Writer: Ross Molyneux
Date:Wednesday February 13 2008
In his latest article, Aaron Gales takes a serious look at the possibility of that horrible 'R' word...
Every season there is one team that nobody really expects to go down that surprises everybody and gets relegated. Last year it was Charlton, and in previous seasons it has been clubs like Southampton and Leeds that have suffered this fate. I fear that this season maybe it is Newcastle United`s turn. I sincerely hope that this is not true but all the signs are pointing in that direction; down.
The first, and most worrying statistic is that we haven`t won a game in the Premiership, home or away since the middle of December when a late Joey Barton penalty won us the game at Fulham. That means that statistically we are on the worse run of form in the entire Premier League, along with Derby County.
This sad state of affairs has left us sandwiched between Middlesborough and Sunderland in the league and don`t try and tell me that they have a similar calibre of players in their squad as we do, because quite simply they don`t.
On paper at least we should have the players to get us out of the predicament in which we find ourselves. Players like Michael Owen, Mark Viduka, Emre, Steven Taylor and Shay Given would walk into most sides in the league barring the top four.
However the players seem shot of confidence, something that I thought would change with the reappointment of KK, but besides hammering Stoke City at St James we haven`t really seen any change. I thought that maybe, just maybe, the players might have cracked it after the performance they gave in the first half against Aston Villa, but the utter capitulation after Wilfred Bouma equalised suggests otherwise.
What really has me worried though is our next run of games. We play Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool, which could quite easily end in three defeats, and with us currently on 28 points, three losses could see us floating ominously above the relegation zone.
There are three games out of our remaining fixtures that we simply must win. These are against Reading, Sunderland and Fulham and were we to take maximum points from these games and maybe pick up a couple of points elsewhere, possibly in the games against Birmingham and Portsmouth, it should be enough for us to stay in the league and banish any lingering thoughts of relegation.
One man who we cannot attach any blame to for the current malaise is the new manager. He has been left a squad with no confidence and form by the previous manager, who seems to have set us back five years after being in the job just six months.
Keegan needs time to rebuild the squad in his own image and not that of Allardyce. The irony is that it`s Allardyce`s players that will determine whether or not King Kev is rebuilding his squad for the Premier League, or the Championship.
Date:Wednesday February 13 2008
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