Magpies have made it tough.
United's record currently stands at two points gained out of the last 12 available - two successive home draws followed by two away defeats.
Promotion form? That's the form of failures.
However such is the mediocrity of the Championship, with each beating the other, that United are still joint top alongside West Bromwich. The only difference is that the closing pack is now snapping at pedestrian heels.
My, how the Premier League must be quaking at the thought of three from this lot going up to join them.
Everything a fated (certainly not feted) Mike Ashley does eventually turns sour, doesn't it? When he ignored local hero Alan Shearer and turned once again to Chris Hughton at the beginning of the season the outcry could be heard at the other end of the A1.
However, somehow, against all odds, Hughton and his slim bunch of helpers got off to a flying start to sit top of the pile.
Slowly Ashley, unable to sell and devoid of imagination, let it be known that he was thinking of appointing Hughton permanently - just as careless Chris embarked on his current run of four games without a solitary victory! Ashley's waited until Hughton's record has reverted to lastseason form.
Of course Newcastle can beat Doncaster Rovers. Should beat Doncaster Rovers. Especially at home.
It isn't Man U or Chelsea, Arsenal or Man City coming to visit. It's a team just like Scunthorpe - those from the charity-shop end of the range instead of Harrods.
No matter, it's a tough one simply because the Magpies have made it tough.
They miss Steven Taylor greatly. Aye, and Shola Ameobi as well. Those two would make a big difference front and back.
We all talked of that of course. Of how injuries to key performers could derail United. However, Ashley was never going to splash the cash and when Hughton went looking for loan signings his gaze unfortunately fell upon Marlon Harewood.
He hasn't solved a problem, more created a new one.
Zurab Khizanishvili has also found the going grim playing in a makeshift centre of defence alongside another borrowed body, Danny Simpson.
The whole situation has been an accident waiting to happen. Troops are far too thin on the ground but, like always, Ashley wants to make a quick buck without investing.
To make matters worse, Alan Smith has inevitably reached cut-off point and is suspended tomorrow. He has been one of United's better performers but seems to believe he isn't doing his job if he doesn't cut an opponent in half, which is why referees regularly wave yellow in his face.
Doncaster boss Sean O'Driscoll was known as Noisy when he played under Malcolm Macdonald at Fulham. It was a mickey-take because he was as quiet as a church mouse.
Let's hope he's not making a racket in joyful celebration when he leaves St James's Park. That we couldn't stand!
OUTCRY: Ashley IMPACT PLAYERS: United have missed injured duo Steven Taylor and Shola Ameobi
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Oct 23, 2009|
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