I think last Saturday was one of the most deflating home performances I have seen from a Rafa Benitez Newcastle United side since he took over in 2016.

There was no energy, no obvious desire, a complete lack of quality and it appeared a complete lack of responsibility out on the pitch. Even the opponents were mediocre.

This is not the fault of Rafa Benitez. This is not the fault of those in the stands, but it is we who will suffer. It feels like at present no one has the stomach for the fight. Everything good is being channelled into the brilliant pressure demonstrations outside the ground and the sports direct shop on Northumberland Street. The key though, is to channel that into the SJP.

We will need our home to be a fortress to have any hope of staying up. If the anger and passion from the fans is channelled into player performances, then results will turn around quickly. Obviously supporters can only do so much but why not aim to make it as difficult as possible for the opposition.

Relegation can never be a positive in any way, shape, or form. The stories of clubs using relegation as the making of them, is often complete fantasy, and in our case certainly, relegation does not lead to a positive path.

We have been extremely fortunate in both of our previous relegation scenarios.

The first time we were able to hold on to a large majority of our first team players. We were able to form at minimum a strong 13/14 man squad which was hugely competitive in that division. We also were fortunate Chris Hughton was part of our backroom staff at a time when the club required positive, calm leadership.

The second time we, and I am still not quite sure how, had Rafa Benitez in charge, in the Championship! It still astounds me. A find it hard to believe our luck would continue if we are relegated for a third time under Ashley’s ownership. Rafa would be gone in a blink; chaos to go beyond anything seen previously would be likely.

PR will continue to come and I think it’s all part of the Ashley game. Press releases. Taking the players out for meals, it’s all bluff. Always will be where MA is concerned unfortunately.

I did see the intriguing poll ran by ‘The Mag’ a few weeks ago – Would relegation and Rafa Benitez leaving as manager be taken, if it meant Ashley leaving the club permanently?

I think it’s genuinely a difficult choice without a right or wrong answer and respect that each fan should be allowed his or her view without judgement from peers. I know a lot of our fans would take the greedy one leaving at any cost, and that is completely understandable, and also very hard to turn down.

I do also believe that a further relegation would significantly harm us in the long term, particularly with clubs in the second tier now spending more than ever in an attempt to get out. The last promotion campaign was hugely tight and it’s unlikely to be easier to get back up in the future.

I do not believe Mike Ashley particularly wants to flog Newcastle United or ever had any intention of putting the club on the market. However, if he ever got to the point of considering finally leaving, surely it would only come after a few years of premier league stability. Ashley’s equivalent of milking the cow for all it’s worth.

I understand the apathy towards what is going on the pitch while he refuses to re-invest but that is why actually staying up is more important than ever. Only in the strongest position possible is new ownership realistic if we can hold on for another season and Ashley has one more year of profit of the back of us, as tough as it is to swallow, it might be what eventually sees him off. Here’s hoping anyway.

This is precisely why this season should not be allowed to slip away, and everyone connected with Newcastle needs to be prepared for, and up for the battle. At the moment it feels like games are just slipping away. Saturday was a classic example, soft goals conceded and a flat feel to the whole game. The siege mentality and unity between players, coaching staff and fans was evident last season. In those crucial back-to-back games against Southampton and Huddersfield, it kept us afloat and pushed us onto safety.

We need to recreate this for 2018-19, and make every game as difficult for the opponent as possible. If things do get tight, like they did last season, experience shows that Rafa Benitez can give us a crucial advantage on the opposition in that bottom half.

We desperately need to start picking up points before the gap between the bottom three and rest of the contenders is extended. Very soon it could become a bridge too far. But at present it is still early days, and the ridiculously difficult early fixtures mean we should now have a chance to catch-up over the next month.

I am hopeful Rafa can reinstall some of the belief and positivity to the club on the pitch, for those ninety minutes, with everything outside the match time focused on making life as difficult as possible for the ownership and anyone associated with it. I hope the current uneasy atmosphere can turn into noise for ninety minutes and push the team on.

Remember how the place rocked in those big victories against Manchester United and Arsenal last season. Things will change in time, but that does not mean this season should be neglected, let’s believe in Benitez and the boys.

