So, the table on Sunday Steve, who are the 6 or 7 looking over their shoulders?
You have to hand it to Steve Bruce, once he has a message to put out, he is never scared of repeating it too many times…
It’s impressive, at least in terms of just what lengths a man is prepared to go to, in keeping saying something despite all reason saying that it is nonsense.
Naturally, it is a massive help when you have so many friends, or at least matey associates in the world of football punditry and the ranks of journalists in the media, so willing to give you so much rope.
Reality catches up with us all though.
Indeed, for a long long time Steve Bruce refused to even acknowledge that ‘Newcastle United’ and ‘in a relegation battle’ should be allowed to be used in the same sentence.
The NUFC Head Coach repeatedly telling the world that Newcastle United were not in a relegation battle, so it was a bit like King Canute finally getting his feet wet, it was only when it came to a round of matches where Newcastle could actually fall into the bottom three if all results went the wrong way, that Steve Bruce finally accepted that relegation might just be a topic he had to give an answer to.
Once we reached that point of Newcastle United only one wrong move away from falling into the relegation zone, Steve Bruce came up with a few catchphrases to deflect, or else the Mike Ashley PR people scripted them for the NUFC Head Coach.
At every pre and post-match press conference when asked about what the plan was to stay up, Steve Bruce came up with this stunning insight: ‘It is all about the accumulation of points, accumulating enough to stay up, whatever that might be.’
That is loosely what Steve Bruce has been saying every time, the words slightly changing but the message a constant, every Newcastle fan so relieved to hear that we actually had a cunning plan in place. Brucey has this in hand, it is all about accumulating points, if only this had been made clear in 2009 and 2016!
I laugh every time Steve Bruce comes out with it now, he talks about this need to accumulate enough points as though he has cracked the enigma code. As though it hasn’t occurred to any other manager that accumulating points if pretty important.
As this shocking run of now two wins in nineteen games has progressed, Steve Bruce has become increasingly elusive in terms of pinning down what exactly will be needed, he refuses to set any points target, not even saying 40 points is usually seen as safety and that is what we aim for as a minimum. It is almost as though he has no faith in being good enough to pick up 12 or more points from these final 10 games to reach 40 points or beyond.
In Bruce’s head, I think that he thinks, if you don’t set any targets then you can’t fail to reach them…
Surely the only plan Steve Bruce has, can’t be simply hoping other clubs will fail and Newcastle United stumble along picking up draws here and there and stay up by default?
One of the other key messages that Steve Bruce puts out every single time, is when asked about Newcastle being favourites to replace Fulham in the bottom three, he always insists there are at least ‘six or seven’ other clubs also ‘looking over their shoulders’, not just Newcastle United, when it comes to who will / could go down instead of Fulham.
This line of defence / deflection from Steve Bruce was laughable when he first started up with it, now it is just embarrassing.
What Bruce wants to put out, is that everybody in the bottom of the table is in real danger of relegation and Newcastle United are just one of many…rather than the reality of very very few at risk and Newcastle the bookies favourite now to actually finish in the bottom three, a shorter price than even Fulham.
This is how the Premier League table looks ahead of Sunday’s matches:
As, you can see, if it was another seven clubs as well as Newcastle at risk of replacing Fulham, then that would bring in Arsenal who are currently 10th on 38 points.
If it is another six clubs that would mean Crystal Palace, currently 11th on 37 points after beating West Brom 1-0.
Leeds 12th on 36 points after their 0-0 yesterday with Chelsea.
Wolves in 13th on 35 points…
Only a mad person, or Steve Bruce…would think any of these clubs are actively in the relegation battle currently.
To be honest, I don’t think anybody really sees Southampton in 14th on 33 points in danger of going down.
After their deserved 2-1 win at Everton yesterday, Burnley on 33 points in 15th are surely the same.
Most rational people see it simply as Sheffield United and West Brom already down, leaving it a three way fight between Fulham, Brighton and Newcastle for that third drop spot.
Brighton are away at Southampton today and could jump above Newcastle to 29 points, one clear.
However, regardless of that, next weekend could for me decide Newcastle United’s fate.
If Fulham beat Leeds at Craven Cottage on Friday night (8pm kick-off), then a Brighton win at home to Newcastle on the Saturday night (8pm kick-off), would then see Steve Bruce and his players finally in the bottom three.
I honestly feel that if that happens, we will not see Newcastle United climb back out of the bottom three at any point in the rest of the season. If Brighton beat Southampton as well, they would be four points clear of Newcastle going into the international break!
Steve Bruce kept talking about the winnable games coming up once Chelsea and Man Utd were out of the way, Newcastle haven’t managed to beat any of Wolves and Villa at home, nor West Brom away. Indeed, they rarely looked like beating any of the trio. Brighton up next, the fourth of these four winnable games.
After the international break, Newcastle then face Tottenham (H), Burnley (A), West Ham (H), Liverpool (A), Arsenal (H), Leicester (A) and Man City (H).
Honestly, if Newcastle play like they have these last three games, just how many points will they pick up?
Six of them with varying hopes still of Champions League / Europa League places, whilst Burnley will surely see Newcastle at home as the perfect opportunity to stretch even further away from the relegation zone.
By the time we get to Sheffield United at home and Fulham away, the final two NUFC fixtures, the game could already be up.
We might already be hearing Steve Bruce list the people and issues that were to blame for relegation, anything but accepting blame himself.
If Fulham and Brighton win next weekend and Newcastle United are in the bottom three as we hit the international break, what then will happen at NUFC?
Well, with nine games to go, any normal club would see two wins in twenty games and a spot in the bottom three as a time for drastic action, change desperately needed.
Instead we have the Mike Ashley model of doing things.
Be prepared not to be amazed if the worst happens, instead strap yourself in for a third relegation in the last 11 Premier League seasons under Ashley’s control.
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