ALMOST everything that could go wrong for Newcastle, did go wrong.
From the moment news broke of Arsenal’s bid for midfielder Yohan Cabaye, subsequently rejected, the day steadily went downhill.
Defensively, Newcastle were awful. Only goalkeeper Tim Krul, the last line of defence, could really leave the pitch with his head held high.
Had it not been for Krul, making his first Premier League appearance since April, it could have been worse, much worse.
And they offered little, if anything, going forward on a forgettable night at the Etihad Stadium.
It didn’t take long for the confidence, which had been painstakingly rebuilt in pre-season, to drain out of Alan Pardew’s side.
If there was an expectancy among home fans before the game, having seen their club spent more than £90m, then there was an equal measure of uneasiness in the away end.
And that’s understandable. This summer’s been notable for its warm weather, even in the North East. But a cold front is seemingly headed for Tyneside.
Having seen their team spend a net £1.25m, so far, in the transfer window, supporters discovered in the hours before the game that Arsenal, having been rebuffed in their efforts to sign players elsewhere, had turned their attention to Cabaye.
The midfielder’s departure is looking more inevitable by the day.
But there doesn’t seem to be an inevitability about arrivals.
City started well. They attacked with pace and purpose, and Krul had already saved well from Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko by the time the game entered its sixth minute.
Dzeko got the better of right-back Mathieu Debuchy, and his crossed found an unmarked David Silva thanks to a deflection off Steven Taylor. He headed Manuel Pellegrini’s side into the lead.
Debuchy was fortunate not to concede a penalty after a clipping Aguero’s heels, but the second goal wasn’t long in coming. With 22 minutes on the clock, a Dzeko backheel directed a ball forward from Vincent Kompany into the path of Aguero, who got ahead of Taylor and squeezed the ball between Krul and the left-hand post.
It got worse, Jonas Gutierrez limping off with what looked like a hamstring injury late in the half.
Dzeko, totally unmarked, also put a header just wide of Krul’s goal just before the break.
And then it got even worse as Taylor was shown a straight red card for catching Aguero’s head with his forearm.
Krul did well to stop a Dzeko header early in the second half, but he didn’t get close to Toure’s 51st-minute free-kick, which was deftly lifted over a weak wall by the powerful midfielder.
Then it was just a case of how many more goals City would add.
Substitute Samir Nasri got the better of Debuchy to score their fourth and final goal, though Alvaro Negredo also had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside in the dying stages.
At the end, City’s supporters taunted the travelling fans by singing Joe Kinnear’s name. And the uncomfortable truth for Newcastle fans is that this season rests largely on what Newcastle’s Director of Football does between now and September 2.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (Javi Garcia 71), Lescott, Clichy, Jesus Navas, Toure, Fernandinho, Silva (Negredo 80), Aguero (Nasri 62), Dzeko. Subs Not Used: Milner, Kolarov, Rodwell, Pantilimon. Booked: Dzeko, Fernandinho. Goals: Silva 6, Aguero 22, Toure 50, Nasri 75.
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa, Sissoko, Tiote, Gutierrez (Anita 44), Ben Arfa (Sammy Ameobi 65), Cisse, Gouffran (Dummett 45). Subs Not Used: Elliot, Marveaux, Shola Ameobi, Obertan. Sent Off: Steven Taylor (45). Booked: Yanga-Mbiwa, Sissoko, Debuchy.
Att: 46,842 Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).