You can follow the author on Twitter @JackLaceySport

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  • Carverlier football

    So, let me get this straight, the thing which will see Ashley off is another season of profit…? Er… What? Surely that would be a great reason for him to stick around? He’s going to keep milking the club either until there’s no milk left or the cow kicks him hard enough

  • Themoscow72

    Great article with only one flaw. We have a very good set of games coming up which we must win including Brighton, Watford, Southampton, Bournemouth, West Ham and Burnley. As Keegan and Rafa say it is vital the fans support the team as relegation will make things worse not better. We will never find a buyer then.
    What people must understand is that if we make a profit or loss it makes no difference to Ashley personally as it’s the clubs money not his. Yes he could take a wage, a dividend or a bonus out the club but he chooses not to. A profit (depending on cash flow and staggered payments) just means more money available to spend on players not for him to take out.

    • Malcolm Fisher

      So where are the players he has spent the profit on?

      • Jezza

        They play for the House Of Fraser staff football team.

        • relaxed

          LOL

    • relaxed

      WTF are you for real ?
      You don’t even have to work at been a retarded fukcwit it just seems to come naturally to you.

      • Leazes.

        No he appeared to be Fleckman/monkseaton/standen so I blocked it….he doesn’t appear at all now!

        • Wezza

          Leazes, I’m sure thats Kevin Lee and the other one, David, has totally stopped posting on his accounts. For shame. There isn’t anything they can say to support MA so he ran with his tail between his legs. Just to rub it in I hope we get a result tomorrow!

    • JohnnyH

      See above
      The Bishop PR machine failing completely.

    • JohnnyH

      So if it’s the clubs money not his, and it’s available to spend on players, to quote you,

      WTF’s going on with the £123 million tv money the £25 million gate money and approx. £28 million commercial income?

      • Wezza

        Just block that troll mate.
        I agree with Jezza, I think 90M of the 123M (not to mention the first instalment of TV money) has been spent on HOF!
        MA has been taking for years and years.
        Why was it that Pardew said we couldn’t compete with Stoke? 52,000 gate and we can’t spend. The alarm bells should have been ringing for everyone years ago!
        Now everyone knows what MA has done and all this pathetic PR, now we can get him out. We must keep up the pressure!

    • Malcolm Fisher

      Feel we will take 15pts out of those games…

  • Kenny

    He will sell when the club is beyond redemption that is why he must be forced out
    asap, before it`s to late.

    • graham18

      We all wish the FCB would sell.If we go down for the 3rd time which at the moment is very possible FCB would lose a fortune and then say nobody will buy it.On the otherhand if FCB put investment in say in the new year window and the toon stay up he would just up the price and potential buyers would shy off.He is just going round in circles riding his luck.The FCB is now playing a very dodgy game but to be perfectly honest,he doesn’t give a [email protected] anyway.

      • Kenny

        I doubt he will waver from his death & destruction mode concerning Newcastle

  • JohnnyH

    This article in summary;
    Kieth,
    Put something out to get the fans on board, we dont want to get relegated or I’ll lose all my Lovely TV money.

  • Ashley-out

    Newcastle United is being milked dry by the parasite, buy a ticket, buy a shirt,
    then you are complicit in the demise of the club, guilty of conspiracy before and after the fact. do not start moaning and complaining if we go down again because you are 1/50,000 of the problem

    • Waxi

      Subscribe to Sky and you are complicit as by far the 125 million from sky every year keeps the FCB at our club. AS above don’t complain as you are one of the 20 million subscribers who add to our problem.

      • Ashley-out

        I have a Kodi box, Wrong again just keep giving him your money,
        i would rather burn it

        • Waxi

          You might not subscribe but millions of others do so he ain’t ever going to quit over gate receipts alone. I have said it before and i will say it again that FCB and all the others who knock us who go to the game will never stop me following the team i have supported for the past 52 year. I have seen it all before and in the words of the famous Ottis Redding song a change is gonna come. Make sure your VPN is not leaking.

  • paco

    This piece is an example, if needed – however well meant – of why – if it is the general view of most fans – in 2028…2038, we will still be “controlled” by MA. Either someone comes up with a huge amount of cash, say 10xTV money or we join or “friends” the 3rd tier or: stop going to games; stop giving MA money

  • Kenny

    I think the Fat Rats vermin PR guy will revert to the scooby doo defence as they are running out of options due to the oafs behaviour.

  • Superdooperhooper

    This season was a write off before a ball was kicked .