently.
Both are capable of showing nice touches but the waiting in between those rare touches is excruciating.
When I watch pretty much every other Premier League club, with the exception of Villa who gave up some months ago, their strikers and midfield players buzz around like blue-arsed flies trying to pressurise the other team when they don’t have possession, attempting to win the ball back for their team.
With our lot, especially the likes of Perez and Wijnaldum, they tend to stand off and stroll around without urgency. Andros Townsend starting off well, the only one prepared to run with the ball, but then becoming almost as bad as this other pair as half-time approached.
Sadly, it is a similar story when Newcastle have the ball.
Apart from the one or two (sometimes three!) players who are directly involved in a passage of play, the rest of them stand around watching.
When I watch the likes of Bournemouth and others, their whole team is in perpetual motion, always offering movement and options to help their team-mates, whereas with Newcastle it is almost as if there is a grim satisfaction that it isn’t them stuck with the ball.
The final stages of yesterday’s game at last saw some urgency and suddenly a number of players making runs and trying to create space for themselves and others, then amazingly this helped to create chances and the equalising goal.
Obviously we are further handicapped when players are fully committed, such as Mitrovic and Colback, are so bloody slow.
Yes, like the rest of you I do like Mitrovic and there is definitely a player there – BUT surely at the age of 21 he should be able to get around the pitch a bit quicker than that, it is like watching a freak such as Peter Crouch in terms of mobility.
The Serbian is built in proportion and you just hope that the specialist striker coaching Rafa Benitez has brought in this past week will pay dividends.
The knock-on effect of his team-mates failings and lack of movement in particular, then leads to Jonjo Shelvey becoming increasingly frustrated and his passing becoming more ragged and ever hopeful, as he is largely forced to try and hit near impossible long range passes that rarely reach their target.
A ninth booking in the Sunderland game has also led him to the brink of a two match ban, like Colback has achieved, a tenth booking of the season against either Norwich or Southampton would mean arguably Newcastle’s best hope of survival missing two of the remaining six or seven matches.
Whether Newcastle do or don’t have possession, everybody in the team must be looking every second as to how they can personally improve United’s position with their movement and attempts to play for their team-mates as well as themselves.
Yesterday, the team looked like a collection of individuals going through the motions for most of the 90 minutes – if that continues then it is guaranteed relegation.