Well, United’s game against Man U yesterday came and went.

The result was pretty much what most United fans had feared, but the 4-1 scoreline flattered Man U, mainly down to the untypical mistakes of our 3rd choice goalie Freddie Woodman.

Our overall performance – in the first half in particular – was probably better than we expected. The midfield worked well as a unit with Almiron tirelessly covering every blade of grass and Longstaff getting back to his best showing why he has to be a better choice than Shelvey even when Shelvey is fit again.

Willock is beginning to show once more what he’s capable of and why we brought him back.

Smokin’ Joe Linton just ambled around as usual as if tomorrow would do, vainly trying to get attention by falling over from time to time. As ever he had pretty much zero impact on the game.

Steve Bruce tinkered with the centre of defence again – Fernández and Schär dropped, and in came Clark and Hayden to make up the three with Lascelles.

Manquillo was restored at full back and as expected provided some solid defending there, although the trade off for this change is that we lose the forward running and crossing capabilities of Murphy. Not a criticism of Manquillo though, who played well and scored a cracking goal after great counter-attack running by Almiron and being fed through by St Maximin.

Hayden isn’t a centre half, and given his defensive midfield capabilities, he’s a bit wasted there. It would have been good if the media had asked Steve Bruce his thinking on playing Hayden and putting recognised centre backs on the bench – but if they did I missed it.

Allan St Maximin was a lone figure up front trying his best to feed on the odd scraps that came his way.

Whilst there were positive signs of life from United, and we were up against the ridiculous media circus and hype surrounding that veteran portuguese bloke who’s name escapes me, it is nevertheless pretty clear that we are in for another season of attrition as we face what is becoming our annual battle against relegation.

Somehow the battle feels harder this season – given that every other team in the Premier League has strengthened their squad and we haven’t.

Add to that the increasing pressure on Head Coach Steve Bruce who has masterminded 1 point from 4 Premier League games as well as a cup exit, added to the restlessness of the fans who are openly chanting for his sacking – and we have the makings of a “perfect storm” around our beloved club.

Last season, of course, grounds were empty and there were no crowds giving vent to their feelings when things weren’t going well. Criticism of the Head Coach was therefore confined largely to social media and could be dismissed in interviews as a “small minority”.

This season, the crowds are back – and towards the end of the match Steve Bruce was subjected to some chanting against him from some of the Toon fans in the away end in front of his adoring mancs.

Bruce has always claimed to be thick skinned, but is lately showing a distinct inability to accept and respond to criticism. This was unfortunately demonstrated again when he appeared to lash out at reporters in his post-match press conference:

Sir Alan Shearer (geordie knight), speaking on BBC Match of the Day was scathing in his criticism of the way the club is being run:

“I hate what my club is or has become. It’s been a long time now, it’s a hollow and an empty football club – there’s no hope or ambition and I’m pretty sick of it to be honest. It’s copy-paste-repeat every season”

“they give players who have been at the football club new contracts because they can’t sell them on, then they have an excuse that they can’t bring other players into the football club because those players are being paid a salary”

“It’s cheaper to keep them on the books rather than buying other players. The fans deserve better. Every manager has the same problems – as I said, it’s copy-paste-repeat every season”

The gloom has definitely descended on our club given the disappointing summer transfer window and recent unfortunate events and results. Losing in our next game against Leeds United is unthinkable, but if it happens, it could quickly bring things to a head.

What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below.

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