Toothless Toon take small steps
Newcastle at least troubled Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan during the stalemate in the second city as they continued to make small steps as far as progress is concerned at the start of a new season.
Against Paul Lambert's side they managed their first shot on target, first point and first clean sheet. Those were the positives during a nervy 90 minutes between two clubs that would take a place in the top 10 very gratefully in the months ahead.
From a Newcastle point of view, however, they will need to either find a proven goalscorer or make sure their current forward line find their shooting boots with a long campaign ahead.
Without Senegal international Papiss Cisse, United started the game with Frenchman Manu Riviere in attack but chances did not fall his way. Alan Pardew pleaded for a patience with the ex-Monaco star afterwards and said he will find the net all in good time. As it turned out, it was right-back Daryl Janmaat who had Newcastle's best efforts at goal while his fellow countryman from Holland, Siem de Jong, also could have won it near the end.
The lack of frontline options is a cause for concern for the Toon Army with just over a week left of the transfer window. Although as stated, this is a small sign of progress after last weekend's opener against Manchester City. In my experience, if the process is repeated in the next Premier League game and we are talking about another stalemate then by the time I next put pen to paper in the Premier League, there will probably be a few boos in the next home game.
Taking small steps is one thing but for Pardew there is also a time factor as far as the fans are concerned. It had been eight defeats out of nine beforehand, now the statistic stands at one win in 10 matches for Pardew in the top flight.
That has to improve quite a bit in the next few weeks if he is to keep the boo-boys off his back. The other argument is that Pardew's new boys will need some time to settle. Remy Cabella is one of those players and at Villa, Pardew asked him to put a smile on his face as he tensed up in the Midlands.
There was still room for a big negative at the end of this game, when Mike Williamson was shown a red card for a second booking. It means Pardew will have to re-jig his centre-back pairing at Gillingham in the League Cup game on Tuesday night where another test against the League One side awaits the Toon boss.
By that time the dust will have settled on the stalemate at Villa Park and emphasis will have turned to whether Newcastle can enjoy a bit of a cup run. As Pardew walked out of his post-match news conference at Villa on Saturday afternoon, he admitted that he would love to see them shake off the tag of failing to find the net before Palace next Saturday.
Should Pardew's side progress to round three of the League Cup and get a maximum haul of points on the board in the Premier League against the Eagles, the Toon boss can go into the international break with some breathing space.