Away at Brighton. With an undermanned squad. Could you get a more obvious upset? Newcastle predictably crashed to a 2-0 defeat against a Brighton team that looked hungrier, better organized and more skilled.
Newcastle's thin squad hardly needs more games, so from that standpoint the loss wasn't much of a blow. Still, the performance was downright atrocious, even when taking into account the patchwork nature of the team Alan Pardew was forced to field. Brighton thoroughly controlled the match, outpassing, outcreating and outworking Newcastle.
What else is there to say that hasn't already been written this season? Newcastle isn't playing attractive or effective soccer and hasn't done so for most of the season. Fans have griped about formations — turns out the 4-3-3 isn't a cure-all after all, eh? — and tactics, but those seem like minor points compared to the complete lack of confidence and grit in the team at the moment.
As badly as Pardew needs a new center back and striker, Newcastle could stand to add an on-field leader or two this month. Perhaps Yohan Cabaye and Steven Taylor will fill that void when they return from injury, which could happen Saturday at Norwich. Still, mental toughness should be a key part of the evaluations of potential new signings. Newcastle hardly needs any more players who wear the looks of lost boys when things aren't going their way.
Of course, as Pardew was keen to point out, a significant portion of Saturday's squad were youngsters who shouldn't be featuring for the first team just yet. That the decision makers at the club believed some of those players would provide sufficient depth this season looks downright laughable now.
Forgive Newcastle fans for failing to see the humor.