Newcastle United in search for Euro goal ace
Just like a trip to dentist, watching toothless Newcastle United try and fail to beat Aston Villa was a painful experience.
For all Shola Ameobi brings to the table at Newcastle (presence, muscle, the odd goal and half decent hold play), when the news filtered around the Villa Park Press room that he'd woken up with swelling on his knee after a knock in training, the fact his absence was regarded "a blow" shows how threadbare the Magpies really are this season.
At one stage this term Shola couldn't get into the Newcastle side because of the blistering form of Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan who had formed one of the best partnerships in black and white in recent years.
After a glance at the team sheet before the kick off you have to had doubts in matching up against a Villa team who have been nothing short of woeful at times this season.
Nile Ranger is still young and has a lot to learn but has hit something of a brick wall since making the step up to first team level.
Don't forget it's only his second season, but the lethal finishing many witnessed in the reserves in the last two years seems to have gone AWOL.
Ranger can finish, can head a ball and has superb pace to beat defenders.
It seems though, that the marbles have not yet dropped into place.
Given that Carroll took time in making the transition from reserve team hotshot to first team goal getter, you would have to afford Ranger a similar period to come up with the goods.
But you don't need anybody to tell you that Carroll and Ranger - who missed a chance that Big Andy would have buried - are two different players entirely.
There have been times when we've really missed Carroll since he went.
At Villa, it was one of those times.
Not that there were too many crosses he could have connected with throughout a drab 90 minutes of action.
Peter Lovenkrands worked hard but like Newcastle's current strike force, he isn't prolific.
In my opinion the only proven natural goalscorer Newcastle have on their books at this time is Nolan.
And why does he have this habit of getting on the end of things?
It's because he gambles.
Not in Ladbrokes of course, but when balls are pumped in he goes for them and he takes a chance by chasing a lost cause, as demonstrated in his last game against Wolves when he banked on Ameobi winning the flick which allowed him to roll in his 12th of the season.
If only Newcastle's frontline would follow his lead rather than waiting for the World Cup final inch perfect pass or watching balls fly over their heads before gesticulating about poor deliveries.
It's no good crying over spilled milk regarding Carroll but the sooner Alan Pardew can get a striker in who can combine with the likes of Nolan, Joey Barton (if he stays) and Hatem Ben Arfa (when fit) the better from a black and white point of view.
Who that player will be, we're not 100% sure.
What I do know is France, Germany and Holland seem to be hot spots for the Toon scouting network.
And any arrivals this summer are more likely to be striking equivalents of a Tiote or Ben Arfa than a big name domestic striker.
Either way, the difference between picking up a point or slumping to defeat in games exactly like yesterday and the difference between killing games off like Sunderland away and Tottenham at home - is a striker who plays crap but finds a route past the keeper regardless of what's going around him.