When the transfer window ended last night with Newcastle United becoming the first ever Premier League club to fail to bring in a player on a permanent basis, the mood amongst the Toon Army was understandably abject. We had one thing in our back pocket, however: The Derby. Maybe our owner and Director of Football hate us, but at least there's a chance to have some pride in the badge.
Newcastle failed to show up to their last chance at a meaningful match this season, in much the same way that the back room failed to show up for the entire month of January. Sunderland looked motivated. Newcastle looked like they wanted to be anywhere else.
It didn't help that the tactic was apparently brought over in a DeLorean from the 19th century. Inexplicably, Alan Pardew reverted to hoofball ways of
old last year, inserted Shola Ameobi up top, and signaled to anybody that pays attention that he had no intent of actually attacking the Sunderland net.
The slim hope that was represented in new loanee Luuk de Jong was fairly quickly extinguished in the second half. His substitution was too late, and he failed to impress, squeezing off two weak shots and lacking confidence when the ball did fall to him in the box. It's way too early to call him a flop, but there's no denying that it was a weak debut.
All of that is window dressing, of course, because the real headline is that the play on the pitch reflected the attitude of the board room. Apathy, lack of ambition, and an inability to get anything over the line.