Newcastle have taken one point from their opening two Premier League games, but suffered a torrid 2-0 loss away at Swansea City last weekend.
Meanwhile, Sunderland have started the season in terrible fashion, losing 4-2 against Leicester City before a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Norwich City last weekend.
It's a recurring theme up in the North East, as whilst both clubs have great fanbases, neither side seem to harness their potential and push for the upper echelons of the Premier League table.
Now, former Arsenal defender Keown has told the Daily Mail that part of the problem for Newcastle and Sunderland is that their recruitment isn't good enough - and the 'worst thing' is that their deficiencies aren't even surprising.
"Nowadays you spread that scouting net right across Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia, always trying to find the best possible players. But both clubs have been found wanting," said Keown.
"The big worry for Sunderland is that Dick Advocaat did not seem to know what was going wrong in his own team. He asked for a meeting to discuss their problems but if you've got a structure and a plan, you should know already if that’s working or not. If there’s no plan, then where was the direction in the first place? Sunderland have been all over the shop."
"Newcastle have got a point and been playing slightly better, but not by much. Of course it’s early days for Steve McClaren but you have to wonder then whether life under him will be that different. Either way, there are enough good players out there and both clubs have got money. They just need to make sure their recruitment is spot on because the worst thing about those two teams this season is that it’s not really surprise what we’re seeing," he added.
Sunderland have been fairly quiet in the summer transfer window, and Black Cats fans have been understandably frustrated with their lack of activity whilst the rest of the Premier League are making ambitious moves.
Meanwhile, Newcastle took some time to get going but have now splashed the cash on the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic and their most recent signing Florian Thauvin, and appear to be moving in the right direction.
Both teams still need reinforcements before the transfer deadline, and if they are to fulfil expectations and push towards the top half of the table, new signings must be calculated and shrewd, rather than swift and panicky like many late summer deals are.