If you stick your head out of the window and cup your ear, you might just be able to make out the sound of Steve Bruce pounding his forehead against a brick wall.
Since his appointment in 2019, the Newcastle manager’s bid to win over the Geordie faithful has effectively been characterised by him attempting to stem the flow of the River Tyne with a toothbrush.
Following a run of five goals in 11 games and a subsequent barrage of abuse, Bruce opted to open up the taps a little more against Southampton (these water puns are fantastic and we won’t hear any otherwise) and his side achieved what many thought to be almost impossible – three whole Premier League goals in one match.
Alright, so it wasn’t exactly impossible. After all, the Toon Army had already done it once before in the league this season. Nevertheless, the game certainly seemed to indicate something of a tweak in system if not a complete change of ethos.
The injury sustained by leading goalscorer Callum Wilson midway through the contest was a huge blow to Bruce and Newcastle’s survival hopes, with the former Bournemouth man subsequently ruled out until late March.
Newcastle needed some of their other senior attacking players to step up, and the recent form of Miguel Almiron and the return to fitness of Allan Saint-Maximin offered fans a glimmer of hope that Premier League survival was still within reach.
And then they got injured, obviously. Seriously, what are the chances?
The pair have both been ruled out for the whole of March after picking up knocks in the draw with Wolves, and Bruce’s side will now be without the duo for their crucial trips to fellow relegation rivals West Brom and Brighton.
So, with three of their best players ruled out for a month and 18th-placed Fulham beginning to creep ever closer, does this categorically signal the end of the Tynesiders’ four-year Premier League stay?
We’re not going to suggest that Newcastle have anyone even remotely capable of exciting fans like Saint-Maximin can, and Almiron’s endeavour and craft will of course be a miss, but that’s not to say it has to be curtains for the Toon Army.
Ryan Fraser has yet to produce anything like the form he proved himself capable of during his time at Bournemouth, while Joe Willock’s debut in the win over Southampton had all the hallmarks of a top talent who just needs the right man management.
And let’s not forget, Saint-Maximin’s absence from the Newcastle matchday squad is hardly unchartered territory for the Magpies.
Since the Frenchman’s arrival from Nice in 2019, he’s been ruled out of 21 of their 64 league outings through injury – hardly an ever-present and yet they’re still in the top flight.
It would be naive to suggest the injuries to Almiron and Saint-Maximin don’t leave Newcastle more susceptible to relegation – of course they do, they’ve both performed very well in recent weeks.
However, Newcastle do have the players to step up and spearhead their charge towards Premier League survival, it’s just a case of Bruce finding a system that works for them and trying to get the best out of his weakened squad.