HOW comforting to see that the little neighbourhood spat at the weekend did not prevent Newcastle United from winning their biggest game of the week.
Who needs a derby at Sunderland when you have larger fish to fry such as the Europa League on a Thursday night?
Personally speaking I consider it to be a poisoned chalice.
Just ask Stoke City and Fulham, two teams who usually swat Newcastle aside, how they coped last season with the Thursday-Sunday fixture routine.
The answer is they didn’t and nor it seems are the Magpies this term.
So far this season Newcastle have taken just four points from 12 after playing in the Europa League.
Twelve months ago those same four fixtures yielded maximum points.
Argue all you want that owner Mike Ashley should have seen this coming and sanctioned more established signings over the summer.
Yet go back less than a decade to when Bobby Robson’s team reached the semi-finals of what was then the Uefa Cup and the Sunday results were no different.
And that was when chairman Freddy Shepherd was complaining that there was no room for more players on the team bus.
Then Newcastle finished just four points from the promised land of the Champions League.
Had they dispensed with the Uefa Cup early doors then who is to say they wouldn’t have turned deflating draws at the likes of Wolves and Portsmouth into wins and qualified for the only European tournament guaranteeing meaningful cash?
Admittedly six of tomorrow’s likely starting XI did not feature in 1-0 win against Club Brugge on Thursday.
But opponents West Brom have still had eight days to prepare for their visit to the newly renamed St James’s Park and also possess a striker in Shane Long who usually terrorises the Toon.
Prediction? More cold Euro turkey in a drab 1-1 draw.
– GAVIN LEDWITH