Even despite going 1-0 up thanks to a Luke Shaw own goal, it never really looked like Newcastle were going to come away with all three points against Manchester United on Saturday night.
Steve Bruce’s side got off to the perfect possible start as Shaw turned the ball inside his own net within two minutes, but even with that early shot in the arm, the Magpies didn’t seem interested in getting out of second gear.
Bearing in mind that this was the same United team that got demolished 6-1 at home to Tottenham, and it was incredibly disappointing to see Newcastle not being willing to throw any significant punches on a surely wounded Red Devils.
Instead, they were incredibly passive throughout, and the fact Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side took an incredible four times as many shots as them – 28 to 7 – just underlined how frustrating the Magpies were.
But whilst they surrendered a point thanks to a late flurry of goals from United in the final few minutes of the game, Bruce effectively lost complete control of the match with his reluctance to make game-changing substitutions earlier than he should have.
It took until the 73rd minute for Ryan Fraser to be introduced into the attack for a hapless Joelinton, even despite the Scotland international being his country’s match-winning hero in midweek against Czech Republic.
The club’s summer signing would have been on cloud nine following his goal-scoring display, and Bruce could really have tapped into the momentum that he would have built.
And if that wasn’t bad enough in itself, Bruce waited another 15 minutes to bring on Miguel Almiron, having seen Bruno Fernandes give United the lead.
The Paraguayan’s goal-scoring record for Newcastle leaves a lot to be desired – he’s managed just nine goals in 59 games – but his pace and energy would have offered the Magpies a much-needed counter attacking threat.
Instead, Bruce’s in-game management reflected the Tyneside club’s performance: passive, weak and ultimately far too little, and far too late.