I never thought I would sit in a fairly empty St James Park watching a Premier League game that had an atmosphere of a pre-season friendly.
This is not to say I don’t respect the decision of the vast majority who chose to boycott the game on Sunday, as I know this was probably not an easy one to make, and is further evidence of how Mike Ashley has brought this club to its knees.
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Imagine if that was your first Newcastle game, your first experience of St James Park, you would be certain to never come back again.
On the pitch more awful decisions from Carver cost the team again in my opinion, as I think it would be unfair to blame the subdued atmosphere from the boycott, as part reason for the poor performance.
The decision to take Jonas out of the matchday 18 was an absolute disgrace, considering how in recent weeks he has been one of our more composed players with the ball, and gives his all when chasing what may seem to others lost causes.
Additionally, Obertan might be a hugely frustrating footballer for 90% of the time, but his pace (when he chooses to use it) is frightening and his game is naturally made for a team trying to win matches on the counter-attack. Something it appears Carver is trying to do, or maybe we are just so bad it looks like that is what he is trying to do.
He (Obertan) should have started on one flank with Cabella on the other to at least give us a chance of getting at Spurs in the wide areas, but again Carver started Gouffran who has had a season that could only be described as appalling.
Throw in some poor goalkeeping from Krul on the first two goals, another non-performance from Coloccini, and we continue to ship goals far too easily.
Another bizarre tactical blunder from Carver came when he decided to take off Abeid who had actually been one of our few decent-ish players in the first half.
We are not safe from relegation at all, not by a long shot, and anyone who thinks we are in mid-table mediocrity and there’s no way we could go down are kidding themselves massively. Leicester are currently going like an absolute train, as I always expected they might, and now look shoe-ins to beat the drop.
Whilst despite been obviously shocking, QPR and Sunderland are showing more heart and stomach for the fight than we have done in 2015, evidenced by Rangers 3-3 draw at Aston Villa which featured two teams fighting for their premier league lives.
Meanwhile we are just slumping to defeat after defeat, with a team so low on confidence it would be comical if it wasn’t so bloody tragic. The season is quickly beginning to have alarming parallels with both our relegation season of 08/09 and also two seasons ago when we scraped a win over QPR on the penultimate weekend of the season to stay up.
In 2008/09 we lost a lot of points through conceding late goals at St James’ against the likes of Man City (2-2, conceded 86th minute equalizer), Wigan (2-2, conceded 89th minute equalizer), Stoke (2-2, conceded 90th minute equalizer) and funnily enough this season we have conceded a goal after the 85th minute at home, no fewer than seven times, throwing away eight points. Eight points that had we gained we would be comfortably safe in mid-table.
We desperately need at least three points from these last five games, which look like a reasonable set of fixtures, but this team is so poor at the moment it’s difficult to see us beating anyone for certain.
We all know Ashley is a cancer on our club and when the day comes when he does eventually decide to sell up, the club should be much better off in the long run. If we are relegated though, things may only get a lot worse for this once great football club.
Before the ‘boycott Spurs’ movement, the Ashley Out campaign said it was a personal choice for all fans involved.
Therefore I realise asking fans not to do the same for this weekend’s match against Swansea may be futile, but I really do believe that, even if it’s only for 90 or so minutes, St James Park needs to be as full as possible and as positive as possible.
People say it might not make a difference and on the basis of the current quality of football that is being served up it is hard to argue against them. I will say though that when we beat the champions-elect Chelsea in December there is no doubt that the fans inside SJP that day created an atmosphere that drove the players over the line and to the victory.
You never know, the support of a healthy crowd on Saturday might just make all the difference not just to the result but also what division we are playing in next season. If fans still feel they cannot return for this weekend’s game then I wish them the best of luck and hope it contributes to removing Ashley.
For anyone who was opposite the club shop post-game on Sunday though, chanting “we can see you sneaking out” at fellow NUFC fans, achieves absolutely nothing and this idiotic behaviour will do nothing to unite the fans in further anti-Ashley demonstrations.
It probably put many more off joining in the post-game protest. I would encourage people to remember it’s everyone’s individual choice whether they decide to attend or not and also that ‘Newcastle, United, will never be defeated’…only when United though.