Frustrating, humiliating, devastating and embarrassing are just some of the adjectives which could be used to describe this woeful display by Newcastle who slumped to their biggest derby defeat on home soil for many years.

The passion which Di Canio exudes has galvanised his charges who showed much more desire to win back the ball and simple swarmed all over a Newcastle side who looked bereft of ideas and utterly bewildered by Sunderland’s determination to win the match.

From the outset Sunderland looked to attack the Newcastle defenders, with Phil Bardsley managing to put in a cross in the first 27 seconds of the match, although Yohan Cabaye managed to make a clearance on this occasion it was a marker of what was to come. Indeed Cabaye’s intervention on this occasion was one of his better moments during a game in which his attacking play was largely anonymous, and he looked devoid of energy for much of the match.

Whether it is simply the excesses of the Europa League or something more sinister, Cabaye must find some reserves of energy for the rest of the campaign if we are to have any chance of gaining the points that we need in order to preserve our Premier League status.

Alan Pardew’s tactics in this match were also highly questionable, especially as he opted to play Jonas Gutierrez at left back, ahead of Haidara which both stymied his attacking play and left us short at the back. Indeed, it was his woefully short pass which was cut out by James McClean which led to Sunderland’s opening goal. Although Newcastle had plenty of defenders behind the ball when Stephane Sessegnon received it from McClean, they did little to stop him driving forward, ghosting past Gutierrez’s non-existent challenge before finding enough space to arrow a shot past the despairing drive of Tim Krul. Newcastle, initially responded to going behind well with Simon Mignolet doing well to keep out Cisse on a couple of occasions, but Sunderland still had the better of the chances with an unmarked Carlos Cuellar heading straight at Krul when it would have been easier to score.

Steven Taylor had an aberration in defence, and was lucky to stay on the pitch and not concede a penalty when he grabbed hold of Danny Graham’s shirt in the box. To compound his lack of defensive nous Taylor then dived in on Mignolet and was lucky to see only a yellow card.
Newcastle managed to get to the break only trailing by one goal, and their attackers had been well marshalled by the Sunderland defence, especially Danny Rose who showed a considerable amount of upper body strength to hold off Sylvain Marveaux on several occasions. This caused Newcastle to resort to long ball tactics, seeking to put in early crosses to upset the opposition defence despite the lack of forwards in the box. This led to Alan Pardew bringing on Shola Ameobi for Gouffran at half-time, looking to push the Sunderland defenders back. Gouffran looked over-awed by the pace and importance of this match, and was treading a fine line having been rightly cautioned for going over the top of the ball and down onto the ankle of Adam Johnson. Johnson was to have his revenge in the sweetest way possible for Sunderland in the second half, with a delicious curling strike which left Rob Elliot with no chance. However, before that strike Newcastle were looking the more likely to score and were wrongly denied an equaliser by the linesman who adjudged Cisse to be offside, when he was being played on by Cuellar. Indeed, Newcastle came out from the break showing some determination to get back into the game, and must have sensed an opportunity down the left when Phil Bardsley was forced off with an injury. However, Newcastle were not able to make their opportunities count and were forced to make a defensive substitution of his own when Krul fell awkwardly on his elbow having elected to punch away a Sunderland corner. Krul was clearly in some pain as he left the field, and it looks like he will be out for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder.

Rob Elliot safely dealt with the ensuing corner when he came on, but that was the last chance he had to keep the ball out of the net. He was badly let down by his defenders who allowed Johnson to cut inside and make space for the shot which arrowed past Elliot. Johnson, who has flattered to deceive since his expensive move from Manchester City, showed just how much Di Canio has inspired his players to fight for their league status with his determination to drive forward with every opportunity.

By contrast Newcastle’s attacking prowess was conspicuous by its absence, and even the introduction of Hatem Ben Arfa could not inspire them to break the Sunderland defence. Ben Arfa was brought on for the mediocre Cabaye who was unable to show his range of passing which he has built his reputation on during his time at St James’ Park. His replacement, Ben Arfa had an opportunity to unlock the Sunderland defence with a free header, but could not hit the target.
This was to prove the last chance before Johnson doubled Sunderland’s lead and to rub salt in Newcastle’s wounds David Vaughan managed to curl a shot past Elliot in the 81st minute having looked suspiciously offside when he received the ball.

After Newcastle conceded the third all bets were off as Sunderland threatened to build on their lead and the home side looked increasingly demoralised and dispirited in their play. Make no mistake Newcastle United were well beaten by the better side in this derby, and must improve if they are to get the points to ensure their survival.

With away matches against West Brom and West Ham coming up and Newcastle’s poor away record this season, Pardew would do well to copy Di Canio’s methods to inspire his team and give them the passion, belief and desire to win. We are not safe from relegation and our midfielders seem to be decidedly off the pace as we come to the business end of the season.

This is not a good sign as we travel to West Brom for our next game, opponents who have great pace and strength in Lukaku and Shane Long, and great passing midfielders such as James Morrison who will be licking their lips at the opportunity of attacking our weak defence.

By Rachel Horne