This afternoon’s game is one of the most crucial in Newcastle United history.
It’s one of the most crucial because if we lose or even win and other games go against us, we will be relegated for the first time in 16 years to the second division of the English Football league, now called the Championship.
This has been a season about which books will be written, because the leaders at Newcastle United (leaders is not an appropriate word), have thrown the Newcastle club into one crisis after another, and this season, the Newcastle club has been a laughing stock – well, much more than usual.
With the squad we have at the club, and the wages our players are paid, there’s no logical reason we should be 3rd bottom of the league, and not even have our destiny in our own hands on thsi final day of what’s been a terrible and disastrous seaosn for ouyr club.
But that is illustrative of the depths of Newcastle’s demise and incompetence this season – more of that tomorrow – but only if we do down.
It’s a little lucky that Aston Villa are not in their earlier terrific form, and are on just a little bit of a lull at the moment, but they still look so much better than a patched up Newcastle side will look this afternoon.
It looks like Owen (late fitness test) and Beye are injured, and of course Bassong and Barton both shot themselves in the foot in earlier games and are suspended because of red cards. They will be no help to the club in today’s game.
The good news is that Alan Smith is fit again, and we expect Smith to play an important role this afternoon. This lad has been injured far too much this season and last, but if there was a player that will play his heart out for the side – it is Alan Smith in a game like today.
It wouldn’t be a total surprise if Alan starts in midfield even, but Shearer will probably stay with Butt and Nolan in central midfield, and bring on Alan some time during the game.
On the Aston Villa side of things, the bad news for Newcastle is that Ashley Young will play, following the calf strain he picked up last weekend at Middlesbrough.
Newcastle have won just one of their previous 12 games, and lost 7, so our form has not been good other than in the game against Middlesbrough at home, when the lads played their best game at St. James’ Park all season.
So while our hopes are sky high, in reality we think the odds are way against us, but we must try to get at least a point, and we could still survive, but a defeat will mean certain relegation.
Michael Owen will again face a late fitness test today, and his tenure at Newcastle would be epitomized by him missing this historic game . But if he is just 80% fit, we may still see him on the bench and Alan Shearer may throw him into the game in the last 20 minutes or so, to try to get the goals(s) that could save Newcastle – if necessary.
Since Michael hasn’t scored since January – again – the hopes are high, but the reality is low that he can either play or score.
If Newcastle do get relegated at 6:00pm tonight, it will be very depressing and a complete tragedy for the club, and there will be many and harsh retribution for those responsible.
If we do get relegated don’t expect to hear much from us until tomorrow, as we try to recover from what would be a huge shock to the system.
However, if we do survive, expect at least 10 articles after the game from us, and we’ll be writing way into the night – whether anybody will be reading the stuff we write, is another matter. 😀
We don’t know what team Alan will field, but he’s shown some courage in both his team selections and his substitutions, and today will be no exception.
We think the team will be as follows:
Edgar S.Taylor Coloccini Enrique
Lovenkrands Butt Nolan Duff
Subs: Krul Cacapa Guthrie Smith R.Taylor Ranger Ameobi
One thing that is worrying is whether David Edgar will be able to contain Ashley Young or Enrique will be able to contain former Newcastle lad James Milner – we would think Martin O’Neill would see victory down the wings this afternoon.
And with Sebastien Bassong missing, Rod Carew could be a handful at center forward, with his heading ability and general strong physical play.
While the game will be decided on skill and guts, which puts Newcastle at a slight disadvantage, we do expect Newcastle’s players to come out and give it everything they’ve got – but whether that will be good enough is another matter.
We’ve heard all the hype all week, about how we can do it, and how we can win the game – and all that stuff – but as we have found out before what does this talking mean before a game. Absolutely nothing!.
We heard it all last week for the Fulham game. That was a game we were convinced we would win, disappointed if we only drew, and then ended up completely devastated when we were beaten.
Let’s hope the same thing doesn’t help today – but the facts are that everything is against the club surviving.
If we do survive big credit to the players to pull it out on the last day. If we don’t this squad will go down in Newcastle history as the squad that let the club down, more than any other squad in history. And they will be long remembered – we all know that – and so do the players.
Let’s hope that is inspiration enough for the lads to play out of their skins this afternoon. If they do that and survive, they will be Newcastle heroes, just like their manager.
After the game today, it will be either ecstasy or a frustrating and empty feeling of disaster for Newcastle fans everywhere.
Howay The Lads!!