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Opinion

A battle for the soul of Newcastle United

3 years ago
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The final whistle at Bournemouth signalled ten games left for Newcastle United to secure their top flight status. We sit precariously in 15th place.

I have just about got over the late goals on Saturday that denied what I feel would have been certain Premier League survival.

The dash down the home straight could be one of the most important periods in the club’s recent history.

There is so much at stake.

Survival opens the door to the TV riches the club needs to fund its very existence under Mike Ashley. We all hope a big chunk will be allocated to recruitment over the summer, should we beat the dreaded drop.

The future of the manager is linked to survival too.

If Rafa Benitez can’t stave off relegation then he will more than likely move on and we will have to shift on to a much less enticing business model – somehow try and go again in the second tier with a different boss at the helm.

Some of the players we have developed, most notably Lascelles, may look for the exit door for footballing reasons. Lascelles allegedly already being admired by clubs who can pay double or even treble what we can/will under Mr Ashley.

Surely Jamaal Lascelles has to be made the club’s top earner?

And the hopes of a takeover by Amanda Staveley will hinge on staying in the Premier League, even if many have doubts as to her credibility as a buyer.

It feels like a battle for the soul of Newcastle United between now and May. No pressure!

When Rafa took over on 11 March 2016, he inherited a club which had ten games left to play. We sat in the bottom three on 24 points. Confidence was rock bottom but he managed 13 more points in that run in, with a 0-0 at Villa Park thwarting hope of a great escape.

It was just too much ground to make up.

Fast forward to 2018. Ten games left and Newcastle United have 29 points and a decent goal difference.

There is also a group of players who are giving it everything they’ve got, unlike some members of that doomed class of 2016.

Three or four wins from the remaining games will do it. It’s going to be close.

Much could also hinge on how many points are dropped by sides below us, though we are still masters of our own destiny, and that could be critical.

Professional sport is all about doing it when it counts. Can you perform when the pressure is on?

We are about to find out. Much is riding on these games. The hopes of an entire city.

You can follow the author on Twitter @DavePunton
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