This was the first time I’ve used my ST this season. The last time I sat in my pew in the Gallowgate End, we were taking it to Liverpool. At that time the Kopites were on the cusp of becoming European Champions and in my opinion we were unlucky not to get a point but for a refereeing mistake given to Liverpool which led to Origi getting the winner. That was then, Rafa, Rondon, Perez etc. This is now, Bruce, Carroll, Joelinton.

I still can’t tell you why I chose to go to this game rather than sit in the house and sullenly follow events via BBC Sport updates but it was good to catch up with a few mates who are still going when plenty of my circle have chucked it. They have no desire to return until Ashley has gone. Who knows when that will be but for the sake of the soul of Newcastle United, it has to be soon otherwise you fear the house of cards currently standing in the breeze on Barrack Road will be blown away.

This was the first game when the freebie half season tickets  have been shovelled in the direction of God knows who for no other purpose than to fill the empty grey plastic which displeases Ashley so. Not that the Freebie Fans brought much of an atmosphere despite the place looking reasonably full. The SJP mood was listless bar the Gallowgate giving Pickford some half-hearted jip which the Sunderland simpleton didn’t rise to.

A word on the freebie season tickets – there were reports of them changing hands outside as those who had taken up the offers decided to make a few bob on them. So you have to wonder at the security implications when Liverpool come to SJP last game of the season doubtless with thousands of Reds fans wanting to be inside the ground to see a team that has doubtless won the title by then.

There are people inside SJP who have paid hundreds of pounds for STs and Ashley has decided to respond to widespread disaffection by giving a rumoured 10K half-season tickets away for zip. How does that play in an upcoming month when new ST prices have to be set, when it is likely no serious investment will be made in this first team squad and the club has no sense of purpose whatsoever?

Over to the geniuses notionally running Newcastle United to sort that out!

Anyway, the football. Bruce will point to a few decisions that didn’t go his way and he’ll be right. Lee Mason was poor but I didn’t really think that was a foul on Almiron in the early stages of the first half attacking the Leazes. That was a decent chance but Miguel had time to think and when that happens I don’t think he has yet developed the composure to pick his spot and put his foot through the ball.

The corners leading up to their first goal? Well, I really don’t know how you miss that and if VAR is for anything it has to be correct quite obvious refereeing errors such as that one but worse was to come in the second half when Carroll had two hands pushed in his back in the box at the Gallowgate End is blatantly pushed over. What is the point of VAR if it can’t pick up those decisions?

Robbed? Hmm, that would be pushing it a bit I think.

I’ll be honest my view of Bruce this season isn’t of the gushing variety from some quarters. He started the season with a commitment to playing front-football but scrapped that after a few dire results and reverted to elements of the drills Rafa put the core of this squad through and there’s enough memory of that within the squad to get us thus far.

Is that mean? Sorry if you think so that but it is just how I see it.

Tactically, Bruce appeared to set up United with Yedlin and Willems pushed on and in theory there should have been plenty in midfield to challenge Everton with Shelvey, Hayden, Almiron and Joelinton sort of playing a wide role.

Joelinton?

40 millions?

Looks half the player of a virtually fucked Andy Carroll?

Substituted for a Championship striker in Dwight Gayle after not getting himself into a single goal-scoring opportunity.

I discussed Joelinton with a mate of mine as we left SJP and his view questioning the integrity of the 40 millions supposedly paid for him spoke volumes. I seriously hope United are bluffing with the claim of the dough they have seemingly squandered on him.He looks like he is technically talented but I just don’t see him being effective in any meaningful way. Hugo Viana anyone? Show pony? Let Lee Charnley and Steve Nicksen answer the questions about him. He was their pick after all.

As per usual, Everton had more of the ball. They looked compact in the middle of the park and passed it around comfortably. They looked energetic and already the benefit of having a world-class manager around their players has had a positive impact. Imagine that eh?

Looking at Ancelotti’s record, I’d guess that will continue and in Moshiri bankrolling the Blues I’d expect the Italian to have plenty spends in January to improve his squad. They will move up the league, while we with 25 points on the board already, will likely get very little as the calculation there is another 15 or so points in this group to stay in the division and that will be mission accomplished for another year.Massive well done to the Sports Direct supremo eh?

I felt the balance of the game was lost in our central midfield. We got very little from Shelvey, though he is best pushing balls through to players running forward and there was very little from Almiron who was anonymous.

You can kindly describe United’s style as agricultural. There were plenty hopeful balls punted forward to Carroll, who I made our best attacking player and they did cause Everton difficulties but not enough, bar the corner and the cushioned header for Schar to volley home.

After the equaliser, I did have a sense the game was there to be won but when they got a soft second, it was by and large over.

Bruce threw on Gayle, Atsu and Longstaff the Elder to no effect whatsoever as Ancelotti showed his pedigree by coaching his team from the touch-line to ensure the three points went back to Merseyside.

Bruce practised his lines about being hard-done by and rolling his sleeves up and all of that patter. The media lapped it up.

Something has to change otherwise Ashley will be giving a lot more freebies away to disguise the reality of the Zombie club he has created.

Happy New Year!

MICHAEL MARTIN