Autumn has yet to take hold and already Glenn Roeder is looking longingly towards the January transfer window and with it the promise of reinforcements to bolster his stuttering squad.
When a manager talks about strengthening his hand before the end of September, it is clear his club's situation is far from perfect. However, Roeder is absolutely right to stress the need for new faces and his desire to sign a striker and a central defender in the new year will be far greater in the wake of this typically frustrating Newcastle performance.
Shola Ameobi, the United forward, may have scored a fourth, and clearly offside, goal of the season to earn his side a share of the spoils but 10 minutes later he was withdrawn with the latest injury to blight a painful season. Titus Bramble's second-half dismissal, after the hapless central defender was shown a second yellow card for a horrible lunge on Leon Osman yet again demonstrated that Roeder can no longer rely on familiar faces making familiar mistakes. If the return to fitness of Steven Taylor offers Roeder some respite in defence, Ameobi's ongoing problems present a genuine crisis, with Obafemi Martins and Antoine Sibierski the only other senior strikers on Newcastle's books.
Martins, with one goal in five appearances before yesterday's game, has been finding life tough in black-and-white stripes, for all his blistering pace.
Too often against Everton the former Internazionale striker allowed positions of promise to drift and placed hurried shots wide of the target.
Had a third-minute strike at the near post not been turned behind by Joseph Yobo, a frustrating afternoon could have begun in fantastic fashion, but all Newcastle No 9s, no matter how committed to the Gallowgate cause, are judged solely on goals.
Ameobi's 14th-minute opener, from a clearly offside position, could yet prove to be the former England Under-21 international's last for some time. Already facing a hip operation in January, the forward hobbled off midway through the first half with an ankle injury and surgery could come sooner, rather than later.
The Everton manager, David Moyes, must have wished Ameobi had limped off earlier but the normally hot-tempered Scot kept his cool in assessing a terrible decision.
"I really am trying this year not to mention referees and linesmen because my players make more mistakes than officials," Moyes said. "But we do try to play offside at set pieces and it works. Ameobi was the last man and the ball went directly to him. Then he scored the goal. What do I do? Do I stand back and say that's fine?"
If Ameobi's withdrawal highlighted Roeder's lack of options up front, Everton's 41st-minute equaliser emphasised the need to strengthen an unconvincing defence in January. Neither Craig Moore nor Bramble picked up Tim Cahill's run at the far post and the Australian headed home Mikel Arteta's right-wing cross unopposed.
Bramble's 75th-minute dismissal, after he earned a second yellow card for scything down Osman, maintained the central defender's miserable start to the season but two minutes later the visitors, too, found themselves down to 10 men. Tony Hibbert followed up a yellow card offence against Scott Parker with a similarly tasteless challenge on Sibierski and the referee Steve Bennett was forced to reproduce his red card from his pocket.
"I thought both dismissals were right," said Roeder. "Titus was tired and made a challenge that he wouldn't have done in the first few minutes. I have spoken to him about it." Both sides could have claimed victory in a frantic final five minutes but neither deserved all three points. For Roeder, January must seem like a long way off.
Goals: Ameobi (14) 1-0; Cahill (41) 1-1.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Carr, Bramble, Moore, Ramage; Milner, Parker, Emre, N'Zogbia; Martins (Rossi, 81), Ameobi (Sibierski, 24). Substitutes not used: Krul (gk), Butt, Taylor.
Everton (4-5-1): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo, Lescott, Naysmith (Valente, h-t); Osman, Neville, Carsley, Arteta (Beattie, 89), Cahill; Johnson. Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Weir, Davies.
Referee: S Bennett (Kent).
Booked: Newcastle Bramble, Emre; Everton Cahill, Neville, Hibbert, Osman.
Sent Off: Newcastle Bramble (75); Everton Hibbert (77).
Man of the match: Cahill.
Attendance: 50, 107.Reuse content