The handwriting was on the wall before the match even kicked off. Changes in the Newcastle lineup by suddenly genius Alan Pardew piled on top of Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce indicated exactly what we got in the first half. Hoofball was all the rage and while it wasn't the most dire display we've seen from a Newcastle match this year, if you were to have called it "tepid" you would have been highly complimentary. (It feels like I've typed this before about an Allardyce/Pardew matchup, but I'm too lazy to look) The inclusion of Yoan Gouffran turned some heads prematch and he had very little impact on the match... up to the point that he turned the ball over which led West Ham's opener. But hey, he does work and gave us the best chance to park the bus and drag a terrible 0-0 draw out of this match, right?
So Gouffran turns the ball over and West Ham counter with an attack that wouldn't be exactly described as incisive culminating with a scuffed shot from Cheikhou Kouyate that turned into a perfect through-ball to left-back Aaron Cresswell who comfortably beat Cheik Tiote through the back line. Rob Elliot, who had moments before whiffed terribly at a cross that put the Newcastle defense under quite a bit of pressure, decided to come for the ball, became indecisive at the critical moment. I was always taught as a 'keeper "If you're going to come for the ball, MAKE SURE YOU WIN IT". Winning the ball was a recurring problem for Rob Elliot in this match, but that would not very much be the worst of Newcastle's concerns coming from this match.
With several players on the precipice of yellow card suspensions it was always going to be a tricky match to navigate, and the attrition started midway through the second half when Jack Colback picked up a yellow card drawing a suspension for Tuesday's match at Burnley. Daryl Janmaat was in danger of the same fate but was substituted just before a stupid yellow card to Moussa Sissoko for kicking the ball away after a foul call but it got even better. With Colback already suspended, Sissoko went in for an ill-advised challenge as Andy Carroll was on the ground. He appeared to make no contact while Carroll reacted by flopping around like a fish, drawing a second yellow in quick succession and giving Newcastle a sudden selection headache at central midfield for Tuesday.
We will have to wait and see if this is the latest installment of the Alan Pardew NUFC boom/bust cycle, but on the evidence of years, this performance, result and meltdown were predictable if not expected.