A lackluster defeat but Newcastle United remain favourites for promotion

Tim Cunningham

There’s not much I can say about Newcastle United’s 2-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday yesterday that hasn’t already been said; we never got going, we were lucky to go in to the break at 0-0 and it was yet another abject defensive performance.

It was one of those games that us Newcastle United fans have seen all too often, granted, not a lot this season, but it was a familiar performance for most of us having seen the club’s steady decline over the last decade.  That could come across as a bit pessimistic given we remain in the top 2 and thanks to Huddersfield’s defeat away at Forest, the gap between us and 3rd place remains 10 points.  We are odds on for promotion but given our recent performances, the title chase could be all but over pretty soon.

I try to take heart from games like yesterday, but it is difficult given the poor performances from everyone bar Jonjo Shelvey.  Shelvey is one of, if not the, best players in the league and he is the kind of player we should be building a Premiership class side around next season.

It is however, genuinely encouraging to read the news this morning that Rafa wants up to 6 new signings this summer and is in effect, building a whole new side to take on the Premier League – of course I know that talk is cheap and rumours at this stage mean nothing but the source of that article is normally pretty reliable.  Some fans would question the need to rebuild a side that has all but gained promotion back to the top league at a canter but no Newcastle fan will see it that way.  Yes, we have played consistently well through the season, winning some key games along the way but there have been a lot of poor performances and a lot of under performing players – quite simply this current squad is not good enough for the Premier League and Rafa knows it.

Talk of a new spine of the team being needed is pretty accurate when you look at the clear weaknesses we have through the middle of the park; Lascelles, Mbemba, Perez and Diame were incredibly poor yesterday and whilst Rafa has shown he is not scared to drop his captain Lascelles when his performances have dropped, this time round it is difficult as we have so many injuries in defence so it appears we will have to stick with what we have for the remaining games.

A home game on Good Friday against Leeds United is next up and this should present the players with a great opportunity to bounce back.  I wrote an article a couple of weeks ago about the flat atmosphere at St. James’ Park this season but the last game against Burton Albion reminded the fans, the players and the manager what a crackling atmosphere is like; ironically it the the “penalty that never was” decision that ramped the crowd noise right up.  We should not fear Leeds United but we should respect them, they have the league’s top scorer in their ranks so they are definitely capable of goals but they will be nervy going in to a full St. James’ Park.  Howay the lads!

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