Apologies from Carver and Tim Krul have done little to rid the sour taste left after yesterday’s pathetic excuse of a performance.
I was not one of the poor souls who travelled down to Manchester but watching in the pub I could see just how inexcusably bad we were.
Those that did go will have barely got settled in the ground before Vurnon Anita unprofessionally and mistakenly thought he would have an abundance of time and space in his own penalty area against Manchester City, the Premier League champions.
To attempt to turn the ball out in such a casual and lazy manner was one of the worst decisions I have seen a Toon player make this season. It set the tone for what was rightfully called a ‘pathetic display’ by Shearer on Match of the Day.
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The back four lacked any cohesion or stability, which is particularly annoying considering we have just let Davide Santon and Yanga-Mbwia move on to two of the biggest clubs in Italy, with obviously no real explanation offered as to why. Haidara looked out of his depth, Perez looks overworked and just where was Gouffran supposed to be playing yesterday?
Many will say this result and even performance could be seen coming. Fair enough, but I just don’t understand where the team has gone that demolished an admittedly awful Hull team 3-0, just three weeks ago.
I am unconvinced that Carver has made that many changes to the Pardew system, and in fairness he did not have any flexibility in the January window to make that possible. However, what does seem to have happened is that Cabella is now getting more game time and seems a crucial part of the team, or at least he was at the Hull game. I stood there in the away end that day thinking that even though we had little chance of challenging the top eight positions, at least by winning some games our season could feel like it had some purpose again.
Then at home to Stoke a couple of weeks ago Newcastle produced one of the worst home performances by far in the last two seasons, failing to capitalize on any sort of momentum generated by winning the week before. The crowd was flat, the team was flat, the whole game became a virtual non-entity, until we somehow threatened to win when Jolback scored.
At one point in the first half Stoke, yes Stoke City of hoofball fame, were stringing it around comfortably in midfield with their supporters even ‘olaying’ in response to each pass, while we just lacked any energy or inspiration to press and get the ball back. We were actually lucky to get a draw in the end that day.
Coming back to yesterday, don’t misinterpret, I was unfortunately like many others fully expecting a defeat yesterday, but the manner in which it came about was a disgrace. Now the crowd will be edgy and ready to turn on the team if it starts to go wrong next Saturday, in what will be a massive game.
This brings me to my main point. Last week in the media they were saying that Newcastle’s problem is that their season is over, they are not going to threaten the European places (obviously) and they are not going to be in a relegation battle. I even saw Lee Ryder in The Chronicle penning an article on why certain points like the derby game and finishing top ten, make our season still ‘interesting’.
The hurtful truth is that Newcastle should be looking over their shoulders and minding the gap. Looking at our run of fixtures, particularly after the Villa game, it’s the elephant in the room, the suggestion that we might get sucked into the relegation battle.
Why has everyone, including a lot of our supporters, ex-players and dare I say, even the club staff, shown this arrogant stance on how there is no way whatsoever that we could be drawn into an ugly dogfight, exactly the way we were two seasons ago in 2012-2013.
That season the carrot of a good run in the Europa took people’s eye of the ball as far as relegation was concerned, and after the first Sunderland derby debacle, we were suddenly dragged right into the mire without anyone realising. The worst thing you can do in the Premier League is to think you are not in the relegation battle, often by the time you realise it is too late.
It could be a very similar situation to 2013 if we do somehow lose to Sherwood’s mob next Saturday. If that happens then we will all be wondering (Carver included?) just where our next three points are coming from and out of the blue the magic forty points will look very distant indeed.
The gap with Villa is still currently a healthy-ish looking ten points but if the unthinkable happens and the gap is down to seven, with our next six games looking very ominous…
My head and heart says that we will have just enough in the tank to scrape past Aston Villa next Saturday which would put us on 35 and nearly ‘over the line’. Our final five games from Swansea City at home on the 25th of April, to West Ham on the final day of the season, all look ‘winnable’ games, the problem is just how many points can you realistically see us getting from now until the Swansea game? Three? Maybe four at a push.
I hate to be pessimistic about Newcastle and the main thing is that we all get behind the team for these next vital two home games. With Manchester Utd following Villa in a televised Wednesday night game, the whole club needs to forget yesterday’s debacle, and quickly, you just never know how important the next two games might be to Newcastle United’s immediate future.