By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
James Perch fronted up to the Toon Army following Saturday's humiliating friendly defeat at Cardiff and admitted: 'We let you all down.'
But the utility man insisted that he and his team-mates are ready for the serious business starting in a week's time when Tottenham Hotspur come to the Sports Direct Arena on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season.
Newcastle were backed, as ever, by a large contingent of their loyal fans at the Cardiff City Stadium but slipped to a 4-1 defeat to their Championship opponents. They never recovered from going three goals down inside the opening half an hour and an arduous journey home for the supporters became an even longer one after such a poor display.
But Perch assured them that it was an equally solemn trip back to Tyneside for the players, who to a man looked suitably dejected as they trooped out of the visitors' dressing room.
"It matters to us because we're professionals," Perch told nufc.co.uk. "We never want to lose a game and the way we did it, we certainly didn't want to do that.
"We know that Newcastle fans come in thousands and we have let them down today - and we've let ourselves down, I'm not going to say we haven't let ourselves down today, we've let the gaffer down and everyone to do with the club, the players out there.
"But it's over now. We can't do anything about it and we look forward to next week. It wasn't a good performance, we hold our hands up, and we now look forward to the start of the season against Tottenham."
In truth, the damage had been done before Perch entered the field as 28th minute substitute, two minutes after Aron Gunnarsson had made it 3-0 to the hosts. His introduction was an attempt to shore up the midfield - and later the defence - after a dreadful start and to a large extent it worked.
Shola Ameobi pulled one back shortly after half time and although Etien Velikonja added a fourth for Cardiff, there was little doubt that the Magpies did improve after emerging so slowly from the traps.
Perch was too modest to take any of the credit for that, but he did heap praise on 17-year-old debutant Adam Campbell, who was outstanding in a nine-minute cameo on his first-team debut.
"I don't know what it was, we can't really put our finger on it, but we did improve and should have had a couple more goals.
"I have to give a special mention to the young lad who came on, Campbell. He came on, looked sharp, created chances, maybe should have got a penalty, so it was a good day for him and I think everybody should be really happy with the way he played."
Despite ending their pre-season campaign with defeat, however, it has been a largely encouraging summer for Alan Pardew's side and Perch believes they're in good shape going into the season ahead.
"When you look back at it, we've played alright in some games and we've won most of them. It's just a shame we couldn't win today, the last one going into the start of the season.
"But we've washed our hands of it now. It's gone and it's done and we look forward to working hard on Monday leading up to the Saturday game."
A win in that match, Perch knows, and the Cardiff result will become a distant memory. "That's what we're aiming to do," he said, "and that's what we've got our fingers crossed for."