My take on where Newcastle United are right now
Perhaps in the aftermath of the disappointment after the Brighton FA Cup exit, a few people missed my thoughts about the current state of Newcastle United.
So here is a recap and a few little responses to some of the Tweets that have came my way in the last couple of days.
First some of the Tweets...
A general theme is that the local paper is the mouthpiece for Newcastle United and that Mike Ashley feeds the Chronicle stories.
This in fact could not be futher from the truth given that Ashley has point blank refused to talk to the local Press since arriving in 2007.
Others claim that the key questions have not been directed the way of the manager and the club.
In fact, the manager has been asked about transfers at almost every Press conference in the last two or three months.
As far as questions to the board are concerned, the Chronicle collected a selection of questions for Newcastle United during the Big Toon Survey and we are currently waiting for a response back from the club.
Without doubt the Tweets and comments that come the way of the Chronicle are taken into consideration and are warmly welcomed within reason.
Any suggestions of papering over the cracks and not writing about the state of the club could not be further from the truth.
Enclosed is my match report from the Brighton game....
AND so another year goes by without a domestic trophy for Newcastle United. But those who follow them closely will tell you this wasn't an FA Cup shock.
It means another inquest and another probe into why a club the size of United can't deliver the hopes and dreams of their magnificent fanbase.
Even Sir Alex Ferguson waded into the argument, and this time it was hard to disagree with his comments.
The Scot spoke about the "people who feel they have been let down" for not matching their own ambitions for success. If Fergie is referring to the lack of investment at Newcastle for this current season, he is bang on the money.
Indeed, as long as Newcastle try to save money, they will never go far again in cup competitions and staying in the Premier League will be just as tricky.
If this is how it is going to be, then United will be healthy financially but you wouldn't tell your grandchildren about the season we finished ninth and broke even in terms of the finances - well if you did, they wouldn't be impressed.
Not for the first time in the Mike Ashley era, business logic has been applied to the beautiful game when football logic is the only answer.
The consequences? Being dumped out of the FA Cup in such a poor display that even Brighton fans feel sorry for us.
You know, Brighton who didn't have their own ground for years and were the laughing stock of the lower leagues?
If anybody was unsure about how ill-equipped the Magpies are to see out the current campaign, this result indicates what a poor state the black and whites are in as we start 2013.
We know fine well the failure to invest by Ashley last summer left Newcastle shorthanded in terms of quality.
But a decision that was designed to save money could well end up costing United even more. There won't be any revenue generated from domestic cup success, that's for sure.
At Brighton, the performance showed United are short of bodies, short of quality and desperately lacking passion in certain quarters.
Too few of the United players entrusted to guide the Magpies into the fourth round of the FA Cup seemed to grasp what it all meant on Saturday.
They were first up on third round day, playing for a global TV audience and for the honour of the club crest.
Some 1,978 Geordie fans showed their love and loyalty to get out of bed at 3am and spend hundreds of pounds after Christmas to see what can only be described as a substandard performance.
Newcastle need new faces of course, but they are also lacking passion. The display at Brighton proved that.
Homegrown products like Paul Dummett, Sammy and Shola Ameobi do not need to be told what the FA Cup means to the Tyneside public.
They grew up here and know about how the good times can roll.
But the Geordie trio were never going to be able to conjure up enough to see off a Brighton side who were up for the battle, and understood that they could write themselves into FA Cup history by sending the Magpies crashing out of the competition.
Had the trio got on the team bus feeling furious with their team-mates for such a limp effort, nobody could blame them.
Maybe throwing on former season ticket holder and diehard fan Adam Campbell wouldn't have gone a miss.
And although Rob Elliot did well to keep the score down, the omission of United's Easington-born stopper Steve Harper - who played in the 1999 FA Cup final - was a surprise; surely his presence, experience and knowledge of the occasion wouldn't have gone amiss against the Seagulls.
The idea at the start of the season appeared to be for Newcastle to lean on Harper's knowhow in cup competitions as an extra senior voice. That seems to have gone out of the window.
It can't be emphasised enough just how many of the United players on show threw the towel in against the Seagulls.
This was a day for players that under-stand what it means to play for the club to drag the side through, but there simply wasn't enough support around them.
Every side needs players that knows exactly how to play in certain occasions; Newcastle don't have enough of them.
