MAN UNITED 0
(Yohan Cabaye 61)
After months of skirting around it, surely now is the time to accept a painfully obvious reality.
Manchester United are ordinary, so very ordinary.
They could dismiss the 1-0 home defeat by Everton in midweek as just "one of those days".
But there can be no hiding from an anaemic performance at Old Trafford on Saturday, where Newcastle humbled them by the same scoreline.
Perhaps it is not time to press the panic button just yet, but there has to be an inquest on a flat display so characteristic of their Premiership campaign.
David Moyes can blame the loss on a deflected goal, a legitimate penalty shout that was turned down by the official and the absence of the in-form but suspended Wayne Rooney.
But the simple truth remains that they just were not good enough, not only on Saturday but also since the Premiership season began in August.
Sir Alex Ferguson in his last moments in charge famously urged the United fans to give Moyes time, but that goodwill afforded to the former Everton boss is wearing thin.
For the first time in more than 11 years, United have lost back-to-back Premiership matches at home.
It is mid-table mediocrity for the defenders of the league crown.
The Magpies are not the first team to steal a lead in United's den, and they will not be the last.
But alarming was how meek United's response was. They were known for their immense powers of recovery, more specifically a finely-honed skill to snatch victory right at the death.
Against Newcastle, they merely writhed on the deathbed, the mind sickened with apprehension and the body paralysed by indecision.
Alan Pardew's men took the fight to the hosts.
They might lack fluidity but they had the determination and confidence to get the job done.
The warning lights are flashing at United.
Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez were a lonely strike partnership operating without much support.
The attacking midfield trio of Luis Nani, Adnan Januzaj and Tom Cleverley had neither the mental tenacity norknow-how to operate the supply line.
Left back Patrice Evra's woeful shift once more demonstrated the need for a replacement.
The veteran Frenchman chose to head a long ball back into play instead of out for a throw-in, and that moment of folly proved fatal.
The ball ricocheted off Moussa Sissoko and into his running path, leaving the Newcastle forward free to square the ball to Yohan Cabaye for the winning goal in the 61st minute.
The setback did not wake United up, and they continued to struggle to break down the opponents.
The home crowd had seen enough.
Unable to digest any more of the feeble response, some began trooping out of the Theatre of Dreams before the final whistle.
The truth was too much to bear.
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