Newcastle’s tenuous situation has many fans anxiously watching results from around the league and wondering what impact they will have on our fight against relegation. Last night there was a match of interest as Brighton hosted Crystal Palace.
At kick-off, Brighton sat just one place and one point above us in the table while the Eagles were four points and in 14th. So both clubs were realistically still in the mire despite being better off than Newcastle.
Well, Crystal Palace snagged two goals from nothing to defeat Brighton with strikes from new signing Jean-Philippe Mateta and Christian Benteke, whose outstanding finish came in the final minute of stoppage time. Mateta did his best Ayoze Perez impersonation with a nifty backheel in the first half, which was his first goal since signing for Palace in January.
That result keeps Brighton, who dominated possession and had 25 shots with only one finding the target, firmly in the relegation muck along with Newcastle. So we suppose it was a decent result for us despite Crystal Palace now seeming safe. They take on Fulham at Selhurst Park on Sunday.
Results from teams around us should be irrelevant as Newcastle need to be masters of their own fate. Wins are what will keep us in this league by season’s end. However, going on our recent run, wins are an elusive beast for the Magpies. Actually, points are.
Over the last 14 matches in the league, we’ve picked up just two victories. Even worse is we haven’t been drawing matches like Fulham have. Over this horrid 14 match stretch, we’ve lost 10 of them. So we’ve amassed just 8 points from 42 available. It’s no wonder we’re in this mess.
Picking up results was already a monumental task from this year’s group. Gone are the unlikely results, like Crystal Palace had last night, where we play awful but find a way to get points like Chelsea at home or Everton away from last season.
This year our record is a better reflection of our form, which until around three weeks ago, was just shockingly dreadful. So it doesn’t look good at the moment. Concerns are starting to be voiced from the media and former players.
One of those is Danny Simpson, who while Newcastle were last in this mess under Steve McClaren, was winning the league with Leicester City. However, Danny joined Newcastle, initially on loan, in the summer of 2009 when we had just gone down the first time under Ashley.
So he’s well versed in this era of Newcastle. The Chronicle has published the following comments Simpson, who is now a free agent, made to the BBC about his concerns for his former club:
“I am [worried about them].
“I don’t want to say that because I have some great memories from that club, I still follow them and I like Steve Bruce.
“But I think Callum Wilson is a massive miss and you look at the next few fixtures where Newcastle have Wolves, West Brom and Villa and Fulham have Palace, Spurs, and Liverpool.
“I think that next game where Fulham go to Palace away and Newcastle have Wolves, they can really close the gap there.
“Up in Newcastle, when the pressure is on, the pressure is really on.
“I know the fans aren’t in the stadium but you still feel it because it is a massive club.
“I do fear for them and I don’t want to say that. But Fulham are a team on the up and Newcastle are a team that are really struggling at the moment.”
Since Callum Wilson went down injured, Newcastle have lost both matches. While they were tough fixtures at Chelsea and Manchester United, he was such an important part of this team. Newcastle just don’t have a player in the squad that can make up for such an obvious void.
It could be argued the loss of Wilson is the biggest loss any club in the bottom half of the table could have suffered. Though Wolves may have something to say as the head injury to Raul Jiminez in late November derailed their season. However, they brought in Willian Jose in January, and while he hasn’t scored, they’ve lost just once since he arrived.
If Newcastle are to keep Fulham in the rearview, they are going to have to do it without Wilson for next month or so. While the sample size is limited and they were against top clubs, we’ve lost all four league matches Wilson has not played in.
So we need someone to step into Wilson’s void as the next two matches are absolutely critical for this club.