In days gone by, big performances on the field and in the dressing room from characters like Alan Shearer, Rob Lee, Peter Beardsley, Nobby Solano, Shay Given, Gary Speed and latterly Kevin Nolan would demand that the side fight for the fans.
But characters like that seem to have gone out of fashion.
I honestly believed that Newcastle fans had seen their side hit rock-bottom at Southampton - well further along the south coast, it got even worse.
This one seemed destined to go wrong from the word go.
Brighton got straight into the faces of United and looked like a team who appreciated what the FA Cup was all about.
Gus Poyet's side are well known for playing the ball from the back and heavily involving their keeper, Casper Ankergren.
Brighton needed to be pressed up the pitch and while Shola Ameobi did his best to lead the line, he didn't get any service whatsoever in the first half.
He spent most of the time facing the goal his team were defending as Newcastle found themselves under the cosh.
It took until the 21st minute for Newcastle to test the keeper, and Ameobi needed support up front. Geordie teenager Campbell would have been the ideal man to try to get into the holes in the Brighton defence and apply some pressure, but the Tynesider was overlooked.
It was no surprise when Brighton eventually grabbed the lead through Andrea Orlandi.
No doubt about it, the goal had been coming.
There was hope at half-time that Newcastle would be able to rally.
Paul Dummett came on at the break and at least showed some grit and determination.
Nile Ranger offered very little in attack and Campbell's pace and acceleration would have at least had Brighton on the backfoot.
And then it all began to conspire against the Magpies.
Two questionable bookings for Shola Ameobi added up to a red card from Lee Probert and United were down to 10 men.
Sadly for Shola Ameobi, he was the victim of the diving antics of David Lopez in the second half - with the Brighton man quickly back on his feet shortly after the Toon star's innocuous challenge.
There were one or two half-chances for Newcastle after that but Brighton always looked in control.
Will Hoskins put Newcastle out of their misery in the dying stages and that was effectively game over.
Brighton deserved their win. They worked harder and showed a greater sense of the occasion.
True, Alan Pardew had a point when he said that some of the players on the FA Cup stage would never have been there had it not been for injuries.
But the entire reason fans are enduring this situation is because Newcastle's squad is far too thin and everybody can see it.
The price they have paid has been failure in both domestic cup competitions this season.
It was understandable going out to a strong Manchester United team in the Capital One Cup.
However, no excuse can be made for being unable to take the FA Cup seriously because the current squad isn't big enough.
Fair enough, if Newcastle didn't have the money to buy players last summer it would have been nice for season ticket holders and away day travellers to be told what the score was.
Then we can all get on with it.
But without being told enough about how the Magpies are to operate going forward from an owner who just doesn't see the value in talking to his customers via the media or any other way, we are left to make our own conclusions.
Newcastle seem to be prepared to try to just muddle through when it comes to signing players - only acting when the price fits into a limited budget or when enticed by the prospect of a bargain.
This can be the month where that changes.
Many Geordie fans have not turned on Pardew.
Should they? He is no miracle worker and can only work with the budget he has been given.
Injuries occur at every club but when they do, you need sufficient quality to cover each crisis as it comes.
Pardew said he loved the FA Cup on Saturday night after being knocked out.
It is a blow for him and it is devastating for fans, but Premier League points now determine whether we will be going to Brighton again on equal terms next season - should they not overtake Newcastle in the English football pyramid.
The manager will get the chance to recover.
Don't forget, Kevin Keegan and Bobby Robson went out in the third round and still pushed on to bigger and better days.
And as for the fans? Well it's another year without a domestic trophy.
Nobody will be getting their hopes up about the Europa League now.
More performances like Brighton or Bordeaux will ensure that adventure will be over sooner rather than later.
People outside of Newcastle often ask why Geordies are described as the best fans in football.
Well, anybody at the Amex Stadium who saw them applaud their side off as vigorously as if they'd won the FA Cup itself would be able to see why.
Not long after the game one of the fans' reputable coach travel groups Tweeted "still places left for Norwich if anybody is brave enough to go".
That bus will leave at 6.30am next Saturday morning.
It will be cold, it'll be dark but I bet that bus is full.
However, after performances like Brighton you have to question if Newcastle United's players are sometimes worthy of that unconditional love and support.
Scratch team or not, too many United players did not produce the performance close enough to be on par with their fans.
Nowhere near enough.