24 hours after what can only be described as a disaster for Newcastle United football club, it is still no easier to digest and for Newcastle fans, it is the ultimate humiliation. After seeing both teams and both benches I felt confident and I thought that man for man we were a better side. I still believe that to be true. But Di Canio's player had something that the Newcastle players lacked. Passion.
If you play in a Tyne-Wear derby and you don't give it 100% you might as well pack up and leave. That's how much it means to the supporters of this club. I like many others would have been able to accept defeat had the players given 100% effort and were fighting for every ball. They didn't and it was frankly embarrassing to watch. I somehow managed to stay until the final whistle and took the cheers and jeers from the Sunderland fans on the chin, I was downbeat and my thoughts instantly turned to relegation. Only a team in dire straights could produce a performance of such ineptness. Because thats what it was. We didn't look prepared, we looked sluggish and most of the players didn't seem to care.
The man in the dugout will be under the microscope until the end of the season, after he had investment in the winter transfer window results still haven't been as good, as many would have liked. The decision from Alan Pardew to play Jonas Gutierrez at left-back when a fully-fit Haïdara was available was a baffling decision. Especially when you look back on Jonas' performance, arguably his worst in a black and white shirt. His failure to recognise what many people already do is crazy when you consider he's the manager. After months of playing a 4-2-3-1 formation he should notice that it doesn't work and try to change it. In a derby your flaws are exposed, and we saw many yesterday.
Obviously Pardew can only do so-much and the players need to be closely assessed. The likes of Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sissoko just looked physically and mentally exhausted. Whereas Jonas looked completely out of his depth. Papiss Cisse once again was offside far too many times, although he did have a goal which looked to be perfectly legal, chalked off. Its clear that Cisse needs a partner up-front with him and it is something that will hopefully be addressed in the summer. Tim Krul and Rob Elliot although conceding three-goals between them are hard to criticise and they have been all season. Cheick Tiote once again looks a different player to the dominating midfielder we saw last year.Sylvain Marveaux for me was our best player, which isn't exactly an achievement but he and Hatem Ben Arfa looked to be the only players who actually wanted to win. Yoan Gouffran was unfairly brought off as he could cause problems with is electrifying pace, but the oddest thing about that substitution was the timing. Shola Ameobi was brought on to lift the crowd, something that a half-time substitution fails to do.
The defeat can be put down to a bad day at the office, bad management or anything else you could think of. But these players and the manager need to know that they owe us, the fans, five big performances from now until the end of the season. Starting on saturday against West Brom away from home. The travelling contingent of Newcastle fans will need to see that the players want Premier League survival as much as we do.