Three stony-faced men; Joe Kinnear, the director of football, Mike Ashley, the owner of Newcastle United and Graham Carr, the club's chief scout, all sat together in the directors' box at St James' Park at a game for the first time yesterday. They cannot have enjoyed what they saw. Newcastle swings as quickly as any club in England from delirium to despair. Victory would have sent them second in the Premier League, at least for a couple of hours. It did not come. Instead, they fell to a newly-promoted side assembled for significantly less than they were. That will not go down well.
Kinnear had penned a first column for the Newcastle programme before the game. "It was not an easy task to improve the quality of the current squad with the financial resources at our disposal," he wrote. "Particularly in a window which the value of players was grossly overinflated and the demands of agents likewise."
Still, all three will have felt there was enough to beat Hull. Momentum had built with victories against Fulham and then away at Aston Villa. Newcastle scored early through Loïc Rémy yesterday and then stopped playing. Their flair players were poor. Papiss Cissé no longer looks like scoring. It is 11 games since he has done so and he was taken off with the game still very much in the balance. Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye, who limped off with a groin injury, were below par.
Those with fluency wore the blue of Hull. Tom Huddlestone was strong in the heart of midfield, Robbie Brady scored a fine equaliser in the 26th minute and Sone Aluko, whose sister Eniola had scored in England women's 6-0 victory over Belarus earlier in the day, stole the show. Rémy had restored the lead and Ahmed Elmohamady had deservedly equalised before Aluko (below with David Meyler) scored a goal fit to win any game, smashing a first-time volley past Tim Krul. That was in the 78th minute. Newcastle had run out of ideas and space long before then. There was much to admire in Hull's adventure. Krul was the busier of the two goalkeepers, excelling to thwart Danny Graham when the score was 1-0.
"What's pleased me more than anything is the way in which we've played," Steve Bruce, the Hull manager, said. "We played two strikers. We were a bit bold. It doesn't surprise me we can come here and win because we have good players. I hope they keep their feet on the ground.
"[The 5-1 defeat by Newcastle when he was Sunderland manager] was certainly the darkest afternoon I've had in football. It is the worst result I can think of. It's took a long time to come back but we've come back, dusted ourselves down and it's nice to win here."
October will be a big month for Newcastle and their manager, Alan Pardew. They face Cardiff and Liverpool before a Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland that is already building. Their home form (one win from six) is poor.
"It was a frustrating afternoon," Pardew said. "We started really, really well. We got the goal which is not something we do early. Everything looked happy but we weren't tight enough as a team. We were loose and Hull exploited those spaces. All three goals were poor from us. We gifted them goals. You can't do that against any opposition. Hull played very well. For us it was a really disappointing day. It's the commitment and quality that you need in every game. We had a day at the office we have to forget."
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Krul; Debuchy (Tioté, 86), Yanga-Mbiwa, Coloccini, Santon; Sissoko, Anita; Ben Arfa, Cabaye (Gouffran, 62), Rémy; Cissé (Marveaux, 73).
Hull City (4-4-1-1): McGregor; Elmohamady, Chester, Davies, Rosenior; Quinn (Boyd, 64), Livermore, Huddlestone, Brady (Meyler, 74); Aluko; Graham (Sagbo, 84).
Referee Martin Atkinson.
Man of the match Aluko (Hull).
Match rating 7/10.