HANDS up Newcastle United fans if you expected your side to win at Swansea City?
With the Magpies winning all four Premier League games in November and their Welsh hosts struggling with the demands of the Europa League – where have we heard that one before? – then an away victory looked a sound bet.
Not forgetting too that Swansea were missing their top two strikers in Michu and Wilfried Bony.
Oh and their third-choice frontman promptly hobbled off injured after half an hour with the score still goalless.
But this is Newcastle United we are talking about.
They don’t do the expected and were soundly beaten 3-0.
Yes, three questionable decisions went against them as referee Howard Webb ignored two penalty shouts and failed to send off the irritating Jonjo Shelvey for an attempted headbutt.
Yet all took place after keeper Tim Krul had palmed a cross straight to Nathan Dyer for the opening strike.
Nor did they need to leave so few men back as Swansea counter-attacked for their second goal after only 66 minutes.
Going back to Krul for a moment, for all his Tottenham heroics last month he still does not command his penalty area like an international keeper and should not have allowed Shelvey’s third to curl over him.
But it would be wrong to aim too much critcism at either him or his colleagues after their recent run.
Wednesday’s performance merely showed Alan Pardew’s side for what they are this season.
Namely an average outfit who are just as capable of losing four games in a row as they are winning them.
It is just a shame that Wednesday’s defeat is followed so quickly by a trip to bogey ground Old Trafford.
At least out-of-form Manchester United are likley to be without their first-choice strikers in the suspended Wayne Rooney and injured Robin van Persie.
So that’ll be a routine 3-0 home win then.
Here’s hoping Newcastle fail to read the script once more.
– GAVIN LEDWITH