But the lessons of the midweek Blackpool loss keep coming. We can scarcely afford to be more than one man down at any given time. Only a pair of central defenders to spare (though I'm not sure where the Georgian lad newly loaned from Blackburn is meant to fit - I'd be as concerned for the want of a lefty other than Enrique, frankly.) The midfield showing its age in Butt, its shortage of puff in Nolan and its utter lack of moral fibre in Barton. Upfront, much as I'd love us to start Carroll and Ranger every game, I'd be biting my nails for fear of some rash gadgy going into the back of either. Lovenkrands went straight into the XI today but was clearly off the pace and got stick for it from half the team, it seems. Guthrie and Ranger ought to have started, really, but since they came on as subs and did what they did for the second goal instantly then nee point harping about it. And the mighty Andy Carroll might have had a five-minute hat-trick at the death, but we'll take the one he lashed in, for he seems to be getting into his stride, albeit so long as there's someone faster and tricksier playing off him.
West Brom looked good today in their crushing of the Smoggies but we've already been round theirs and had a point. So with our best first XI week in, week out, and a fair wind behind us, we could bank on one of the automatic leg-up places. But, this being the Toon, I can say only that I'm not thinking about relegation anymore.