Saints’ players need to realise how lucky they are and get on with the job in hand.

This isn’t a footballer bashing type of point being made. It’s not their fault they happen to be good at kicking a ball around and society awards that so disproportionately.

This is meant in the sense that they could already be feeling condemned to slipping through the Premier League trap door and into the Championship.

Five wins out of 30 games, one win in the last 17. They are the kind of stats that in another season might have left them already being cut adrift.

And yet, not only is that not the case, but they also find themselves outside of the bottom three.

Their future is still in their own hands. Their destiny belongs to them. For that they should feel grateful.

We have spoken countless times in these pages about questions over the ownership of the club, the transfer policy and general direction, the manager and his tactics.

Of course, all of these things play a factor in the mood of the squad, and that does have some impact on performances, and therefore results.

But it is galling to hear that the players seem to be absolved of all blame when there is another, more convenient scapegoat around. Yes, most of the time you can defend them. But against Newcastle you could not.

The very bare minimum you should expect from a professional athlete is effort and desire.

If they aren’t good enough then so be it. If the other team are simply superior, well there’s almost always somebody better. If you are unlucky, if you are let down by a mistake, if the manager has got things badly wrong. Alright, these excuses are fair enough – so as long as you have hit that minimum requirement.

To just throw in the towel is unacceptable.

It doesn’t matter how much they are or aren’t paid. They are professionals, and they should give it their best shot.

What Saints produced at Newcastle was pitiful.

They conceded an early goal and, as the manager put it, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg pretty much admitted, gave up.

They allowed relegation rivals Newcastle to stroll to victory.

Maybe this will be the kick they need to fire themselves up and roll towards survival.

Games are running out. Fixtures are about to get harder.

And while it always easier to find someone else to blame, especially in a team sport, individuals have to take responsibility too.

They are not too good to go down, and it is largely the incompetence of others stopping them from already staring that prospect in the face.

There is time to rescue this situation, but it is going to take character and spirit.

No matter what else you say about the club in general – and there is plenty to say – there are people pulling on the shirts who need to do more than they offered at Newcastle. A lot more.

At St James’ Park, Saints completed a consecutive hat-trick of dreadful first performances, only this one was more spectacularly incompetent.

Whereas in the games against Burnley and Stoke a lack of forward invention had been coupled with a relatively solid defensive game, this was just calamitous.

And when you talk about defensive errors, it was from front to back.

Newcastle took the lead after just 63 seconds.

Jonjo Shelvey was allowed to lob in a high ball over the centre halves which Kenedy brought down on his chest, spectacularly spinning the static Cedric Soares in the process.

His shot wasn’t the cleanest but directed into the far corner.

It was so nearly 2-0 just minutes later as another Shelvey’s pass picked out Dwight Gayle but a heavy touch when he was in behind allowed Alex McCarthy to smother the danger.

Gayle tested McCarthy again on 25 minutes when Mario Lemina was caught dwelling on the ball by Mo Diame and the striker picked it up and burst forward, but his shot from the edge of the area was well saved.

Newcastle’s second goal on 29 minutes would have been funny, had it not been so tragic for Saints.

Lemina went to hit a shot on the edge of the box but missed it and fell over, allowing Ayoze Perez to drive forward.

From there Saints were played around like statuettes, Perez feeding Gayle who squared low to Kenedy who had a tap in.

Saints had one shot in the half, an effort sliced hopelessly wide by Cedric.

Pellegrino, who was negative in his selection, went attacking for the second period, throwing on Shane Long and Josh Sims at the break.

Though Saints were marginally better, it was Newcastle who bagged the only goal of the half on 57 minutes.

They had already threatened when Kenedy’s shot was turned wide, but again it was Saints who were so lacklustre as to almost invite it.

Shelvey threatened to shoot on his right foot from just outside the area three times, but James Ward-Prowse didn’t commit, Hojbjerg got dragged across and a square ball found Matt Ritchie who guided a first time shot into the bottom corner.

With the game over, Saints did muster a few brighter moments.

Sims picked out Guido Carrillo but his first time flick goalwards was saved. Ryan Bertrand guided a free header from a corner over from eight yards out, Jack Stephens produced the same outcome under a little more pressure moments later while a strong drive from Sims forced Martin Dubravka into a meaningful save.

It was too little, too late though.