Sorry Steve, but Newcastle United didn’t play well.
What’s more, it hasn’t played well enough all too often this season.
And the team keeps on performing like that, it’ll be relegated.
I’m not too sure the 2,100 fans who watched the club’s 2-1 defeat to Watford will have taken as much reassurance as Steve McClaren did from Saturday’s game at Vicarage Road.
Yes, Newcastle created chances. But not enough of them.
And the only player who took one was a defender, Jamaal Lascelles, on his full Premier League debut.
The two goals conceded at the other end of the pitch were poor from United’s standpoint.
Any team can be unlucky on a given day – and Newcastle have had more than enough bad luck over the years – but you can’t be unlucky this often.
This was McClaren’s verdict after the game.
The club’s head coach said: “We won’t have a problem if we keep doing that week in, week out.
“We just need to be more clinical and better at the other end and better in both boxes, but I can’t fault the players.
“Many people questioned, early-season, these players’ attitudes and (asked) do they care? Of course they do. You saw that , you’ve seen that in recent weeks.
“It’s disappointing and frustrating for everybody, because we’re not getting the results the performances deserve.”
The players did put the effort in at Vicarage Road.
They ran, they passed, they shot and they tackled with varying degrees of success.
But isn’t a level of modicum of attitude and application on the pitch the least we can expect on the field from a United player?
Has the club sunk so low that committed, if careless, performances are something to be celebrated?
I don’t doubt the commitment of most Newcastle players, but this team, even taking into account injuries and a lack of squad depth that should have been addressed long ago, shouldn’t be 18th in the Premier League table.
Luck’s got nothing to do with it.
The team hasn’t played well enough to warrant a higher league place.
Supporters aren’t stupid, especially those that follow United.
They know what they see, and they are entitled to question McClaren’s assessment of his team’s performances.
Some fans questioned McClaren’s judgement after reading his post-game comments, though I suspect he knows full well his team hasn’t been good enough on many occasions this season.
Of course, if that’s the case, he will have his reasons for being so upbeat in public.
Newcastle started well enough at Watford.
McClaren set his side up in an unusual 3-4-2-1 formation which was necessitated by the absence of a fit left-back.
There were chances at both ends, but the game went away from United after Aleksandar Mitrovic had a shot saved by Heurelho Gomes.
Mitrovic has had better days. He was better with his back to goal than facing it.
But to expect him to lead the line week in, week out for a Premier League club, and a struggling one at that, is asking too much for a 21-year-old during his first season in England.
Too much is being asked of him too soon. He’s not ready for the responsibility.
Watford took control after the break.
United didn’t get hold of the ball in midfield and Troy Deeney, a player with which the club was once linked, set away Odion Ighalo.
Ighalo ran off the shoulder of Fabricio Coloccini and rounded Rob Elliot, who had made a superb first-half double save to deny Deeny and Etienne Capoue.
This time there was little Elliot could do, as Ighalo’s touch was perfect.
Twelve minutes later Craig Cathcart, also once a Newcastle target, finished well after McClaren’s side failed to clear the ball.
Lascelles gave United hope with a goal from a Jonjo Shelvey corner – he needed stitches in his mouth after taking a whack as he headed the ball – but there was no way back for Newcastle.
It was a long way back to Tyneside for United’s fans, who didn’t turn on their team.
But there was a brief chant of “sign a ******* striker” from the travelling support in the Vicarage Road End.
And that’s what Newcastle must do in the next seven days before this month’s transfer window closes.
That’s not McClaren’s job, though he is on the board.
But McClaren’s job as head coach would be made easier with at least one, preferably two or three, high-quality additions.
United haven’t been unlucky this season.
The club is third-bottom, and the table doesn’t lie.
That’s where they deserve to be.