Before making the long journey to south Wales, Steve McClaren said Swansea would provide a tough test of his side’s mental strength.
Well, they failed on that front.
Newcastle just couldn’t cope at the Liberty Stadium and were beaten by a hungrier, faster, more creative and rampant Swansea side.
Jefferson Montero was the home side’s chief tormentor, giving Newcastle’s Dutch full back Daryl Janmaat a torrid time down the flank.
So much so, that Janmaat lost his head, picking up two bookings and given his marching orders before the break.
It left Newcastle a man down with more than half of the game to play, with Janmaat -– in particular – failing McClaren’s test of mental fortitude.
The red card didn’t change the outcome of the game or alter it in anyway though. Newcastle were being dominated by a strong Swansea side from the first minute, with Montero pulling the strings out wide and Bafe Gomis, Andre Ayew, and Jonjo Shelvey all excelling.
Garry Monk has an exciting team at his disposal, full of flair and goals and the future looks bright for them.
For McClaren’s Newcastle?
The jury is still out. The Premier League season is only two games old and sides shouldn’t be judged too soon, especially with the transfer window still two weeks away from closing.
But the performance did show that there is much work still to be done – and further recruits desperately needed.
More strength in depth is required, with additional firepower up front plus another defender and winger a must for McClaren before the window of opportunity closes.
McClaren said the only thing his side had learned from the defeat was the need to show more “emotional control” and try and keep all 11 players on the pitch.
That would certainly help.
It wasn’t good enough from Newcastle before the sending off and going down to 10 men only tightened Swansea’s tight control on the game.
Credit should be given to Newcastle for not caving in and keeping the scoreline respectable, with a few last-ditch block tackles and the woodwork helping on that front.
But Newcastle didn’t help themselves when they did have the ball, losing possession too easily and allowing Swansea to come at them time and time again.
It was draining for McClaren’s men and as soon as Andre Ayew – a summer target of Newcastle’s – scored the second seven minutes into the second half, it was game over.
Newcastle never looked like threatening Lukasz Fabianski in the Swans goal, who probably won’t enjoy a quieter afternoon all season.
That lack of threat up front will worry McClaren as much as the defensive frailties at the back.
His side had walked out to a cauldron of noise at the Liberty Stadium, with the passionate home support creating an intense atmosphere ahead of the first away game of the new campaign.
Swansea were at the visitors from the off – Tim Krul called upon to make saves from Shelvey and then Gylfi Sigurdsson’s effort from the edge of the area.
The warning signs were there and in the ninth minute, Swansea took the lead.
Shelvey’s defence-splitting pass played in Gomis, who took a touch before rounding Krul to put the hosts 1-0 up. Newcastle were on the ropes.
Then came Janmaat’s first booking of the afternoon, going through the back of Montero, the Ecuador winger who has been one of the star performers in the opening weeks of the new campaign.
Janmaat was spinning he had been turned inside out so often, unable to deal with Montero’s pace or trickery.
Fabianski was called on twice to make saves from Gabriel Obertan’s efforts but that was the closest Newcastle came and the most the home stopper had to do all afternoon.
The key moment came four minutes before half-time.
Janmaat stupidly decided to pull Montero’s shirt to stop him getting past him, in full view of referee Mike Jones.
McClaren felt Jones could have been lenient given it was 70-yards from his own goal. It was the right decision though – a mad moment from Janmaat and he paid the price.
As did Newcastle.
Montero hit the post before half-time, as McClaren regrouped. Steven Taylor on for the injured Moussa Sissoko, who had picked up a groin strain.
Sigurdsson then curled a brilliant effort off the crossbar before Ayew made it 2-0 with a powerful header from a brilliant Montero cross. Game, set and match.
Newcastle offered little going forward, with Aleksandar Mitrovic providing another explosive cameo from the bench late on – getting booked within 90 seconds of entering the field.
Defeat extended the losing away run in the Premier League to seven games – scoring just one goal in the process. Next up for Newcastle? An away trip to Old Trafford.
A big week on the training ground beckons if Newcastle are to get anything from that game.
One thing is clear, further reinforcements are needed, quickly.