Doom and gloom has certainly descended on Newcastle United, from huge away fan numbers for Champions League away ties at the likes of Milan and Turin, to almost inevitable relegation to the second tier of English football.  What a fall from grace it has been.

Now I was going to write another critical piece highlighting our faults against Norwich, where things took a dive under Ashley, just who is to blame for the mess we are in.  Then I figured, what the hell, why bother?  Is it going to change anything or shine light on something nobody is aware of?

Instead I wanted to use this opportunity to take back things I said prior to the Norwich game and highlight the performance of one player in particular.  That player is Karl Darlow.

While I like many were worried by our dependency on him as our one experienced keeper after Elliot’s injury, it was refreshing to see at least one player other than Mitrovic come out of Saturdays game with an enhancement of their reputation.

The lad had a less than auspicious start to his NUFC career earlier in the season, but on Saturday he shone brightly in a dark dark state of the overall team.  He certainly proved a few doubters wrong, including myself.  It’s good to see and bravo to him for grasping his opportunity to show he has potential to be a good keeper for us, making some good saves and having a fairly solid display despite the lackadaisical defending in front of him at times.

However, one thing that his performance did highlight to me was how low our team spirit is.  Even after Karl Darlow pulled off a great stop, not one defender or outfield player went up to him and patted him on the back.

That shows me there is no leadership, Steven Taylor especially should have been up and giving him a cheer-on to make him feel good about his performance.  I couldn’t believe when I saw everyone turn away like it was nothing.  Where is the togetherness, where is the leadership for a young inexperienced player?

From where I am standing that is what is taking us down, and what will see us struggle next season as well.  Too many players who think they are better than the mess, no doubt planning their escape in the summer – after all it ‘isn’t their fault, they are too good for this team’.

Those that do stay (or fail to get any interest from elsewhere) will no doubt be in the huff and go missing, thinking they should be at a higher level.  I just can’t see them handling the pressure and expectations in the lower league…

We all know that the team is bad, but it is refreshing to see at least one player doing his best in this crisis to show he can improve and Darlow deserves a lot of credit for his display under very trying circumstances.  It would have been easy for him to buckle under pressure but he stood tall and gave a good account of himself.

Now if only we could get a similar sense of wanting to prove themselves from others then we may still have hope.  But I will at least take my hat off to the young keeper for proving me wrong in my doubts!

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