Where do Newcastle United go from here? Nowhere is the answer, unfortunately; Don Hutchison feels Newcastle's Alan Pardew made mistakes in the Tyne-Wear derby but it is the bigger picture that troubles him heading into 2015.
Losing a derby leaves you with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that you can't get rid of for days.
Luckily I was never on the losing side in the Tyne-Wear derby when I was at Sunderland, but I lost one or two on Merseyside and believe me, the one thing that stuck with me is the advice of a senior player as we were leaving the dressing room. He told me not to smile in public for at least three days.
I was used to managers telling their dressing room to put defeats behind them as soon as the game was over. My approach was always to come in on a Monday full of energy and ready to go for it that week, pretty much whatever had happened over 90 minutes.
But if you had lost a derby and you were smiling or cracking a joke in front of the supporters, you'd get slaughtered for it. You cancel dinner plans, you don't go shopping -- you have to understand that you've lost in the biggest game that set of fans have all year.
Unfortunately for Alan Pardew and most of those Newcastle players, none of this advice is new. They are well used to losing these big games now and they've got experience of how you behave after losing to your rivals.
That's the big surprise for me here: that you can lose four of these games in a row when for as long as I can remember the teams have been pretty closely matched. In fact, for most of Alan's time in charge Newcastle have been the favourites going into the game -- and deservedly so when you look at the two squads.
This time I felt it was a little bit different. Newcastle were picked off in the final minute because they were naive, and that was what I thought when I looked at the two teams before the game. I just had a bad feeling about a Newcastle team that had so many younger, inexperienced players.
You can't blame Ayoze Perez or Remy Cabella for what happened but these nice touch players are all very well in games against Chelsea and Liverpool and even Tottenham in the Premier League. It's a different story when you are playing Sunderland in a tight Tyne-Wear derby and one moment will either kill you or win it for you.
Adam Johnson's goal was sensational and I thought it was a moment of magic. But Newcastle need to really examine how they lost a goal from their own corner. That is basic, basic stuff and if you've got a Kevin Nolan or even a Cheick Tiote on the pitch I don't think that happens.
I thought Alan had already made a mistake by not starting with Papiss Cisse. I know he had been ill and stricken by flu that week but I've been in the same position and the worst thing that you can do in that situation is sit on the bench getting colder and feeling worse. I always wanted to get 45 minutes or an hour and then get myself into a hot bath if I had run myself into the ground. I'd have gone with Cisse up front and really put the frighteners on Sunderland, who looked nervous in that first quarter of an hour.
I can imagine what the mood will have been like on Monday morning and what it will now be like for most of Christmas week on Tyneside. Newcastle fans will be absolutely gutted to have lost to their close rivals again and probably a little bit fearful for the future now too.
For me, this squad is short of two or three players. The six game winning run was impressive but there was a bit of luck in there too. Newcastle weren't exactly flying themselves at the start of it and there was good fortune about them when they won probably half of those games. They met Liverpool at the right time and Tottenham too.
The biggest win was against Chelsea, when they did play genuinely well to win that.
The question will always be under this owner -- where do Newcastle go from here? Alan will probably say its fickle to ask that when he's just won manager of the month but where they are now -- ninth in the league -- is exactly where Mike Ashley is happy for them to be.
While he's in charge they won't finish significantly higher than that and they probably won't get relegated and you get the impression that he's happy with that because he can collect his [pounds sterling]60million of TV money and he still fills the ground.
It would take a serious amount of investment to get Newcastle into the Champions League now and that's not going to happen. The bigger worry is that it even takes a bit of investment to make one or two places up in the Premier League and the owner isn't particularly interested in that either.
Newcastle are in limbo. They lose games like yesterday and it really darkens the mood because they're not really trying to do anything other than survive.
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|Publication:||The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2014|
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