Newcastle’s Relegation Fight – Bad Luck Or Bad Judgement?
Where has this season gone wrong for Newcastle United?
Let’s be honest. This season has been a disappointment and I can’t wait for it to end. Provided we are still in this division of course.
All season we have suffered from poor results, poor performances, poor decisions and a distinct lack of lady luck.
All of that means that we are now 5 points above the relegation zone with 5 games to go. This was hardly what Newcastle fans were hoping for after the seemingly distant fairytale of last season, when we finished in fifth place above European champions Chelsea, and qualified for Europe for the first time in years.
The summer after that wonderful season was where all our problems began. A lack of investment, a rather botch-job pre-season schedule, and with a lot of players away on international duties or injured, we were not prepared for the start of the season.
However, the season started quite well actually, with a win over Tottenham Hotspur and qualification into the group stages of the Europa league. Overall, it has been a steady downhill ride from there though. We have dropped too many points against poor teams and have simply failed to turn up for some games. Most notably the games against Man City and Sunderland.
The reason for the poor season has been debated amongst fans all year, with a list of reasons longer than my arm all being thrown about in discussion.
So what exactly has been the matter with us?
A lack of investment by the board in the summer resulted in only one senior player arriving on Tyneside. This was clearly going to cause some problems, especially with the added games of the Europa league.
However, we may had been able to cope with the players we had, were it not for an injury curse of sorts to strike the club. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of one single player who has not been injured for at least a week this season. Major injuries to key players such as Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Krul and Coloccini. On top of that, there has been long-term injuries to vital squad players, most notably Ryan Taylor.
Injury problems aside, the simple fact is that even when our big players have been fit and playing, they have not been playing well; Cabaye, Tiote, Santon, Colocinni, Cisse, Jonas. All big players for us, who for most of the season, have simply not been good enough. We have relied on moments of luck and magic, such as last minute winners from Cisse, to win us games. All season we haven’t really grabbed a game by the scruff of the neck and truly controlled it.
And then there is the manager, coaching and tactics. All season, strange decisions and tactics have affected our games. Seemingly overly defensive tactics, a lack of confidence in our ability to attack, and the increasingly frustrating saga that is our corners. Are you allowed to score from them? I can’t remember.
Of course our participation in the Europa League, which culminated in a devastating quarter final defeat to Benfica, resulted in extra games and commitments this season. Whilst the tiredness from playing said games should not be a problem to professional footballers, the changes in training methods and patterns would have undoubtedly affected us.
And then, there is the apparent lack of luck throughout this season. Whilst there have been times when we have been on the right side of some questionable decisions, such as the handball goal vs Reading way back in September, the luck and decisions seem to have went against us for the majority of the season. Offside goals that weren’t, some very questionable referee performances and a range of other events have damaged our season to some extent. The controversial game against Wigan epitomises this bad luck, with almost every bad decision imaginable occurring at the DW stadium. Of course, as the saying goes, sometimes you have to ‘make your own luck’, and so I personally don’t think this string of bad luck can be considered as a major part of this season’s troubles, but it has certainly contributed.
I don’t think you could name a single reason why we are where we are; currently in the middle of a relegation fight that we weren’t, and aren’t, prepared for with only 5 games to go.
If we only had to manage one or two of these problems, I am sure we would be comfortably top half. However, having to deal with so many problems, both major and minor, has left us up the creek without a paddle, and we can only hope that our team has enough to get out of the relegation battle before it is too late.
Three points against West Brom would be a good start…
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