Tomorrow’s game at West Ham is vital for Newcastle United – if we are to start to extricate ourselves from the grip of relegation – and it’s very important that we take something out of this game.
Newcastle have fallen apart since we were knocked out of the Europa league by Benfica – who reached the finals last night by beating Fenerbahce at home 3-1, and go through by an aggregate score of 3-2 and they meet Chelsea in the final – and the London club has a chance of winning two European titles in successive seasons, after winning the Champions League last year.
And here’s an email I received last night from Nuno Vultos in Lisbon, who runs this Benfica web-site, and we had communicated before the first leg game between our clubs, and I had written an article for his site to introduce Benfica fans to Newcastle United.
This is what Nuno sent me:
“In this hour of joy for Benfica, I cannot forget to wish that Newcastle can overcome the difficulties and stay in the Premiership. ” “Your club has a place in my heart, and I really wish that the magpies can be where they belong – with the very best!”
Since the Benfica game at home, Newcastle have gone into a terrible slump, and we have taken just 1 point from our last three games and are stuck in 4th bottom place, the lowest we’ve been all season - 5 points above Wigan who have a game in hand.
If we have won two of those games we would have been in 9th place – but of course we didn’t and we conceded 9 goals in the last two home games so that our goal difference is no better than those beneath us in the table – and that was worth a point.
So it’s not just the fact we haven’t picked up enough points, but that our goal difference of -23 is the worst it’s ever been in the Premier League.
The good news is that Fabricio Coloccini should return to the center of defense, and it’s vital that he doesn’t feel any ill effects from training this week – so he can lead out the side tomorrow afternoon at Upton Park and hopefully bring some solidity to the defense – which had no such thing last week against Liverpool.
Mathieu Debuchy is suspended for this game after being sent off last week against Liverpool, and we also continue to pick up injuries, and this week it’s Massadio Haidara who picked up a hamstring injury and misses out tomorrow.
And since we seem to be picking up so many hamstring injuries, it could be that former manager Graeme Souness was right back in 2005, when he suggested it was the training fields at Benton that were causing so many injuries, and generally hamstring injuries.
Hopefully Alan Pardew will include that in his comprehensive review that hopefully will be presented to Mike Ashley and Derek LLambias not long after this disastrous season ends, and we know our fate – which is in 16 days time on 19th May.
So at least we haven’t got too much longer to go through this agony – well unless Newcastle do something – like win a game for a change.
We have Tim Krul (shoulder), Davide Santon (hamstring), and Sylvain Marveaux (groin) out with injuries – in addition to Massadio – so that’s our two first choice left backs – although Vernon Anita can play there – as can Jonas Gutierrez, James Perch and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa – and it’s anybody’s guess who Pardew will start there tomorrow.
But Alan Pardew had better get the selection right for tomorrow, because time is quickly running out, and unless we start winning a game or two or Wigan keep losing – we could be in deep trouble over the last two games of the season.
Here’s our shot at the team for tomorrow in a 4-4-2 formation:
Simpson Coloccini (c) Taylor (S) Yanga-Mbiwa
Ben Arfa Cabaye Tiote Gutierrez
Subs: Harper Williamson Perch Anita Obertan Sissoko Ameobi (Sh)
What team would you start tomorrow?
We are going for experience, and players who have gone through tough times before at Newcastle, which is why we still include Gutierrez in the side, and we’ve left Sissoko on the bench – because he’s looked poor recently and he could be brought on in the second half, and a little time on the bench could do him the world of good – with the emphasis on little.
Steve Harper could also be recalled in goal, simply because of his experience over Rob Elliot, but we think the manager will stick with Elliot for tomorrow.
Mike Williamson could also be included in the starting line-up to combat the aerial threat of a certain Andy Carroll, who is again combining well with former Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan – and the last time Mike played – against Benfica at home – he had a very solid and good game.
A win by Newcastle tomorrow would significantly lift the high anxiety being felt by Newcastle fans, because a relegation would be an absolute catastrophe for Newcastle for a multitude of reasons.
And there’s not too much confidence being shown be readers about tomorrow’s result – and here’s a chance to vote if you haven’t already done so.
We could still be safe in the Premier league if Wigan – who now have five games to play in the next two weeks – keep losing or drawing – but we need to buck up – smell the coffee – and start getting some results – and that starts tomorrow at West Ham.
Howay The Lads!!
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org