Walking through the valley of the shadow of death…

As the Turdometer of Doom tipped into full-on monkey faeces territory, truth exited somewhere stage left. Newcastle Utd has long been an absurdist drama in which the essential pointlessness of life has been played out before our eyes in a seemingly endless, irrational circle of shit. But never before have we been faced quite so directly with the inherent hopelessness and impossibility of our fate.

I get that managers have to say something, anything, immediately after a match and that often that something defies the logic of what we’ve just seen before our eyes. And I get that their job is to maintain a positive mood and to protect their players in public.

But we lost.

We definitely, definitely lost. I know because I checked. Burnley will play Rochdale in the third round of the League Cup, and we will all have a free Wednesday evening when we can re-connect with friends or spend more time reflecting on just which form of bodily excretion our club currently most resembles. Each to their own.

To be honest, absolutely anything might happen on Saturday. Southampton might come up trumps and deliver their usual supine performance at St James’ that delivers us the points just when we need them. After all, last season they couldn’t even beat nine men. Just as likely, Adam Armstrong nets a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing. Or we draw 0-0. Sorry, win 0-0.

We might play five at the back. We might play four at the back. We might play with two 8s and a pivot or with a whole team of false 10s. Who knows, we might even play with full backs.

But we all know it doesn’t matter in the slightest. The gaslighting charlatan masquerading as our manager will still be our manager at 4.45pm, telling us that black is white, and white is black. Our immoral absentee owner will still be our owner.

And we will still be riding the Turdometer of Doom into oblivion.

Dangerman: On current form, a close-run thing between Lascelles, the VAR officials at Stockley Park, and Bruce himself.

Prediction: A 2-1 defeat that leaves us closing in on Champions League qualification.

Matthew Philpotts @mjp19731

Saints Vs Sinners

As I walk through the shadow of the Gallowgate end, I will fear no evil, but I will fear another gutless performance under Steve Bruce as Newcastle United manager.

We take on the saints this weekend, and so far, we have certainly been guilty of more than enough footballing sins as a side. The biggest concern for me, and many more right now is the manner of the way we’re losing games, there’s no plan B, in fact there’s no plan A either.

This manager has completely lost it, if he ever had it in the first place, and it’s showing in the team selection, the formations, and even in the language between the players, and Bruce himself. His behaviour on the touchline during our limp exit out of yet another cup competition on Wednesday was certainly odd, as the lads pointed out in the latest TF pod, and then there’s the infamous pictures of him “Out of the loop”, like that bloke who reeks of Bo that nobody wants to sit next too at lunch, except replace sweaty pits with rank mediocrity, whilst Graeme Jones aimed to set the teams up for a penalty shootout

Looking at the game itself, the visitors are fresh off a well-earned draw against Man Utd & an impressive 8-0 cup win midweek, so they will most definitely be up for the game. Then there’s the subplot of Adam Armstrong’s return, you just know he’s going to score, don’t you? I’ve become completely disenchanted by this team under this pathetic excuse of a manager and find it hard to even hope for a win.

If, or when we lose on Saturday, Steve Bruce is going to feel the full force of fan backlash against him. The levels of toxicity that will emanate from the stands will be so powerful, that it could break down any walls, even ones constructed of utter bullshit, like the fort of fuckwhittery Steve Bruce resides in. My only hope is that this weekend will bring his reign as Newcastle manager to an end, and not before time too.

Chris Currie@wig82

How many must wins?

Well, I’ll be honest I didn’t expect things to be great this season but nor did I expect that on the third league game of the season I would be talking about must win games. More worryingly this morning Mark Lawrenson predicted on the BBC we would win, so the omens are not in our favour.

Watching Wednesday night, it was clear that we do have players to improve our current first eleven, but that actually the manager either doesn’t rate them or has no idea of how to get them to play to their potential. We need to have a philosophy, a tactical idea and then put the right players in the right positions to make sure we can take advantage of our strengths and limit the damage of our weaknesses.

I would be bringing Manquillo and Longstaff into the team based on what I saw against Burnley, they are likely to be better long term in the two roles we will play than the current players selected. I don’t think the manager will agree though, so expect no changes from the Villa game unless injuries demand it.

We need the goalkeeper to have confidence coming off his line, demanding the ball as the likelihood is there will be balls over the top for Armstrong and Adams. The left wing back role is a real concern. I think Lewis would be better with a run of games and a feeling that the manager believed in him, he looked so short of confidence, but Matt Ritchie should not be still in our team, we need a solution there.

Willock should be fit to go from the start, let us hope Maxi is in the mood. Let us also hope that if a change is needed in attack, we see Gayle used rather than Joelinton. It would be nice to think we won’t be giving up after 65 minutes anyway.

Stephen Ord @smord84

The return of the prodigal son

You’ve probably seen the photo from Wednesday night. The team huddled together, preparing for penalties, but tellingly Steve Bruce was stood far apart from this band of brothers. It’s easy to read too much into one image, but it didn’t look like the lads view Bruce as their leader. In his post-match interviews, Bruce looked like beaten man.

Luke Edwards was so upset that he turned up outside Bruce’s hotel that night, holding a ghetto blaster above his head and playing Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey on repeat. We can only hope that it worked.

Bruce has every reason to look lost. He has only one tactic which he imparts to his team – give the ball to Maxi. If the opposition is savvy enough to double up on ASM, then our one attacking outlet is nullified. Ralph Hassenhuttl is no mug – clearly, he will have seen our last two EPL defeats and it won’t have taken long for the penny to drop.

He will also have noticed our obvious defensive frailties, stemming from filling both wing back slots with players who are simply not wing backs.

So, despite getting regularly chinned by Steve Bruce’s Shithouse Mags, the Saints will be confident of nicking something at SJP this weekend. They play a Toon team bereft of confidence and ideas and which looks alarmingly fragile at the back. What has happened to Graeme Jones’ influence on the side that saw a storming run to a 12th place finish?

Southampton have also had a tough start to the season, but they acquitted themselves well against Everton and extremely well against Man Utd. They face a far easier challenge on Saturday when Adam Armstrong returns to his boyhood club in a PL fixture. He’s already under pressure to step up from the Championship, but how many times have we seen a prodigal son return to SJP and impact the game? With a goal already to his name he’ll be full of confidence.

Bruce tends to retreat into his shell when things are going against him and I’m therefore predicting a negative, defensive performance as he plays for a point against Saints at home. I’m depressed even writing that line. Hopefully the home crowd will not allow the team to play on the back foot.

This is a winnable game if our players and coaches step up, but the stage is set for Armstrong to make his mark.

Prediction: 1-2 win for Saints

Dangerman: Adam Armstrong.

Dan Jenkins @PlumsGinger