For what felt like the first time, empty seats were visible inside St James’ Park. Later, a crowd of 44,157 was confirmed — Newcastle’s lowest for a Premier League home fixture since 2012.
What they had seen on the pitch during a largely uninspiring afternoon could well persuade a few more to join the 8,000 who stayed away.
£21million signing Miguel Almiron has not scored or assisted a goal in 14 appearances
NEWCASTLE (3-4-2-1): Dubravka 7; Schar 7 (Fernandez 85min), Lascelles 6.5, Dummett 6.5; Krafth 6 (Manquillo 78), S Longstaff 6, Hayden 6, Willems 7.5; Almiron 5, Atsu 6 (Muto 82); Joelinton 6. Subs not used: Darlow, Clark, Ki, Shelvey.
Scorer: Schar 41.
Booked: Hayden, Dummett.
Manager: Steve Bruce 6.
Watford (3-4-2-1): Foster 7; Dawson 6, Kabasele 6.5, Cathcart 6; Janmaat 6, Cleverley 7, Doucoure 6.5 (Chalobah 71, 6), Femenia 5.5; Pereyra 6, Hughes 7 (Success 71, 6); Gray 6 (Deulofeu 82). Subs not used: Gomes, Welbeck, Masina, Sarr.
Scorer: Hughes 2.
Booked: Doucoure, Dawson, Cathcart. Manager: Javi Gracia 6.
Referee: Graham Scott 6.
But the jury is out on whether this is a base from which to build or a more worrying sign of the inconsistency which threatens to plague the season.
While the team were brilliant during last weekend’s 1-0 win at Spurs, they lacked energy and imagination on Saturday, just as they had done when going down to a 3-1 defeat at Norwich in the second match of the season.
Will Hughes’ early goal put Watford in front but Fabian Schar equalised four minutes before the break after the ball had fallen into his path from Isaac Hayden’s knockdown.
The danger with performances such as this against Watford is the apathy and indifference it spreads among a home support so fed up with their club under Mike Ashley’s ownership.
It already has the feel of a laborious season ahead and an average of one point per game will have Newcastle in the thick of a relegation scrap.
One problem the head coach must solve is that of Miguel Almiron. He was a club-record buy when arriving for £21million from MLS in January but has failed to score or assist a goal in 14 appearances.
Fabian Schar celebrates after scoring Newcastle’s equalising goal against Watford
There is a lot of graft but not much craft with the Paraguayan and he missed two glorious chances to score here.
‘He’s a great lad, probably the most popular player here,’ said Bruce.
‘Since I’ve walked through the door, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at what a good player he is. He just needs to add that finishing touch to his game, but it will come.’
There is a suspicion, though, that Almiron’s enthusiasm is at times misplaced, running and running but without purpose.
And that is symptomatic of how Newcastle supporters feel about their club right now — what is the point?
Empty seats were visible as Newcastle had their lowest home attendance since 2012