Mark Lawrenson finds it strange that Aston Villa haven’t appointed a new manager, even though it is over five weeks since Remi Garde left by ‘mutual consent’.

Eric Black has been in temporary charge and I suppose maybe the most likely reason for the delay is that Villa are waiting for the season to end, before approaching/appointing their first choice who is currently managing elsewhere.

Nevertheless, Mark Lawrenson thinks that a manager in situ would be getting the heads up on the current players, to help prepare for next season.

At Newcastle of course we find ourselves waiting to see which in which direction the dominoes fall…

If they fall the right way then Premier League status will be retained and hopefully Rafa Benitez in position long-term, sort out the club from top to bottom and we all live happily every after.

Alternatively, if they fall in the other direction and Newcastle are relegated, then we all fear Rafa Benitez will jump or be pushed by Mike Ashley, with chaos and misery to surely follow.

Very apt that Newcastle United play in the sharpest of all contrasts: black and white.

Whatever else happens, the fans have certainly responded to Rafa Benitez, as have the players.

The team picking up eight points from the last 12 and the Spurs game is already sold out, whilst all 3,000 tickets for Villa were snapped up.

Despite Aston Villa having 15,000 unsold seats as of the end of last week, they refused to sell more to Newcastle supporters, despite this Mark Lawrenson predicts ‘massive support’ for United on Saturday.

Villa have made tickets only available to fans who have bought before but no doubt there will be a good number of Newcastle fans in the home areas, especially with so many ex-pat Geordies living down there due to people moving for work down the decades.

As for the match itself, Mark Lawrenson believes that Newcastle’s ‘massive support’ will be rewarded for their time and effort in getting tickets, predicting a 2-1 win for United which would make it 12 straight Premier League defeats for Villa this season.

Lawrenson also thinks that the tide has turned in Newcastle’s favour for the final day, pointing to the fact that Tottenham are pretty certain to have nothing to play for, plus a number of players also missing through injury and suspension.

Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport:

“I find it very strange that Aston Villa have not appointed a new manager yet.

“He could learn so much from the remaining games of this season – like last week, when they were 2-0 up (ED: they were actually only 1-0 and 2-1 up) against Watford and still lost – as well as from watching the players in training, talking to them and just being around them.

“Newcastle will have a massive support at Villa Park, despite Villa turning down their request for a bigger ticket allocation.

“I think their battle for survival will go right to the final day, and the fact Newcastle are playing Tottenham at home will definitely help them if Spurs have got second place sewn up by then.

Prediction: 1-2”