This is what some Newcastle United players need to remember after FA Cup embarrassment
It was an embarrassing defeat. And Newcastle United’s embarrassed players, understandably, will have wanted to get off the pitch quickly after Saturday’s FA Cup loss to Cambridge United.
Some of them did just that. They headed for the sanctuary of the dressing room when referee Peter Bankes called time on an entirely forgettable afternoon at St James’s Park.
What they forgot, however, was that many, many Newcastle fans had paid to watch what Alan Shearer described as a “pathetic” performance – and most of them were still inside the stadium at the final whistle.
Some young fans, of course, would have been making their first visit to St James’s Park.
They deserved, at the very least, some acknowledgement from the team.
And most players did acknowledge them. Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall joined the likes of Kieran Trippier, Jonjo Shelvey, Fabian Schar, Joe Willock, Ryan Fraser and Emil Krafth on the pitch to show some appreciation for their support.
It’s how it should be, according to Howe. The club’s head coach believes that players should be “brave enough to front up” to defeats.
"We have a way of working and my personal opinion is that we should always appreciate the fans and thank them for coming and thank them for supporting the team," said Howe after the third-round tie, which was decided by a second-half goal from Joe Ironside.
"Sometimes, that's very difficult to do when you haven't had a positive result. Some players probably want to just immediately leave that situation, but we encourage them to recognise the supporters.
"Sometimes, that's the most important time to do it when the result hasn't been good, so we have to stand up, take the criticism, but still acknowledge the people who have paid big money to come and watch us.
"I never run from that moment. I don't think that's right. From my perspective, especially, you have to be brave enough to front up even if you're aware that you may potentially be criticised for that. I'd still much rather it that way than not being seen."
The problem for some fans was that some players couldn’t get off the pitch quickly enough.
One player even ignored Kieran Trippier’s pleas for him to applaud fans before leaving the pitch.
And there were some strong words from Shearer, the club’s all-time record goalscorer, on the performance and reaction the “surprising and disappointing” reaction of some players to the final whistle.
“They were the better team,” Shearer told BBC Breakfast.
“They were hungry, they went after Newcastle. They thoroughly deserved it. Newcastle were hopeless.
“It was a really disappointing day to be a Newcastle fan. I was really surprised and disappointed to see some of the players just walk off the pitch without acknowledging the superb support inside St James’s Park.
“It was a very disappointing day for them, but great for Cambridge, and brilliant for the FA Cup.”
Newcastle, 19th in the Premier League with half the games played, will need character on the pitch over the coming weeks and months.
And Howe and those players who stayed on to applaud fans showed character.