Another Monday night game. Another Newcastle United defeat.
These TV games haven’t been kind to the club over the past few years.
But Rafa Benitez’s side only had themselves to blame for last night’s 1-0 defeat to Burnley.
They didn’t create enough and they conceded a poor, poor goal – scored in the 74th minute by Jeff Hendrick – by their own standards.
Newcastle had gone into the game, the club’s 50th visit to Turf Moor, looking to end a run of 13 winless Monday away games.
Their last success had come against Bolton Wanderers at the nearby Macron Stadium on Boxing Day in 2011.
Benitez had launched a staunch defence of forward Ayoze Perez before the game in the wake of criticism from some fans.
“I can read the comments and some people say this or that,” said Benitez. “He’s doing well. He’s a clever player. He has good movement.”
Perez, however, was to come in for more criticism after the match.
As it was, Mohamed Diame, Benitez’s other No 10, did play – but not at the expense of Perez.
Diame was paired with Jonjo Shelvey in midfield, while Mikel Merino – who had scored the club’s winner against Crystal Palace nine days earlier – wasn’t involved because of a back problem.
Merino’s vision and mobility were certainly missed at Turf Moor.
After a difficult start, which saw a series of balls delivered into Rob Elliot’s box, United started to settle into the game.
The pace of Christian Atsu won them a corner, and the winger shot over from Matt Ritchie’s flag kick.
The sold-out away end, filled with 2,500 Geordies, didn’t let up in its backing for Benitez’s side in the first half, though there wasn’t much for their to cheer.
Shelvey tested Nick Pope with a fierce drive after more good work from Atsu.
Burnley had chances of their own – Ashley Barnes headed a Robbie Brady cross wide of goal in the 31st minute – but there wasn’t much for those inside Turf Moor, or back home watching on TV, get excited about before the break.
Shelvey played one superb pass upfield to an over-lapping DeAndre Yedlin in the first half, but Newcastle lacked a final ball.
Joselu, again preferred to Dwight Gayle up front, was clumsy with his back to goal.
The striker, however, set Perez up early in the second half with a clever flick, but Pope was able to turn the forward’s curled shot round his post.
The temperature dipped at Turf Moor, but the decibel levels in the David Fishwick Stand didn’t.
Both teams probed away without really creating clearcut chances.
Benitez held back from making a change, and Burnley took the initiative.
Perez lost the ball in midfield, and it was worked to Jack Cork, who had a shot saved by Elliot.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson crossed to the far post, where Hendrick was unmarked.
Hendrick controlled the ball and rolled it into an empty net. He won’t score too many easier goals in his career.
Newcastle have been sound defensively for the most part this season, but the goal was disappointing from start to finish.
Benitez sent on Gayle, Isaac Hayden and Jacob Murphy, but the damage was done.
It was another entirely forgettable Monday night for Newcastle.
Saturday can’t come soon enough.