It could have been something so special, a full St James’ Park rocking and putting Manchester City under immense pressure. Though, in these Covid - 19 times, it was an empty stadium and an empty performance from Newcastle United.
Steve Bruce didn’t appear to have a game plan other than to let Manchester City dominate proceedings - There was no pressure applied, no fight and no threat. For Manchester City it was almost like a training session against their U23 side. A Sunday evening kick about, which only one team took seriously.
Newcastle United supporters do not ask for much, just that their team puts in some effort and gives 100%. That was not the case here, would it have been different with a full St James’ Park? Too right it would have been. The Geordie faithful would not stand for such an effortless performance, their roar would have been the kick up the backside that was sorely needed here.
Fabian Schär, a dependable and consistent player since his arrival on Tyneside had a day to forget. His performance summed up the majority of the Newcastle side, no interest of being there. The Swiss international gave Manchester City the golden opportunity they were looking for, a needlessly pushing Gabriel Jesus in the back to concede a penalty. Kevin De Bruyne made no mistake from the spot.
Andy Carroll, Newcastle’s best player, cut an isolated figure up front on his own. At least the big centre forward showed some aggression and some heart, shame the other 10 players didn’t follow his example. Newcastle were extremely lucky to go in at half time 0-1 down, it could and perhaps should have been a hiding.
Bruce decided to change things slightly in the second half, pushing Schär further forward. There was an improvement, it was small but you could certainly see some effort at least. Bruce introduced Dwight Gayle and Joelinton, not long after their arrival it was the former who missed from point blank range, Only Gayle will know how on earth he managed to blaze the ball into the Gallowgate, instead of grabbing the equaliser. It took just a few minutes for normal service to be resumed as Raheem Sterling notched Manchester City’s second, curling a shot beyond Karl Darlow and into the bottom corner.
The training session continued and would do so until the referee, Lee Mason put Newcastle out of their misery. Losing 0-2 to this Manchester City side, would suggest Newcastle put up some sort of a fight, unfortunately for all those Newcastle fans watching at home, the performance was one of the worst of the season.
Bruce gave his thoughts at full time and urged the Premier League to provide some clarity on the takeover situation. A situation that will not go away because of the Premier League’s inability to make a decision, which has left the club in limbo. When a decision has finally been made, the Premier League will have an awful lot of explaining to do. Their behaviour during this whole takeover saga has been nothing short of disgraceful.
Away from the takeover and the awful performance in the training session, sorry, the FA Cup Quarter Final, Newcastle travel to Bournemouth on Wednesday hoping to stretch their unbeaten in the league to five matches. To do that, Newcastle will have to up their game dramatically. A good performance against Bournemouth will go some way to banishing the torture of Sunday evening.