This defeat, against one of the best team’s in the Premier League, was no disgrace.
Sadly, Jonjo Shelvey’s stamp on Dele Alli was.
The midfielder let Newcastle United down at St James’s Park yesterday.
Up to his dismissal, his team were still in this game. Just. But they had no chance after going down to 10 men, and Tottenham Hotspur were comfortable 2-0 winners in the end.
For 45 minutes, it hadn’t been so comfortable for the visitors.
Off the pitch, the club’s fans played their part by turning St James’s Park into a cauldron of noise.
And Newcastle’s players denied Tottenham the space they craved on the field.
The pre-match headlines had been domainted by United’s efforts – or lack of them – in the transfer market.
And then there was THAT interview with Mike Ashley.
Benitez didn’t attempt to hide his frustration at the club’s failure to land his priority targets last week.
United’s manager had high hopes for the summer after meeting Ashley in May, when the club’s owner had promised him “every last penny” Newcastle generated from promotion and player sales.
Yet the club’s net spend is under £30million, and Benitez still doesn’t have a new striker.
Other positions remain unfilled and time is running out for Benitez and managing director Lee Charnley to get the players the club needs to stay in the top flight.
The team Benitez fielded against Tottenham wasn’t much different to that which he had relied upon last season.
And, we know, the Premier League is a big step up. The division, awash with TV money, has moved on.
Newcastle, however, made a positive start. They tested Tottenham in the opening minutes. They played with intensity and moved the ball quickly into dangerous areas. Out of possession, they quickly got themselves organised.
Paul Dummett limped off with a hamstring problem with just seven minutes on the clock and Tottenham started to see more and more of the ball.
But they found United, defending deep and in numbers at times, hard to break down.
At the other end of the pitch, Gayle couldn’t get on the end of a good cross from Christian Atsu.
Gayle, worryingly, looked short of a yard of pace.
Benitez then lost Lejeune to injury. The defender, making his Premier League debut for the club, hobbled off after Harry Kane caught him with a late challenge.
The half ended goalless, and Newcastle lost another player, this time to a red card, soon after the restart.
Shelvey deliberately trod on Dele Alli’s right ankle with his left foot after attempting to get the ball off him.
It was idiotic. It was needless. And Shelvey got what he deserved.
The card was to prove costly.
With Newcastle down to 10 men, it only seemed like a matter of time before Tottenham would get themselves goal.
They passed and passed and passed. United retreated, and, eventually, Kane worked the ball to Christian Eriksen on the right in the 61st minute, and his cross was volleyed past Elliot by Alli, who almost joined Newcastle two years ago.
United resisted, but they could only hold out for so long, and Ben Davies made it 2-0 in the 70th minute. It was game over.
Tottenham, in total control, swaggered through the last 20 minutes, though the introduction of Mikel Merino – he replaced Gayle – late in the game at least gave fans some hope.