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Opinion

There are two other outcomes that will need to be considered at Newcastle United

1 year ago
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The other day I had an article published on The Mag that said there were two scenarios that Newcastle United could follow this season.

They were basically as follows:

Mike Ashley lets this season go as far as he possibly can in the hope that Steve Bruce can get this club to safety, then change the manager with a few games remaining as he did in 2009 and 2016 (without success).

Or secondly, he will allow Bruce to stay on no matter what position the club find itself in even if that means relegation. It’s the second one that I feel the owner is destined to allow to happen, he won’t want to be proved wrong (again) after ousting Rafa Benitez will he?

So what happens next?

There are two other outcomes that will need to be considered, both offer a picture of what could happen regardless of what happens with the club at the end of the season. There’s good and bad news, there’s one negative and one (at least partially) positive. So the pessimistic amongst us (of which I am one) will have their moment and the people who see everything as hunky dory or glass half full (happy clappers) should be happy.

I’ll start with the negative one.

I’ve already written this season off, not just being a season where we merely survive but one where we will suffer a third relegation on Mike Ashley’s watch. It will take more than a fluke win away at Spurs to convince me otherwise. I honestly never thought that a Newcastle side would come out of a game at St James Park against a team like Brighton (no disrespect) with only 29% of the ball. Now possession means little, provided you come out winning the game. Cast your minds back to that great victory over Manchester City last season. Without checking, what percentage of possession do you think we had? Do you think it was more than the bore draw against Brighton? The answer was less, it was 24%.

Against Watford we had 49% of the ball and STILL couldn’t win the game in a display that many have described as unwatchable, in a similar vein to the Brighton snooze fest. So we can’t win WITH possession and we can’t win without it. It’s not looking very clever is it? Oh but happy clappers and club apologists will ask- ‘What was the stat against Spurs when we won 1-0?’ and yes, I’ll agree, winning that game 1-0 with an unbelievable 20% of the ball is some going, but you can bet your house it won’t be repeated again and over the course of a season it will take a club down, especially if a similar stat is replicated against sides the quality of Brighton and Watford. Failure to take enough points off those sides WILL relegate the club.

The Watford draw gets worse by the week for they are going to be one of the sides scrapping with us to survive. Yes Watford, a side that got tonked 8-0 off Manchester City. A Watford side that still had 31% of possession in that very game and they were 5-0 down inside 20 minutes. Yet, still Newcastle couldn’t beat them with 49% of the ball. Getting worried yet? You should be.

Make no mistake about it, we are going down as it stands. We will beat the odd team and pick up a few points. I certainly don’t expect us to be challenging the record books and not beating the mackems points tally of 15 in 2006, or (shudder) the pitiful 11 picked up by Derby in 2008. They seldom make sides THAT bad. I actually started the season with reasonable ideas that there would indeed be three teams worse than we are. After six games? My opinion has slipped slightly.

So, back to my scenarios. My second one is somewhat more positive. First and foremost, we stay up and job’s a good ‘un for Mike Ashley, no matter what happens, an own goal on the last day and stay up on goal difference. You can bet you’re life he’d take that every time. So there you go, the good ship Newcastle has survived for another season onboard the Premier League gravy train. That’s where the positives end.

We stay up, then what? How much would you have to give Bruce next summer either to spend personally or in players gifted to him to hide his obvious failings as a coach? We’re led to believe that he’s had £60m+ worth of talent this season. Yeah right and if you believe that, you’ll believe that the players bought were his choices as well. But nevertheless, he’s been afforded more money in one transfer window that Rafa Benitez was and yet the squad is inherently weaker. That takes a special level of stupidity if it’s not deliberate sabotage.

Bearing in mind that former manager/head coach Steve McClaren was gifted a kings ransom worth of players in 2015 and still managed to screw things up, I have less faith in Steve Bruce succeeding with a bag of money when his record as a boss is WORSE than the wally with the brolly. If Bruce can’t get a decent tune out of what he’s got now, then he’s got no chance and being fair to the players, they aren’t a rubbish bunch, are they? Or was Rafa Benitez really such a fantastic manager? Were the two players Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez REALLY that crucial to us last season? Or a combination of both?

I think we’ve already learnt the answer to that. Rondon’s hold up play (and goals), Perez’s goals and Benitez’ tactical expertise were way in advance of what Bruce can offer and glean from the players he’s been given. The sad fact of the matter is, it would have been cheaper to give Benitez £60m no questions asked. At least we would have retained the sound defence AND Rondon.

As it stands, Bruce has chopped and changed his formation, more than hinted that he will change his style again in the wake of what he saw against Brighton last weekend (bizarrely to go more defensive) and in general looks to have no clue. This was more than emphasised by players openly running up to the bench and proclaiming ‘This isn’t working!’ to him and his coaching staff. Quite astonishing. Even Steve McClaren didn’t oversee such disarray and rejection of the tactics coming from the bench.

Mind you, bearing in mind I (and many others) foresaw this calamity before it actually presented itself and decided that enough was enough, with Ashley getting rid of competence and replacing it with an outright shambles, it’s hardly a surprise.

Some have said that the Brighton game (especially the first half) was one of the worst exhibitions of football to be witnessed at home for many a year and (whilst I can’t say I’ve seen it first hand (or via highlights) I can say that if it was worse than the home game against Fulham last year which I was present for, then it must have been an absolute sin. To be charging more money for an ever decreasing standard of football, then I do wonder what 40,000+ are still doing watching this car crash.

At least last season we had someone in the dugout who knew what he was doing and knew how to get the best out of what he had. Heck, he even had a plan and a vision to take the club forward. Fancy that? In both of my scenarios, misery is just perpetuated. That is unless you think staying up is actually a good thing?

Anyone still thinking positively?

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