Newcastle United made history for all the wrong reasons at the Amex Stadium as potential new manager Eddie Howe watched The Magpies from the stands along with Amanda Staveley record their worst-ever league start to a season following a disappointing 1-1 draw against 10-man Brighton and Hove Albion.
There has only been three sides - Derby County, Everton, and Blackburn Rovers - that have endured a winless run at the beginning of a Premier League campaign of more than 10 games and still gone on and secured safety, which makes Howe's job all the more challenging.
In all competitions, Newcastle have now only won two of their past 17 matches against Brighton and are yet to beat The Seagulls in the top-flight as they remain the only winless side in the Premier League this season.
But despite their dominance, The Seagulls were punished against the run of play on 66 minutes as Clark made amends to set up the equaliser for Isaac Hayden, who fired low past Robert Sanchez for his first league goal since January 2020.
Yet, The Magpies will still feel more aggrieved at the result as Callum Wilson looked destined to score a dramatic late winner until Sanchez tactically fouled the forward outside the box and received a straight red card after referee David Coote went to the pitchside monitor, but despite defender Lewis Dunk taking the gloves in stoppage time, Newcastle frustratingly failed to trouble him.
Newcastle shot-shy against out-of-form Brighton
Graeme Jones' side offered very little in attack at the Amex and registered just one shot on target with Hayden's goal the sole effort. It speaks volumes when they averaged just 34% possession over The Seagulls, which is concerning considering both sides achieved promotion together from the EFL Championship in 2017.
The stark difference now between the two teams is Brighton have matured to life in the top-flight and have significantly strengthened their squad, reaping the rewards sitting in 7th on 17 points. However, for Newcastle they've gone in the opposite direction, and it shows when six of their players who started the game played for The Magpies in the second tier, highlighting exactly why they are in 19th.
But the huge disappointment after the match had finished was the fact that Newcastle looked petrified and devoid of ideas against a side who are winless in the last six matches.
A big talking point was when Dunk went in goal in injury-time and The Magpies didn't test him as Jonjo Shelvey wasted a free-kick opportunity and Matt Ritchie's corner with the last kick of the game failed to beat the first man which summed up the evening for the visitors.
Howe has got a monumental job on his hands
Nevertheless, the appointment of Howe would be a fantastic signing, he kept AFC Bournemouth in the top-flight for five seasons and was renowned for playing attractive football during his time on the South Coast which would be a welcoming sight to see for The Magpies supporters. The former Cherries boss was also once linked with the England job in 2016 so he is highly regarded.
The main critique he faced at the Vitality Stadium was how easily his defence conceded goals. In 190 matches, they shipped in 330, keeping just 38 clean sheets in total. Howe would face a similar situation at Newcastle as the black-and-whites have kept just four clean sheets in the top-flight in 2021.
Since Newcastle find themselves in the relegation zone heading into the final international break of the year, it's a perfect time for Howe to assess his squad and decide where he needs to strengthen in January. Once the transfer window opens, he will undoubtedly need reinforcements at the back as well as more creative options in midfield and a back-up striker to Wilson are just the bare minimum targets that's required if they are to stay up.
It's no question, the 43-year-old's most important objective this season is keeping Newcastle in the Premier League.
A gruelling winter schedule awaits
The Magpies have had a favourable fixture list in the 11 games that they've played so far. They already have faced Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Leeds, Southampton, Watford and Wolves and registered an alarming four points.
Their next three home games are already looking like season defining fixtures with Brentford and the two other sides, who currently occupy the relegation spots with Newcastle, Norwich and Burnley all visiting St James' Park in the coming weeks. It is imperative that they win all three matches especially with what's to come over the festive period.
The Toon Army face Leicester City and Liverpool away followed by back-to-back home games against Manchester City and Manchester United before a trip to Rafael Benitez's Everton in the final match of the year. Newcastle need to make sure they are not cut adrift before the start of 2022.